Sport on TV: Jonah has a whale of a time – shame about the rest of us

Chris Evans is no stranger to car crash television but Famous and Fearless (C4, Sunday to Friday) hasto go down as one of the slowest-motion wrecks of all time. The first episode was fully two hours long – 20 minutes tops would have sufficed – at the end of which Kelly Holmes performed a daredevil car-rolling stunt. She had just won a street luge contest despite being sent tumbling off the track halfway through. It was a case of the Dame meets the Dukes of Hazzard, and though she's no Daisy – more a shy, retiring violet – Evans was doing a fine impression of Boss Hogg, hogging the TV schedules for an entire week.

Perhaps it was Channel 4's answer to the Ashes: the only problem is, if you want to beat the ultimate form of sporting contest, the five-day Test, you can't make it better by simply making it last longer. This was just a Test of patience.

The "girls" team might not have known what they were letting themselves in for. While the "boys", featuring former All Black Jonah Lomu, got to enjoy a bit of BMX biking, the street luge was a different matter altogether. Invented in 1975 at Signal Hill, California, when some skateboarders found they could go faster by lying down, its aficionados can reach speeds of 100 mph.

Their instructor, Will Stephenson, said he had seen people break both legs because, you see, these tea trays on wheels don't have any brakes. Competitors have to slow down using their feet, and so they wear special boots called "hot heels". Perhaps the girls thought they were being invited to a trip to the sales to pick up some nice new shoes. Once Stephenson had shown them his bodysuit, with the arse ripped off by Tarmac and patched up with his sister's leather jacket, they may have been impressed by the "distressed" retro look but it was something they wouldn't be seen dead in – literally.

Holmes has been through the mill – and not just the run of it – in pursuit of sporting excellence, and so has Lomu, even more so in his case as he had to have a kidney transplant to save his life. So it was not just his size and strength that his opponents were up against, but a never-say-die attitude too. When a man like Lomu says, "Basically I'm trying to scare myself", then we should all be scared.

Like Gavin Henson in 71 Degrees North, the non-sporting celebrities (were they even celebrities?) must have wondered why they bothered to turn up, especially when Lomu sat down next to David Haye and made the world heavyweight champ look like Ronnie Corbett (well, almost – his jokes weren't as good).

As it happened, the oldest member of either team, 44-year-old Charley Boorman, somehow managed to beat Kelly Holmes to the title at the end of a long week. But it was great to see Lomu back in action of some sort or another – albeit in such spurious circumstances – and it was also good to see Clare Balding back in front of the cameras after she learned last week that she will require no further treatment, having contracting thyroid cancer in 2009.

One of the most versatile sports presenters, she has reportedly been miffed about her treatment by the BBC, so perhaps she is engaging in a new sporting challenge: ship-jumping. At least after Dame Kelly climbed out of her wrecked car, Balding didn't recommend a trip to the dentist.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
tennisLive: Follow all the updates from Melbourne as Murray faces Czech Tomas Berdych in the semi-final
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Sport
football
News
i100
Life and Style
Virtual reality headset: 'Essentially a cinema screen that you strap to your face'
techHow virtual reality is thrusting viewers into frontline of global events and putting film-goers at the heart of the action
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Manchester - Urgent Requirement!

£30000 - £35000 per annum + 20 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Marketi...

Sauce Recruitment: Senior Management Accountant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for a independently owne...

Sauce Recruitment: Senior Management Accountant

£17 - £20 per hour: Sauce Recruitment: Working for a independently owned and c...

Guru Careers: Mac Operator / Artworker

£Negotiable (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Mac Operator / Artworker to ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness