I can’t wait to find out that the past 8 years have been secretly a reality show in which celebrities compete to see who can commission the best Saturday Night BBC One Light Entertainment Line-Up. I can’t wait to see who came up with “Tonight’s The Night With John Barrowman”. I bet it was John Barrowman.

So last night Tumble debuted to a figure of 3.16 million. And whilst it IS hot outside and it DID somehow grow its audience over the course of the show, it doesn’t exactly feel like I’ll be having to add a full-time blog category devoted to it any time soon, especially as a large percentage of that 3.16 million were probably confused children who had turned on expecting to find a prime-time edition of Something Special. I sat through the whole thing, although I must admit that by the time we got to a Pimp Slot dedicated solely to Diet Barrowman doing a low-cal version of Full-Fat Barrowman’s stint on Dancing On Ice (“I’M A BONA FIDE FULLY DANCE-TRAINED WEST END STAR BUT I DON’T KNOW HOW I’LL TAKE TO THIS TANGENTIALLY RELATED DISCIPLINE I MAY WELL SUCK BOO HOO OH NO WAIT I’M FINE!”) my interest had wandered. So what’s wrong with Tumble?

1. Alex Jones : It pains me to say it, but Alex Jones, as much as I love her, should not be hosting a primetime Saturday night entertainment all on her own, especially one being hosted inside an aircraft hanger. I would imagine that Alex Jones has only just started being allowed to catch the bus to school on her own, let alone hosting 90 minutes worth of reality tv shenanigans. I literally cannot think of any other reality show of this type that’s hosted by one person on their own – even Dermot O Leary has Caroline Flack standing backstage to do interviews/speak to friends and family/grope barely legal teenage boys. And all he has to do is walk from one side of the stage to the other and make sex-eyes at Simon Cowell. Alex Jones was having to teleport around the place like The Great Gazoo – one minute being up on a gantry, the next jabbing at the judges, the next doing interviews at the side. SHE’S ONLY ONE GIRL! AND SHE’S GOT GEOGRAPHY HOMEWORK TO DO! IT’S NO WONDER MISTAKES WERE MADE! (LOL “difficultness” LOL “Beth Tweedle”)

2. The Judging Panel : The whole thing was so transparently set up to mirror Strictly’s line-up as to be absurd. You have the flappy camp Continental one with the dubiously related background. The senile old Dance Legend Head Judge who speaks mostly in bizarre aphorisms (although Nadia Comaneci does at least have the twin excuses of having English as her second language and also BEING NADIA COMANECI!). The inarticulate but likeable enough totty judge. And the Mean Judge. And really that’s where it all falls apart as Craig Heap doesn’t come across as the Mean Judge as the Irritating Tit Judge Who Gives Scores Lower Than Everyone Else And Doesn’t Really Explain Why And To Be Honest It Just Feels Like He’s Doing It Because The Show Needs To Have A Judge Like That. Craig Heap is apparently a gold-medal winning gymnast but to be honest mostly comes across as a fading 70s kids tv presenter trying to show off. And as we’ve already got H in the cast, that vacuum has been quite thoroughly filled. The constant preening, hair-flicking and trying to play the villain without having the charisma to pull it off got old, and the show would do much better just to continue with the other 3. And better script-wrtiers.

3. It’s Celebrities Learning To Do A Thing : Let’s face it, the well has run somewhat dry. We’ve had celebrities learning how to ballroom dance, celebrities learning how to ice-dance, celebrities learning how to do winter sports generally, celebrities learning how to ride horses, celebrities learning how to be a contestant on Fame Academy, celebrities learning how to dive, celebrities learning how to speak Welsh, celebrities learning how to bake, celebrities learning how to wank off a pig, celebrities learning how to do duets with has-been pop-stars, celebrities learning how to do Olympic Sports, celebrities learning how to perform circus skills, celebrities learning how to do street-dance with their husbands, celebrities learning how to wrestle, celebrities learning how to love islands, celebrities learning how to cook, celebrities learning how to survive in the wild and GOD KNOWS WHAT ELSE. At this point it’s really obvious that tv producers are just inserting any old verb they can think of into “Celebrities Learn How To…” and just hoping it’ll work as a tv show, and people are wise to it. Especially as this ground has already been covered in The Games AND Cirque du Celebrite.

