Sport on TV: Nothing personal, Gabby, but you are laying it on a bit thick

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The Independent Culture

It's "the ultimate prize in sport – and what an honour it is," gushed Gabby Logan on Sports Personality of the Year: The Contenders (BBC1, Wednesday), ahead of next Sunday's BBC extravaganza – and how nice of her to tell us.

No doubt Messrs Redgrave and Hoy would concur that winning multiple gold medals at the Olympics was nothing compared to this. The World Cup? The Ashes? Pah! "It's one of the most talked about shows of the year," she went on. But the fact is, most of the nation will be glued to the final of 'X-Factor' instead. When the time comes to cast our votes, we may get our wires crossed in calling all the different numbers for 'Strictly' and 'I'm A Celebrity...' and 'X-Factor'. Anyone could win. Are twins allowed to share the prize?

Michael Vaughan was sporting his new Jedward thatch to extol the virtues of Andrew Strauss's candidacy – along with Phil Tufnell, who was certainly a "personality" in the game, often a split one, but who only really came to prominence in the public eye after his antics on reality TV. Strauss may have won the Ashes but he doesn't stand a chance of winning this.

So what are the criteria for winning the "ultimate prize"? If 'X-Factor' runners-up JLS are to be believed, it's not sporting prowess or public affection. They all fancied Denise Lewis back in the day; now they've all taken a shine to another heptathlete, Jessica Ennis. So will it be "anyone for Ennis"? She, along with Tom Daley, Beth Tweddle and Phillips Idowu, all won World Championship gold – but far from the public gaze. Commentator Matt Baker said of Tweddle, "Gymnastics will never be the same in Britain", which is as laudable as you can get, but will anyone notice?

Idowu employs the tactic of changing his hair colour while performing one of the most bizarre activities imaginable in order to stand out from the crowd. But the public will tell him to take a running jump.

And Daley is only 15 years old. The fact that he combines his incredible talent with the growing pains of a teenager makes his success all the more remarkable. But he's so young, he could win the award again in 10 years' time with a totally different personality.


Jimmy White was still as white as a sheet after his 22 days in the jungle in I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! (ITV1, Friday). He said he went on the show to lose weight – and lost 22lb. He was so pale, he was almost translucent, which may account for how long he lasted. Viewers didn't even see he was there. Yet he didn't baulk at any of the challenges, and regularly cleared the table – though he wanted to use the cushion by the end. Another contestant said: "He was the glue that held the group together." Like a good glue, there was no sign of "Jimmy White to break". It's the furthest he's been in a major competition for a while.