Catch up TV reviews: The Jump, Sugar Free Farm, The Secret Life of the Zoo, Obsessed with My Body
James R | On 07, Feb 2016
The Jump – All 4
What a curious programme The Jump is. In an era where everyone is trying to come up with the next big game show hit, the Channel 4 series seemed to trump them all by coming up with celebrities hurtling down the ice – take that, ITV’s diving contest, Splash!, with Tom Daley. But the show was criticised for not raising the stakes high enough, making a mockery of the whole thing. As Season 3 arrives, the show has skated to the other extreme; celebrities are now competing to see who can escape unscathed, with swimmer Rebecca Adlington dropping out with a dislocated shoulder and Holby’s Tina Hobley (try to say that three times) also injured – one to be replaced by Heather Mills and the other by The Wanted’s Tom Parker. Only this morning, Beth Tweddle seriously injured her back. It’s like Channel 4 have deliberately made a prequel to their own investigative documentary: “The Jump: Death On Ice”.
The new run starts with a genuinely daunting challenge – the skeleton, which essentially consists of remaking Cool Runnings by riding a dinner tray… down an actual bobsleigh track. There’s some intrigue in watching Dean Cain, aka. Superman from ITV’s The New Adventures of Superman, swagger about in red and blue lycra (he jokes about being Superman with a commendable sense of self-deprecating humour), but the format itself, hosted (of course) by Davina McCall, is depressingly predictable. The show, then, as with all game shows, relies upon its gimmick to entertain. As more and more famous people are thrown off mountains and fewer and fewer get back up again, you wonder if it’s all just gotten a bit out of hand.
Photo: Channel 4
Sugar Free Farm – ITV Hub
Don’t want to watch a bunch of non-celebrities lobbing themselves off a cliff? Why not watch another bunch not eating sugar for a few days? It’s hardly a scintillating premise – can’t they do it on skis, while somersaulting backwards off the shoulders of Ant & Dec? – but there’s a welcome focus on health behind the expected complaints about headaches and tiredness and grumblings about lumpy smoothies. “This is lovely, but Nando’s is Nando’s,” says one of a sugar-free chicken meal. Against all the odds, you may well find yourself reconsidering your own diet – something that gives much-needed weight to shots of Rory McGrath eating vegetables.
Photo: ITV / Libertybell
Obsessed with My Body – All 4
Girls take selflies all the time without thinking about it. At least, that’s what conventional wisdom tells us. Channel 4’s interesting documentary, treading on the territory usually mastered by BBC Three, picks apart that myth by taking us inside the world of male body pressure, as boys take steroids and wax their eyebrows to appear flawless – and spend much longer than you’d think cultivating their online image. There’s an impressive balance to the programme, which allows us to see both the insecurity behind the troubling extremes and the awareness the subjects have about their own fixation. In an age where many allow themselves to be defined by their social media presence, this is worth a few likes.
Photo: Channel 4
The Secret Life of the Zoo – All 4
Anthropomorphisation. At its best, it gives us political satire in the form of Animal Farm. At its worst, it sees us dressing up cats and dogs as 18th century English gentlemen. The Secret Life of the Zoo follows Channel 4’s fantastic The Secret Life of 4, 5 and 6 Year Olds, which used its hidden cameras and team of experts to shed real insight into the development of children. This new format keeps the former, but loses the latter. The footage of creatures in the pens is great; the problem is that the accompanying commentary projects all kinds of human emotions onto the cuddly tykes. It’s heavy-handed enough to undo some of the likeable charm on offer from the keepers themselves (pictured above: Pip Carter-Jones with some Mountain Chicken frogs). Nonetheless, the chance to see the behind-the-scenes goings-on at a zoo regularly fascinates. You just wish they’d left the cameras and animals to it and not worried about dressing both up.
Photo: Channel 4
“In theory, I should be doing a lot of things, but in spirit, I hope I make the right choices.