Urban Legends

urban legends(15/15)

Concluding on Five this evening is the series that explores popular urban myths. Each episode presents three tall tales, only one of which is true. Tonight’s stories include that of a young man swept up by a tornado; a pair of Dutch farmers playing with a flatulent cow; and a woman’s unfortunate encounter with a sun bed.

This evening’s first tale comes from ‘Tornado Alley’ in the US state of Missouri. In 2006, 19year-old Matt Suter was at home in the trailer he shared with his grandmother, Linda, when the news reported a tornado warning for Missouri. But Matt only realised his home was in the firing line when the windows began to bang and a loud noise surrounded him. “It sounded like a freight train,” he recalls. “You hear that sound and you know something bad is going to happen.”

Seconds later, an F2-class tornado ripped the trailer in half and carried Matt away in the air. He woke up in a field 1,307 feet away from his home. Dazed and confused, he called on a neighbour to take him back to the devastated trailer, where – amazingly – his grandmother had survived by wedging herself between the kitchen table and the floor. Matt was treated for cuts and bruises and only later realised that he had been tossed a record-breaking distance by the wind.

Meteorology expert “Tornado Tim” explains the incredible forces involved in Matt’s flight with the help of a wind tunnel and a catapult. In addition to being thrown at high speed by the wind, Matt would have been pounded by debris. “If you’re caught in a tornado, you’re going to be beat up pretty bad,” he says. Fortunately, Matt escaped serious injury because he was knocked out by the tornado. “They said if I was conscious then my body would be all tensed up and everything – then I’d be more injured than what I was,” he says.

Tonight’s second story deals with an entirely different type of wind. Dutch farmers Jaap van Dyke and Bob DeJonge recount their explosive encounter with a cow 20 years ago. Bob explains that he was milking a cow one day when he stopped to have a cigarette and accidentally lit one of the animal’s farts. Greatly amused by the fireball that ensued, Bob and Jaap spent the morning chasing cows and lighting their noxious emissions. But then the boys had a brainwave – they decided to feed one cow, Elke, with a mixture of gassy foods, including beans and cabbage, in a bid to engineer one enormous eruption.

Once Elke was suitably prepared, the boys stood with a lighter waiting for her first gassy byproduct. However, when the monster guff finally arrived, the fireball it created was sucked back into the cow’s body and exploded the hapless creature – sending her entrails everywhere. Elke may have been vaporised, but the boys did not escape scot-free. “I was the unlucky one who had his face right at her back and I lost my eye,” says Jaap, now the sorry owner of an eye patch.

The subject of tonight’s last legend also lost her sight – in a rather different way. Lithuanian lady Ona Zemaitis had just received a new set of contact lenses when she decided to make a trip to a tanning salon. But she broke the rules of the parlour by forgetting to remove her lenses.

Ten minutes later, Ona awoke with a burning pain in her eyes. “It is like they are glued shut!” she says. In her panic, Ona scratched the cornea out of her eyes. It later transpired that her optician had prescribed her a cheap type of contact lens that fused with her eyeballs when they dried out in the sun bed. Now blind, Ona is philosophical about her accident. “All of the money in the world cannot buy me back my eyes,” she reflects.

Each of these three stories features a potent mix of mishap, tragedy and farce – but which one is true?

urban legends(11/15)

Continuing on Five this week is the series that explores popular urban myths. Each episode uses interviews and reconstructions to present three tall tales, only one of which is actually true. The first episode of tonight’s double bill comprises the tale of a cursed hospital bed; a story about a village in Sicily plagued by sudden and inexplicable fires; and the legend of a Canadian choir’s near-death experience in the 1950s.

The first of tonight’s tales is set in a hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa. In the summer of 1996, a young nurse called Penny Walden worked in the intensive care unit. She noticed that for a few weeks in a row, she would return to work on a Friday after her regular Thursday off and discover that the patient who had occupied Bed Three had died. What was even stranger was that these deaths had all occurred between 8.30 and 8.45 on Thursday mornings. “No-one could convince me that this was just a coincidence,” says Penny.

