Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: It’s time to report sport's new reality TV stars to the DHSS

My dearest reader, you join me as doctors and nurses continue to work 24 hours around the clock to try and revive me from a particularly ghastly experience.

For on Saturday night, unexpectedly and without a by-your-leave, I was caught unawares by an alarming and potentially fatal syndrome that is sweeping the country and shows no signs of dissipating.

I speak of DHSS — Desperate Hankering Sports Stars, a never-ending line of former athletes and present-day flavour of the months who are littering the TV schedules.

Be warned, there is no antidote and prolonged exposure to this debilitating and deadly disease can leave one so confused and befuddled that they may even laugh at ‘Our William’ on BBCNI and mean it.

Take last weekend. Please. Hole in the Wall with Anton du Beke, a more annoying and less funny version of his granda, Bruce Forsyth. Nice to see you, no, it isn't. Old Andy the Boke, who has more teeth than your average Grand National winner, let loose a myriad of sporting types.

To the uninitiated, and that was me too, Hole in the Wall does not involve anyone called Da or Ma, but is more of a modern-day combination of Cheggers Plays Pop and Runaround for the mentally bewildered.

Steely Austin Healey (Anton's words, not mine, and let's all be thankful that Ted Hankey and James Hunt are not team captains) was the leader of one side that also included Beth Tweddle, who, as I may have pointed out before, bears a striking resemblance to the guitarist from Slade, so the choice of a silver Spandex suit was inspired.

Mind you, when Annabel Croft turned up in similar skin-tight regalia seconds later it meant that I could tick off another box in the ‘things I wanted to see before popping my clogs’ chart. Jonathan Pearce even did a spot of commentating that was more contrived and annoying than on Match of the Day but at least Team GB can rest assured that Beth is in fine form for 2012 and once they bring in the jumping through a hole in a big polystyrene wall, that gold medal is as good as won.

There was more to come on Celebrity (and I use that word in its very loosest terms) Total Wipeout with Iwan Thomas flying the flag for ageing athletes by competing against the likes of Sian Lloyd and the fat bloke from Blue.

“I've taken on the best, now it's time to take on the big red balls,” he proclaimed, and he made a right big red sphericals of the whole thing to go out at the second stage beaten by such sporting greats as Kate Lawler and Michaela Strachan. I bet he was really wild about that.

Still at least we could depend on golden girl Rebecca Adlington to save the day as she then turned up on All-Star (again some lawyers may want to look at that) Family Fortunes.

She was up against Brian Blessed, a mismatch in the pool and thankfully the big thespian didn't don Speedos for the occasion, but he was more than a match for Becky, who couldn't nose out the right answers.

Yes, it's good to see all these sporting people making the most of their opportunities, but can you imagine Roger Federer popping up on Ready, Steady Cook or Michael Phelps on Strictly? And don't even start me about Gavin Henson, who has all the poise and elegance on the dance floor of one of his uncle Jim's finest creations.

Any jokes about being dumped by a Big Bird at this stage would be cruel and unnecessary.

Belfast Telegraph


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