The Jump on Channel 4
It used to be said about politicians, but it now also applies to television: we get the shows we deserve. The latest piece of outstanding “public service television” from Channel 4 is The Jump (C4, Sunday), which is again parading a horde of reality stars who you’ve never heard of, and from shows you’ve barely watched. In fact, tens of millions of viewers have barely watched them.
Most audiences for reality shows, such as Made in Chelsea, Geordie Shore or The Only Way is Essex are tiny; regularly less than a million. As we know these sanity-challenging programmes are all about satisfying the vanity of those who believe their mug should be permanently on the box.
Wannabes are literally queuing to be on them. But let’s try to be positive: perhaps the “public service” element in The Jump is that we’re providing some unexpected form of therapy for these people who would otherwise be crippled by shyness, sitting in the corner of their living rooms sobbing uncontrollably into copies of a celebrity magazines.
As a collective, there’s no doubting their enthusiasm. This is their job after all and now, rather insidiously, I confess I recognise some of them: “Weren’t you in something once?” TOWIE’s Lydia Bright, for instance, was incredibly competitive in The Jump, which can only make the producers rub their hands, with comments like:
“She’s an accident waiting to happen.” Josie Gibson, who won Big Brother and says inspiring things like “I feel my most sexiest in gym gear”, had a flash of honesty on the show:
“I’m bricking it.” But the frankest person in the line-up was the ever urbane Olympic star Sir Bradley Wiggins, who offered this gem on national television when asked by presenter Davina McCall why he was doing it: “It’s just to **** off the Daily Mail!” Who? In any case, I’m sure they’re delighted with that comment.
In defence of Channel 4, why would you cancel “the most dangerous show” in the world when rich celebrity fodder like this can’t say “no”, and then come up with a reason like this?
The Jump 2017
Tue, January 3, 2017
The Jump 2017: Reality stars Lydia Bright, Josie Gibson & Spencer Matthews join Olympic gymnast Louis Smith and model Vogue Williams on the slopes for their last UK training session before the show
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Louis Smith, Lydia Bright & Vogue Williams hit the ski slope
In other sporting news, the nation again tried to understand American football in Super Bowl Live (BBC2, Monday). On the surface it looks like three hours of padding, wrapped around three minutes of entertainment. To help us, the BBC enlisted a presenter and three experts to provide excitable analysis to what, in the end was billed as the “greatest Super Bowl ever”. This was because they had something called “over time”, which is “extra time” to you and me. Watch half an hour of what we used to call “gridiron”, and you will forever understand the statement: “Two nations separated by a common language”.
The famous half-time show didn’t disappoint with Lady Gaga turning in a typically understated performance. No meat-cladding this time, but a more inclusive, sparkly vegan display inside a blacked-out arena as she offered her bejewelled gusset to millions worldwide while singing on the high-wire. No wonder a wheelchair-bound George Bush Snr and wife Barbara, aloft in a bizarre transporter, made the effort to turn out just so the former president could almost toss the coin.
We live in an age of fake news, and we apparently have an inability to notice. So we now have The Fake News Show (C4, Monday), which was actually very funny. Presented by Stephen Mangan, with contributions from Richard Osman and Richard Ayoade, the latter of whom must be struggling to find time for extra TV appearances since he’s meant to be both the next Doctor Who and a presenter on the Great British Bake Off.
The Moorside (BBC1, Tuesday)
The show scored a coup by convincing people on Twitter (not difficult) about several faintly plausible stories. Comedian Katherine Ryan put out a picture of her “botched Brazilian bum lift”, which was picked up by most major newspaper websites.
Osman’s best point is that most fake news arrives from eastern Europe, particularly “Macedonia Online”, a website with which I’m sure you’re very familiar. It’s recent boast was a picture of German chancellor Angela Merkel with her “father” Adolf Hitler. Okay, I’ve stopped laughing now. Clearly, some people will believe anything.
That includes anyone who actually believed a moment of Apple Tree Yard (BBC1, Sun & Mon), which concluded a four-part series. There’s so called “suspending disbelief” and there’s living in the real world.
The first issue was that Yvonne (Emily Watson) didn’t report the rape, even putting aside that she’d also recently encountered her lover in a dark alley; second, that husband Gary (Mark Bonnar) was still willing to take her back at the end after she finally revealed her affair in open court. Is he the most forgiving husband in the world? Third, a jury was willing to believe any of this.
Finally, Sheridan Smith’s new Bafta arrived on the television in the shape of The Moorside (BBC1, Tuesday). Or was it? Was the best performance actually Gemma Whelan’s ultra-realistic Karen Matthews? She brilliantly captured the warped personality of Matthews, who was utterly disturbing and child-like.
When Matthews reacted with joy to the family liaison’s ring tone, a nation’s jaw dropped. Or equally, when she exclaimed, “my daughter Shannon is famous now”. Does this drama help us understand this crime? Nothing will, alas.