Category Archives: Game Show

‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ (Channel 4) Review

Seemingly functioning purely on the basis that most people hate their jobs, Friday night saw the launch of a brand new game show from Channel 4, I Don’t Like Mondays.

The premise is simple: get about 100 hyped-up contestants who want to quit their job, chuck in a few zany games and a handful of celebrity guests, and at the end give one of the hopefuls a year off work with their salary paid – and a little more besides, if they’re lucky. Perhaps even pepper the show with a few Surprise, Surprise-esque family reunions or ‘dream-come-true’ moments, and you’ve got yourself a fun-filled Friday night entertainment bonanza.

Or have you?

I have to confess that from the outset, I didn’t have high hopes for this one. Always on the look-outImage courtesy of Charlie Fearn and Brian J Ritchie for a new game show to apply for (Tipping Point, Friday 4th May – just saying), I came across I Don’t Like Mondays some time last year. I read the premise and immediately it didn’t appeal to me. Of course, the year off work on full pay did seem attractive, but the show itself just felt too niche. Too concept-driven. It was clearly one of those ‘TV by committee’ jobs, created by a group of telly people all vying to come up with the next big thing – something that’s never been done before and blows its predecessors out of the water. Gone are the days of trying to win your Bendy Bully and a tankard, now it has to be spectacular and life-changing. Like £40,500 and a forced resignation.

Despite my reservations however, I Don’t Like Mondays wasn’t quite the car-crash I’d anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to go down as a game show classic – there’s no danger of being bombarded with repeats of this on Challenge in years to come – but there was some fun to be had in and amongst all the padding and largely attention-hungry, OTT contestants. The ‘Celebrity Executive Board’ sketches, featuring the likes of Sir Trevor McDonald, Dawn French and Miranda Hart were quite funny, even if they did highlight the comparatively feeble bookings of studio guests Amanda Holden and Shaun ‘Barry off EastEnders’ Williamson, and the quiz questions – of which, admittedly, there were only five across the whole hour – lent themselves to being played along with at home.

My main grumble with I Don’t Like Mondays, though, is that throughout the whole show I just couldn’t shake the feeling that Alan Carr deserves so Image courtesy of Charlie Fearn and Brian J Ritchiemuch better. What happened to him being  Channel 4’s golden boy, freeing himself from the shackles of his Justin Lee Collins partnership to be one of the most trustworthy names in comedy? Since the shelving of Chatty Man, Channel 4 seem to have handed him dud after dud. The Singer Takes It All – dumped after one series. 12 Stars of Christmas – sank without trace. Alan Carr’s Happy Hour – confined to the annals of history. He always makes a decent fist of what he’s given, and his pithy ad-libs and natural rapport with an audience are well suited to a show with a party atmosphere like this, but with his offerings in recent years, is it really any wonder that he’s starting to branch out from Channel 4 and beginning to develop ideas with ITV and the BBC? It’s all too easy to see Alan as just another camp comic – he makes what he does seem easy but his jokes are so sharp and I think that his use of language surpasses that of most other mainstream comics I see on TV, and if Channel 4 aren’t careful, they’re going to lose him.

So, while the format leaves a lot to be desired – as does the sanity of a lot of the contestants, given they have to resign from their job (many of them in teaching or nursing) live on air – I suppose it’s a canny little show. That’s not really good enough though is it? Alan Carr has coasted for a few years now on mediocre formats like this, and there’s a danger of him becoming known for it. Perhaps a move to ITV or Auntie is for the best.

Image courtesy of Charlie Fearn, Ray Burmiston and Alaska TV 

I Don’t Like Mondays is on Fridays at 8pm on Channel 4.

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‘The Singer Takes It All’ (Channel 4) Review

Described as ‘really groundbreaking’ by its host, Alan Carr, new interactive talent competition-cum-gameshow The Singer Takes It All began on Channel 4 tonight and saw an indifferent celebrity panel of two, some technical problems and a mixed reaction from the Twittersphere.

Despite my faith in Channel 4’s golden boy, Alan Carr, and inference from the much-shown trailer that The Singer Takes It All would be one of the few talent shows that was just out to entertain and wouldn’t take itself too seriously, I was worried. It just seemed to smack of failure straight away – a show that would be much-hyped in the days and weeks leading up to its debut, get a few column inches afterwards thanks to TV critics, and whimper out in six weeks’ time with only a fraction of its original audience, and perhaps someone expecting to see 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, tuning in.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not my prophecy about its fate will come to fruition but I have to say that I enjoyed the first episode. Obviously there are a few teething problems: I’m not quite sure about Lips (the commentator and score deliverer, voiced by 2005 X Factor semi-finalist, Brenda Edwards) and think that the interactive app – which determines whether or not a singer stays or goes, and is arguably the epicentre of the show – should have been tested more thoroughly beforehand. Oh, and I have a hunch that the conveyor belt gimmick will wear thin ten minutes into next Friday’s episode.

The format itself, however (a singer taking to the stage and, depending on whether the majority of the public deems them to be a ‘Hit’ or ‘Miss’, sailing through to the Gold Zone or being put in reverse, and disappearing through a cloud of smoke) is a pleasing one – but it’s not being used to its full potential! I, like many other viewers, found it quite amusing when CCJ and Tara Newton-Wordsworth (no relation, to my knowledge) were put in reverse and vanished through the smoke and agape doors. They weren’t bad singers – they perhaps just failed to live up to people’s expectations or hit a bit of a bum note. It seems that this format was made for bad singers, though: so where were they? The problem appears to be that because all of the contestants are on the show because they uploaded an audition clip to the The Singer Takes It All app and were voted for by its users, we only tend to see good singers, who, more often than not, sail through to the Gold Zone. We, the viewing public, must start to make a few maverick moves and press ‘Hit’ on the app for singers who aren’t as vocally talented (and know they aren’t; I’m not advocating any X Factor-style false hope here) so that we get extra laughs by more people disappearing through the doors, and the format can be used to its full potential!

Thankfully, to the more casual viewer, many of the holes in the show might not have been all that noticeable, thanks to the perfect selection of Alan Carr as host. He injects his trademark cheeky humour at every opportunity – which very few other hosts, even comedians, could have managed, I’m sure. His unwavering enthusiasm kept the fledgling show afloat – just – and he dealt with the all-too-frequent technological failures involving the app (to reiterate, very much the focus of the show) extremely well.

The Singer Takes It All may have received a mixed-reaction on social media as the TV snobs came out in force and condemned it for being too frivolous and ‘stupid’, just because it had the gumption to buck the talent show trend and not have a panel of judges, or promise of a recording contract for its winners, or wish to do anything other than entertain, but a lot of people seem to be having fun with the app – so perhaps the programme has legs. Or the app does, at least. People just need to approach The Singer Takes It All sensibly: if you’re looking for a serious singing competition, get yourself onto YouTube and watch clips of The Voice, but if a typical Friday night of rowdy fun and interaction is what you’re after, you’re in luck.

'The Singer Takes It All' host, Alan Carr

The Singer Takes It All is on Fridays at 9pm on Channel 4

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‘Prize Island’ (ITV) Review

Developed by Richard Osman (off of Pointless) and presented by Alexander Armstrong (also off of Pointless) and Big Brother’s Emma Willis, Prize Island sees couples compete in a variety of challenges on to win everything from a kettle to a car. Despite it being filmed in Mozambique, and therefore costing a lot of money, though, there seemed to be more than a little embarrassment surrounding it – not least on the part of ITV itself, who postponed it from the spring to now – around six months later. The show also had little publicity and was shunted into the unenviable time slot of 5:40 on a Sunday evening.


Yes, this Total Wipeout/Takeshi’s Castle/Fort Boyard/Generation Game/Argos commercial began tonight and, do you know what, it actually wasn’t that bad. I mean, don’t get me wrong: it’s not going  to be scooping an NTA any time soon but it wasn’t quite as horrific as the press (and, admittedly, I) made out.

Of course, there were some moments which were simply car-crash TV (one round consisted of a game of Hoopla, with the prizes being a vacuum cleaner, iron  and ironing board) but I found that if you watch it with low expectations, it’s actually quite bearable. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that ITV had no reason to keep it under wraps for so long. If I was being exceptionally, and begrudgingly, generous, I might even say that Prize Island is worthy of a Saturday night broadcast. I’m not certain about that last one yet, though.


So, that’s it. Not a long review but it says everything I want to say. Prize Island is obviously going to be hated by those who think that no TV is worth being made if it isn’t biting satire or high-brow drama but there’ll also be those who’ll spend the next few Sundays sitting down for an hour of average games with average prizes. As with a lot of shows nowadays, it’s harmless fun.

Image credits: Thanks to ITV and Endemol, ©Endemol

Prize Island is on Sunday evenings on ITV

What did you think of Prize Island? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘Big Star’s Little Star’ (ITV) Review

Big Star’s Little Star sees Catchphrase host Stephen Mulhern invite three celebrities and their children to play for a possible prize of £15,000 for a charity of their choice. But what do they have to do to win such money?

Well, after we as viewers have mastered the Stars in Their Eyes-style guessing game as to who the eponymous ‘big stars’ are, they must go through three Mr & Mrs-style rounds, in which the adult is asked a question – more often than not about their child’s opinion on them – and their answer must match that of their ‘little star’, and which will invariably cause them embarrassment. Whichever parent and child team has the most points at the end of the three rounds progresses to the final, where they have an allotted time to play a game of pairs, with the pictures representing an aspect of their lives – be it a family member, hobby or something related to their job. For each pair they match correctly, they win £1,000. As they already have £5,000 guaranteed, they must match all ten pairs in order to win the £15,000 jackpot.

It’s slightly similar to Ronnie Corbett’s quiz show, Small Talk – except in Big Star’s Little Star the parents are present and they stand a chance of winning £15,000 for charity, instead of theatre tickets for themselves…


The big stars in this opening episode were: EastEnders actress Nina Wadia and her son, Aidan; Two Pints actor Will Mellor and his daughter, Renee; and pop star Jamelia and her daughter, Tiani. The kids were brilliantly cute and the adults were perfectly game, and a lovely sense of camaraderie developed between Nina, Will and Jamelia as they sat cringing due to the embarrassing truths that(L-R) Nina and Aidan, Will and Renee, and Jamelia and Tiani their darling offspring were revealing to the nation, and they all laughed along and look at each other as if to say, ‘We’re all in the same boat here.’

Of course, the whole point of making this show was to see celebrities embarrassed and have secrets revealed about them which they wish had been kept between the four walls of home, and in that respect, Big Star’s Little Star triumphed. Over the course of an hour we learned that Nina Wadia tells her son that she’s 24, Prince William once held Will Mellor back in ‘a scuffle’ (actually I was just surprised to hear that he even knew Will’s name – clearly a Broadchurch fan) and that Jamelia relaxes on the toilet – but doesn’t do ‘a number two’. I think there are a lot of critics who would argue with that, having seen her on I Love My Country.

The only criticism I really have of Big Star’s Little Star is that it sometimes needed a bit of a kick up the backside – it was often quite slow in pace, and was a bit more fun when the kids were on-Jamelia's daughter, Tiani screen, rather than cooped up in the toy-filled VIP lounge. However, I know that the show would have felt a hell of a lot slower without Stephen Mulhern, who brought along his quick wit and slick presenting techniques from Catchphrase and More Talent and provided many fantastic moments throughout. Having worked with kids on CITV and Britain’s Got More Talent, he was perfect to host this show but also created more than a few risqué moments, too – but none so risqué that it prevented Big Star’s Little Star from firmly fitting the ‘family entertainment’ bill. I’m sure that, just like the little stars in the studio, most kids watching wouldn’t have understood why the thought of Zainab from EastEnders tying up her husband was so funny…

I thought Big Star’s Little Star was great family entertainment, and probably even good enough to be given a Saturday night slot. I’m sure it’d be more popular than Stepping Out. For now, though, it’s sitting quite comfortably on Wednesday night, and I for one think it’s nice that ITV have a bit of light and shade in their schedules, as Whitechapel followed immediately after. I think a lot of young viewers will have been sent to bed at 9:00pm sharp.

