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Sunday, 4 September 2005

Celebrity Shark Bait, ITV1

What to say if you liked it
Another top-notch effort from ITV in How To Humiliate A Celebrity, this one-off reality show also worked as a gripping thriller set in the natural world.
What to say if you disliked it
The poor sharks.

What was good about it?
• Despite a cheap and routine premise (out of work celebrities go to the wild and experience peril at the hands of Mother Nature), the show did provide fascinating, enthralling and at times nerve-wracking footage of life under water. It also went further than the likes of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and educated its audience about nature (“Great whites have no regard for celebrity. In the sea everyone tastes the same”). The end result was a programme that fulfilled its promise of getting us up close and personal to the legendary creatures.
• Ruby Wax’s jibes. Our favourites included “For an athlete, [Colin Jackson] is pretty smart”, “You [Emmerdale’s Amy Nuttall] are not a bimbo, you’re just unformed” and “There’s only one Jordan, the others can be found on all fours in pastures”.
• Ruby also joking (we think) said that Amy should go first into the diving cage because “she’s the freshest meat we’ve got”.
• Amy constantly wearing the expression of someone who has just been told they’re about to die.
• The hilariously sober instructors who approached training with a consistent sense of doom. Obviously briefed by producers to up the terror factor, their knack of sending shivers through all four contestants was still impressive however. Showing the celebs a recording of a shark dive going wrong was a particularly cruel touch we thought.
• Ruby in a wetsuit – probably the scariest thing ever seen at sea.

What was bad about it?
• The programme began with the promise of celebrities being stripped of their privilege but this was proved inaccurate when accommodation was revealed to be a luxurious apartment stocked with champagne.
• The laborious narration which was intent on establishing a foreboding atmosphere. The references to South Africa’s Shark Lady as some kind of mythical figure diluted the show’s appealing realism.
• As with all of these shows, the build up to the main event was strained and lengthy, while the actual shark dives themselves were over in a flash.

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