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Reality TV Blog

'Splash!': TV belly flop or guilty Saturday night pleasure?

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Celebrities. Diving. Hosted by Vernon Kay. This was always going to be on the Don't Scare The Hare/Pets Win Prizes/Ice Warriors end of the Saturday night TV scale, but not even in our wildest imaginations could we have imagined how terrible (and simultaneously brilliant) Tom Daley's Splash! would be.

Splash! Tom Daley

© ITV



Vernon Kay (in dodgy shorts) and Gabby Logan hosted the show with a mixture of dead-behind-the-eyes horror and pure shame exuding from their every pore. Rarely could you find a duo with less chemistry as they stumbled through their lines together like a couple on the worst first date imaginable.

We had the Splash Dive Crew, a collection of youngsters hurling themselves into what looks little grander than your local swimming baths and prancing around in sparkly swimming costumes and James Bond tuxedos on the board. Even the cameramen appeared bored by the collective, switching to camera angles of the baffled audience and celebrities and ignoring the water acrobatics entirely.

And then there was the star of the show, Tom Daley. A more lovely and talented lad you are unlikely to meet, but I'd stick to the twisted pikes and tight trunks if I was him, because he's got the on-screen charisma of a packet of Rice Krispies.

Splash: Jenni Falconer

© ITV



The celebrities? ITV picked the one member from the history of the Sugababes who was scared of water, a chap from Benidorm who went from wiggling his bum in only a handkerchief-sized pair of trunks to talking about his nightmares at getting caught in the Thailand tsunami and 'Hollywood star' Omid Djalili, who at the very least embraced the show's silliness, ditching technique and just jumping from the highest board possible, sizeable-belly first.

No amount of screaming from adolescent teens at his every buttock flex could mask wooden and laughably silly remarks such as, "If he is able to conquer diving, he definitely isn't going to be scared of water again".

My personal highlight from the opening episode was the judging panel - a trio who were beyond parody and who I will be mainly tuning in for next weekend.

Splash: Omid Djalili

© ITV



Team GB coach Andy Banks was a Mr Serious, treating the whole ludicrous show like it was a genuine sporting occasion of Olympic significance, and I never stopped shouting WTF at my TV screen whenever Jo Brand appeared. Yes, that Jo Brand.

But best of the lot was former Olympic silver medallist Leon Taylor. He may have spent his career diving, but he's also clearly got worn out VHS tapes of Nasty Nigel on Popstars and a Sky box full of Craig Revel Horwood issuing put-downs on Strictly and was like a giddy 8-year-old hyped-up on Vimto unleashed into the world of live TV.

Whether he was spectacularly failing to be the show's Mr Nasty (it helps if you don't give higher scores than the other judges Leon), futilely attempting to spark an argument with Jo Brand, or whooping about the fact that he's in tears at a dive ("Your journey - unbelievable!") when he clearly isn't, I found myself unable to keep my eyes off him. It's pointless doing a reality TV comedy spoof ever again, because Leon nailed the gag on Saturday.

Oh, and there was some diving.

Splash: Jade Ewan

© ITV



The lack of actual 'splash' from the celebrities was the main disappointment. We got Omid Djalili doing his best flying pig impression and a Sugababe who could barely swim pretty much just falling into the water, but the actual diving only took up about 30 seconds of the show in total. And then we got an overload of replays and commentary about "backward bananas".

I want to see Joey Essex belly flopping 27 times. I want an ex-soap cast member to be hurled backwards off the 10 metre board. I want Vernon Kay and Leon Taylor taking a running jump and pirouetting into the pool in only their Speedos.

When Splash! gets stupid, it's funny, throwaway TV that stands proudly alongside the much-missed Hole in the Wall as a preposterous guilty pleasure. When it gets serious and Gabby and Vernon feign excitement at dance routines from the 'Splash Dive Crew' and a flip board jump from Jenni Falconer, it's time to reach for the remote.

More silliness next Saturday please ITV.

What did you think of Splash!? A belly flop? Or a hilarious hit? Let us know below!

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