Emmerdale star Lorraine Chase is suing for £100,000 over a reality TV abseiling accident which she claims ended her pantomime career.
The former model, who shot to fame in the 1970s as the ‘Luton Airport girl’ in a series of Campari adverts, has spent recent years on reality TV and doing pantomimes.
But the 69-year-old claims she had to give up her stage career and retire after suffering a serious accident while filming.
Ms Chase was starring alongside Debbie McGee, Simon Callow and Nigel Havers in Channel 5’s ‘Carry on Barging’ when she fell and hurt her back while abseiling.
She blames her instructor from adventure company TNR Coaching Ltd for letting out the rope too far and causing her to fall.
But the company is fighting the claim in the Central London County Court on the basis that the accident was Chase’s fault, ‘because she ignored her instructions.’
From left: Simon Callow, Lorraine Chase, Debbie McGee and Nigel Havers on Celebrity Carry On Barging
Lorraine Chase was starring alongside Debbie McGee, Simon Callow and Nigel Havers in Channel 5’s ‘Carry on Barging’ when she fell and hurt her back while abseiling
Chase alongside Bernie Clifton in Aladin at the St Albans Arena
Ms Chase first found fame as the glamorous Cockney star of a series of Campari adverts in the 1970s
Ms Chase’s barrister David White told a judge that the accident wrecked Lorraine’s career in panto.
He said that after falling she struck her back on a rock ledge, causing injuries to her neck and back, and has since retired.
‘On her case, she continues to have symptoms in those areas which impact on her ability to perform and work as an actress, particularly in panto,’ he said.
‘Her case is she would do a panto every season and she hasn’t been able to do that because of the persisting symptoms she sustained in the accident.’
Ms Chase first found fame as the glamorous Cockney star of a series of Campari adverts in the 1970s.
When asked by her co-star if she had been ‘wafted in from paradise,’ Lorraine famously replied: ‘Nah, Luton Airport.’
She went on to star in Blankety Blank, Worzil Gummidge and as Steph Stokes in Emmerdale, as well as featuring in reality TV shows including Come Dine With Me and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
She was filming Channel 5’s Carry on Barging, which saw celebrities piloting barges on the Kennet and Avon and Llangollen canals, when the accident happened in Wales in October 2016.
Her barrister said the adventure company ‘operative’ was, ‘controlling the rate of the claimant’s descent [but] released too much rope too quickly and without ensuring that the claimant had stepped down so as to take up the slack.’
He added: ‘Either the operative controlling the rope could not see the claimant or he was not watching her properly – or at all – when he let the rope out.’
But acting on behalf of TNR Coaching Ltd, barrister Lawrence Jones argued the accident was entirely the fault of the actress.
He said Chase ‘ignored instructions’ from a safety briefing and adopted a horizontal position during the manoeuvre, as she had during previous abseiling sessions, despite being told it wasn’t safe.
‘The defendant urged the claimant to keep her feet below her waist instead. The instructions were clear and left no room for misunderstanding,’ added Mr Jones.
‘The claimant understood the instructions but chose to ignore them. She assumed a horizontal position, lost her balance and flipped backwards.
‘Had she followed the defendant’s instructions, she would not have lost her balance.’
Mr Jones accepted the TNR coaching instructor should have moved quicker to stop Chase ignoring his instructions, but said the accident would not have happened if she had done what she was told.
He said Chase also had pre-existing back, leg and neck conditions and was still nursing a back injury after a fall on a boat in Zambia at the time.
‘The claimant should not have volunteered to participate in abseiling in light of her pre-existing injury and condition,’ he added.
Chase’s damages claim – said by her lawyers to be worth up to £100,000 – is due to go before a judge at a later date.