NO GIRLS ALLOWED. Oh all right, Jo and Gabby. You can come in if you really have to.
I don’t think it’s uncharitable of me to assume that this will probably be the last Splash! blog I will ever write. The show was never a smash-hit, but steady, middling ratings throughout series one were enough to earn it a second series (especially since ITV’s in-house entertainment development record is pretty shocking, so it really was a hit by those standards), but in series two a combination of viewer fatigue and competition from a revived, star-powered The Voice UK over on BBC1 meant it was only ever going to end one way – general indifference.
Still, all credit to those involved for managing to avoid the elephant in the room and for not letting it stop them from putting on what turned out to be…quite a good final, actually. It wasn’t perfect – they didn’t seem to have quite enough time to get through everything they needed to do, so everything from the VTs to the dives to the judging felt a little bit rushed, and obviously the fact that there were no women whatsoever left in the competition was a bit unfortunate – but in terms of delivering some actually quite-impressive dives that showed real improvement from the beginning of the series and gave the impression that maybe there was a point to this show all along, it delivered.
Even everyone’s wardrobe seemed to demonstrate a sense of occasion tonight. Well, almost everyone’s. Gabby wore easily her best dress since the opening episode, a peach-coloured number with blue sequins and a sort of hoop-skirt thing going on. Tom and Leon appeared to have designated this as Blazer Saturday, with Tom wearing a blue blazer over a red v-neck and black jeans (nice enough, but honestly Tom, I was hoping for another amazing jumper) and Leon had a black blazer on over a sparkly black polo neck, a look that my boyfriend likened to General Zod. (KNEEL BEFORE LEON! And the jokes write themselves.) Vernon, unfortunately, seemed to have drawn the short straw in the outfit front, wearing a shirt he appeared to have borrowed from Charlie Brown’s Sunday best collection.
Much like last year’s final, each of the finalists was required to do two dives – a solo dive that represented the pinnacle of their achievements on the show, and a synchronised dive with Tom. Gabby decided to get things going by asking “who wants to see some diving?” Well, judging by last week’s ratings, fewer than three million viewers. Still, diving is (ostensibly) why we were all there, so it was time to begin the proceedings with Perri Kiely. Perri remained this year’s obvious ringer, since rotating in mid-air and synchronising with other people is what he does for a living, so obviously there was a need to inject some sort of jeopardy into the proceedings. This was done by reminding us that, much like Velma from Scooby Doo, Perri can’t see without his glasses. Still, apparently 20:20 vision isn’t that important in diving, since Perri’s first dive – a forward 2½ somersault with tuck from the 3m springboard – was a barnstormer. His entry to the water was a degree or two shy of being completely vertical, but aside from that it was a pretty much flawless effort and earned Perri a perfect score of 30.0 from the judges (although Leon did feel the need to say “STUNT” a few more times, even if he was just referring to the first dive that Perri did way back in week one). For his synchronised dive, Perri and Tom did an inward 1½ somersault with tuck from the TEN METRE BOARD. It was another solid effort – Perri jumped out a little farther than Tom and didn’t quite kick his legs out fast enough, but the judges were still very impressed with the ambition and execution and awarded Perri 27.5 for a total of 57.5 overall, putting him in first place on the leaderboard (even though we were advised that the scores were “just for guidance” tonight, as they inevitably must be in a final).
The second competitor was Keith Duffy, who credited his trunks for his success on both previous outings – the shamrocks galvanising the Irish vote in his heat, and the repeated appearances by his bum crack in the semi-final sealing the deal – but figured that now he might have to actually nail the technique if he was going to stand a chance against Richard and Perri. Still, that didn’t distract him from spending some time having a bromance of shit tattoos with Dan Osborne during training. Tom painted Keith as this week’s designated “over-thinker”, although his problem seemed to be more one of over-rotation, as Keith’s first dive of a 1½ somersault with tuck from the 7.5m board demonstrated, combined with the fact that he leapt diagonally off the board, which I think must be a Splash! first. Still, his trunks stayed up, and he got 25.0 for it – a decent score, but also the lowest score of the night. Keith’s primary worry during his synchro dive with Tom was that he’d dive off at an angle again and end up landing on top of Tom. I’m sure that’s an image that appeals to some viewers, even if it would spell disaster for Tom’s diving career. They went for an inward dive with tuck, after which Gabby asked Tom “when you were a lad watching Top Of The Pops, did you ever dream you’d be diving with Keith Duffy?”, to which Tom’s response was a polite but unsurprising “no”. The judges found the dive a tad simple but well-executed and scored it 26.0 (with Andy saying “simple dive, 8.5”, which is a bingo call waiting to happen) and giving Keith a grand total of 51.0 points, leaving him languishing in fourth place on the irrelevant leaderboard.
After a brief break for a joke at Penny Mordaunt MP’s expense about landing on one’s face (which no one laughed at, because nobody even remembers who she is) it was time for Richard. Tom pointed out that Richard’s dives thus far have, by necessity, been fairly similar-looking, but since it was the final, Richard was determined to do something different, so this time he was going for an arm-stand somersault. They worked out a way of getting the required amount of rotation in training, but would Richard be able to deliver on the night? Yeah, pretty much – his armstand forward somersault piked from the 7.5 board was good, and Tom declared it Richard’s best dive to date. Richard, bless him, wanted to dedicate this dive to Austin, who’d spurred him on and SHOULD BE HERE IN THE FINAL WITH HIM. I feel like “he should have been in the final” will be Austin’s epitaph. The judges scored Richard’s first dive 29.0, with Jo awarding it the last 10.0 of the night. Dive two was inevitably given the narrative of how AMAZING it was to have an Olympic medal-winner and a Paralympic medal-winner diving together, and how this was all testament to the POWER OF SPORT. It was also a big challenge, because Tom has never done a handstand in a synchronised dive before and the judges agreed that people don’t tend to do that in competitions because it’s so difficult to execute, giving him 27.5 for services rendered, leaving him with a total of 56.5 and second place.
Getting the pimp slot in the final was Dan Osborne, perhaps sensibly given that the internet appears to have erupted with Dan Osborne love (/enthusiastic fapping) in the last couple of weeks. Dan’s narrative yet again was that of the vain joker, with Tom playing his shrewish wife in the VTs, constantly nagging him “Dan! Dan! Dan” like Alan Partridge to get him to concentrate. Dan was determined to leap headfirst from the TEN METRE BOARD to prove that he was “more than just a pretty pair of trunks”. Yeah, he’s got a nice set of tits as well. Anyway, that turned out to be all for naught, because he admitted to Gabby back in Luton that he’d “bottled it”, so instead he was going for a backward 1½ somersault with twist from the 3m springboard to achieve in difficulty what he couldn’t do in height. The execution of the start of the dive was pretty good, but he rotated too far and ended the water with legs bent and splayed, which was not lost on the judges who scored him 27.0, and Leon took full advantage of his last opportunity to talk about STUNT dives of the past. But let’s face it, what we were all here for was Tom and Dan diving together, in an event that will almost certainly live forever in gif form on the internet. Dan got a bit fanboyish at the prospect and said “the picture of me and Tom diving is going to be on my bedroom wall.” I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it ended up on Tom’s bedroom wall as well. Or his bedroom ceiling. Tom admitted that he had fun training with Dan for the synchro dive (I’LL BET) and that was evident in them turning out arguably the best synchro dive of the night – they were in perfect harmony all the way down (FNAR) and Dan even had his legs straight and everything. Sadly, while the execution was near-perfect, Andy and Leon griped that the forward dive with tuck from the 7.5m board was a tad on the easy side, so they couldn’t give him a perfect score and he left with 27.5, a total of 54.5 and third place. The show then shattered the fourth wall entirely as Vernon essentially said “look, we know you all want this image for your wank bank, so I’m going to get out of the way, Tom and Dan are going to pose in their trunks together, so take a screenshot and make the most of it.” Oh, Splash!. I do love that you could be self-aware when you needed to be. (Also, immediately after posing with Dan, Tom put his hands over his crotch. I’M SAYING NOTHING.)
While the viewers were voting, we were treated to the sight of the rest of this year’s contestants watching from the sidelines, even if there was only time to speak to two of them. Naturally, the most important one was Austin, who is definitely STILL ALIVE. We actually got to see some footage of the dive that destroyed him last week and it looks like it would’ve been truly awesome if it hadn’t, y’know, almost shattered his neck. Austin admitted that he’d basically attempted a dive entirely beyond his capabilities, and generally looked a bit miserable to be sitting out yet another final. The only other person featured was Penny, mostly so we could relive her epic bellyflop and cringe a few more times. Gabby asked Penny if David Cameron gave a shit about her accident, and the answer was clearly “no”. Sucks to be a low-level Conservative MP, I guess.
Our final showcase of the series was done to ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’, giving the show a chance to go out in ludicrously camp style, with Tom posing on the bottom of the pool with the synchronised divers – although my favourite part was the nod to the existence of female divers as one woman leapt off a board in a dress with a massive train. I think that should be one of the standard dives for series three (HAHAHAHAHA, like that’s happening).
Once the lines were closed, we were treated to a highlights clip from the series. This gave us another chase to see Gemma Collins’ bruised tits, and the undisputed star of the series Martin “AAAARRRRRGGH OHHHHH SHIIIIIIIIIIT!” Offiah. It also featured Tom saying “this year, the standard of diving is through the roof”, which does sound to me as though people were fundamentally misunderstanding the entire process of diving.
Finally, it was time to announce the results. And while Splash! may have got many things wrong over the past few weeks, it’s good to see that it managed to do what Strictly Come Dancing has proven either unwilling or unable to do over the past two years and actually give final finishing placements for all four finalists. So Dan ended up in four place, with Keith in third, and Perri beat out Richard for the overall win. See, Louise Rainbow? NOT THAT BLOODY DIFFICULT, IS IT? Ashley Banjo had tears in his eyes, and Tom presented the trophy to Perri before grabbing him under the nipples and lifting him into the air. I’ll leave you all to imagine for yourselves where Tom might have grabbed Dan if the order of the results had been reversed.
With that out of the way, it was time for the best bit of any series of Splash!: the bit where everyone LEAPS INTO THE DAMN POOL ALREADY. Just like last year, Gabby couldn’t even wait to finish her link before RIPPING OUT HER EARRINGS IN READINESS, although this time she took the precaution of putting a swimming cap on before taking the plunge. Also, the look of sheer joy on Leon’s face knowing that he’d get to show off by doing a somersault into the pool was an absolute delight. Oh, Leon. When this show’s inevitable cancellation is announced, I will miss you most of all. Unless of course it gets offered an ALL-STAR SPECIAL for next year like Dancing On Ice did, in which Austin Healey will return to claim the deserving victory that was robbed for him, beating Martin Offiah and Jade Ewens to the title. Although I probably shouldn’t hold my breath for that.
So that’s it for Splash!, I assume. Thanks for reading, and the hunt is now on to find something else I can write about at weekends.