The Week In Weird TV: Splash And Extreme Fishing

There are few things stranger and more tedious than Robson Green's penchant for 'extreme' fishing, but I managed to find it floating in an ITV swimming pool...
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The very first thing to say about Splash! is that any programme that thinks it’s ok to have an exclamation mark in the title should be regarded with the same sort of suspicion as men who undo three buttons on their shirt. They’re both over compensating. Trying to draw your attention away from some serious shortcoming, that you’ll only discover in a darkened room when it’s already too late. And the serious shortcoming about Splash! is that I strongly suspect it to be the main component in MI6’s latest enhanced interrogation technique.

This is a show that cherry picks the very worst of celebrity/reality/game shows and brings them all together in one stupefying programme that finally proves the absence of a loving god. If Antony Burgess had written A Clockwork Orange today, Splash! is what Alex would have been forced to watch.

The only reason I wanted to have a look at it in the first place is because this week Penny Morduant MP was a contestant on it. What possible reason can there be for a MP to go on a reality television programme? Well, the only reason is publicity. There is always a porcine whiff of grubby self-interest when a member of parliament agrees to appear on one of these shows. Any feeble protestations of trying to interest “the kids” in politics is obfuscation on the scale of Peter Mandelson playing a game of truth or dare with Paul Dacre.

Anyway, up stepped dear old Penny, eagerly high fiving members of the public who looked like they’d rather fist bump a brick wall, and off she flopped into the pool. She over did a backward roll thing and ended up claping into the water like slate on cement. Then, an interminable amount of time later, she was selected to take part in what they call the ‘splash off’ to see which contestant who would go through to the next round.

At this stage I already suspected that the producers minds had been corroded beyond repair by the chlorine fumes emanating from Tom Daly’s briefs but to call the final dive competition a ‘splash off,’ confirmed their detachment from any sense of reality.  A ‘splash off’ sounds like one of those categories on a porn site that, under no circumstances, should you ever click on.

And so we come to the presenters; Gabby Logan and Vernon Kay. There is nothing particularly wrong with either of them – they’re just both a bit annoying in a vague sort of way. Separately they are like that dull ache you get after you’ve been vaccinated against Hep C, but together the ache grows into something quite frightening.

They’re such an odd mixture of upbeat and uncomfortable – desperately clasping at the contestants naked bodies – that it feels like watching a party full of 13 year olds after they’ve just drunk their first bottle of Corona. And after an hour and a half of this it starts to feel like a cheese grater, wielded by Eric Pickles, is being repeatedly rubbed along the inside of your chapped thighs, after the coldest day of the year. But, you never know, next week might be better.

I did manage to tear myself away for a moment and watch the pleasingly titled Robson’s Extreme Fishing Challenge. For those that don’t know the ‘Robson’ in the title is Robson Green from, among other things, Robson and Jerome fame. Now there’s a duo that hasn’t crossed my mind since the end of the last century.

There was a period where everything that could produce sound seemed to be playing Robson and Jerome’s cover version of Unchained Melody. The words to the song are forever ingrained upon my brain like the scar tissue left after a stroke. It’s not that I don’t like the song, it’s just that it was played so much that if I hear it again I’m fairly certain I’ll go blind.

So, here was Robson – who now looks like an artist’s impression of Les Dennis – fishing in Canada. The programme consists of him competing to catch the biggest or the most fish against a local. That’s literally it. And in this episode they didn’t catch anything for half an hour so I was essentially watching Robson Green standing in water. Still, it was better than Splash!.