Splash! – Episode 3

Okay, fine, it’s a regular thing.

So this week’s episode of Splash! – the third and final instalment of the heats – fell somewhere between the other two. The standard of diving dropped off considerably from episode two, and the presentation remained somewhere between amateurish and acceptable, but at least it still remained an improvement from the opener. And let’s face it, if it manages to be worse than episode one at any point during its run, then somebody is seriously asleep at the wheel.

It was kind of cute that this week’s show started out by trying to convince us that Splash! is actually a buzzing thing that’s happening – Gabby breathlessly reported that diving centres are reporting “an increase” in the number of people visiting. Yes, “an increase”. No actual statistics given there, just “an increase”. Also, it’s January. Also, don’t most exercise facilities get loads of new members through the doors at the beginning of the year? Anyway, it wasn’t just the diving centres that had convinced the show it’s got a hit on its hands – DAVID CAMERON TALKED ABOUT THE SHOW ON DAYBREAK! (Of course, the first most people will have heard of this will have been when it was mentioned on this show, because…Daybreak.) Anyway, David Cameron would love to put some politicians up for this show, especially if he can force them off the high boards (LOL NADINE DORRIES), but sadly he cannot take part himself, because he would melt when he hit the water.

This week’s filler included a strange bit of propaganda about THE BOARDS (not just the TEN METRE BOARD, mind you, but all of THE BOARDS) and how intimidating they are. One soundbite was Tom saying: “The difference between the 7.5m board and the 10m board is completely psychological.” No Tom, the difference between the 7.5m board and the 10m board is 2.5m. Looks like someone needs to spend a bit more time on his maths and a little less time wandering around in his Speedos. Also, we were told that the springboard has a personality all of its own, which is probably more than can be said for Andy, who attempted to get the audience whooping this week and failed miserably. Apparently he hasn’t realised that all you need to do is say “Tom Daley”.

So, this week’s contestants were Donna Air, Linda Barker, Dom Joly, Tina Malone (who declared in the intro that she was “in it to win it”, which LOL) and Anthony Ogogo. (This is interesting, because the show’s bringing in the sort of steady ratings that suggest it might well be returning for another series, but they’re kind of already seriously scraping the bottom of the celebrity barrel – DONNA AIR – so I’m rather intrigued to see who they’d sign up to compete next year.) Meanwhile, Vernon capitulated to the cold weather by wearing full-length trousers instead of his usual shorts which, combined with his tight-fitting nylon polo shirt, pretty much completed his transformation into witless trainee PE teacher.

Linda Barker was on first, and surprised pretty much all of us by being this week’s dark horse ringer contestant, executing a tuck dive from the 7½m board and generally having pretty good form. We were all less surprised by the fact that she was SUPER-NEEDY about everything. However, it is impossible to discuss Linda’s time on the show without mentioning the most egregious cameltoe that has ever been witnessed on pre-watershed television. I mean, DAYUM. It’s just as well ITV doesn’t broadcast in 3D, because that thing would’ve poked your eye out. We even got a slow-mo pan up her body just to make sure we saw it. Still, the judges managed to be polite enough not to mention it and scored her dive 25.5, with Leon saying “your entrance into the water was almost as good as Tom’s.” Feel free to make your own joke about Tom’s entrance, and its similarity to that of a 51-year-old woman, but please do so on your own blogs, because I don’t want to be sued. Also, absolutely everyone who came into contact with Linda after her dive was left with their clothes soaking. Poor Vernon was left looking like he’d peed his pants. Will the budget for this show not stretch to some towels for the contestants?

