The BBC Cooking Segment That Went Horribly Wrong

July 17, 2017

Over the weekend, BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen host Donal Skehan teamed up with comedian Julian Clary and chef Jun Tanaka to prep some fish for a barbecue segment. It seemed like a dish Skehan could’ve made in his sleep.

Not so for Skehan, who, minutes into the segment, sliced his finger while chopping some herbs. It came just two weeks after a disastrous pudding collapse on the same show, when cooking duo the Hairy Bikers attempted to plate a pudding, though this Saturday's incident was, somehow, even more catastrophic. A reminder that not even the most seasoned and practiced of chefs is immune to the slip-n-slice of a hand.

(WARNING: Though the gore is more discussed than seen, the more squeamish among us may consider this mildly graphic.)

Skehan's composure is certainly something to behold: I marvel at his ability accept the injury and tend to it swiftly, with humor. Though it's hilarious to see his valorous attempts at denying his obvious pain, wrapping his finger in a tea towel to suppress his bleeding.

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The episode descended into mild chaos as it wore on, a confused cameraman wandering onto the frame mistakenly. I can’t help but snort when I watch this:

If only I were lucky enough to see this unfold in real time! I’m sitting on the other side of the Atlantic, so I caught wind of this episode’s wild happenings later in the day on Saturday, when the British and Irish presses had spun many stories of out it (inspired, really, by the reaction to the segment on social media). The segment sent some viewers into panic, but hours after it aired, Skehan assured the public he was fine and thankful for the well wishes.

Poor Skehan, down a finger—his minor flesh wound documented televisually, and thus etched into history. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to film me when I severed a limb while dicing some shoots and sprouts. Good on him for smiling through it. May we all handle sliced fingers with such grace.

Does this clip bring back not-so-fond memories of mishaps in the kitchen—knives going where they shouldn’t? Share tales of your kitchen disasters below.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


ErinM724 July 22, 2017
My only cut that needed stitches came from a tuna can, back in the day of the pull top w/o the smooth edges they have today. To this day, i still open those cans using a very large towel to protect myself!
Manya S. July 20, 2017
The tip of my left thumb is nothing but scar tissue after slicing it off 3 times. Twice on onions and once on a zucchini. I now ALWAYS curl my thumb while slicing and dicing.
Windischgirl July 17, 2017
I needed 3 stitches in my pinkie finger after attempting to slice a wedge of cheese with a cheese plane. When I went to have the stitches removed, they assigned me to someone who was clearly Dr. Foodie; he sweetly teased me about the abuse I inflicted on an innocent wedge of 18-month manchego!

I wrapped up the (now washed) cheese plane in several layers of cardboard and packing tape, labeled it "Danger:SHARP!" and donated clearly was out to get me, not the other way around.
HalfPint July 17, 2017
My husband had a traumatic experience with a very sharp bread knife. It involved a trip to the ER and 5 stitches. Ouch! He still uses that bread knife with a lot of trepidation.