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My heart goes out to Richard, but not Irwin.

Byline: ROZ LAWS, TV Editor

THEY both took risks on TV, but I consider one outcome far more tragic than the other.

I shed no crocodile tears when Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray, but I was shocked by Richard Hammond's terrible crash.

I've interviewed the Top Gear presenter several times and found him friendly, unassuming and a thoroughly nice man.

It's no surprise that Richard, who grew up in Solihull, has built up a loyal fan base through his boyish, natural enthusiasm without once exclaiming 'Crikey!'.

Did Steve Irwin really deserve all the fuss made over his selfinflicted death? More than 300 million people worldwide watched his funeral last week and listened to his incredibly precocious daughter Bindi talk about catching crocodiles together.

Russell Crowe went on about the millions grieving for Irwin. But to me he was the very definition of a man pushing his luck.

Richard, on the other hand, takes risks but not unnecessary ones and followed all the safety procedures.

He is a fearless adventurer, but you'd never see him doing anything stupid like dangling his child in front of a lethal animal.

And he went at high speeds for the thrill of it, not just as a publicity stunt - which is surely the only reason why Elizabeth Taylor, who can barely walk, decided to swim with sharks last week.

I wish the Hamster all the best for a speedy recovery and hope he'll be brightening up our screens again before too long.

CAPTION(S):

DIFFERENT: Richard Hammond and Steve Irwin
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Sep 24, 2006
Words:257
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