Up second was Dom Joly, who informed us that he lost his bottle in rehearsals after bellyflopping off the three metre board. Oddly enough, Tom’s pep talk of “oh yeah, I did the same off the TEN METRE BOARD one time” didn’t really help to lift his spirits. So the revelation that, for the live show, Dom had decided to do a swan dive off the TEN METRE BOARD (otherwise known as What Omid Did) came as a bit of a surprise. Whatever his reasons were, they were somewhat misguided, as he pretty much did everything wrong: he didn’t move his arms into the T-shape as demonstrated by Tom in the VT, and he didn’t so much overextend as do a full-on rotation that led him to land on his back. OUCH. Still, he somehow got 20 points “for bravery”. The scoring on this show is so weird sometimes. Next up was Donna Air, whose face and accent are both a little odd these days, and who strangely encouraged us to remember her for The Big Breakfast and not for Byker Grove, despite the fact that this prompted everyone on Twitter to go “hang on, isn’t she the one who asked The Corrs how they met?” Except me, that is: I was thinking more of that time Paul Tonkinson berated her live on air for leading them down another “Geordie cul-de-sac of nothingness”. Anyway, if she had any sense she’d want us to remember her for ‘Jellyhead’, which was amazing (or indeed for ‘Luv’d Up’, which was also amazing, but apparently nobody but me remembers that one). Anyway, Donna Air now has a daughter who is super-cute but appears not to be wholly comfortable with having a microphone thrust in her face on live television. Donna attempted a pike fall from the 5m board, but seemed to be leaning at entirely the wrong angle into it and ended up overextending on entry. It probably also didn’t help that someone in the audience literally screamed just as she was about to dive. Anyway, Donna got 17 points from the judges, and Jo made a joke that nobody laughed at.

Tina Malone was on next, and explained in great detail that she’s never jumped into water from any height at all prior to signing up for this show because she used to be 10½st heavier and didn’t want to empty the whole thing in one go (hey, her words not mine). Despite attempting probably the easiest dive on offer on this show (a pike fall from the 3m board), she’d rather sensibly chosen to do a straightforward dive that she knew she could pull off rather than an ambitious one that she couldn’t, and as a result her dive was a lot neater than Donna’s, but only scored 13 points. I know that this is essentially how the scoring works in real diving, that you get more points for attempting something more difficult, but it seems odd to work it that way on a reality show. I can only imagine the wank that would ensue if the judges on Strictly Come Dancing started giving points for creative ambition or whatever. Finally, Anthony Ogogo was attempting the first real piece of showmanship on this show by doing a backward somersault from the 7½m board, and I could barely watch any of his VT as a result (partially because I was terrified he was going to do a Greg Louganis, and partially because I was still watching ‘Jellyhead’ on YouTube). The moments right before his dive were probably the closest this show has ever got to genuine tension, but he sort of pulled it all off: the main issue was that he didn’t really tuck his legs in, so it just looked more like a flip than a somersault. Also, the “bravery” issue reared its head with the judges in a peculiar way, as Leon took great exception to the fact that Anthony was doing a dive where he’d land feet-first in the water, which is apparently the coward’s way out, and AS AN OLYMPIAN, Anthony should be above such things. Clearly Anthony needs to re-read his Olympic handbook. As a result, Anthony scored 22.5 leaving him in second place, below Linda.

Not that it mattered, because of course he was going to get more votes from the public than she was, so Anthony got the guaranteed spot in the semi-finals and everyone acted like this was a huge affront to Linda personally, and Gabby made things worse by saying things to Linda like “I bet you thought you had it in the bag, didn’t you?” So Linda had to dive again in the splash-off, where she was unexpectedly up against Tina (who’d rocketed from 5th place up to at least 3rd, so obviously the public vote in this show is more of a force than the previous two weeks might have led us to believe) in what you might think was the most foregone conclusion in a very long time. Linda managed a better tuck in her second dive but struggled coming out of it and over-extended, while Tina’s reprise of her pike fall was about the same, with slightly more of a flop on the entrance to the water. So, all three judges voting to send Linda through? Lol no: Jo decided to vote for Tina in what she pretty much openly admitted was an act of deliberate trolling. Still, Andy and Leon both voted for Linda, giving her the last place in the semis.

Which leaves next week’s line-up as Omid Djalili, Jake Canuso, Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, Charlotte Jackson, Anthony Ogogo and Linda Barker. And, as I understand it, there are only two places available in the final, so given the show’s amazement that there are any women at all in the final (and the fact that one of them is probably still too injured to dive properly), I’d be willing to bet a sizeable sum that the final will be a sausage-fest, and for once I’m not talking about Tom Daley in his Speedos.

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