Images courtesy of ITV and Nicky Johnson, ©ITV

Big Star’s Little Star is on Wednesdays at 8:00pm on ITV

What did you think of Big Star’s Little Star? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘Through the Keyhole’ (ITV) Review

If you despise Keith Lemon, now really is not a time to be staying on to watch the telly. With Celebrity Juice having just begun its eleventh series and his revival of Through the Keyhole landing on ITV tonight, it looks like Leigh Francis’s irrepressible alter-ego is here to stay for quite a while.

Fans of the original series, fronted by the late Sir David Frost until 2008, will have been relieved to see that the format has remained relatively unchanged. Apart from a jazzy new set and edgier presenter, the concept is the same: a celebrity panel watch a VT (‘that stands for video tape’) of a tour around a mystery star’s home, with various clues scattered throughout the video, and attempt to decipher, with the help of the audience, who lives in a house like that. As with the best gameshows, it’s such a simple concept which makes for an entertaining and long-running show.

Stepping into the shoes of Frost and Loyd Grossman, and preparing to make their show “rudererer”, was Celebrity Juice host, Keith Lemon, and answering the question ‘’Oo ‘abitates in an ‘ouse like this’ this week were the usual panel show fodder of Eamonn Holmes, Martine McCutcheon and Through the Keyhole regular, Dave Berry.


I expected to dislike this revival. With the ghosts of Sing if You Can and LemonAid still haunting ITV viewers, it would be fair to say that the channel took something of a punt on getting Keith Lemon onboard to host it but it appears that they may just have found the ideal format – outside of ITV2 – for him.

You see the truth is that Through the Keyhole is quite an enjoyable show. For once there’s no prize involved – be it novelty or otherwise – and no scoring system to result in a panellist being crowned that episode’s champion: it’s just a fun little game – albeit one which would be made more enjoyable if we were allowed to play along, and the audience and viewers weren’t given the correct answer so quickly.

Granted, it’s not the 55 minutes of non-stop laughs that ITV might have us believe (as a gameshow, none of the magic has been lost, whereas as a comedy, next-to-no magic has been created) but there is a certain charm to Through the Keyhole which, try as I may, I simply cannot deny. I think I’ve inherited my nosiness from my mam (who, if a neighbour’s house is up for sale, can’t resist going on the estate agent’s website and having a look at their kitchen and bathroom) so I relished seeing how many shoes Louis Smith had, how messy (a somewhat slimmer) John Prescott’s book shelves were, and what was inside Duncan from Blue’s wardrobe. Usually you have to pay for a copy of Hello! magazine for that sort of access – but ITV are generously giving us it for free.


Keith is also surprisingly palatable as a host. The reason why most people love him on Celebrity Juice is that he can be as rude and crude as he likes – and astonishingly gets away with it – because that’s just the character. He is a very crude person. It also helps that it’s post-10pm ITV2, of course. Conversely, the reason why most people hated him on the aforementioned Sing If You Can and LemonAid is that they were scheduled at such a time on ITV that he just couldn’t get away with saying nearly half of the stuff that he does on Juice and the like. People love Keith when he’s being rude, and ITV have made a very wise decision in putting Keyhole in a post-watershed slot so that, while a few F-words have to be censored, Leigh Francis can get away with saying a bit more than he usually would and therefore comes across as a much better host – or rather the character does.

And for those who will continue to slate Keith as Keyhole’s host (for there will be many), just remember that Sir David Frost, who was at the show’s helm for over twenty years and still partly owns the rights to the format, attended the recording of the revival’s pilot, and gave his blessing for it to go ahead. And be honest: could you possibly argue with David Frost? I mean, it didn’t do Richard Nixon much good, did it?

