Belfast Telegraph

New show sets bar high for a bit of ruff and Tumble

By Billy Weir

As the advert finished with some of our canine friends lolloping about doing some lovely tricks, the nice continuity announcer on BBCNI took over. "The dogs have set the bar high. We're taking the lead now on BBC and brand new for Saturday nights, 10 very nervous celebrities try out the art of acrobatics hoping to score the perfect 10 and avoid a Tumble."

Yes, the newest sports-themed celebfest is upon us, although it promised to be more ruff than Tumble, as the likes of H from Steps, an ex-Sugababe, a former Blue Peter presenter and 'stars' of stage and screen took to the mat, or the aerial hoop, as the case may be.

Oh, and I nearly forgot – there's a Cobra too. Not a big, scary hissing thing, this is an even more frightening hitting thing, in the shape – and it was quite the shape – of IBF Supermiddleweight champion of the worlllllddddd, Carl Froch.

"I'm more nervous than for a big title fight," he began, before not adding that he'd have been even more nervous had Frank Maloney been standing beside him in a leotard.

Presented by Welsh Christine Bleakley, sorry, Alex Jones, I wasn't hopeful, and as she appeared from the skies in a fancy new frock, not Froch, she didn't help matters.

"Welcome to Tumble, the brand new show that will have you right at the edge of your seat and who knows, maybe even somersaulting off it," she laughed, and no-one else did.

"Tonight, 10 daring celebrities will perform dazzling gymnastics and classic routines live to you, the nation," she added, optimistically, and I was looking forward to Froch coming on in a wee car with the doors falling off with hilarious consequences.

But there was to be no clowning around, with the usual mixed bag of judges, including the obligatory bad boy, on hand to dish out some marks, even though no-one got chucked off in week one.

Up first was gymnastics legend Nadia Comaneci, joined by Louis Smith who warned he was 'a British Olympian and I'm a bad ass on the pommel horse.' Okay.

I was already beginning to reach for a stiff drink, so helpfully Stella arrived in the shape of French choreographer, Sebastien, before Craig Heap, or the Heapster as he was to be called, emerged like a buff version of Ashley from Coronation Street.

And, amazingly, the competitors, by and large, were excellent and not half as bad as they were on Splash or The Jump, and then it was time for the Cobra, who said that after a big fight all he would do is 'sit around the house putting weight on.' All those years and I never realised I was a lapsed Supermiddleweight champion of the world.

The Beeb's gymnastics commentator Mitch Fenner has been pulled in for the gig – Jim Neilly was clearly unavailable – and after Froch excelled in the ring, or the big hoop, he told us 'well, it's fight night for Carl and he's left the audience totally floored.' Quite.

And so week one came to an end, all celebrities remaining intact, other than Mr Motivator who didn't even make it to the start after a training tumble he didn't mean, and, you know, it wasn't as bad as I'd feared.

Yes the bits in between the acts are rubbish, the judges are dreadful and Welsh Christine is even more annoying than on the One Show, but after the Commonwealth Games, it's a much-needed breath of sporting fresh air. Now, where's that leotard?

Belfast Telegraph


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