e’ve had dancing, diving and figure skating — now get ready for the most challenging reality series yet. The Jump sees an eclectic group of 12 daredevil celebrities — including Olympian Steve Redgrave, former cricketer Darren Gough and Sinitta — compete in winter sports such as skiing and bobsleighing.
And if that doesn’t sound dangerous enough, each show will end with the two worst-performing stars battling to see who can leap furthest on a terrifying ski jump. The loser is then eliminated — or presumably carried off on a stretcher. The danger is very real and one of the competitors, Sam Jones from 1980s movie Flash Gordon, has already retired with an injured shoulder after falling over while celebrating a successful ski jump.
Davina McCall and Alex Brooker are presenting the action from the Austrian resort of Innsbruck from tonight for eight nights over nine days on Channel 4. Each day, competitors take part in timed trials in one of six different sports — two-man bobsleigh, skeleton (like bobsleigh, but on a tea tray) speed skiing, speed skating, slalom and ski cross, effectively a downhill obstacle course. They’ll be mentored by experts including ski jumper Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, Olympic skier Graham Bell and Amy Williams, who won gold at the 2010 Olympics in the skeleton. So what made rowing hero Steve Redgrave, who’s won gold at five Olympics, sign up? Well, he has an ace up his sleeve — he was once a bobsleigh champion! ‘It’s true! It was a long time ago,’ he laughs. ‘I won my first Olympic gold for rowing in 1984 but a year later my form dropped and I nearly gave the sport up. Larry Tracey, the guy sponsoring me at the time, invited me to join his bobsleigh team, and eventually I won gold at the 1989 British Championships as part of a four-man crew. It’s an unsung medal, but one I really cherish. In the end I decided I’d never reach the top on a bobsleigh so I’d better do something I was good at. But I always wanted to push myself at winter sports before I turned 50. And I’ll be 52 in March, so when this came up, my wife, Ann, said, “Go for it.” I’ve done a lot of skiing since I retired, and the thought of learning all the other events was irresistible.’
His rivals, who also include comedian Marcus Brigstocke, former Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt and A Place In The Sun presenter Laura Hamilton, chorus his name when asked who’s the most competitive. ‘I always watch Steve when we’re given something new to do,’ says Sinitta. ‘Because he looks at it, listens to the instructor, takes it all in, and if he likes something, he gives a little smile and you know it’ll be okay.’