{Channel 4 - Sunday, 8th December 2019}



Daredevil Guy Martin has recreated Steve McQueen's iconic death-defying motorbike leap from the Great Escape, one of the most famous stunts in film history.

The motorcycle racer turned TV presenter, 38, followed in the footsteps of McQueen's Captain Virgil Hilts by attempting to leap the barbed wire fence in the Alps on a Triumph 1200cc Scrambler.

But Martin went one better than 'The Cooler King' by jumping over the second fence, making it an impressive 60ft leap at a height of nine feet, and made it by the barest of margins.

The jump is featured in a documentary to be aired next week titled Guy Martin's Great Escape, in which he explains the history of the classic film and why it became such a favourite. 

Martin, who has Asperger's syndrome, said: 'There are two goals of the programme. One is to teach me to jump a bike over a fence. The other is to highlight the fact that the escape ended in mass murder.'

He was alluding to the fact that fifty of the escapees ended up being killed by the Gestapo.

In the film, McQueen gets entangled in the second, taller border fence while attempting to flee the Nazi soldiers and is recaptured and returned to the cooler. 

The stunt was actually performed by stuntman Bud Ekins, not McQueen, and Martin travelled three feet higher than him in the daring leap. 

Wearing the same outfit of blue top and sand-coloured chinos as McQueen, Martin travelled to the same slope in the same field where the iconic scene was filmed, The Sunday Times reported.

The daredevil said it is one of the most difficult stunts he has ever attempted despite having twice broken his back, once in a 170mph motorcycle crash which was nearly fatal.

A Cambridge University engineering professor, Hugh Hunt, helped Martin out to work out the optimum trajectory for the jump.

After months of training, Martin completed the stunt but only just, clipping the wire on the second fence after the bike came down too early.

The daredevil biker was unscathed but it could have ended a lot worse.

Martin, who was named after the Dambusters bomber pilot Guy Gibson, performed the stunt on a Triumph 1200cc Scrambler which had been adapted with reinforced shock absorbers.

He said: 'I'm a normal bloke doing extraordinary things. I'm not Einstein, I'm just seeing things how the man in the street would see things.


In the spring of 1943, RAF Squadron Leader Roger Bushell conceived a plan for a major escape from the German Stalag Luft III Camp near Sagan, now Żagań in Poland.

With the escape planned for the night of March 24, 1944, the PoWs built three 30ft deep tunnels, named Tom, Dick and Harry, so that if one was discovered by the German guards, they would not suspect that work was underway on two more.

Bushell intended to get more than 200 men through the tunnels, each wearing civilian clothes and possessing a complete range of forged papers and escape equipment.


To hide the earth dug from the tunnels, the prisoners attached pouches of the sand inside their trousers so that as they walked around, it would scatter.

The prisoners wore greatcoats to conceal the bulges made by the sand and were referred to as 'penguins' because of their supposed resemblance to the animal.

When the attempt began, it was discovered that Harry had come up short and instead of reaching into a nearby forest, the first man in fact emerged just short of the tree line, close to a guard tower. 

Plans for one man to leave every minute was reduced to 10 per hour.






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