OH, TOM DALEY, where did it go so wrong? Two-times successful Olympian, a more accomplished diver than even Robin van Persie, and a heart-throb to millions of teenage girls across the world.
So how on earth did you end up on Splash? (ITV1, Saturday, 6.30pm).
Maybe the idea was pitched to him differently. Maybe someone, somewhere at ITV managed to make it sound much better than it really is:
“It works like this Tom. We’ll get some A-list celebrities – yes, they will be A-list Tom – and you’ll teach them how to dive. We’ll get a big name reality TV show presenter – or maybe her husband, who might
be short of work after dropping his job at Radio 1 – to host it and some great judges. What Jo Brand doesn’t know about diving isn’t worth knowing.”
And so Tom signs up for what is already being panned everywhere as the worst scraping the barrel example of reality TV going. A bellyflop of a programme, if you like.
It works like this: Those A-list celebrities are actually comedians you might not have heard of, who appear to have spent a couple of weeks learning to dive with Daley. The presenters are Tess Daley’s husband Vernon Kay – who has already used his gag “I love a Daley” when handing over from Tom – and Gabby Logan, arguably the saviour of the show.
Logan took to Twitter on Saturday night to thank people for what she called the “feedback” – what I’d call universal condemnation – and to remind people it’s just meant to be a bit of fun.
Of course it is, but for reality TV to work, we need to be able to understand what the celebrity contestants are going through before we can buy into what they’re doing. So diving off a five-metre diving board isn’t my idea of fun, but it also isn’t eating kangeroo testicles in the jungle either, is it?
On Splash, we got the briefest of background stories – a fleeting mention of one Sugababe being scared of water, and of a Benidorm actor cracking his nose on a diving board – before the long, dragged out process of the “star” walking to the board began.
With the flashing lights and loud music, it felt more Bullseye-by-the-pool rather than Strictly-in-the-air.
In an age where a would-be singer having a cough can become front page news and prompt a five-minute video before their performance, it seemed random that such “real” drama in Splash was pushed to one side in favour of more inane, diving board chat with Kay.
And why are all the blokes dressed in shorts? It’s set at an indoor pool, not a Miami lido.
There’s so much about it which could be better. The naff cartoon splash graphic between each shot irritated after about five minutes, the random shot of a girl holding up an ipad with “Team Daley” written on it grated, and Daley himself praising everyone for a wonderful dive when it blatantly wasn’t was downright annoying.
Logan’s right – it is just meant to be a bit of fun. But at who’s expense? Because I’m not sure who the joke’s on at the moment – those taking part or the gullible 8.5 million who watched it.
What I’ll be watching next week: Bad Santas (C4, 9pm, Monday): Following a group of unemployed men who enrol at Santa School.