Our Sunday web columnist takes a wry look at the week’s TV:
All Star Family Fortunes question of the week: “Name a fruit you would recognise by feel.”
A quick check now, six months after London 2012, on how that Olympics legacy is going.
New clubs are springing up everywhere, interest in disability sport is through the roof, a new generation of future stars is taking its
first steps on the road to immortality...
And over on ITV, Saturday nights, Gabby Logan and Vernon Kay are in headless lemming mode for primetime pro-celebrity diving, from Luton.
It’s Splash!, which I’m sure hasn’t passed you by unnoticed, or Splat!, to be more accurate, a reality show to end them all that appears
to come with its own running self-critique.
“It’s like a head-on car crash.” “It went disastrously.” “It was like the most majestic turkey I’ve ever seen.” “I think insanity has
It certainly has. One glance at the judging panel tells you that – Team GB diving coach Andy Banks, Olympic diver Leon Taylor, and Jo
Brand, who’s there because, well, no one quite knows.
She’s been deemed qualified to assess the celebs’ skills at plummeting on the strength of 2011 water-based Dave series Jo Brand’s Big
Splash and is firing out the same “I eat cake and don’t exercise” shtick that she’s been living off since Friday Night Live.
The only person emerging with any credit is Tom Daley, who I feel sorry for, even if his expert insights include: “The platform doesn’t
move. The springboard does,” so I don’t know where we’d be without him.
We’d be probably left with alpha-female Gabby Logan constantly trying to save Vernon from himself, who in turn is messing up the phone-
vote numbers, microphone technique, and last Saturday asked the judges: “Who do you think deserves that place in next week’s semi-final?”
a fortnight before the semi-final.
So much is wrong here – the location, Vernon’s Bermudas, the “Splash Off”, which I thought only occurred in the gents’ urinals at pub
closing time, the claim that it’s “the most terrifying challenge of the celebrities’ lives” when Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards once hurled
himself off a 120m ski jump in Calgary, the “journeys”, “comfort zones”, water-based sob stories, the foam hands raided from ITV’s
mothballed Gladiators store cupboard, the all-tumbling synchronised ankle-wiggling half-time display team, Towie’s Joey Essex beaming: “I
done it for my family and stuff.”
And yet here’s the rub. There is much to enjoy. I can’t deny loving, as Woody from Toy Story said, the “falling with style”, Helen
Lederer’s “nappy mat”, and the slow-mo high-fiving abandonment-of-all-dignity route to the platform.
Crucially, it’s watchable, which can’t be said for BBC1’s simultaneous Saturday night Olympic legacy, a quiz show named Britain’s
Brightest, Clare Balding’s reward for that Bert Le Clos interview.
Rounds include spelling via the medium of semaphore, Pictionary, a ballroom/karate-based observation round, “a TV first as we combine
mathematics with bouncing” (there’s a reason it hasn’t been done before), and this, from Balding:
“Your challenge is to estimate when 19 seconds have passed and then hit the button. But you won’t be able to see a clock and you will also
be trying to make up as many four-letter words as you can.”
But enough about me, Clare. What do the contestants have to do?
Unlike Splash!, it’s devoid of fun. Nobody wins anything until the final show. And while Gabby and Vernon have a joint catchphrase, I’d
like to see it adapted for Britain’s Brightest.
“No running. No bombing. No heavy petting...”
No second series, thanks.
London 2012 has a lot to answer for.
This week’s Couch Potato Spudulike awards go to:
Celebrity Big Brother’s brilliant Frankie Dettori dictatorship and revolution task (Italian totalitarian regimes, they never last) in an
otherwise forgettable series.
Kevin Bacon name-checking X Factor hero Wagner on that advert he does.
Joe Pasquale’s podium-tripping Dancing On Ice tribute to Queen’s Flash Gordon, and indeed the mac-flashing community in general.
And BBC2/ESPN’s World Darts Championship, won by Scotty “2 Hotty” Waites, including a commentator’s gift of a Dutch teenager named Jimmy
Hendriks, yet Jim Proudfoot chose his conqueror Richie George to deliver the pun of the week: “Two new kids on the block have produced a
right royal dust-up. Hendriks won the first and fourth sets, but George the second, George the third, George the fifth, and George the
sixth, and moves forward to a potential coronation.”
Off-the-scale bonkers This Morning guest of the week was mum of four Lorna Byrne who “can see and communicate with guardian angels
standing three steps behind everyone”, including Holly Willoughby’s.
“Does mine have a name?” asked Holly.
“Yes but I’m afraid your guardian angel isn’t giving it to me. I can’t make it up.”
Could have fooled me.
Brrrrr! It’s minus three Celsius at the Aigas Field Centre in the Scottish Highlands.
But don’t worry for the wildlife. The pine martens are in their element. The longtail tits are snuggling up on a snowy branch to keep
And the rooks have a pecking order on their overcrowded tree, as Chris Packham explained: “The dominant rooks are actually at the top of
the tree. You would think they would be suffering thermal stress because it’s the coldest place.
“But we think they go to the top because they don’t want to be pooed on because it takes the oil off their feathers which means that
they’re not waterproof, which means they’re not well insulated when they’re out foraging all day, they get cold, and they waste energy.”
And the whole “being pooed on” thing too, I would have thought, a central feature of BBC2’s first live Winterwatch, which contained more
wildlife in one episode than the entire series of Planet Earth Live, with Richard Hammond staring at blobs in the night-time pitch black
Obsessed with bodily functions this programme may be (Michaela Strachan “wouldn’t poo in the beaver lodge but I would in the loch”, after
all, she does have standards), but it was consistently the best TV all week, from the colony of grey seals in Norfolk to the stark beauty
of the Cairngorms to the robin scavenging the carcass of a roadkill deer.
Okay, the deliberate “live beaver action” references and Chris Packham sneaking in Madness song titles were maddeningly distracting (22 of
them in total, FYI, took me pigging ages to spot and count them all), but he’s nothing if not passionate about his subject: “Here’s the
pine marten. Let’s replay that. Look beneath the tail. And yes, there is a little spray of urine. Now, I don’t know why you pay your
licence fee but I know why I pay mine – for that solid gold on Winterwatch.”
You get no arguments from me.
But two can play that game. And I have a little tip for co-host Martin Hughes-Games who declared on Wednesday: “It’s difficult to tell one
tit from another.”
Chris Packham is the one on the left.
What Happens in Kavos.
Frankly should have stayed there.
This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhate awards go to:
C5 axing its best show, The Bachelor.
Everything about Dancing On Ice aside from Joe Pasquale, especially the continuing absence of any chemistry whatsoever between the hosts.
The awful New Yes, Prime Minister, on Gold, believing it can completely ignore the game-changing advent of Malcolm Tucker and The Thick Of
It like it never happened.
This Morning’s on-screen line-up on Monday: “11am, Kerry and Jeff disect Dancing On Ice,” presumably before dissecting how to spell
The BBC’s Natural History Unit producers (Africa) and presenters (Winterwatch) unnecessarily feeling compelled to justify why their film
crews don’t intervene in a baby animal’s death (it’s called “nature”, people).
These hideous words from a continuity man: “Now on BBC1, hidden camera high jinks from Richard Hammond’s Secret Service.”
And BBC1’s news-themed, cheapskate clips show Animal Antics which began with this: “I’m Tim Brooke-Taylor and here to offer his expert
opinion is my dog, Sparky.”
No it’s not. It’s a fully grown man, wearing glasses, named Matthew.