Decent blokes, nice guys, lovable chaps. Our television screens are apparently full to bursting with examples of the type of man we’d happily sit next to in the pub, putting the world to rights over a pint or two.

Maybe that is why the near-death experience of Richard Hammond, Top Gear presenter and all-round familiar TV face and good guy, earned such widespread exposure and an unfathomable national outpouring of concern and relief – he’s affectionately known as “Hamster”, what further proof is required? Either that, or we’ve become so shallow that such famous individuals constitute the most important part of our lives.

Whatever the reason, Mr Hammond has done what any self-respecting celebrity should do these days and sold the world exclusive (hhhmmm…stretching the importance a bit there, I think) of his amazing escape from a 300mph crash and unbelievable recovery from brain damage to The Daily Mirror ( We also get his wife’s version of what undoubtedly was a horrendous few days for them both and their families.

No doubt he has medical bills to pay – we know he was transferred by helicopter to a Bupa hospital as we got live coverage on BBC News 24 – which would explain the exclusive story. That is assuming the BBC (sorry, I mean the licence payer) isn’t covering the costs? He suffered almost fatal injuries filming a segment for one of the corporation’s most popular programmes after all.

I have to admit I’ve done my best to avoid coverage of Mr Hammond’s unfortunate experiences – from the crash itself, through to the coma, intensive care, airlift to a private hospital and now the expose on what he has gone through.

It hasn’t been easy, this accident and the aftermath managed to gain much more detailed coverage than it probably merited. So I haven’t escaped the Hamster’s story entirely, it is a side-effect of being a bit of a news junkie. When there is saturation coverage, it is inevitable that some of it will creep into your sub-conscious sooner or later.

I have a few questions, therefore, which I’m not sure have so far been answered – or even raised.

Firstly, why is a TV presenter with no professional driving experience or qualification allowed to take the wheel of a vehicle capable of 300mph. Following on from that, why are we so surprised when he crashes so dramatically?

Also, does such a seemingly fool-hardy and self-inflicted accident warrant the type of coverage we were subjected to?

I did have one other question, which has already been answered by this week’s stories in The Daily Mirror. To what lengths will the Hamster go to milk this accident for all its worth?


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