Sport on TV: Heart sinks as soppy Robson goes green around the gills

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The Independent Culture

He's letting down the Geordie nation. At the start of Robson Green's Wild Swimming Adventure (ITV1, Tuesday) he decided to take a dip in the Tyne and had to be fished out almost immediately. "My body shut down after 200 yards," he admitted before asking his rescuers when was the last time someone had gone in the river. "Friday night" was the answer, "and they were off their heads." Obviously Green should have had a few Newcastle Brown Ales before he jumped in the drink.

His plan of this two-parter is to swim across a stretch of the North Sea to Holy Island, in honour of his recently deceased father, a miner who would swim for miles in the ocean off the North-east coast. After such an inauspicious start, he settles for building up his resistance to cold water by visiting the lovely Tinside Lido in Plymouth Hoe, then a picturesque tidal pool in Porthtowan Tidal Pool in Cornwall, then a posh lake in Henley, then a gentle float in the Thames by moonlight followed by a glass of wine in a hot tub. It's not very wild.

The temptation was to scream at the screen: "Just get in the sea, you bloody wimp!" Surely that's what his dad would have said. Either that or just wait until the tide has gone out and drive to Holy Island along the causeway, thereby saving us all from wasting our time watching this. As the programme meandered along like a stagnant stream, the distinct impression was that the whole escapade was a lot more gruelling for the viewer than it was for Green.

His task did give him the chance to keep up one great Geordie tradition, that of taking his shirt off at every opportunity. His other current TV show, 'Extreme Fishing with Robson Green', allows him to do the same, though without the endless preening and flirting. Gnarled old fishermen are presumably not as susceptible to his dubious charms as old ladies dangling their toes in Henley Lake.

But there is one problem in his bid to make the nation's swimmers swoon. He was wearing the type of absurdly tight trunks that Daniel Craig sported as James Bond, but when it comes to properly cold water, the bulges become significantly smaller.


Jenson Button appeared on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross (BBC1, Friday) apparently to put the finishing touches to his status as favourite to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award tonight. But his "personality" rather paled in comparison to that of another guest, Andre Agassi, who revealed that the bullying father he wrote about in his brutally honest autobiography 'Open', "was raised on the streets of Tehran and his mother would make him wear girls' clothes at school as punishment when he did something wrong". That's the sort of character-building you just don't get in Frome.