Life after Splash! Get ready to Tumble as BBC launches celebrity gymnastics series


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The Independent Online

After Splash!, get ready to Tumble. A celebrity gymnastics challenge, judged by former Olympic champion Nadia Comaneci, will be BBC1’s latest attempt at securing a Saturday night entertainment hit.

Ten celebrities will compete on the trampoline, double trapeze and horizontal bar in Tumble, a BBC1 series launched this Summer, which has clear echoes of Splash!, ITV’s diving challenge, which suffered a ratings slide this year.

Where Splash! starred Tom Daley, Tumble’s judging panel features Louis Smith, the 2012 Olympic bronze medal-winning gymnast who went to become a Strictly Come Dancing champion.

Comaneci, the first-ever female gymnast to score a perfect 10 in an Olympic competition and winner of five Gold medals, has been named Head Judge.

The Romanian-born athlete promised: “The celebrities are going to be put through a fitness, gymnastic and acrobatic training regime that's like nothing they'll ever have experienced, and I can't wait to see the results.”

Alex Jones, the One Show presenter, will be “master of ceremonies” for Tumble, which promises “showstopping performances based on gymnastic skills”. Beth Tweddle, Britain’s most successful gymnast, will also appear as a mentor and demonstrate how the disciplines should be performed.

The series has the backing of British Gymnastics and The National Centre for Circus Arts – the judging panel includes Sebastien Stella, a cirque artist and aerial performer who has choreographed aerial performance routines for Katy Perry’s live show.

Broadcasters believe that an appetite for celebrity sports shows lingers after the 2012 London games. Channel 4 delivered The Jump, a Winter sports challenge, earlier this year.

Tumble hopes to build on the excitement generated by the BBC’s coverage of this Summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

BBC1 is hoping for a returning Saturday night hit to match the ratings attracted by Strictly Come Dancing and The Voice. The channel launched two flop shows last year, I Love My Country, a quiz presented by Gabby Logan and That Puppet Game Show, which were axed after failing to excite viewers.

Rachel Arnold, Tumble executive producer, said: “This is gymnastics but not as you know it. We’re creating something genuinely new and exciting for viewers: breathtaking performances and heart-stopping drama. Our celebrities will wow us with spectacular routines that combine gymnastic and aerial disciplines, for the first time on British television.”

Alex Jones said: “I am thrilled to be hosting this exciting new show, which is sure to offer jaw-dropping stunts and a visual spectacle. No-one has told me yet whether I will be required to don a leotard or master the balance beams, but I am willing to give it a go.”

Craig Heap, Commonwealth Games Gold medal-winning gymnast and sports broadcaster, completes the Tumble judging panel.

The BBC said celebrity participants would be unveiled ahead of the Tumble’s launch. The will be put through their paces across a multitude of disciplines, including tumbling, double trapeze, acrobatic gymnastics and trampolining.