AUSTIN WOZ ROBBED.
So, did anybody in the Luton area happen to see Lisa Snowdon lurking by the pool with an evil grin on her face? Yep, the big news of the second semi-final wasn’t so much who was there as who wasn’t: Austin Healey had to withdraw from the competition after suffering a serious injury in rehearsals while attempting his second of two dives – one of the most dangerous dives ever in the history of the show, according to Tom, and while we never found out specifically which dive it was that did him in, the assessment turned out to be accurate as while Dan Osbourne, Richard Whitehead and Anna Williamson were hurling themselves into a pool for a live audience of under three million (ouch), Austin was in hospital making good use of this show’s extensive insurance policy. Poor Austin: destined to never make it to a semi-final.
I suppose we can at least offer the show some credit on the grounds that it never felt like it was struggling to fill time despite being one contestant shy – in fact, by the time The Splash-Off rolled around, the show appeared to be running over as there was barely enough time to congratulate the successful contenders and console the loser before Gabby and Vernon had to throw to the credits so we could hit Take Me Out on time. It’s a victory of sorts, right? Also, speaking of small victories: there were ladydivers in the opening number! Let’s hope they’re available to perform next week as well, since there aren’t any women actually competing in the show any more (oops, spoiler) and ITV probably don’t want it to be a total sausage fest.
So, after Vernon and Gabby celebrated Tom’s victory at the Great Big Diving Competition (or something) last Sunday and we all watched a VT of Austin showing us the things he might have been doing on the show this week if he wasn’t currently in an emergency room being pumped full of painkillers, it was left to Tom (still in his trunks and soaking wet, because PLEASE WATCH US) to explain what had happened to Austin. Tom didn’t really have a lot of new information to impart (largely because for all of his many fine qualities, he is not a doctor) but did reveal that it was something to do with not coming out of a somersault in time and whacking his neck as he entered the water. Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch. (Rest assured: we did receive word later in the show that Austin had been seen by doctors and cleared for a full recovery.) After a brief PSA about how diving is super-dangerous kids, don’t try this at home, it was time to get on with the business of sorting out our remaining three contestants. On the bright side, at least it meant that we were guaranteed that Anna, the only woman left in the competition, was guaranteed to at least make The Splash-Off, even if she didn’t make it through to the final itself. (Spoilers: she didn’t.)
Up first was The Only Way Is Essex star Dan Osborne, returning in his role as the eye candy of choice for those who have already exceeded their Recommended Daley Allowance. It appeared that Dan – having done a feet-first dive in his heat – wasn’t actually too comfortable with the idea of a head-first dive, but knew that he was going to have to do at least one of them to stand any chance of advancing. His training session was largely noteworthy for Tom shouting things like “stay straight!” and “better, but still bent!” at him and the remaining viewers responding by making snickering comments about Tom’s sexuality on Twitter. Tom described Dan’s execution in training as “like a ragdoll being thrown off a building” (way harsh, Tai) and in the end Dan ended up making excuses about injuries preventing him from doing two head/hand-first dives. This led to some excellent shade-throwing when Gabby explained that Dan’s first dive was NOT an Olympic dive and therefore would not be demonstrated by Tom in the VT, but by top stunt-diver Blake Aldridge instead. The dive in question was a forward somersault with twist from the 7.5 metre board – it was a little frantic and over-twisted, and Leon chewed him out for doing another feet-first dive (not without cause, admittedly), while Andy and Jo were a little bit more gentle and scored him a total of 22.5. Vernon, meanwhile, appeared to be a little bit smitten and couldn’t help pointing out Dan’s “lovely blue eyes”. Look out, Tess! He’s on the turn! Elsewhere, Tom (wearing a lovely polka dot jumper, well done Tom) managed not to get caught on camera ogling the goods this time, much to the disappointment of gif-makers everywhere. Obviously for his second attempt, Dan had to go in head-first, so he went for an arm-stand forward somersault pike, again from the 7.5m board. Dan’s focus here seemed to be less on the dive itself and more on not embarrassing himself by botching the arm-stand, which may explain why he started so well but hit the water with his knees bent and causing a pretty big splash (which, despite the title of the show, is not a good thing). He scored 24.5 for the second one, giving him a total of 47.0 and third place overall.
Since Richard’s first dive went so well, scoring 27.0 and topping his heat, he admitted it was going to be quite difficult for him to beat that. There was also the elephant in the room which was eventually addressed in his VT: that due to his disability, the number of diving styles that Richard could attempt in the first place was quite heavily restricted. That didn’t stop Tom and Richard doing their best to come up with some new things for him to attempt, including backward-dives and somersaults – but somersaults proved a problem because the vast majority of the rotation is usually driven by the legs. So this meant that Richard’s first dive was essentially an encore of his performance from the heats – an arm-stand forward dive from the TEN! METRE! BOARD! (I feel like one of the biggest failings of the second series has been the show’s failure to treat the ten minute board with the camp reverence it deserves.) It was well-executed again, and he did get a fair amount of credit for being the only diver going from the TEN! METRE! BOARD!, but didn’t quite get the same level of points for the reprise, picking up 25.0 from the judges. For his second dive, he moved down to the 7.5m board because this dive was apparently sufficiently badass not to need the extra elevation, and Richard explained that it was all about “believe, achieve”, channeling lovable deludanoids Richard and Joey from season one of The Amazing Race Australia in the process. The dive in question was an arm-stand backwards dive, which did involve a fair bit of dangling over the edge of the board which did look pretty impressive. There was a tad of over-rotation on his entry to the water, but Tom was pleased with the results, talking extensively about how it’s a dive that many divers don’t do because it’s so scary, and that all the divers watching at home (lol) would have been wondering how on earth he did it. At which point Leon chimed in with “I’ve done that dive before!”. Leon ♥. Despite the slight loss of control, Richard got points for badassery and was awarded 25.5 for his troubles, giving him a total of 50.5 and a comfortable first place on the board.
Rounding things out was our final semi-finalist Anna, who decided to make up for the lack of other women in the competition by being loud enough for at least three women combined. When she removed her robe it was obvious she was sporting some wickedly bruised thighs, and her VT revealed that in training for her first dive – a swan dive from the 5m board – she had a recurring problem of mid-air panic, and hitting the water horizontally as a result. The first instance didn’t seem so bad – Anna was winded and sore but apparently okay, but after a second high-impact bellyflop, Anna’s spirit seemed as bruised as her legs, as she admitted that her body and her head were throbbing – however, it wasn’t so much the pain that seemed to be bothering her as the fact that she kept getting the dive wrong. She was incredibly worried about having another flame-out on the night, but unnecessarily as it turned out, as she kept her nerve and delivered a fairly impressive swan dive – her entry to the water was one of the most impressively vertical approaches we’ve seen all series, even if she didn’t quite hold the T-shape for long enough. The judges were impressed, and gave her 24.0, which Anna was very pleased with. For her second dive, she went for a forward 1½ somersault with tuck from the 3m springboard, which Anna explained (loudly) she was doing FOR THE GIRLS!, because there needed to be a girl in the final. (Spoiler: there are no girls in the final.) This did not go quite so well as she kicked out of it a little too early and ended up with what the judges are so fond of calling “helicopter legs”. Anna’s post-dive explanation was that she had so much fake tan on to cover her bruises that she couldn’t actually hold on to her legs. We’ve all had that problem, right lads? The judges picked her up on the lack of proper tuck but admired her ambition and scored her 24.0. Favourite moment of Anna lapsing into kids’ TV presenter mode: it’s a toss-up between her calling Tom “sweetie” (while not even looking at him) and calling Gabby “Gabbs”.
This week’s performance piece was circus-themed and soundtracked by Basement Jaxx’s ‘Do Your Thing’, and opened with Tom dressed as the ringmaster (the jokes just write themselves, don’t they?) leaping into the pool in full costume while blowing a party horn (god, you’re KILLING me here). I mean, I could describe the rest of it to you, but really, other than the revelation that this routine also involved women diving (WHILE SKIPPING!) and the part where two topless male divers jumped in together while wrapped around each other, I think it kind of peaked in the first 10 seconds. Then the results confirmed the inevitable: Richard had the free pass to the final, while Dan and Anna would be competing in The Splash-Off. Dan reprised his arm-stand dive, this time managing a better somersault, while Anna went for her springboard dive and again didn’t quite manage to get the tuck right, hitting the water with her legs splayed again. The judges considered it a close call, putting forward the case that both dives were better than the first attempt, but with Leon and Andy voting for Dan and only Jo voting for Anna, the final became an official sausage-fest as the last remaining woman was sent home.
Next week: Dan and Richard return to take on Keith and Perri, and we confront the ironic prospect of an all-male final being won by someone from Diversity. See you then.