If anyone can complete a 127-mile cycle race through the Pyrenees called the “Bone Breaker”, having done no exercise for years, surely it would be a doctor. They might not have quite the depth of medical knowledge that Lance Armstrong possesses, but surely they can merrily prescribe themselves an assortment of finest pharamceuticals to get themselves over the hump.
The first episode of Go Hard or Go Home (Channel 5, Monday) set this task for four overworked and overweight members of the medical profession. It’s one of those aspirational New Year keep-fit series which, ironically, makes you feel guilty about being slumped on a sofa watching TV.
The series is sponsored by Wonga, the payday lending company who must be piling on the pounds as people try to pay off January credit card bills. As challenges go, cycling up mountains is probably easier than try to pay back debts at steeply rising rages of interest – though not having enough money to eat has always been a great way of staying in shape.
One of the four doctors, John, is a rotund 65-year-old who, strangely, has several complicated pieces of gym equipment set up in a stable which he bought in 1976. Shame he didn’t have a stable diet as well. He’s the keenest of the four, going at the training so hard that man becomes machine: “A bit of WD40 in most of my joints and muscles would really help,” he says. You may not want him as your GP.
Being a doctor undertaking such an arduous task is no bad thing because they have a pretty good idea what’s going on inside their bodies and whether they need to call the undertaker. John is cycling up one of the four Pyrenean peaks when he observes: “My heart rate is 180, that’s dangerous.” Sensibly, he gets off and walks. Another of the doctors, Matt, gasps: “Done 12 miles now and my prostate is killing me.” That’s “ooh, my arse is really sore” in layman’s terms. At least we hope it is. Then Rabia gets off her bike for a rest and promptly falls over, hitting her head. She suffers a concussion, but insists she must carry on. She’s gibbering and weeping, and even ignores the advice of her fellow practioners to stop racing.
It’s the presenter, Hannah White, who manages to convince her to give up. Perhaps poor Rabia is just fed up with White – a ball-breaker rather than a bone-breaker – saying things like: “The only way you are going to let your friends and family down is by this attitude.” Only two of the doctors complete the race – the others run for the hills.
Such is her befuddlement, Rabia didn’t recognise the presenter at first, which is unfortunate since she is clearly trying to make her name in broadcasting. But then we don’t know much about White either, except that she has sailed solo across the Atlantic. The only waves these doctors are interested in are the ones that mean goodbye.
In the battle of the Vaughans, Michael beat Johnny in the Great Sport Relief Bake-Off (BBC2, Monday to Thursday). It was no surprise given the fact that cricketers are only too familiar with the concept of afternoon tea. What other sport allows you to stuff your face twice a day? And in Australia you can get really stuffed.
It was a surprise, however, that the retired queen of the track Victoria “Sponge” Pendleton was beaten like an egg white. Now she has hung up her lycra and settled into marital bliss, she has plenty of time – and flour – on her hands to indulge her favourite hobby, baking.
She was clearly annoyed (no tears, though, unlike at London 2012 and on Strictly) to lose to Emma Freud. After all, Freud is hardly a celebrity, and also happens to be married to Richard Curtis, who runs Sport Relief. What a slice of luck. Crumbs, that really is having your cake and eating it.