So I was pleasantly surprised by Through the Keyhole. Whereas Julia Raeside warned Guardian readers, ‘Whatever you do, don’t peer Through the Keyhole,’ I thought it was a very good successor for the original series, and a great way to round off ITV’s (relatively) strong Saturday night line-up.

Through the Keyhole is on Saturday nights on ITV

What did you think of Through the Keyhole? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘That Puppet Game Show’ (BBC1) Review

What happens when you chuck some larger-than-life puppets, bewildered celebrities and madcap challenges into a Saturday night, primetime slot on the BBC? You end up with the unexpectedly good That Puppet Game Show.


When I wrote my preview of this show on Friday, I had only seen a few quick clips – and wasn’t particularly impressed by what I saw. I wrote, ‘Everything tells me that it will be a car crash – Time Out gave it a one-star review last week – but I hope I’m proved wrong. I suppose that after Don’t Scare the Hare (which was axed in 2011, just 2/3 through its run) we have come to assume that anything frivolous and involving non-human presenters is destined for failure.’ My dubiety could also have been owing to the critical mauling that BBC1’s other entertainment show, I Love My Country  came in for when it began its run last week.

I was, however, really surprised to find that That Puppet Game Show is actually funny! It just works so well as an entertainment show: the puppets all have individual personalities and Dougie Colon (pronounced ‘Cologne’) is the archetypal, slightly cheesy, Saturday night host. It’s not cruel in any way, no one gets hurt (well, Rob Brydon’s ego might have taken a bit of a bruising) and there’s plenty there for both kids and adults to enjoy: it truly is great family-friendly television.

The rounds are very well-formed and typically silly, too. My particular favourite was Life’s a Speech – overseen by That Puppet Game Show’s resident showbiz expert, Amber O’Neill. It involved this week’s star guests, Jonathan Ross and Katherine Jenkins, accepting an award (for Best Banter and Pride of Wales, respectively) and reading a speech from an autocue – but with blanks. They each had to fill in the blanks in their speech by drawing on their general knowledge to name things like the highest mountain in Wales, the seven continents of the world and the three nations who won the most medals at the 2012 Olympics. And Katherine did really well – she seemed to know a lot! Jonathan, on the other hand? Well…let’s just say that there’s going to be something of an awkward atmosphere the next time Rob Brydon – or ‘That one in the middle’ from Would I Lie to You? – is on Wossy’s sofa.


Despite my love of That Puppet Game Show, I’m not a fan of every aspect. The behind-the-scenes  sketches, which see the puppets talking to each other and the producer in the gallery, production   office, etc. are just weak. They spoil the show for me. I would have been content watching Jonathan and Katherine compete in the ridiculous games of the main show – and I’m sure lots of the other viewers would have been, too. Instead, though, we had to sit through these sketches which, while involving an admittedly clever plot, weren’t particularly funny or engaging. In fact, towards the end I stopped paying attention to them.

That Puppet Game Show can survive quite well on its own. It is a good, entertaining show without these behind-the-scenes interruptions. Perhaps it would have been a better idea to incorporate each episode’s plot – which this week was the impending sacking of one of the members of the team – into the programme, with the puppets alluding to it throughout – just as Clyde the Crab did at one point. That way, there’d still be more than one element to the show but we wouldn’t have this switch between the games and sketches.


Being from The Jim Henson Company – the team behind The Muppets, Bear in the Big Blue House and Fraggle Rock – there was a lot riding on That Puppet Game Show and, on the whole I loved it, and it seems that other people do, too. Well, it’s been received more warmly than I Love My Country, at least.

Images courtesy of BBC and Guy Levy, ©BBC

That Puppet Game Show is on Saturdays at 6:45pm on BBC1

What did you think of That Puppet Game Show? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘I Love My Country’ (BBC1) Review

Hosted by Gabby Logan, and with team captains Frank Skinner and Micky Flanagan, I Love My Country sets out to celebrate everything that makes Britain great by quizzing celebrity guests on subjects ranging from geography to history and popular culture.


Before this show even aired, it had come in for criticism. For some ridiculous reason, Frank Skinner recently had to defend his involvement and make it plain that the show is not an advert for UKIP. There were also allusions to David Walliams – the show’s original host – having had a lucky escape when he left to concentrate on his new sitcom and the Independent’s Adam Sherwin rebuked it, claiming, ‘[I Love My Country] is so thoroughly, idiotically inane, it could well be the worst entertainment offering that the corporation has yet dredged up for the edification of Saturday night viewers.’ Not exactly a glowing review.

Now, I have to admit, I was far too fixated by the Your Face Sounds Familiar final well, Matt Johnson, if I’m honest – to watch I Love My Country when it actually aired. However, among the Twitter users commending Xander Armstrong on his performance as SuBo and urging others to boycott #TwitterSilence, there was a smattering of people demanding to know how the BBC dared squander the licence fee payers’ money on the patriotic rubbish they saw on their screens. Mirror columnist Ian Hyland said that after watching I Love My Country he felt ‘more Irish than ever’ and The Sun’s Colin Robertson tweeted, ‘If anyone ever wondered why David Walliams pulled out of hosting I Love My Country, just turn on BBC1 right now.’


Before you read what I have to say about this show, please let me make it plain that I know I’m in a minority…

I really enjoyed it! When I gave the first episode of Your Face Sounds Familiar a favourable review, at a time when lots of others were branding it the worst  Saturday night show ever made, I said that I’m very wary of the current want to find high-brow, straightforward Saturday night entertainment. Nowadays, people don’t seem to want Splash! or Hole in the Wall. Instead, they’re crying out either for quiz shows such as In It to Win It or gripping dramas, like ITV’s The Americans. But what’s wrong with a bit of weekend fun on the telly? Yes, I Love My Country forces jollity upon its viewers, audience and participants, yes its running-time  should be halved, yes it’s an in-your-face, loud show – but so what? Don’t we need a bit of that? Don’t we need Susanna Reid identifying the theme tune to Challenge Anneka? Don’t we need Frank Skinner identifying Lickey End on a map of the British Isles, aided by a large Yorkshire pudding? I’d argue that we do.

Everyone on I Love My Country is brilliant. As the host, Gabby doesn’t just stand back and oversee proceedings, she gets involved and caught up in the moment, which is great to see – so many presenters nowadays refrain from joining in with the games on their shows, and therefore don’t come across as well as some of the other participants. Thankfully Gabby does, though. Then we have the very well-matched Frank Skinner and Micky Flanagan: they have a similar style, allowing them to bounce off each other throughout the programme. It also helps that they are presumably friends: for years, Frank has been saying in interviews that Micky is his favourite circuit performer – and was doing so at a time before the comic’s analyses of the intricacies of ‘out out’ and ‘the Cockney walk’ had entered the mainstream. Who’d have thought Jamelia would be a valuable asset to the show, as well? A favourite on programmes such as 8 Out of 10 Cats and Would I Lie to You?, Jamelia not only heads up the I Love My Country house band but also makes her mark on the show by interjecting during rounds, responding to something which one of the panellists has said and even bantering with Frank.

The guest panellists seem only to be there to exhibit their knowledge of Britain and its customs, and to provide Frank and Micky with opportunities to gently mock them. Casualty’s Charlotte Salt came in for a particular ribbing in the opening episode, with puns aplenty being made about her surname.


So I thought I Love My Country was fun and enjoyable. Those involved knew what sort of show they wanted to make and they succeeded with it, in my opinion. It was funny, it celebrated some of our British traditions and had all of the unabashed frivolity of a bloody good Saturday night vehicle. I think we can all agree that Frank Skinner and Gabby Logan should stop dancing though, right?

Images courtesy of BBC and Avalon. © Avalon

I Love My Country is on Saturdays at 7:30pm on BBC1

What did you think of I Love My Country? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see my recommendations for the coming week’s TV on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.

