German TV show will go on despite bad accident

Mon Dec 6, 2010 8:53am EST
 
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - A popular German entertainment show will go on after a contestant was critically injured when his stunt went wrong in front of a live studio audience and 8 million TV viewers, network ZDF said Monday.

ZDF program director Thomas Bellut said the network would not cancel "Wetten, dass...?" (Wanna Bet?) but would instead do everything it could to make future shows safe to prevent accidents like that from happening again.

A 23-year-old amateur stuntman suffered serious back and neck injuries in the worst accident in the 29-year-history of the broadcast, which calls itself Europe's most popular show with a long-term average of more than 10 million viewers.

"But there will never be a 100-percent safety guarantee for shows like that," Bellut said as the public broadcasting network faced criticism that it has been including increasingly risky stunts in the face of a ratings battle with commercial networks.

ZDF canceled the rest of the two-hour live broadcast on Saturday evening after the stuntman crashed heavily onto the studio floor while attempting to jump over a car -- complete with mid-air flips -- with the help of spring-powered stilts.

The car was driven by his father. The audience gasped and went silent after he crashed to the floor.

A long list of international performers such as Robbie Williams with Take That, Phil Collins, Cher, Cameron Diaz and Justin Bieber were set to make live appearances on the show, which was watched Saturday by more than 8 million viewers.

But the Saturday broadcast was canceled shortly after the accident.   Continued...