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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Display Account Manager

£25,000 to £35,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: The Company Our client are th...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director

£80 – 120K : Sphere Digital Recruitment: Sales Director – Ad tech - £80 – 120K...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas