BBC tapes people slipping on icy steps in London

Picture 36 The BBC set up a video camera in front of the icy steps at Waterloo Station, and taped people slipping and falling. Kind of weird that they didn't warn the people. As Zentinal commented on Twitter, "ho ho ho! jolly good telly! he cracked his coccyx!"


  1. I can’t see them purposefully taping people falling over, looks like it happened in the background whilst setting up shots of the station front and talking to passengers.

  2. Watch the video before commenting. It was to illustrate the lack of attention the rail company paid to the salting of the steps. Exposing a public danger so as to potentially avoid repetition in the future.

  3. I felt the same way watching the Planet Earth DVD’s.

    “Unfortunately this baby elephant got turned around in the sand storm and is going to wrong way. It will die of thirst.”

    Why don’t you heartless bastards just help the little guy out?!?! Maybe turn him around… or “accidentally” forget a jug of water…

  4. That’s what news people do. They cover what happens.

    Think of all the accident scenes and other news events where the camera person was watching rather than helping. It is one of the dilemmas of reporting. The BBC didn’t create the hazard, they are only reporting on it. It just happens to be an example where the the dilemma of just being an observer is especially clear.

  5. @9, Yeah, not interfering with nature is exactly the same as not warning sentient beings of possibly crippling danger. Filming it is just a superb touch. Real classy.

  6. @15, I think National Geographic reporters would put up “Danger, Great Whites!” signs if the seals could read them. Cognizance, sentience, higher-intelligence, it’s what separates us from nature.

  7. It’s reminiscent of “do I help the dying orphans or just report on their plight”, except somewhat more slapstick in nature.

    It reminds me of “And in today’s news, nothing much was happening so we drove around in the news van until we ran over a pedestrian”. Was that Dilbert?

  8. I find it amusing that people seem to think it is the BBC’s job is to tell people the blindingly obvious. That is what ITV is for.

  9. I find it amusing that the BBC’s job is to record potentially deadly accidents instead of reporting them.

    and by amusing I mean exasperating.

  10. I think it was already pretty darn obvious that the stairs were icy – see the exaggerated care with which people are going down them. Of course, none of them are bothering to use the handrail…

  11. Well that opening shot brings back memories. I used to work in channel tunnel marketing offices and I remember my first day on the job going to the washroom and being amazed that one whole wall was a semi-circular of frosted glass giving the room really great light. Then I realized it was directly above the entrance. Seemed like a waste of a great space.

  12. I live just round the corner. The BBC shouldn’t have needed to warn anyone, given the obvious snow and ice, to say nothing of the piles of shattered corpses at the bottom of the steps, with swarms of Dickensian street urchins clambering over them to mine the wrists and pockets of the careless.

  13. Here’s my take. The BBC could warn people for a day, and have the problem fixed for that day, or they could get footage and use it to shame the staff at Waterloo into putting in a more permanent procedure for fixing it. Since without the film crew the same number of people would have slipped, on the whole the BBC potentially did more good than harm.

  14. In American tort law, BBC is totally fine. Don’t know about UK. They didn’t create the danger, don’t own the property, etc.

  15. I live here in London now, and I still can’t believe that…

    1. Nobody working at Waterloo station salted those stairs

    2. Nobody operating the camera bothered telling anybody that there was ice on those stairs, and

    3. The Brits have no clue how to walk on snow or ice!

    Actually, it DOESN’T suprise me. They are funny people but boy does something about this culture make them dumb!

    Go look up “rogue gritters” and you’ll know what I mean!

  16. Come on BBC, own up. Out of shot, behind the camera, there was a comedy rubber chicken on a fishing line, bouncing up and down in the air.

  17. After living in the UK for all my life (32 years), I came to the following conclusion (formed in my youth I may add), which may shed light on this footage:

    British society craves for this sort of thing! Success is reviled, failure is celebrated.

    Hey rest of world, aren’t you jealous of us Brits?! :-)

  18. hehehe, i saw this and thought of the scenes with gupta in “the terminal”, and though “that’s not right… is this legal?” haha….

  19. [joke ] Here in the US, we lay down this stuff call “salt” when the ground gets icy. If we’re feeling fancy, we sometimes use calcium chloride pellets instead. I hope some day the Brits will discover this technology. [/joke]

  20. Yes, please add Benny Hill soundtracking.

    In th US I could see this becoming an exhibit in the civil case against the building owner/operators and the camera crew – not a good case but as good as any for a settlement check.

  21. I went to college in Northern New York (SUNY Potsdam) where snow and ice are the norm for about 7 months out of the year. I once spent a highly entertaining afternoon sitting on a couch in the Student Union with a friend, watching as 90% of the people who approached slipped on an icy patch just outside the doors. After we both spent a good hour watching this, my friend turned to me and said, “Do you feel sort of guilty for not warning them?” I paused as yet another unfortunate slipped on the ice, almost fell, arms pinwheeling wildly. “You can’t pay for this sort of entertainment,” I replied. Apparently in the UK, one actually can pay for that sort of entertainment.

  22. I think the stairs should file torts of libel and vilification for such sloppy walking, shame on those people and the BBC for making those stairs look so bad. It is obviously very embarrassing, and we all know that this video is going to be played everywhere. I suspect this will prove poorly for any social designs the stairs may have had, I hear some American steps like those of the Washington capital building can be incredibly snobby and two-faced: apparently, they once even shunned the Federal Hall steps from attending the 4th of July summer gala all due to photos that surfaced of a minor event involving rain and a few tourists. Poor things…

  23. And you know that there wasn’t a warning sign at the top of the steps?

    Oh, you don’t? Well, cheers. Great er, snarking,

  24. Well, ice is slippery. It also is visible. For people who don’t get those two simple facts what kind of warning would work? Crash test dummies strewn across the stairs?

  25. “It also is visible. ”

    not always..

    /waits for iaminnocent to fall on his frigging ass someday so I can laugh at him/her/whatever.

  26. IamInnocent:

    I’m sure you do come from Canada, that’s what makes your ignorance of the invisible and crazily dangerous threat of “black ice” (don’t laugh, that’s actually what it’s called) so surprising.

    The Lizardman:

    “In the US I could see this becoming an exhibit in the civil case against the building owner/operators and the camera crew – not a good case but as good as any for a settlement check.”

    I don’t understand how this could be used as a piece of evidence in a case that involved the camera crew, that would seem to mean that there’s a case against the people further down the stairs (they know it’s icy too, don’t they?).

    The only case that this would be evidence for is the building occupiers – I think that’s Network Rail.

  27. “I live in Canada and you want to teach me about ice?”


    I think I said I wanted to watch you fall on your ass.

  28. This is a perfect example of what passes for humour in the UK on TV now.

    60% of our TV seems to be cheaply-made opportunities to laugh at others’ misfortune.

  29. It’s years since there was weather like that in London (snow lasting more than a day and being compacted to ice). That’s why people don’t know how to walk on it.

    I heard that the reason the steps weren’t gritted/salted was either
    a) Because it would have been unsafe for the person doing the gritting, and as an employee of the station they couldn’t take a risk
    b) If the gritting was not done correctly, the station could be sued.
    The real reason is probably one of
    c) The person meant to do the gritting couldn’t get to work, as most trains were cancelled
    d) No one specific was meant to do the gritting, as it’s very rare that it needs doing, and the managers were all skiving off and so nothing happened

  30. @42 re: a) & b)

    So is it the case, then, that there is greater risk of liability and litigation from “helping, but kinda badly” than there is from “abject negligence”?

    Not trying to poke ya with a stick, just genuinely wondering if that’s the sad state of affairs there now?

  31. @45

    Black ice is dangerous when you are in a car because it looks like the pavement is just wet. When on foot there is no mistaking it for water though.

    There are worse conditions for people walking in winter: very dangerous is ice which is covered by snow that can get loose. Even worse is icy rain followed by regular rain which washes away salt and abrasives.

    All I am saying is that in those situation one should use one’s own judgment; for those who don’t no warning sings is going to help them. And I tried to put some humor in my comment with the crash test dummies. I don’t enjoy seeing people fall, on the contrary because I do know the consequences, especially for the elderly.

  32. it’s really no different then war photographers, taking photos of injured people and not getting involved. (as they shouldn’t anyhow)

  33. #37 et al: It looks like the ice and snow are much thicker, and probably lumpier near the handrails. The footing probably looks much worse, so people avoid it.

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