Kate Copstick alleges she was attacked in the street on Saturday on the way home from the charity shop she runs in Shepherd's Bush, London. The incident came ahead of flying to Kenya to help women in need via her charity Mama Biashara.
The 66-year-old critic, director, producer and charity boss has had a long TV career hosting in the 1980s and appeared on children's TV shows Playschool and No 73 in the 1980s, and ChuckleVision in the 1990s.
At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Copstick was a Perrier Comedy Award judge in 2003 and 2004 and she now works as one of the most respected comedy critics at the Fringe, writing for The Scotsman each August.
Copstick had planned to travel to Kenya on Monday to provide funds to help a group of women fleeing female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and extreme violence.
Due to ongoing issues with accessing money from a UK Bank whilst in Kenya, which can take days to resolve, Copstick says she was forced to travel with cash to avoid getting stuck whilst waiting for erroneous holds on the account to be lifted.
She says it was then the thieves struck, and that she has contacted police about the incident, which she claims saw her “kicked to the ground”.
Copstick said: “I was walking home, it wasn’t very late and the street I live on is very well lit. I heard running behind me and turned to see the kind of outfit you only normally see in TV dramas – someone dressed head-to-toe in black, with a full face balaclava.
"He grabbed for my bag and I began to scream and shout for help. He put me in a chokehold and suddenly a second man – dressed exactly the same – appeared.
"I thought they were going to kill me. They kicked me to the ground, took the money and ran.
"I live in a not-posh area of Shepherd’s Bush – there is crime, there are muggings, but it’s generally kids looking to steal a few quid, not full-grown men essentially dressed like ninjas.
"They didn’t take anything else, which sadly means I was very likely targeted, and that someone knew I would be carrying a significant amount of charity cash with me. I’m talking to the police about that now.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help Copstick replace the funds she says she needs to take to Kenya.
In 2008 Copstick set up Mama Biashara, working with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. The charity provides grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security, they offer training and employment in everything from phone repairs to manicures.
The Metropolitan Police have been contacted for comment.