The Jump finale, TV review: Thank God that debacle’s over, bring on Sochi

 

Never has the phrase “last man standing” been more apt for the champion of a physical contest than for former X Factor winner Joe McElderry who triumphed in The Jump.

Channel 4’s ludicrous pre-Sochi offering limped to a close with precisely none of the original contestants fit enough to take part in the live finale.

The nine-day farce saw celebrities compete in winter Olympic disciplines, with the losers in each sport facing a live, very scary-looking, ski jump.

There were 12 celebs announced in December, and by the ninth and last day of competition, thanks to a catalogue of broken bones, torn ligaments, banged heads and dodgy knees, there had been 16 involved in this sorry tale.

If all had gone to plan, there should have been four in the final; comedian Marcus Brigstocke and Sir Steve Redgrave competing against last-minute reserves McElderry - drafted in on day three after socialite Henry Conway withdrew with a hand injury - and investigative journalist Donal MacIntyre, who joined the fray four days in after former model Melinda Messenger succumbed to concussion.

Thee were reports that both Brigstocke and Redgrave were out through injury, but the show had to go on. Davina McCall, never one to let a bad concept dampen her enthusiasm, soldiered on. Trussed up in jewelled pleather/neoprene onepiece, she introduced pre-recorded footage of the celebs training for the final event - ski cross.

 

If you haven’t seen the sport, it’s worth a watch in Russia next week. It’s a take-no-prisoners, head-to-head ski race over jumps, round hairpin bends and off wutangs (essentially like skiing off a wall).

“Earlier today we lost one of the finalists,” said Davina in a sober tone, now in a black wet-look (funereal?) getup. ‘Oh God,’ we thought. Someone’s finally snuffed it.

Luckily it was only the mighty Sir Steve face-planting in training, giving his already broken ribs another bashing. Then we were treated to clips of Brigstocke stacking it. The rumours were true: it was down to McElderry and MacIntyre to jump for the title.

When it came to it, the end was a bit of a damp squib. None of the live efforts were up to much but it was McElderry who clinched it by having the balls to tackle the highest jump, a 40m monstrosity.

So, the little Geordie bloke who once won X Factor became “the first ever Jump champion.” And, I suspect, the only ever one. The celebs might have loved it, but we, the viewers worn out by the continual danger of death, breathed a collective sigh of relief when Davina finally gave McElderry his hard-won cowbell trophy.

As a footnote, the best bit was watching the VT of Eddie the Eagle reminiscing about the 1988 Games. The pride in his voice when he talked about representing his country - rendered virtually blind, thanks to his fogged up spectacles - was quietly touching. As were Sir Steve’s tears over his injury-forced withdrawal.

We can argue that The Jump should probably never have been made, but we can’t dispute the Brits’ dogged commitment in the face of adversity when it comes to winter sports.

Sochi 2014? Bring it on, I say.

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