IT’S minus 9C at Innsbruck’s Igls Sliding Centre. So over to Barry Davies to set the scene.
“Twice this venue has been part of a Winter Olympic Games, in 1964 and 1976.
Now? Now it’s the venue for a reality TV show starring Sinitta, Anthea Turner and Ritchie from 5ive hurtling down the ice on a glorified tea tray.
An Olympic legacy if ever I saw one.
We’re at The Jump, television’s latest attempt to dismember minor celebrities in a series of winter sports.
But whereas the BBC spent four years having a go with Total Wipeout, Channel 4 managed it within three days in Austria this week.
First, fashion toff Henry Conway shattered a hand bone into seven pieces down the skeleton course.
After which, the three titanium pins holding him together will forever make getting through airport security a real barrel of laughs.
Then Melinda Messenger got “a battering in the bobsleigh”, which sounds like something illegal, and joined him on the sick-note sidelines.
In fact this show’s been so successful in its mission statement that it was in real jeopardy of running out of unharmed contestants by midweek and could have been called Come Die With Me.
Although that’s not its only problem.
The nightly ski-jump-off may well be terrifying for the bottom two, but it comes over as a slightly big slide.
Steve Redgrave pointed out: “You can’t do a programme called The Jump if you’re not going to jump.”
This is what someone should have told Channel 4 before they signed Amy Childs.
She chickened out, on Monday night, and for all I know is still stuck up there looking like a frozen Jack Torrance in the final scene of horror movie The Shining.
Host Davina McCall, who began the series sporting the cat-burglar look, is reliably fluffing her lines and obsessing over her “big bum” and Kimberly Wyatt’s “lovely bum”.
And half the time my brain seems to be putting words in their mouths: “I hate this.” “It all went very badly wrong.” “I feel like I’ve lost 10 years of my life.”
But mostly this one: “In a sick, twisted kind of way, I loved it.”
That’s the thing.
The very real danger of the skeleton and bobsleigh has me glued, as do lines like Sinitta fancying her chances of victory on the slopes “because I like Christmas and restaurants”.
Co-host Alex Brooker had the wit to tell Amy Childs during their interview: “This is hardly Frost/Nixon, is it?”
And, thanks to live TV, he inadvertently raised a glass of schnapps to the “pussy goal... Oh my God!” instead of the Pussycat Doll.
Channel 4 could keep repeating Melinda Messenger attacked by a ski lift and using a crash fence as her only brake at Hemel Hempstead’s snow dome and I wouldn’t complain.
And Davina has been using the phrase “The Jump, 2014”, as if it’s actually going to get a second series.
Crazily I’d welcome that, in a sick, twisted way.
Ditch the skiing, only do sliding events and hire Flash Gordon again so I can use the material I’d lined up before he got himself crocked in training, which had me thinking: “Dispatch war rocket Ajax to bring back his body.”
The campaign starts here.
This week’s Spudulikes...
Frank Skinner on Room 101.
The host of Sky1’s Ross Kemp: Extreme World turning himself into the natural successor to Alan Whicker.
Richard Osman dousing the fire of The One Show’s Alex Jones over an incorrect Pointless Celebrities answer three-and-a-half years ago that she cannot let go.
Relentless brilliance, especially the grandfather clock task, from the best ever Celebrity Big Brother, an ensemble triumph that ended with worthy winner Jim Davidson asking how the next batch of housemates would follow them. The man’s got a point.
And Dragons’ Den’s Kelly Hoppen dismissing Pop & Go knickers entrepreneur Aurora Tyas’s pitch: “You might be better off on a shopping channel.”
So said Kelly Hoppen who, at 12.58am on Wednesday night, was flogging duvet sets – on QVC.
This week’s Spuduhates...
Dragons’ Den host Evan Davis’s idiot-proof running commentary.
Voices-in-head chuckler Vernon Kay’s leisure centre jokes on Splash! going down like a floating varruca plaster in the shallow end.
The Voice confusing attempted humour with needless, drawn-out banter, especially harmonica loon Si Genaro: “I actually combine music with comedy sometimes.” But not tonight, eh?
BBC2’s Horizon: Sugar v Fat disappointingly not living up to my hopes of a cage fight to end the Twitter war of words between Amstrad’s founder and Piers Morgan.
And Phillip Schofield reading a citation for This Morning’s Transgender Television Award: “Presenters are careful with how they deal with sensitive issues.”
As long as they’re not trying to hand the Prime Minister a list of wrongly named paedophiles, obviously.