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Monday, 5 January 2009

Total Wipeout, BBC1

Did we like it?
BBC1 used to be quite good. The ratio of mindless programmes compared with intelligent shows was about 1:9. Now it's more like 6:4 – and this is the sort of trash, with its Dizzy Dummies, Topple Towers and gormless presentation, that has tipped the balance to banality.

What was good about it?
• It isn't filled with Z-list celebs.

What was bad about it?
• If this had been a half-hour show filmed in the Home Counties and aired for kids, we'd have said, fair enough, BBC. There's some amusement to be had from watching people topple off an obstacle course into muddy water (if you're aged eight). But as they made it an hour-long primetime show, went to the expense of filming it in Buenos Aires and picked the odious Richard Hammond as host, we say to the BBC, stop wasting our licence fee on dross.
• Richard Hammond sat in a studio, introducing footage of the obstacle race and commentating over it with silly quips and giggles. He seems to think he's got the same ironic touch as Harry Hill on You've Been Framed, but he's really just very sarcastoc and childish and bereft of wit. His mickey taking during a fat girl's floundering was particularly unpleasant.
• Richard Hammond sporting a birdsnest hairstyle than even X-Factor's Eoghan Quinn would have shrunk from.
• Richard Hammond using exactly the same intonation as his beloved role model Jeremy Clarkson.
• Amanda Byram doesn't get to sit in the studio. She's been sent to Argentina to interrogate the contestants as they compete in an arena free of spectators and atmosphere. The result: the sort of pointless, breathless interviews that Sally Gunnell used to conduct as part of BBC's athletics coverage.
• The competitors are encouraged to shout out bits of bravado to the camera. Worst offender was Thomas, a part-time model, who insisted he's not just a pretty face (he's not even that) in a style of a public schoolboy speaking like a chav, before screeching like a schoolgirl as he undertook the course.
• The finale – which turned out to be a whole lot easier than round one – was hyped up as if an Olympic gold was at stake, rather than £10k and a cheap-looking trophy.


Anonymous said...

The US version (Wipeout) was a guilty pleasure for me last summer. The obstacle course itself is pretty similar, though the US version's is actually tougher. And the contestants were just as ridiculous. But I didn't realize that what made Wipeout fun was the commentary by the two hosts, John Anderson and John Henson; they did it in a mock-sports commentary style that was hilarious. What really, really drags Total Wipeout down is Richard Hammond. His dour, bored commentary or lack thereof just makes this a sad affair. I had to tune out before it even halfway through.

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