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Car Crash Television is the New Black

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HELEN LEDERER
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I can vouchsafe as a participant of the reality show, Splash!, that more people choose to watch what they consider to be 'bad television' than switch off. The same pundits who lucidly expressed their affront for what was essentially a variation of 'Big Brother - On Ice - while Strictly Dancing with the odd accidental on purpose beaver close up - in a lido', rather bafflingly continued to watch it.

Even the very cool Claudia Winkleman defended the programme against the equally cool Jimmy Carr who ridiculed it - divided? Not really - that which is uncool is cool, it's just a question of time before it gets uncool again and I should know. I did it.

While similar reality shows have been carefully constructed to appeal to different addictions across all classes - this new addition appears to have caused more controversy than warrants a benign family entertainment slot in water and with no swearing.

But why was the gathering of 'slebs' in a diving contest so utterly appalling? And why did the citing of Tom Daley doing 'TV work' like Gary and Sue cause such a negation of British sportsmanship?

On the other hand if I put myself in the position of a viewer who hadn't been invited to take part, I'm sure I too would have been quite snotty about the low brow mindless TV values and tedium of repetitive routines for ninety minutes. But since I was actually in the thing I became exempt from such armchair TV polemics.

I was offered a fee for a show - albeit with the less attractive add-on of having to dive from a diving board in order to bank it. Oh and wear a swimming costume at the same time. Worse things have happened to me. Well actually they haven't. Apart from a gig at the comedy store in 89 where some people wanted to see a bit of my anatomy I hadn't quite heard of (it was labially connected) I have to admit the fear of making myself do something I didn't consciously want to do was a challenge. It also spoilt my Christmas while I ruminated - but basically I wanted the money. A surprising by- product was a sudden influx of serotonin after the dive. I could chuck the Prozac for a week and bask in the knowledge that I did something I never thought possible for a fat middle-aged woman without thigh cover. Not even a designer jacket to trick the eye. But failure to dive would have taken some explaining...

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We like to be united in our hatred of TV. But what we don't realise is we are dumbing down our own reputations - by engaging in a debate over a TV programme that is deemed so low it's 'car crash'. The dependence on 'TV Slebs' for reviewers and pundits to carp about - as well as the predictable 'who are they all' question is so predictable it's become unintelligent.

It's interesting to note that the 'Car Crash TV' tag ascribed to Splash! has now morphed into 'Bonkers TV'- which puts it into a resplendent rather than reluctant category of acceptability. Almost. The Car Crash is the New Black and we'd better know that for next time.

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