The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FEATURE -

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.’

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