The carnage started with the qualifier obstacle course which was spiced up by the addition of snipers positioned at the sides of the course. ‘Just look at the pig’s ear David Dickinson makes of the inflatable balls,’ laughed Richard Hammond in his commentary as the daytime TV host received a headshot to the temple. ‘All that blood is ruining his healthy orange colour. Still, I think the pathologist will find there’s now plenty of lead in his attic.’
The remaining contestants then moved on to face the Sweeper, a high-rise game of mechanical jump-rope played on platforms which, because it’s Christmas, were raised 50m above a concrete car park. ‘Oh dear, Gloria Hunniford is going to take a while to mop up,’ said Hammond, ‘and just listen to the sickening crunch after Bobby Davro fails to get his leg over and takes three and a quarter seconds to hit the deck. I haven’t groaned like that since his last TV series.’
Next was Dizzy Dummies, a challenge in which the celebs were spun round for 60 seconds before being set loose to trace a winding narrow path through a densely-packed minefield. ‘What a sad end to an illustrious career,’ lamented Hammond as Dappy from N-Dubz spent his final moments hopping around looking for his left leg. The poignant moment was given the slow motion treatment while U2’s ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ played in the background.
The competition ended with the Wipeout Zone being contested by Lembit Opik, Michaela Strachan and the guy who does the Cillit Bang adverts, with the players asked to undertake the water challenge in a piranha-infested lake, their task made no easier by wearing Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress. ‘We didn’t even need to bother with the concrete slippers,’ joked Hammond as the water bubbled and turned red. There was then just time for some final high-jinks as the contestants’ coffins were flown back to RAF Northolt where they were ejected at 12,000 feet and parachuted back to earth.
‘We wanted to do something a bit different this year,’ said Controller of BBC1, Danny Cohen. ‘It seems that if there’s the prospect of some on-air deaths and suffering, the viewers just don’t change channel. It’s something we learned from EastEnders.’
Despite the programme’s success, it hasn’t entirely avoided controversy. Ofcom said it had received a number of complaints about the show, but that these had all been swiftly withdrawn after the BBC caved in to viewers’ demands and booked Katie Price for next year’s show.
27th December 2010