4. The Gymnastics I’m not talking about the stuff being done by Louis and the entire Commonwealth Games teams of England and Scotland to top and tail the show. That was all exciting and entertaining. Not as exciting and entertaining as Alex prefaced it by saying “now let’s find out what the boys on the gymnastics team do in the gym when the coach isn’t watching”, but exciting all the same. The problem is that the stuff the celebrities were doing didn’t resemble gymnastics so much as the stuff you see being done behind X Factor contestants on those weeks when Bryan Friedman’s been huffing paint extra hard. Aerial hoops and contemporary dance and random costumes and bizarre modern music choices. I appreciate the show has to be fun, but for all Splash!s many many faults it didn’t make everyone do dives dressed as one of the Fast Food Rockers. Emma Sams entering in a great big fuck-off fur coat whilst stood on someone’s shoulders is all very fun, but it doesn’t feel much like gymnastics.

5. The Size Of The Cast : There’s ten contestants. The show runs for six weeks. There was no elimination in Week 1. How is that even supposed to work? There’s no double eliminations on the horizon either by the looks of it. On top of the logistics long-term there’s the short-term fact that 90 minutes of this sort of stuff is far too much with such little variety. (Although I don’t know if we can blame that entirely on the size of the cast when a good 10 minutes was taken up with showing that Craig Heap has STILL GOT IT! because one episode in he’s already a self-parody somehow).

6. The Cast : And it’s not as though this cast couldn’t have been trimmed. In fairness, the male side doesn’t appear to have been cast badly (Dirty Ringah, Fit Young Totty, Rough Sportsman, Game Old Bloke and…H isn’t too unappealing. If you eliminate H. With napalm) but the female half appears to have been hauled out of a glittery skip from round the back of the This Morning studios. Casting a third-tier TOWIE “star” with no obvious natural athletic talent or personality is the obvious crack in the sequinned plaster the press can focus on, but stooping to pick a Loose Woman but ending up with one of the boring sane not-alcoholic ones is if anything even worse. Nobody other than superannuated gays is interested in Dynasty any more and one washed-up 00s popstar is enough per any series of anything. And we all know what atrocities resulted the last time Amelle Barrabah and Sarah Harding were in the same building. (LOL just kidding nobody involved in that video was ever in the same building as anybody else involved in that video at the same time). It’s hard to get invested in this group of people for some reason, especially as the VTs have given them little opportunity to show us their emotions beyond blank terror and occasional nausea.

7. The Lack Of Public Vote : Why, when everything’s been so gussied up to make a big performance spectacle aren’t we allowed to vote? What if I find Peter Duncan endearing and want to save him from his inevitable Week 3/4 boot? Who cares if it would mean him doing disciplines that would literally cripple him, I PAY MY LICENCE FEE SOLELY FOR THE RIGHT TO CAST JUDGEMENT ON CELEBRITY SOULS DAMNIT! To be honest, the thought that the winner of this show is going to be decided even one-quarter by Craig Heap is enough to make me want to not even look up the result on wikipedia.

8. A Showmance…40 Minutes In I appreciate that we needed to be given reasons to root for Bobby beyond his being good-looking and young and not yet bitter, jaded and cynical like the viewing audience. I know the show doesn’t want to fall into the Dancing On Ice trap of having its professionals be more anonymous and ignored than castmembers of Doctors at the British Soap Awards. I’m aware that this is the Internet and people will ship any old bollocks. But good lord I’ve seen showmances between people who went on to get married and have babies be pushed less hard than his with his professional partner. Can we not save the googly eyes, romantic music, and Louis Smith talking about how he feels all gooey in his pants over the true love he’s seeing before him at least until we’ve all stopped making puns about Diet Barrowman’s love of an Aerial Hoop? True love moves slowly. True love waits. True love at least waits until all the old people have left the room.

9. The Elimination Mechanic : It appears to be who gets over a vaulting horse without smacking their nads stays in. It’s hardly DANCING FOR YOUR LIFE is it?

10. It’s Preventing The Long Overdue Return Of Andrew Lloyd Webber Based Reality : YOU KNOW IT MAKES SENSE.

I don’t want to be negative, truly I don’t. There’s lots of elements to this show that should work and almost do. The production values are good, there’s a lot of genuinely talented gymnasts involved, the level of risk and artistry in what the celebrities were achieving was impressive, and lord knows we need another new successful reality tv format as Dancing On Ice is cremated, The Voice continues to burble along doing nothing much of anything and The Apprentice is suffering a slow death via schedule-punting. But I’m fairly sure we deserve better. Or at least shorter.


20 thoughts on “Tumble

  1. Radleykitten

    God it was dull. And went on far too long. I’m not sure I can sit through another tedious week of it; even the Lovely Louis can’t redeem it for me

  2. Kelly

    I like to imagine that there’s much awkwardness on the set of The One Show as Matt Baker seethes over the fact Alex got to present the *gymnastics* show.

  3. Neio

    Despite the problems with the show, I have to say, Peter Duncan looks absolutely amazing for 60.

    Hottest guy though had to be H’s coach. Wow.

    It was good to see Giant Lady show up as a choreographer. And to see her tell H to shut up.

    1. monkseal Post author

      I liked the partner of the TOWIE woman, but I’m guessing he’s not long for the show. Likewise Emma Sams bit.

  4. ynysmon

    For goodness sake Monkseal MANUP. You dragged us through Harry met Sally. at one point I almost considered getting a TV licence, you re going to do Tumble and get us through it

  5. Chris

    The judging panel is so disappointingly hetero. Bake Off and BBC Saturday night judging panels are my most reliable source for endearing(ish) gay men, and this year they’re nowhere in sight till Strictly starts up again.
    Craig at least had some panache even if it’s soon to going to get irritating, and I think Nadia has some promise (I can’t remember what she said to make me think this – it might be her disinterest).

    Is it me, or is reality TV getting increasingly thin-skinned? The Voice is the worst offender in terms of complete non-comments, and I’m worried about Strictly gradually sliding all of the actual critique/boos over to Craig. I don’t think a performance went by without the judges doing some hand-wringing about the celebrities’ inspiring gymnastic ordeal (hence the absolute dissonance with the scores), or Alex Jones berating Craig for only giving someone 4.5 (the marks need to go way lower than that, c’mon), or trying to give Craig some panto comeuppance at the end with the vault (what is this, CBBC?) It’s not like any of the judges were saying anything about what was good or bad about each performance other than ‘maybe you could possibly do something more difficult I’m sure you’ll be AMAZING BABES’, so if you remove their powers of bitchiness, then you just end up with a panel of beige platitudes and nothing-comments.
    Judges are not support teams, they’re not there to massage egos or patronise contestants or try to be their friends, they’re there to be experts in their field who can (theoretically) contribute something. Although my eternal fave Alesha Dixon basically embodied all of this as a judge, she gave it panache and her taking on the supportive role meant that the rest of the panel could (nominally) buckle down a bit and maintain a good balance.

    TL;DR – I like it when judges actually give sort of meaningful comments. I also like it when they’re bitchy meaningful comments.

    It was mostly pretty competent (I mean, better put together than the Voice live shows, but hey, that’s a low bar) and I actually enjoyed H’s routine and I don’t think there was anything actively bad about it, so it’s hardly the disaster people are making it out to be. The Year of the Man must be kicking in early though, because that female lineup is embarrassing.

    That showmance though. I know a six-week series isn’t ideal, but c’mon producers, ever hear of slow-burn?

    1. monkseal Post author

      Normally I presume that the judges are nice because they’ve learned that this stops a public backlash in the phone votes but…there isn’t one so I’ve no idea why other than that not one of the judges is particularly articulate.

  6. Huriye

    This was your best of the weekend, if I may say so Monkseal. Very funny and thoughtful at the same time. You make some pertinent points. Most surprising moment for me was not that we actually saw some skillful and entertaining routines, but when Camp Continental Judge Seb referred to “my wife”. No kidding! The show started off well with Amelle elegant on the High Ring, but after that all the Ring Routines were boring. The Floor definitely won, with much more wow factor (mostly). Though the Line Up is surprisingly old for a show called Tumble, where they’re expected to perform alot of acrobatic tricks and physical manouverings quite late in life. Being a Thesp made no difference really. I’m looking at a picture ad of Emma Sams in the embrace of Adam Cooper for a show called “Shall We Dance” at Sadler’s Wells. Never saw the show, but had high expectations of Emma based on a presumed ability to dance, but her routine was handicapped by her age, and a so called Pro Partner called Ivan who’d never been anywhere near Eastern Europe, judging by his accent, who could barely get through the Floor routine without fumbling everytime he caught hold of Emma, and she’s tiny! Maybe the opening fur coat standing on his shoulders pose took all the strength out of him. Not much of a Gymnast if that’s so! You put your finger on it Monkseal, what we watched was not really Gymnastics at all, more Circus tricks and West End, no, make that, Butlins Holiday Camp fun stuff. Was flabbergasted to see Karen Bruce doing the choreo. Is she contracted to choreograph every BBC1 Sat. evening show from SYTYCD to GymBunnies? No, the REAL Gymnastics happened when we got the fantastic routine from our Commonwealth medalists. That was the highlight of the show for me. They were all tweeting about their performance and posting pics the day before (when it was recorded). I wondered if they would play a mentoring role, but thankfully not. Far too busy training for future events. Sorry, but the difference in standard between them and the Pros in Tumble is…..unfair to compare, I know.
    As for Judge Craig, if he ever did win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, it was in the days when we were crap at Gymnastics. Unlike now, when we’re BRILLIANT!!
    To be honest, I can’t really remember the West End Wendy’s Winning Floor routine, but didn’t think he deserved the highest scores. By then I’d had enough, it had dragged on too long, with too much fill in of Alex Jones sitting next to coaches etc. asking inane questions.
    Nadia did look bored didn’t she? She reminded me of Ice Panel member Natalia Bestemianova from DOI series 2, but Nadia’s English is much better, and she hasn’t got Stephen Mulhearn taking the piss out of her. Tumble was much more like Splash! (Which I am still mourning the loss of). 😦

    1. monkseal Post author

      I remember nothing about Natalia other than her rampant wettie for Duncan James. Other than that yeah, she was pretty inert.

  7. Left Feet

    Probably Nadia is doing it for the pay cheque she’s a legend the others are not, hopefully if this goes a second series she does not get replaced by one of the Pussy Cat dolls.
    My big problem with the show is like you it had nothing to do with real gymnastics, no huge hoop I can remember on Olympic Gymnastics. I’m sure that the BBC is hoping that this gains a bit of Word of mouth like Strictly ten years ago because they do need a new entertainment show but this really is not it!

  8. conners1979

    “I can’t wait to see who came up with “Tonight’s The Night With John Barrowman”. I bet it was John Barrowman.”

    “What if I find Peter Duncan endearing and want to save him from his inevitable Week 3/4 boot? Who cares if it would mean him doing disciplines that would literally cripple him”

    Genuine lolz at these.

    I feel like the BBC may have scheduled this show solely as a SCD preseason warmup for you Monkseal- you know, try out some new formations, give the kids a run out, get fit for the new season.

    Seriously though, I totally agree with your sentiments about a new ALW based show- I feel a strange kind of hyper-speed nostalgia for them. Be great if they got the band back together and dusted off Andrew’s throne (So to speak).

    1. monkseal Post author

      Unfortunately The Voice unaccountably gets better ratings than the almighty lord did so I can’t see it happening. Ah well, four series (I refuse to recognise that ITV abomination) (of course I watched the entire thing) was a good run.

  9. Lesley Rigg

    I think it’s a SCD pre-season warm-up, and apart from Bake-off starting there has been nothing much to watch in the schedules for months, so something to fill the soft friendly area that is 6.30pm on a Saturday night for those of us who have already had our hols. Was a bit surreal tho…

    1. min

      I think the floor routines were what the Strictly Producers would love to have, if they didn’t have to include reducing amounts of that pesky dancing stuff. There was even a leg guitar, for goodness sake!

      1. Lesley Rigg

        there were definitely some that were more dance than tumble. Maybe they thought Matt B would try and make it too competitive, maybe take the floor himself, hmmm – it’s starting to sound like it has got something to it when I put it that way lol

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