Don't knock celebrity diving, the brave no-hopers on Splash! shows us all how to take the plunge

Newspaper critics unanimously declared ITV's new Saturday night offering a belly-flop, but it can only boost the profile of the sport in Britain

Share

For all the talk of our “integrated” media, the separate disciplines don’t half love it when they perceive the other side to have screwed up. But never has there been a mass condemnation on the scale of how the papers received ITV’s new Saturday night offering, Splash!. In case you’ve missed it the show invites Olympic pin-up Tom Daley to teach various lardy celebrities how to dive. Oh, my goodness, WHAT a belly-flop, hooted the papers. The criticism of Daley stung his mother, Debbie, so much that yesterday she published a furious open letter to the British Swimming chief executive, David Sparkes, telling him that Splash! would boost, not damage, the profile of diving in Britain. How right Debbie is and how very wrong the critics are.

Last Saturday, my entire family sat down, open-mouthed with delight, absolutely loving every moment of this show. You want Olympic legacy? How better to show Daley’s extraordinary ability, and the sheer toughness of the sport, than have him teach his craft to a bunch of no-hopers.

Diving is clearly a terrifying sport, but because everything was so amazing at the Olympics there was a kind of plateau, and nowhere more so than in the diving pool. You would see someone from France perform a stupendous dive, but because the Brazilian and the Chinese chaps had both just done mind-blowingly marvellous ones, it looked pedestrian.

Whereas here we have Helen Lederer, a person so against the notion of entering water head first that she has to be tipped into it from a yoga mat, like a log leaving a carpet. When she comes to do her final offering, from the 3m board, Daley yells out to her: “Use the board as a pivot! Go deep into the water!” What a brilliant summation of diving. Far more instructive than any Olympic techno-speak, frankly. 

All, however, is nothing compared with the moment when Omid Djalili, an overweight comedian, mounts the 10m board. Imagine if he fluffs it. Television executives are always going on about “jeopardy”. Here is jeopardy, in 10m dollops. “Just imagine doing that,” quavers one of my children. Exactly. That is exactly what five million of us are imagining. It is one of TV’s greatest gifts; putting the viewer right there. It is watching Philippe Petit cross between the Twin Towers on a tightrope; it is witnessing Felix Baumgartner step out above the Earth. Imagine doing that. And here is Omid, not a diver but a funny guy who lives in clubs and pubs, feeling the fear, conquering it and leaping off a 10m board, arms outstretched as if in flight.

I urge you to watch Omid dive. It shows that fear is the only thing to hold us back. If Omid can go off the 10m board, just think what you, me, anyone can do. It’s a key message. Do you know, I think Splash! is more important family viewing than David Attenborough and his murderous shoebills.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Most powerful woman in British politics

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans  

Yet again, the economy is the battleground on which the election will be fought

Patrick Diamond
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders