Celebrity Splash - Judges, Tamsyn Lewis,
It was light entertainment at it’s lightest and was never going to cure cancer, but Celebrity Splash didn’t stink up the place either (despite at least one contestant promising to have pooped his pants before his dive).

Yes, it’s awful, but not Bob Morrison Show, Celebrity Dog School or Everybody Dance Now awful.

From the opening ‘sequin-nce’ you knew what you were going to get. Lights, cameras, and the most camp live production we’ve seen on TV since I Will Survive: Priscilla. Splash certainly didn’t disappoint either with sequenced diving, synchronised swimming and poolside dancers to put a 1950’s B-Grade film to shame. Some, including at least two of the contestants themselves, have already suggested the list of “celebrities” can only dream of being considered B-List.

Hosts Larry Emdur and Kylie Gillies revelled in their move to primetime repleat with Morning Show smiles and glistening contestants and seemed to enjoy every moment. It’s clear they’re playing it for laughs along with the cast so there’s lots of faux drama, double takes and gags to boot.

The contestants themselves have all completely thrown themselves into the process feet first and found out that diving can be difficult the hard way. Contestant Laura Csortan almost gleefully announced she was under doctor’s orders to withdraw from the competition as she had injured herself in dry training. Mind you the producers still convinced her to get into her swimwear and robe to make the announcement. Her replacement Derek “Thunder” Boyer not only surprised by stringing together more sentences than we’ve ever heard from him before on TV but also delivered the dive of the night with a cracking belly flop in his Bam Bam outfit off the 10m platform. Ouch.

Though no contestants injured themselves during the show there was a concern Gillies could do an ankle given the height of her stilettos standing on the various platforms of the diving tower. Also, zero accidental nudity – a win for wardrobe and a loss for expectantly-outraged puritans Australia-wide.

The show labours the build up and the post-dive analysis – across the show the actual diving component would have totalled less than two minutes for all nine dives that took place yet each one offered the contestant a chat with both hosts – separately – and a chat with the judges (Greg Lougainis, Alisa Camplin, Matt Mitcham) as they revealed their supportive scores. The judges are affable enough though clearly at pains to be encouraging… there was a moment when it looked like Camplin could be seen physically struggling to swallow her pride as she talked up what had previously been an abysmal dive by a contestant.

While the show didn’t beat The Voice Australia (we all knew it was never going to) it was still the fourth highest rating show of the night with 1,315,000 viewers just across the five mainland capital cities which indicates there was more than a tacet level of interest. With only five episodes in its entire run it’ll only be a blip on the ratings radar anyway – not a bad thing if the damage needs to be minimised, and a great taster if the network thinks it has legs to run again.

Being live was also always going to be a risk and so as expected it ran horrendously overtime… but that’s become a standard ploy by all the commercial networks these days to spoil the audience pool for the shows following so Ch7 won’t be concerned (only viewers who may have missed the end of Revenge will be).

With seven contestants still to make their first dive tonight, will the audience return? Likely. It had just the right balance of car-crash-to-must-watch for this genre of show and there’s still always the hope of injury or nudity. Noboby’s making anybody watch it and that’s the inner turmoil for the audience – dare I stand up and say I liked it and prepare to be pilloried for loving trashy TV (like you don’t already watch the Kardashians!), or do I watch it only to heap bile on this pathetic attempt at entertainment? Either way people watched and will probably watch again which will only encourage Seven, who are likely well pleased with how this gamble paid off.

Celebrity Splash is innocent, harmless, entertaining fun and if nothing else it’s great to see a bunch of people willing to accept outrageous paychecks to stretch themselves with a challenge very few people take on; their enthusiasm is infectious. I’ll dive in again.