The hospital authorities decided to post a guard by the bed between these hours to see if anything happened. The danger time on a Thursday morning passed without incident, so the vigil was abandoned. However, the following Thursday another patient died. The death toll kept rising every Thursday for a couple of months, mystifying everyone at the hospital. Penny came in one Thursday to cover for a colleague’s absence and discovered the source of the ‘hex’: a cleaner was unplugging the patient’s life support machine to use her polishing machine, and the subsequent noise was drowning out the sound of the patient’s final gasps! The cleaner had avoided the bed while there had been a guard present because she did not want to disturb the vigil. The cleaner was unsurprisingly sacked, along with the head administrator of the hospital…

Story number two centres around a small village in Sicily called Canneto Di Caronia, where resident Nino Pezzino began to witness a series of fires that started without rhyme nor reason. At first it was wires that caught fire, causing Nino to get his house rewired, then it was his television set that burst into flames. Soon incidents began occurring all over the village, the most dramatic of which saw a mattress burn from the inside, leaving the outside untouched!

The power supply to the village was turned off, but the incidents continued. Even the island’s top scientists, including Francesco Venerando, summoned from Palermo, could not fathom why these sudden blazes kept occurring. A local priest was even asked to give a service to rid the village of supposed demons. “I’m a very sceptical man,” says Venerando, “but if things spontaneously combust in front of your eyes, you start to believe in the paranormal.” Could he be right, or is the story a mere fable?

The final story of tonight’s first programme focuses on a small Baptist church in rural Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1950. Young Gail Burnham’s father was the priest, and every Wednesday she and her family went to choir practice. The priest always went to the church earlier in the day to put on the heating and light some candles. For once, the family were running late on this particular Wednesday in 1950 –and when they arrived at the church it was suddenly destroyed by an inferno caused by a gas leak. Amazingly, none of the members of the choir were injured because they all turned up late. One man had been delayed while he searched for a missing shoe, while another stubbed his toe on the way to church and limped the rest of the way –an injury that saved his life by minutes…

The stories in the second episode tonight are: a loyal parrot that informed its owner of a cheating partner; a jealous construction worker who exacted revenge on his wife by pouring wet concrete into her lover’s convertible; and a gambling womaniser from Detroit who was the well-deserved victim of a lottery prank.

urban legends(9/15)

Continuing on Five this week is the series that explores popular urban myths. Each episode usesinterviews and reconstructions to present three tall tales, only one of which is actually true. In tonight’s double bill of episodes, the stories include that of a man who took on big business armed with a large quantity of chocolate pudding; a dimwit who posted himself home in a box; and a soldier who received some bad news via the mail.

The first of tonight’s tall tales centres around American man David Phillips, or the ‘pudding man’. In 1999, David was doing some shopping when he noticed a label on a ready meal offering 100 frequent flyer miles with every purchase from that particular product range. “You know,” he thought, “that’s a pretty good deal!” However, the distance between the US and Europe is 40,000 frequent flyer miles, meaning that David would have to buy 400 of the meals at a cost of some $12,000.

Undeterred, David continued to cruise the shopping aisles until he eventually spotted some chocolate puddings bearing the same offer, but costing only 25 cents. After a quick bit of arithmetic, he realised that this meant he could get a flight to Europe for under $100! “I just grabbed the whole display case,” recalls David. But he did not stop there –within a short period of time, he had collected all the chocolate pudding from all the shops in his local area.

He then set about removing the labels from all the puddings, even employing the assistance of the Salvation Army in exchange for free chocolate dessert. Then, having collected 12,000 barcodes together, he sent his claim to the food company and was eventually awarded vouchers for more than one million frequent flyer miles!

Today’s second story concerns a very different flight experience. In November 2000, art student Ricky Smith wanted to return to his parents’ home for Thanksgiving, but had no money for the air fare. Being the creative type, it was not long before he had come up with a unique solution to his problem. With the help of his friend, he sealed himself up in a wooden crate with enough provisions for a long journey. His friend then took him to the post office and sent him using the ‘pay on delivery’ service.

“It seemed like a good plan,” Ricky recalls. However, he soon discovered that travelling in the cargo hold of a plane was not easy. After a freezing three-hour journey with very little oxygen, Ricky fell into a state of unconsciousness, which rendered him unable to tell his parents that he was inside once they received the crate. His mother refused to pay the $219 delivery charge for a package she was not expecting, and the box – with Ricky inside –was returned to the unclaimed mail facility at the airport. Ricky remained trapped in the box for a further four days until he was eventually found –he was only just alive.

The final ‘legend’ of tonight’s first programme takes viewers to the Mojave desert in California, where Lance Corporal Peter Campbell was stationed awaiting deployment before the Gulf War. Campbell was well known for keeping a cool head despite the heat and boredom of the desert, but all that changed in the summer of 1990.

One morning, Campbell received a special package from his wife back home. He opened the parcel and began to eat the first part of its contents –a tin of cookies. The next item in the parcel was a video, which he and his friends began to watch. To their delight, it was a porn film, featuring a masked woman performing all manner of acts. But the final item in the parcel quickly dampened Campbell’s mood –it was the mask featured in the video, and the woman was his wife. As the video reached its conclusion, hs wife turned to the camera and delivered the message: “See –I told you I wanted a divorce!”

All three of these stories are equally well-known and compelling, but only one is true… all will be revealed at the end of the show.

This evening’s second episode features the stories of a man whose life went down the drain one rainy morning, a case of mistaken identity at a mental asylum, and a golfer who had a fatal encounter with a water hazard.

urban legends(5/15)

Continuing on Five this week is the series that explores popular urban myths. Each episode uses interviews and reconstructions to present three tall tales, only one of which is actually true. Viewers have the chance to guess which of the stories really happened before the answer is revealed at the end of the show. Tonight’s stories involve an embarrassing encounter with a pharmacist; a man who lived with a broken neck for 60 years and a scuba diver who was lifted out of the sea by fire-fighting helicopters.

The first tale in tonight’s episode is a fondly recounted anecdote about a young man and a box of condoms. In the 1960s, pre-marital sex was taboo, making it extremely difficult to buy contraception. For Kenneth Gregory, it required a huge amount of courage to enter a pharmacy and buy some condoms. But he was about to go on a date with Mary, one of the most popular girls in his home town of Arbroath. “[It was our] second date and I was hoping to move things on a tad,” Kenneth confides.

Kenneth’s impetuosity won out and he found the confidence to enter the chemist. After several minutes picking up items he did not need, he stepped up to the counter and asked for a box of “French Letters”. The pharmacist was amused by the young lad’s shyness and duly served him a tin of condoms – wishing him a good evening as he left.

Later that night, Kenneth went to Mary’s house to pick her up. When her father opened the door, Kenneth introduced himself, only to receive the shock of his life. “I look up and it’s him! It’s the chemist that sold me the johnnies!” he recalls. The chemist remembered who he was and chased him off down the street. But Mary and Kenneth continued to see each other in secret, and the chemist’s actions soon backfired on him. “Once the johnnies were used up, I just could not go back for more,” Kenneth explains. Six weeks later, Mary was pregnant and her future with Kenneth was sealed.

The second story in tonight’s triumvirate of unlikely tales features 85-year-old Bill Boyd. In 2004, Bill was involved in a severe car accident, breaking his ribs. He was sent home from hospital, only for the doctors to call him back with some surprising news. “They found from the x-rays and scans that I’d broken my neck,” Bill explains. He was found to have a potentially paralysing dislocation of the vertebrae in his spine. “According to the surgeons, I was within a millimetre of being paralysed for life,” Bill says.

Incredibly, this injury was not caused by the crash but dated from 62 years before. Bill realised that it must have occurred when he was an RAF flight engineer during World War II. On his 17th mission over Germany, Bill’s plane was shot down and he was forced to bail out. He recalls suffering a sore neck when he landed. “It never crossed my mind that I’d broken my neck or anything!” he says.

Bill was captured by the Germans and spent weeks in a tiny concrete cell – but, remarkably, it seems that his confinement actually helped his injury. Lying on a hard floor for weeks on end allowed the broken vertebrae to heal enough for Bill to survive another 60 years without discovering his good fortune.

The last tale tonight concerns the sorry fate of Quentin Hernandez, who was found hanging from a tree in full scuba-diving gear after a forest fire. Investigators soon established that Hernandez had been scooped up by a water bucket borne by a fire-fighting helicopter, before being dumped over a forest blaze. But did this improbable event really occur? Which of these three famous urban legends is true?

urban legends(4/15)

Continuing on Five this week is the series that explores popular urban myths. Each episode uses interviews and reconstructions to present three tall tales, only one of which is actually true. Viewers have the chance to guess which of the stories really happened before the answer is revealed at the end of the show. Tonight’s stories involve an LSD trip gone wrong, two unfortunate streakers and a shooting party tragedy.

