Grace Dent on TV: Splash! ITV1
Mr Selfridge, ITV1

Minor celebs hit the swimming pool like baby hippos launching themselves into tapioca

After watching, by no free will of my own, the trailer for ITV1's Mr Selfridge in the ball-park region of 600-1,000 times, I was inexplicably drawn to watch last Sunday. It had been a startling weekend for ITV1 thus far. Splash! – the show where Omid Djalili belly-flops from 10 metres into a municipal swimming baths after a 12-minute build up by Vernon Kay clad in Gap shorts and deck shoes – had been visual nectar. Twitter was alive with glee at the awfulness of Splash! And some mistake that glee for failure, which it wasn't. Splash! relies on the limitless fun of watching minor celebs hitting a swimming pool with the sleek dexterity of a baby hippo launching itself into a vat of tapioca pudding. Splash! relies on the exquisite joy of shouting at diving mentor and Olympian Tom Daley, each time his face fills the screen polishing the TV turd.

Oi, mate, shouldn't you be training for Rio? There are Chinese four-year-olds, right now, doing double-backwards-quadruple-flip somersaults into Beijing pools, while you fanny about in a headset.

Splash! relies on the terrifying jeopardy that someone might catch a verucca or even approach the vending machines in the spectator area post-dive to find it free of KP prawn cocktail Skips.

In all seriousness, Splash! is jovial, harmless family fun and anyone – regardless of intellect or snootiness – who finds themselves trapped in a "family environment" on a Saturday evening welcomes something daft and unchallenging one can watch with children, gran or mother-in-law. I do not have children, but am frequently left with them by chums who drop them at my house mumbling: "A few hours? They do love you," only for me then to hear a terrific revving of car engines, loud cackling and Marlboro lights being lit up as they race to sniff freedom, a pub environment and human contact for the first time in 100 days. It's then that I realise shows like Splash! or Total Wipeout are a godsend. Unlike that BBC3 "funniest moments" show I left playing in front of a seven-year-old the other day and quickly had to answer: "Grace, what is a pregnancy test? And why is that man showing his willie to the crowd? And what are pubes?'"There are no pubes in Splash!, largely, as Daley has yet to grow any.

So by Sunday, it was time for Mr Selfridge. And I'll admit I was already wholly sick, just from the trailer, of Selfridge's smug expression, bumptious manner and jaunty gait as he circumnavigated the store, doing "behold, this will blow your frickin' MIND" hand gestures at displays of socks. Just socks Selfridge, mind, not Jesus's face in a sock. Not a sock made of gold which you conjured from base metals having freshly unveiled the secret of alchemy. Socks. However, I stuck with episode one.

To recap – as far as I can make out - Mr Selfridge is an American with hearing difficulties largely brought on through his own natural speaking volume which is booming and theatrical, a bit like a jumbo jet leaving JFK. He has the makings of an excellent Mr Men character called something like "Mr Jazzhands" which would be the tale of a poor soul who doesn't realise he's the only one in Mr Men town who speaks like a cross between Gene Kelly and the town crier. Selfridge spends his days wandering the store delivering bon mots to the assistants in the terrifying manner people do in a long musical when one thinks, "oh shit, they're going to sing again". And sometimes – beware – there are songs.

Episode one centred around Selfridge worrying whether he'd be able to finance his store. Would it exist? Having just returned from his store that day where I'd been in the ground-floor beautician section being sprayed tikka colour and having my talons done, I could already confirm – spoiler alert – the shop bloody exists.

His other job, aside from storekeeping, is womanising, which is always endearing. In fact building a whole show around a bloke cheating on his wife by trying to bang everything that moves from Marble Arch to Holborn is a good idea, up there with making prime-time telly around Caprice and Jenny Falconer pulling a damp costume out of their bums.

Women find Mr Selfridge's looks and chat powerfully intoxicating. He has that "magic dick syndrome" that Phil Mitchell from Eastenders is spokesperson for. Any woman within 10 metres winds up in love. Selfridge uses his influence to perform amazing feats like encouraging women to recite all the items for sale on every floor like parrots, and to sashay everywhere in catwalk style and not mind when he bursts into their dressing room half-clad as, hey, "it's Mr Selfridge". I'll watch again tomorrow, mainly out of curiosity.

Grace’s marmalade dropper

Tyra Banks on America's Next Top Model dropping the hip new fashion phrase "fan dabi dozi!"

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
film
News
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
people
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
tv
Arts and Entertainment
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
art
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor