It was something of a shock when Channel 4’s winter sports reality show The Jump got another series. Not because of poor viewing figures, but rather due to the amount of celebs flying haphazardly off a ski jump and quite badly injuring themselves.
The changes to this year’s show may not safeguard the contestants’ health any better, but they do make it far more entertaining…
The new live events
Not to sound totally sadistic, but watching this year’s celebs battle it out down the new Snow Cross track has been totally thrilling. Three famous faces at a time barge their way down a slippery course of packed snow, with the one rule being that there are no rules (well, aside from a couple of things like no eye poking and hair pulling, maybe). Former rugby pro Mike Tindall crumpled reality star Joey Essex like he was made of cardboard and Jodie Kidd, upon falling, actually tried to grab opponent Lady Victoria Hervey’s ankles to bring her down with her. Bonkers, but brilliant.
The new eliminator
Settled on Jump Mountain – which has been purpose-built for Channel 4 in Kühtai in the Austrian Alps – the Air Jump offers the celebs yet another terrifying way to leave the competition. It’s essentially a ramp, which they must ski off at rapid speeds in an attempt to get as much height as possible. They land in a big air bag, which looks fun, but receive several warnings beforehand; namely, don’t let your skis twist and snap your legs and don’t land on your head and break your neck. Cheery.
The celebs are jumping further
All credit to anyone who attempts a ski jump, whether they land one meter or twenty. I’ve stood at the top of the highest jump and I’ve still not got over it (don’t let the TV fool you, it’s high). But this year’s celebs are extra entertaining to watch because they’re jumping so far. Mike Tindall’s first attempt was 18 meters, beating last year’s winning jump of 17.5m straight out the gate. And that was from the middle jump. Tindall was the first to go off the big one in training, the K40, and if he does it on the show, who knows, he may be giving Eddie the Eagle a run for his money.
The danger is as real as ever
The show runs with a fifteen-minute delay, which is live in broadcasting terms, but means they can deal with any… incidents. There are three medics on standby per show and a physio in case they’re needed.
The subs’ bench
Last year so many celebrities were injured they had to pull eventual winner Joe McElderry out of a ski holiday as cover. This year, there’s the brilliant addition of the subs’ bench. The first two celebs out, in both the female and male categories, can be called back if someone is forced out of the competition due to injury. And what do you know? Gogglebox’s Dom Parker and former cricketer Phil Tufnell are doing it for the lads. As Louie Spence jokes, judging by how much they’re enjoying the après ski, it may not be totally wise to put them back on a pair of skis. Heather Mills and former Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts make up the ladies and it definitely adds a sense of occasion to have them all hanging around and on the brink of being pulled back in.
Perhaps the best signing in reality show history, Louie Spence is the jolt of unstoppable pink lycra-clad energy this show needed. From performing his very own flexible version of the Haka, to winding up Mike Tindall, to box splitting all over Davina while she’s trying to present, his ‘on’ button shows no signs of going off. And when he actually beat Tindall down the skeleton run, well, even Louie admits he needed a slap to calm him down.
Davina McCall and her Jump Lodge
Host Davina McCall is the woman tasked with controlling the aforementioned Louie Spence, along with a bar filled with boozy celebs, their families, friends, children, dogs, an Austrian band, a ringing cowbell… all while live on TV. Is she flapping? No. Is she looking panicked as various people wander in front of the camera (Dom), talk with their back to the camera (Judy Finnigan), swear in ear-shot of the camera (Dom again)… nope. She’s just laughing along, shoving the celebs up a mountain.
… and she’s got a new stylist.
Love, love, love.
The frosty duo
Who doesn’t love a bit of a reality show face-off? And Lady Victoria Hervey and Jodie Kidd fit the bill brilliantly. They had a scrap over the skeleton, with Lady V banishing Kidd from the very air around her and now Kidd (who crashed out in the Snow Cross) can sit pretty in the crowd and cheer on everyone who goes up against the socialite…
Snow, warm fires, the risk of bone-shattering injury… apparently this sets the mood for a bit of gooey-eyed action. Well, there have certainly been numerous hints that there’s more than bobsleigh training between Jackass star Steve-O and singer Stacey Solomon. As the pair giggled on camera, Davina admitted she felt like something of a wallflower. Aww…
Don’t the celebs seem to be having a jolly good time? It’s all laughing, joking, then skipping off to show off their best Eddie the Eagle moves. There’s not loads of crying, sobbing about the ‘journey’ they’ve been on or seemingly any concern about strutting around in lycra, faux fur and ginormous winter hats. And in the crowd, it’s all mulled wine and trying to get a high five off Davina. Here’s a peek from the crowd.
Bravo. More next year please.
The Jump continues tonight at 8:00pm on Channel 4