Tonight’s first apocryphal tale begins in the 1960s and concerns two hippies, Len Pillar and Harold Weiss, whose lives were changed forever when they met an enigmatic ‘guru’ who was an underground legend in the hippie movement. He altered their perceptions of reality with his bohemian lifestyle, homespun philosophies and super-potent acid. “He was our saviour,” says Pillar today. However, for all his wise words, all he seemed to do was smoke all their pot and hit on their girlfriends…

Disaster struck when the guru led Len, Harold and their friends to a nearby park where they all tried some acid, which the guru soaked into sugarcubes with a pipette. As the hallucinogens took effect and the world shimmered and warped before Len and Harold’s eyes, the guru told everyone to look at the sun. He believed that the sun’s rays would “cleanse the mind”. However, the rays were so powerful the duo ended up in hospital and awoke virtually blind. To this day their eyesight is almost non-existent…

Tonight’s second story centres around two men from Spokane, Washington, who decided to spice up their evening in a bar by streaking through a restaurant. Kevin Blood and Dustin Rhodes drove to a nearby eatery full of families, left their car outside and did a naked lap of the restaurant, cackling with laughter as they ran. The patrons were suitably stunned, but not nearly as shocked as Kevin and Dustin when they witnessed their car being stolen by a couple of hoodlums. “I started chasing it down,” says Dustin. “The dude inside turns to me, smiles and locks the door.”

Needless to say, the pair were in a spot of bother: their car, containing all their discarded clothes, was gone. They hid around the back of the restaurant until they were found by a sympathetic policeman. After driving them home, the policeman decided not to charge them with indecent exposure. “I think they had been punished enough,” says Officer David Beckley.

The third and final tale tonight is all about three men who took part in a shooting party in Hampshire. While builders Pete and Gary were working on a country estate with a huge amount of land, they were invited to partake in a spot of pheasant-shooting. They were loaned the guns by their friend Ken Allen, who also joined them in the activity. Just as they were heading out, Ken realised they needed a dog which would fetch the dead birds, so they picked up Pete’s sister’s beloved dog Dexter on the way to the estate.

The first couple of hours were fruitless as they could not see any birds flying over them, so Ken came up with the bright idea of flinging a stick of dynamite into the woods. The resulting noise, he hoped, would scare the birds and make them take to the skies en masse. However, the faithful Dexter ran into the thicket to fetch the smoking stick of dynamite! The three men were horrified to see Dexter bounding towards them with the explosive gripped between its teeth. “Ken gets his shotgun and starts shooting at the dog,” recalls Gary. The petrified hound took refuge underneath the trio’s car –and seconds later the dog and the car were history. Pete and Gary were handed a hefty fine and Ken was jailed.

All three of these stories are equally well-known and compelling, but only one is true… all will be revealed at the end of the show.

urban legends(3/15)

4Continuing on Five this week is the series that explores popular urban myths. Each episode uses interviews and reconstructions to present three tall tales, only one of which is actually true. Viewers have the chance to guess which of the stories really happened, before the answer is revealed at the end of the show. Tonight’s stories involve a poodle in a microwave, a Christmas disaster and a zany airman.

The first of tonight’s tales centres around Madame Estelle Foregé –a Parisian with a penchant for poodles. In 1992, Estelle was given a prizewinning pooch called Minky by her son, Gaston. So fond of Minky was Estelle that she developed a unique grooming technique: after the poodle had been washed, Estelle would place him in the oven for a five-minute blast on low heat –always with the door open. This approach produced excellent results, with Gaston reporting that his mother’s dog had the smartest fur in the neighbourhood.

This drying procedure went on for some time with great success. However, everything changed when Gaston treated his mother to a brand new kitchen, complete with all mod cons. Estelle was unconvinced by most of the new equipment, but one gadget caught her eye –the microwave. After a quick demonstration, she became enthralled by its incredible heating power.

Later that day, she took Minky out for a walk. Suddenly, a heavy shower of rain changed everything for the little dog. After a thorough soaking, Estelle returned home and sought a speedy method of drying her pet. A five-minute nuclear spin later, and the rest is history… or is it?

Next up is the story of Bonnie, Aaron and Alice Silversmith –a family from Tampa, Florida, who suffered a terrible loss in the late 80s. When the family moved to the heart of the Sunshine State, they were very happy: they had a new home, great weather and some friendly neighbours. All was going well, in fact, until the Christmas of 1988. Alan, husband to Bonnie and father to the two children, teamed up with his neighbour to ensure that the family’s first Christmas in their new home would be a memorable one.

The two hatched a plan to surprise Alan’s family with a visit from Father Christmas. Alan would make a grand entrance down the chimney on Christmas Eve, coming out of the fireplace and showering his family with presents.

After a few test runs performed in his tracksuit, Alan was sure he had perfected the technique. When Christmas Eve arrived, Alan made his excuses and left the house to get changed. However, he had never before attempted to get down the chimney in full costume and with a sack full of presents. Christmas Day came and went, with no sign of Alan. In fact, it was not until the day after, when the neighbour popped next door to offer season’s greetings, that the unfortunate Santa was found. Halfway down the chimney, Alan had become stuck and could not move. When his cries for help went unanswered, he panicked, suffered a heart attack and died.

This week’s final legend is the extraordinary tale of Larry Walters, a flight enthusiast who took his hobby to great heights. Though he is no longer around to tell his story, there are many witnesses who remember the events of July 1982.

When he was informed that his bad eyesight meant he could not train as a pilot, Larry was not deterred from his dream of taking to the skies. After 20 years of planning, he had finally built the craft that would enable him to live his fantasy. However, this was no ordinary plane –using a deckchair, a number of helium-filled weather balloons and an air rifle, Larry planned to take off from his garden and float east over Los Angeles. However, the planning had not paid off and Larry grossly overestimated the number of balloons needed. A few minutes after takeoff, and the only person able to see Larry was an airline pilot, 7,000 feet up…

urban legends(2/15)

Continuing on Five tonight is the new series exploring popular urban myths. Each episode uses interviews and reconstructions to present a number of tall tales, only one of which is actually true. Viewers have the chance to guess which one really happened before the answer is revealed at the end of the show. Tonight, Urban Legends recounts three remarkable tales: the story of a Slovakian ski coach who found a novel way to save himself from a snow drift; the incredible survival of a man run over by a steamroller; and an unusual suicide bid gone wrong.

The first of tonight’s urban myths is the story of ski instructor Yann Bondra, a fast-living Slovakian with an insatiable lust for beer. On a snowy night in Slovakia, Bondra picked up 300 bottles of beer before heading off to yet another party. However, he was exhausted from days of working and partying, so made the fateful decision to park his car by the side of the road to rest his eyes: “I think it’s safer if I take five minutes to pull the car over and take a little rest,” he explains.

But Bondra fell into a deep sleep and woke hours later to find himself buried in a 20-foot snow drift. Unable to dig himself free, Bondra decided to stay calm, put on some music and crack open a beer: “Basically I think: if I’m going to die, at least I’ll die drunk,” he says. Bondra’s impromptu party unexpectedly proved to be his salvation, as he soon had to answer a call of nature, and rolled down the window to relieve himself. As he did so, he realised his urine was melting the snow, providing him with an escape. “I owe my life to Slovakian beer!” Bondra exclaims.

The second fantastic tale on tonight’s show is that of construction worker Andrew Jepson from Wolverhampton. Jepson was working on a noisy building site at Heathrow airport when a steamroller came up behind him and landed on his foot. The control lever malfunctioned and the helpless driver ended up rolling over Jepson. But amazingly, Jepson survived with only a few bruises and broken ribs, when the four-ton roller should have flattened him. “I can’t explain how I managed to survive it,” Jepson says. “It doesn’t seem humanly possible.”

The last tall tale in tonight’s episode is the story of US army private Jonathan Overton, who – whilst serving at a military base in Stuttgart, Germany –found himself under the thumb of a brutal army sergeant named Glen Harris. Sgt Harris picked on Overton and assigned him to clean corridors with a monstrous 100-pound floor polisher called ‘Big Bertha’.

In his misery, Overton decided to kill himself by tying the cord of the polisher around his neck and throwing the machine out of the window. “I hoped it would either choke me or rip my head off,” Overton explains. But the cord around his neck never tightened because the floor polisher’s fall was broken by Sgt Harris’ truck – which happened to be parked beneath the window. Private Overton survived while his nemesis, Sgt Harris –who was in the car at the time –was crippled by Bertha. All three stories have been circulated for years – but which one of these unlikely yarns is true? All will be revealed at the end of the programme.

urban legends(3/15)
00.00–00.30

Continuing on Five this week is the new series exploring popular urban myths. Each episode uses interviews and reconstructions to present three tall tales, only one of which is actually true. Viewers have the chance to guess which of the stories really happened, before the answer is revealed at the end of the show. Tonight’s stories involve a poodle in a microwave, a Christmas disaster and a zany airman.

The first of tonight’s tales centres around MadameEstelle Foregé –a Parisian with a penchant for poodles. In 1992, Estelle was given a prizewinning pooch called Minky by her son, Gaston. So fond of Minky was Estelle that she developed aunique grooming technique: after the poodle hadbeen washed, Estelle would place him in the ovenfor a five-minute blast on low heat –always with the door open. This approach produced excellenresults, with Gaston reporting that his mother’s dog had the smartest fur in the neighbourhood.

This drying procedure went on for some time with great success. However, everything changedwhen Gaston treated his mother to a brand new kitchen, complete with all mod cons. Estelle was unconvinced by most of the new equipment, but one gadget caught her eye –the microwave. Aftea quick demonstration, she became enthralled byits incredible heating power.

Later that day, she took Minky out for a walk. Suddenly, a heavy shower of rain changed everything for the little dog. After a thorough soaking, Estelle returned home and sought a speedy method of drying her pet. A five-minute nuclear spin later, and the rest is history… or is it?

Next up is the story of Bonnie, Aaron and Alice Silversmith –a family from Tampa, Florida, who suffered a terrible loss in the late 80s. When the family moved to the heart of the Sunshine State, they were very happy: they had a new home, great weather and some friendly neighbours. All was going well, in fact, until the Christmas of 1988. Alan, husband to Bonnie and father to the two children, teamed up with his neighbour to ensure that the family’s first Christmas in their newhome would be a memorable one.

The two hatched a plan to surprise Alan’s familywith a visit from Father Christmas. Alan would make a grand entrance down the chimney on Christmas Eve, coming out of the fireplace and showering his family with presents. After a few test runs performed in his tracksuit, Alan was surehe had perfected the technique. When ChristmasEve arrived, Alan made his excuses and left the house to get changed. However, he had never before attempted to get down the chimney in full costume and with a sack full of presents.

Christmas Day came and went, with no sign of Alan. In fact, it was not until the day after, when the neighbour popped next door to offer season’s greetings, that the unfortunate Santa was found. Halfway down the chimney, Alan had become stuck and could not move. When his cries for help went unanswered, he panicked, suffered a heart attack and died.

This week’s final legend is the extraordinary tale of Larry Walters, a flight enthusiast who took his hobby to great heights. Though he is no longer around to tell his story, there are many witnesses who remember the events of July, 1982.

When he was informed that his bad eyesight meant he could not train as a pilot, Larry was not deterred from his dream of taking to the skies. After 20 years of planning, he had finally built the craft that would enable him to live his fantasy. However, this was no ordinary plane –using a deckchair, a number of helium-filled weather balloons and an air rifle, Larry planned to take off from his garden and float east over Los Angeles. However, the planning had not paid off, and Larry grossly overestimated the number of balloons needed. A few minutes after takeoff, and the only person able to see Larry was an airline pilot, 7,000 feet up…

urban legends (2/15)
00.00–00.30

Continuing on Five tonight is the new series exploring popular urban myths. Each episode uses interviews and reconstructions to present a number of tall tales, only one of which is actually true. Viewers have the chance to guess which one really happened before the answer is revealed at the end of the show. Tonight, Urban Legends recounts three remarkable tales: the story of a Slovakian ski coach who found a novel way to save himself from a snow drift; the incredible survival of a man run over by a steamroller; and an unusual suicide bid gone wrong.

The first of tonight’s urban myths is the story of ski instructor Yann Bondra, a fast-living Slovakian with an insatiable lust for beer. On a snowy night in Slovakia, Bondra picked up 300 bottles of beer before heading off to yet another party. However, he was exhausted from days of working and partying, so made the fateful decision to park his car by the side of the road to rest his eyes: “I think it’s safer if I take five minutes to pull car over and take a little rest,” he explains.

But Bondra fell into a deep sleep and woke hours later to find himself buried in a 20-foot snow drift. Unable to dig himself free, Bondra decided to stay calm, put on some music and crack open a beer: “Basically, I think if I’m going to die, at least I’ll die drunk,” he says. Bondra’s impromptu party unexpectedly proved to be his salvation, as he soon had to answer a call of nature, and rolled down the window to relieve himself. As he did so, he realised his urine was melting the snow, providing him with an escape. “I owe my life to Slovakian beer!” Bondra exclaims.

The second fantastic tale on tonight’s show is that of construction worker Andrew Jepson from Wolverhampton. Jepson was working on a noisy building site at Heathrow airport when a steamroller came up behind him and landed on his foot. The control lever malfunctioned and the helpless driver ended up rolling over Jepson. But amazingly, Jepson survived with only a few bruises and broken ribs, when the four-ton roller should have flattened him. “I can’t explain how I managed to survive it,” Jepson says. “It doesn’t seem humanly possible.”

The last tall tale in tonight’s episode is the tragicomic story of US army private Jonathan Overton, who –whilst serving at a military base in Stuttgart, Germany –found himself under the thumb of a brutal army sergeant named Glen Harris. Sgt Harris picked on Overton and assigned him to clean corridors with a monstrous 100-pound floor polisher called ‘Big Bertha’.

In his misery, Overton decided to kill himself by tying the cord of the polisher around his neck and throwing the machine out of the window. “I hoped it would either choke me or rip my head off,” Overton explains. But the cord around his neck never tightened because the floor polisher’s fall was broken by Sgt Harris’ truck – which happened to be parked beneath the window. Private Overton survived while his nemesis, Sgt Harris –who was in the car at the time –was crippled by Bertha. All three stories have been circulated for years – but which one of these unlikely yarns is true? All will be revealed at the end of the programme.

urban legends (2/15)
00.00–00.30

Continuing on Five tonight is the new series exploring popular urban myths. Each episode uses interviews and reconstructions to present a number of tall tales, only one of which is actually true. Viewers have the chance to guess which one really happened before the answer is revealed at the end of the show. Tonight, Urban Legends recounts three remarkable tales: the story of a Slovakian ski coach who found a novel way to save himself from a snow drift; the incredible survival of a man run over by a steamroller; and an unusual suicide bid gone wrong.

The first of tonight’s urban myths is the story of ski instructor Yann Bondra, a fast-living Slovakian with an insatiable lust for beer. On a snowy night in Slovakia, Bondra picked up 300 bottles of beer before heading off to yet another party. However, he was exhausted from days of working and partying, so made the fateful decision to park his car by the side of the road to rest his eyes: “I think it’s safer if I take five minutes to pull car over and take a little rest,” he explains.

But Bondra fell into a deep sleep and woke hours later to find himself buried in a 20-foot snow drift. Unable to dig himself free, Bondra decided to stay calm, put on some music and crack open a beer: “Basically, I think if I’m going to die, at least I’ll die drunk,” he says. Bondra’s impromptu party unexpectedly proved to be his salvation, as he soon had to answer a call of nature, and rolled down the window to relieve himself. As he did so, he realised his urine was melting the snow, providing him with an escape. “I owe my life to Slovakian beer!” Bondra exclaims.

The second fantastic tale on tonight’s show is that of construction worker Andrew Jepson from Wolverhampton. Jepson was working on a noisy building site at Heathrow airport when a steamroller came up behind him and landed on his foot. The control lever malfunctioned and the helpless driver ended up rolling over Jepson. But amazingly, Jepson survived with only a few bruises and broken ribs, when the four-ton roller should have flattened him. “I can’t explain how I managed to survive it,” Jepson says. “It doesn’t seem humanly possible.”

The last tall tale in tonight’s episode is the tragicomic story of US army private Jonathan Overton, who –whilst serving at a military base in Stuttgart, Germany –found himself under the thumb of a brutal army sergeant named Glen Harris. Sgt Harris picked on Overton and assigned him to clean corridors with a monstrous 100-pound floor polisher called ‘Big Bertha’.

In his misery, Overton decided to kill himself by tying the cord of the polisher around his neck and throwing the machine out of the window. “I hoped it would either choke me or rip my head off,” Overton explains. But the cord around his neck never tightened because the floor polisher’s fall was broken by Sgt Harris’ truck – which happened to be parked beneath the window. Private Overton survived while his nemesis, Sgt Harris –who was in the car at the time –was crippled by Bertha. All three stories have been circulated for years – but which one of these unlikely yarns is true? All will be revealed at the end of the programme.

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