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The shocking moment that escape stunt goes horribly wrong on live TV

Mar 15, 2018
Did anyone see Matt Johnson's performance in the semi-finals of Britain's Got Talent?

Paramedics called on to Britain’s Got Talent stage as escapologist cheats death in stunt horror
Daredevil Matt Johnson had to beckon for help from backstage staff who ran out with a metal pole that helped him escape

You can view the entire clip here:

Media is reporting it with headlines like these: "Britain's Got Talent escapologist 'nearly dies' forcing paramedics onto stage mid-performance"; "Shocking moment live TV stunt goes horribly wrong"; "Paramedics called to set after Matt Johnson's stunt"; "Escape Artist Matt Johnson Gestures For Help During Terrifying Stunt"; "Paramedics Rush On Stage To Attend To 'Britain's Got Talent' Escapologist".

See here to read some of the press.

What do you think - did things genuinely go wrong? Or was this all part of the "act", and a clever way for Matt to get publicity? Congratulations to him for creating suspense and getting attention!


Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
New Jersey
Although the holding of the breath underwater was real, I suspect that every aspect of the effect is rehearsed, including exceeding the time limit, the paramedics and the improvised use of the pole at the end. It isn't dramatic if it is easy.
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Reactions: EndersGame
Mar 15, 2018
I agree. Given the news headlines this produced, it looks like Matt Johnson pulled this off very convincingly - even the media was fooled!

Very cleverly done. Without that kind of presentation, he wouldn't have got the attention that he did.
May 10, 2018
I saw his audition and he kind of did this. He said something like 'if the timer reaches --.-- then I need help' or something like that. Of course, he well passed the time he said. I do think it was part of the act and it definitely worked, it's helped him get the publicity like this and credit to him for pulling it off so well.


Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
Matt's no fool. He knows how to infuse drama and suspense into what would otherwise be a really silly/boring thing to watch him do.

The music, the paramedics, the bar being within reach, the timer - all of it was on purpose. If this wasn't the actual planned outcome, I guarantee they had plans in place in case it happened.

Excellent display of escape performance.
Apr 26, 2022
I strongly believe that the bar used was a last contingency to get him out if he couldn’t pick either of those last two locks. The glue used to hold the latch was weak enough that the bar tool could easily pry it off should an emergency situation arrive. It did happen in this case, and the emergency paramedic was able to bring the pry bar to him when the emergency signaled.
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