...diving in at the deep end
Rav Wilding, former Crimewatch presenter and short-lived Strictly Come Dancing hip-swinger, is suing the makers of ITV belly flop, Splash!, following a 2013 training accident that sent his career into a freefall dive.
Anna Thompson, a Personal Injury Associate with Simpson Millar, examines the case and looks at the recent spate of celebrities injuring themselves on reality shows.
It was a show so bad it could’ve had its own Crimewatch appeal, but that didn’t prevent Splash! getting a second series.
It was while training for this follow-up series that Wilding suffered a freak accident, performing a somersault that snapped the hamstring tendons in his left leg.
Forced to quit the diving show before it even started, Wilding was taken to hospital, where he underwent major surgery to fix the damage, leaving one leg shorter than the other and requiring him to wear a lift in his shoe to counter it.
If that wasn’t bad enough, shortly after his release from hospital Wilding was readmitted having developed a bloodclot that nearly cost him his life. Lodged in his chest, the clot was thought to have formed as a result of a leg brace he wore while recovering, which left him unable to move.
Unable to work
In the months following the accident, Wilding received a 5-figure payout as way of compensation, but since then he has found it hard to find work, due to ongoing problems stemming from the accident. These have made it difficult for him to keep fit, leaving him unable to play rugby or go running.
It’s this lack of fitness that Wilding cites as being responsible for the downturn in work opportunities, stating:
“I used to get active jobs based on my fitness, but now I can’t do those things […] so it’s changed the entire course of my career.”
A catalogue of casualties
Rav Wilding isn’t the first recognisable face to suffer a devastating injury as a result of a reality TV show. Channel 4’s ski/casualty-related The Jump, thought by many to have been cancelled but due back on the air in 2017, has particular form in this area.
Perhaps most famously, former gymnast Beth Tweddle broke two vertebrae in her back while training, which left her needing surgery and the aid of a psychologist to overcome the trauma. The Jump also took out Strictly’s former professional leg-shaker, Ola Jordan, who damaged her hips – also during training – leaving her fearful that she wouldn’t dance again. Add to that list the likes of Melinda Messenger, Steve Redgrave, Sam J Jones (Flash Gordon), and Rebecca Adlington, with injuries ranging from concussion and broken bones to a dislocated shoulder, it is obvious that celebrities and extreme sports are perhaps not the most compatible of bedfellows.
Anna Thompson comments:
“Health and Safety law states that all workers have a right to work in places where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. The onus is on the employer to ensure this is the case, but an employee also has a duty to look after their own health and safety and follow any relevant training they have been given that allows them to perform their job without risk of injury.”
“In the case of these reality shows, standard health and safety laws still apply. That said, the hazardous nature of the events involved – high-diving for Splash! and ski-jumping for The Jump – means that the celebrity can’t go into it with his or her eyes closed and must be made aware that there is a reasonable possibility they could sustain some form of injury.”
“In the case of Rav Wilding, the injury he suffered was not only devastating but has also had a life-changing effect on him, leaving him unable make a living to the same degree he once had. The fact he has already received one payout suggests that the production company behind the show is aware that the accident went beyond the realms of ‘reasonable’. This will make it particularly interesting if they decide to contest his new claim and it goes to court.”
“The athletes that take part in these types of events, by and large, dedicate their lives to training and perfecting their performance so they can become the best. With that in mind, one has to question the wisdom of throwing a group of celebs in at the deep end like this in the name of cheap entertainment. One also has to question whether the relatively brief training they are given is adequate enough. With snapped tendons, broken vertebrae and damaged hips all among the list, one might be tempted to conclude it isn’t.”
Written by Anna Thompson
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