Stephen Fry has revealed the extent of the injuries he sustained as a result of a six-foot fall from the stage of the O2 Arena, where he was delivering a speech on Artificial Intelligence.
In September, Fry was rushed to hospital after giving a talk on the final day of the CogX Festival technology conference. As he exited the stage, he dropped six feet (1.8m) onto hard concrete and broke his leg in several places, as well with his pelvis and “bunch of ribs”.
In a new interview with BBC Radio Two on Saturday (9 December), Fry revealed the full extent of his injuries, which left him unable to work.
Fry praised his “lucky stars” that he did not injure his spine or skull after the shock fall, but detailed the toll the injuries took on his daily life.
“I did my bow after delivering this lecture, turned to go off stage and didn’t realise that I was walking off the part of the stage where there was nothing – just a six-foot drop onto concrete,” he told BBC Radio Two host Claudia Winkleman of his O2 incident.
“So I broke my right leg in a couple of places and my hip and pelvis in four places and a bunch of ribs.”
After his injuries, Fry was using a walking stick to help with his mobility. He says that now he can walk without a cane, but grows increasingly anxious in busy public places.
“It’s been fine so far but I feel slightly self-conscious without the stick. The cane, more than helping me walk, is a flag to everyone around. I live in the centre of London where the pavements are absolutely packed. So [this time of year] you get slightly nervous with people stopping to take pictures of lights, or the [pavement] is slightly slippy.”
Fry will now return to work to host ITV’s revived version of the iconic gameshow Jeopardy!, a popular quiz show that has been airing in the US since the Sixties.
The 66-year-old Golden Globe-nominated actor added he was now fine, as “like Lazarus, I cast aside my crutches”, and will return to work.
When asked what the secret was behind his relatively quick recovery, he said “constant physiotherapy” was key, though painkillers that he was reluctant to take did help to speed up the process.
Fry recalled growing somewhat alarmed when the doctor prescribed him the controversial painkiller Oxycontin on his first night at the hospital he was being treated in south London, since the drug is known for being a highly addictive opioid. Fry has also spoken openly in the past about his previous relationship with drug addiction in his memoir More Fool Me.
However, Fry decided to take the doctor’s advice and take the painkiller who told him the pills “are not there for your comfort, they are there for your recovery and to save the NHS money”.
After Fry’s fall, Greenwich Council said it had been alerted to the incident and was considering opening an investigation.
Separately, organisers of the CogX Festival have said they have launched their own enquiry into the fall. A spokesperson for the event said at the time: “We were deeply concerned to hear of Stephen’s accident after giving his inspirational speech on the impact of AI.
“We are thinking of him and wishing him a swift recovery. We have opened our own enquiry and until then we are not able to share any further details.”
A spokesperson for the council added: “The Council has received an accident report following an event last week at the O2, and is considering whether any further investigations are needed.”
As well as his many roles in films and TV series over the years, including his Golden Globe-nominated performance in the 1997 Oscar Wilde biopic Wilde, Fry served as the host on the BBC’s popular quiz show QI from 2003 until 2015, when he was replaced by Sandi Toksvig.
He has starred in blockbuster franchises including Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films opposite Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, and Tim Burton’s adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.
Fry will host ITV’s revived gameshow Jeopardy! though a release date is not yet confirmed.