Former Olympic ski jumper Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards has said the producers behind Channel 4’s The Jump – which was renewed for a fourth series in July despite concerns about the number of injuries suffered by contestants – ignored his advice on how to make the show safer.
Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Edwards – who appeared on the first series of the show in 2014 – said he was initially promised a coaching position similar to that of Tom Daley on diving programme Splash!, but was later relegated to a commentary role, and that his advice on how to teach the celebrities was disregarded.
“I kept telling the producers, ‘It’s going to get very difficult, very hairy’ and they said, ‘No it’s all right’ and they’ve carried on and they’ve had so many accidents. I was very surprised that they’re going to have another series.”
His comments mark a U-turn in the view he expressed earlier this year when he told the Daily Mail: “I don’t think this spate of injuries is solely the fault of the producers.”
Several celebrities suffered serious injuries during The Jump’s last run in February, including former gymnast Beth Tweddle, who fractured vertebrae in her neck, and Holby City star Tina Hobley, who needed an operation after dislocating her elbow in an accident Channel 4 said was caused by “simple human error”.
Edwards said he hasn’t been asked to be a part of the next series of the show, revealing that he was sent “a solicitor’s letter” earlier this year after speaking to a newspaper about ski jump safety.
“Obviously the newspapers wanted to talk to me about why [The Jump] was having the accidents and I didn’t mention the show, but I said the reason you have accidents in ski jumping is because of this, this, this and this, and of course they related it to The Jump. So I got a letter from the solicitors saying ‘Don’t talk about The Jump’.”
Channel 4 has responded to his comments in a statement: “Eddie has worked on each series of The Jump as a commentator. Eddie has never been involved in any aspect of the training programme for The Jump as this is the responsibility of qualified instructors who teach the celebrities to ski jump according to modern accepted standards.”
But Edwards said he’ll still be watching when it returns next year: “I’ll watch with interest to see who’s going to do it, but I hope they make the necessary changes just to make it safer for the celebrities, because it’s very dangerous for them.”