Sport on TV: Can Fred Flintoff avoid image of TV presenters as cavemen?

So what has Andrew Flintoff been doing while his old muckers have been winning the Ashes? After a decade of straining every sinew, quite literally, for his country, you might think he would put his feet up. But instead he has entered another world where the capacity to inflict pain is even greater: TV presenting.

Performing daredevil stunts across the globe in Freddie Flintoff Takes On The World (ITV4, Tuesday), that's the easy part. Not saying something daft that will turn you into a hate figure, now that's a challenge. Ask Freddie if he had "smashed it" and he'd probably say yes but he would be talking about his knee or his ankle.

Fortunately the amiable Flintoff was accompanied by Darren Gough as they paintballed on paragliders, wrestled lucho libre-style and dived off cliffs in Mexico. Gough and his cheeky grin couldn't offend anyone. He is much more of a TV natural with his posing and ceaseless chatter – he filled our screens with his fully rounded personality when he won Strictly Come Dancing back in 2005.

Flintoff has taken tentative steps – aren't they always with him? – into TV as a team captain in the comedy sports quiz A League Of Their Own, but like David Gower in They Think It's All Over, he seems uneasy in the role, almost as uncomfortable as the viewers squirming on their sofas. Our sporting heroes inhabit a different world after all, full of high peaks and deep valleys, and it's not easy to bridge the gap with reality.

In Freddie's case it's almost guaranteed he would hurt himself if he tried to bridge that gap but at least he's not likely to hurt anyone else. It came as no surprise that his physio from his playing days, Dave "Rooster" Roberts, was following him around the world on his latest venture. It's as if they are joined at the hip, which may actually be the case if one of Freddie's operations went a bit wrong. Sure enough, he broke down after one wrestling session, aggravating an old rib injury, and had to go to hospital.

So Gough took over as presenter, which he had pretty much done anyway, and the sidekick happily submitted to the side-kicks in the wrestling ring while Freddie stood on the sidelines looking more Mercury than Flintoff in his lurid latex.

Flintoff was fit enough to compete in the cliff-diving, after which he said: "I've never experienced fear, excitement, nerves, adrenalin in my life like that before." It was just like Dominic Cork describing his first session in Dancing on Ice as "better than anything I ever experienced in cricket". So were our heroes merely going through the motions during their careers? In Flintoff's case, even that could be dangerous. Perhaps he should stick to cameos on Casualty.

* There was, as usual, plenty of banter on the new series of Top Gear (BBC2, Sunday), Jeremy Clarkson making several references to Countryfile – where the BBC was found guilty of ageism in replacing presenter Miriam O'Reilly. That's old news now, of course, but he was more up to speed at the National Television Awards; when he was asked if he thought there were enough women on his show, he replied: "Who do you think tucks our microphone cables in?" Perhaps he should be more careful: it's not a good time to be an ageing male presenter with a bubble perm and ridiculously tight jeans.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Analytics Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading organisation...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices