Noel Edmonds lives behind my daughter’s school. He lives in a large Georgian-style house with a recently landscaped lake near the Avon. If I’m not working and take my daughter to school at a normal time, we often pass him on the A4175 between Keynsham and Bitton. Oddly, he drives an anonymous-looking old black cab.
Everyone at school knows Noel lives around the corner. I think we’re all quite proud of it. He lives here because it’s a nice, rural spot, but easily commutable to the Endemol studios in Bristol, where he records Deal or No Deal. I have memories of all his programmes:
Noel’s Multi-Coloured Swap-Shop – lurid and psychedelic,
Telly Addicts – an array of giant tellies and Eighties graphics
Mr Blobby – the giant pink bell-end of a mascot from Noel’s House Party.
But I also remember something bad had happened along the way, somebody had died.
There was another programme, The Late, Late Breakfast Show, which was on in the evening. It featured the Whirly Wheel which a member of the public would spin, randomly selecting a stunt which they would then have a week to train for, before performing live the following week. It turns out the Whirly Wheel wasn’t really random, there was a technician behind it who fixed the result. One week, a man called Michael Lush span the Whirly Wheel and got bungee-jumping from an exploding box suspended from a 120 foot crane. The following week, on the 13th November, 1986, he fell to his death and died from multiple injuries.
Noel resigned from the show which was instantly terminated by the BBC, who paid Mr Lush’s family compensation equivalent to £285, 600 in today’s money. At the inquest, the jury heard of many failings by the production team, not least that the carabiner securing Mr Lush to his only rope was insufficient to support the weight of a bag of sugar.
Sometimes things linger in the mind. This association between Noel Edmonds and a pointless, embarrassing death has stayed with me. I saw Noel a few Sunday’s back. I had gone to the farm which adjoins his house to buy some chickens. As I left, Noel was stood at a back gate in a t-shirt, smiling, friendly and looking like anyone else on a Sunday morning. Our eyes briefly met. The death wasn’t his fault, it was a long time ago, and despite having lived my entire life familiar with his face, I don’t know Noel. Yet somehow my brain has formed subtle connections. I have not become a stalker, but I now have an inkling where they come from.