‘Splash!’ – Episode 1.1 Review

The hype surrounding Splash! was ridiculous – and, stupidly, I was drawn into it. I found myself, in fact, sitting at home, watching the trailers and thinking, ‘A show about celebrities learning to dive? It’s never been done before!’ I was right: up until Saturday, it hadn’t been done before – for a very good reason, it seems.


If you didn’t see Splash!, let me congratulate and give you an idea of what the end product was like: imagine Total Wipeout or Hole in the Wall pretending to be X Factor. That was Splash!. However, the one good thing about X Factor (and it’s not often you can say that) is that, although you have to tolerate the sob stories and emotional “journeys”, you do get a vaguely enjoyable three-minute power ballad out of it. With Splash! on the other hand, you must sit through these VTs and then, as a reward, you’re only provided with a three-second plunge into a pool, which Jo Brand is then supposed to get analytical about. It’s ridiculous!

The Olympics brought our attention to sports which we had previously not considered watching, nor following – with the inclusion, to some, of diving. It was obvious that the producers were going to cash in on the Olympics success, but the least they could do is deliver something that does the Games some sort of justice. I think the problem lies with Splash! being quite a good concept on paper but, when live, being an expensive oddity, which had me on the edge of my seat only to switch over to In It to Win It.


A lot of people have berated ITV for their decision to inexplicably add comedienne Jo Brand to the judging panel (seemingly purely owing to her 2011 series for Dave entitled Jo Brand’s Big Splash). However, I really like Jo and think she has the ability to add some humour to the show to make it bearable. So, I’m not going to question her being offered the role, but rather her acceptance of it. For her to go from the sublime, televisual masterpiece that is Getting On (which she co-writes and stars in) on BBC4 to Splash! on ITV1 is a shock and she surely regrets it just a smidgen. The flicker of hope I possess for the improvement of this show mainly relies on her, although I understand it can’t be easy for her to comment on the dives – and even when she does provide some tongue-in-cheek humour, she seems to be cruelly shot down by her fellow judges; Team GB diving coach, Andy Banks; and former Olympic diver, Leon Taylor, both of whom are taking the farce with far more seriousness than it clearly deserves and appear think they are critiquing our 2012 competitors.


Another call for criticism (other than the flawed format, odd choice of judge(s), Daley’s screen presence and the resident aquatics team, Stunts in Trunks (a Freudulent slip waiting to happen)) is the contestants. I just felt embarrassed for them. Some (such as Omid Djalili) saw the show as the joke it was while others (such as Jenni Falconer and Benidorm star Jake Canuso) seemed to think they were competing in a serious diving competition. Canuso’s participation in particular was nothing short of cringeworthy, as reflected in the brave faces his Benidorm colleagues were putting on as they witnessed him self-indulgently strutting up to the diving board in his red Speedos (read dental floss) to the sound of ‘Spice Up Your Life’. Steve Pemberton (Mick in, and co-writer of, the sitcom) must have been sitting in the crowd, thinking, ‘I created The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville. I’ve won a BAFTA and Royal Television Society Award, yet I’m watching this car crash – featuring one of my friends!’

The British public were then asked to pay good money to vote for their favourite celebrity diver of the night! Are ITV out if their minds – and, more to the point, are those who voted? Dialling to save your favourite contestant on Dancing On Ice or Strictly I can cope with, but your favourite amateur diver? Really?

Oh, and please don’t get me started on the ludicrously over-excited studio audience, whooping and cheering every time a contestant moved an inch in their absurdly padded-out preparation for their respective dives!

I’m not the only person to have written a negative review of Splash! since its premier airing on Saturday, and neither am I the first to say what (to my shame) I’m about to: it was compelling. Don’t get me wrong: the emotional roller coasters and journeys were frustratingly predictable and tedious but the dives were slightly interesting – for the three seconds that they lasted. Unfortunately, I will watch next week. It should only take five minutes if I fast forward the rubbish.

Splash! is on Saturday evenings on ITV1.

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