THE COUCH POTATO: Not tricked by ITV’s latest fool’s gold
Exciting times right now for British sport. Murray-mania swept the nation at Wimbledon, Bradley Wiggins’ Team Sky have been dominating the Tour de France, England’s cricketers reign supreme and the London Olympics are around the corner.
Okay, so three out of four ain’t bad.
But, according to ITV1, it’s just not “entertaining” enough.
So last week the network took it upon itself to jolly well do something about it and, over the course of three nights, delivered what I only can describe as a thing.
Let’s Get Gold, “the talent show where every night, five sports teams use their skills to put on a show-stopping showbiz spectacular”, with the prize for the winners of £100,000 to improve a leisure centre facility while bolstering a community group’s savings account.
And if that isn’t rock ‘n’ roll, I don’t know what is.
Who better, then, to judge the country’s brightest up-and-coming sporting prowess than Martine McCutcheon and one of The Saturdays?
Anyone, that’s who. But not for ITV which took one look at its biggest shows and created a real Frankenstein of a programme here, with the narrator from Dancing On Ice and the multiangle freeze-framing gimmick of The Cube.
Yes, as host Vernon Kay, told us: “This is a competition like no other.”
It’s a competition exactly like Britain’s Got Talent (minus the child singers and dancing dogs) with troupes of trampolinists, gymnasts, a wheelchair basketball formation team, and two middleaged blokes who “wanted to put golf on the map”, what with it being such a little-known minority sport.
And it probably won’t surprise you to hear that it came complete with sob stories: “Tarryn got teased as a kid because he was playing basketball and not football or rugby.”
“When I was younger, I was going down the wrong path, doing stupid things and being destructive.”
“When I was a teen, I had an operation that went wrong which resulted in me being in a wheelchair permanently.”
Alright, I’ll give them that last one. But you get my point.
Let’s Get Gold is indicative of a one-trick-pony broadcaster in love with Simon Cowell and the plague of West End musical theatre.
“Next up,” Vernon announced.
“We’re going to scrum down for a rugby-meets-Glee spectacular.”
Not while I have strength in my body we’re not.
McCutcheon, to a group of young Bristol boxers: “It’s the sort of thing you can see in a musical.” Or indeed a boxing ring.
And, of course, all the acts “smashed it” and “nailed it”.
Only Freddie Flintoff, one of two “sporting” judges alongside Rio Ferdinand, emerged with any credit or the prospect of a future TV career.
The rest were on a loop.
McCutcheon: “You were fantastic.”
“Your skills are fantastic.”
“That was the most fantastic thing ever.”
The Saturdays’ Una Healy: “It was amazing.” “Your skills are amazing.” “I thought it was amazing.”
“You were amazing.” “That was really amazing.”
This series did, however, achieve something previously unthinkable.
In comparison, I’m actually now looking forward to the BBC’s coverage of the Olympics.
And that is, what’s the word, Una?
Ah yes. Amazing.
This week’s Couch Potato Spudulike awards:
* John McEnroe’s peerless Wimbledon commentary.
* Andy Murray’s tearful postmatch address to the Centre Court crowd after losing to Roger Federer.
* Alan Partridge’s Mid-Morning Matters, on Sky Atlantic.
* BBC1’s heartbreaking June Brown: Respect Your Elders.
* And the fact I can now say goodbye and good riddance to ITV2’s Mark Wright’s Hollywood Nights, the joint worst show of 2012 alongside E4’s Love Shaft, which ended its sorry run with the Essex numpty’s American girlfriend Chelsea telling him they should separate to ease the pain before he had to fly home: “It’s so hard for me to see you every time”.
Welcome to my world, Chelsea.
This week’s Couch Potato Spuduhate awards:
* Kate Humble, fresh from her travels to Norway, Ecuador, Chile, Canada, Bermuda, Argentina, Greenland, Mexico, India and Egypt for BBC2’s Orbit: Earth’s Extraordinary Journey, being sent on yet another pointless, licencefee- funded jolly to Hawaii for Volcano Live.
* ITV1’s lunchtime continuity woman announcing: “What could be better than (Let’s Do) Lunch With Gina and Mel?”
* And the horrifying prospect of the live shows of ITV1’s Superstar beginning on Monday.
So I’m taking the only rational course of action and leaving the country until it’s over.
* Couch Potato returns in three weeks.