Kersplunshh…! There goes the ratings. Ha! Well they’ve done it in the jungle, on the stage, the dancefloor, on ice, on exotic islands and cooped up in a house but this week ITV launched the latest in a long-line of Saturday night shows featuring C-list celebs in uncomfortable settings performing for the public’s amusement and their vote. This time the setting is the swimming pool where a clutch of slebs, in various stages of desperation for publicity or the cash, are asked to dive in. The creatives behind the programme came up with an imaginative title, Splash! That’s about it.
The stars come in two varieties; those who look good in skimpy outfits and those who must have been given a very large cheque to agree to sport on national television swimwear last seen emerging from beach-huts in the Victorian era. Of course this is prime time tv so there’s a need to pad the programme to a creaking 90 minutes so the producers have engaged the nearest we have to a diving hero (bronze medallist at the 2012 Games) in young Tom Daley to act as a kind of mentor to the nervy diving virgins. Further padding is provided in the form of serious sports presenter Gabby Logan, poached from the BBC, and serial game show presenter Vernon Kay, who looks rather raffish in his crsiply cut suits on the intellectually challenging Family Fortunes, but who looks like a Skegness holiday camp rep in his shorts and thin white legs, on this show. In fact the programme has the air of a knobbly knees contest at Butlins. And to keep the Hi-di-his coming thick and fast is the holy trinity of judges; a grizzled old diving coach, a slightly camp ex-diver and Jo Brand, who brings to the art of sports commentary a startling new red hair colour.
Well dear readers there’s not a lot more to the show. We see a lot of pre-recorded footage of the slebs getting in some practice and we’re really led to believe that they are overcoming all their worst fears and phobias just getting in the water let alone clambering up to that 10m platform. Of course we had that truly tearful moment when one contestant recalled his nightmare experience of being caught in a tsunami. There were more tears after a serious diving injury when a sleb resurfaced with a scratch on his nose. Actually the trauma was suffered by the same chap who must be getting used to it having to act opposite that titan of the stage and screen, Sherie Hewson, on ‘Benidorm’.
Look you may have seen it and really enjoyed the programme, if so, fair enough. I couldn’t watch it through to the end to be honest but I understand that Omid Djalili won the event and went through to the semi-final after a graceful swan-dive from the 10m board. Really? So I was one viewer and I wondered how many more had shared the sinking experience. About 6m as it happens. SIX MILLION! I don’t know what that says about us, the Great British viewing public, but it seems that tastes have changed since Brideshead Revisited was ITV’s flagship programme. Ah well. Let’s not get all sniffy about this. Young Tom is destined for a big TV future methinks once he packs away the speedos. And anyone who shares my body shape and is bold enough with minmial preparation to take a dive from a 10m platfrom deserves my undying respect. You couldn’t get me up there even if Kelly Brook was standing up there in a very skimpy outfit offering me something unspeakably indecent as well as a king’s ransom.
Recognising a hint of fear from a fellow vertigo sufferer, I have a sneaky feeling that Gabby Logan spent some time cleaning her kecks after the show, judging from the rather terrified look on her face when doing a link from that high platform. Another kersplunshh..! moment eh Gabby.