Back in 1990, on a quiet Monday evening, the pilot episode for a new sitcom aired that was to become one of televisionâs most baffling creations. After an episode of Dadâs Army, at 9:30, moments before viewers were introduced to the new series, a chirpy continuity reader announced: âAnd unless Arthur Lowe defeats him, it’s the man himself in a few moments in Heil Honey, I’m Home!.â?
What followed was a bawdy comedy about fictionalised versions of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, and their supposedly hilarious inability to get along with their Jewish neighbours. It was bizarre, it was in poor taste and, to the disappointment of almost no one, all future episodes of Heil Honey, I’m Home! were canned right there and then.
Few programmes since have brought to mind so many questions, although Tom Daleyâs head-scratching diving show Splash!, now in its third week, certainly comes close. Presumably stolen from the mind of Alan Partridge, each week the series sees the Lynx-endorsing Olympic medallist teaching a group of eager celebrities how to dive before they then have to prove their skills in front of a live audience.
Hosted, as nightmares invariably are, by Vernon Kay and Gabby Logan, Splash! is so intensely colourful that feels as if itâs being projected directly into your brain via laser pen, and the audio is similarly hard to endure. Consisting of horribly compressed dance music, idiotic hand claps and what sound like genuine screams of anguish from the crowd, your best bet is to turn the volume right down orâbetter stillâcompletely off.
Unfortunately, then youâd miss out on what the celebrities have say, which is obviously the best part of the programme. So far contestants have included the likes of Omid Djalili, Caprice, someone from the Sugababes, someone from Hollyoaks, 1988âs Eddie The Eagle and something called âJoey Essexâ? which resembles the colour and texture of peperami.
If such a show had existed back in the 1990s, celebrities would likely have competed, all in good fun, to raise money for charity, but that isnât the case here. Indeed, mere days before appearing on the show, heat three contestant Tina Malone told Liverpool radio station Juice FM that Splash! was âgarbageâ?, adding: “Itâs the big fat cheques that make me happy.”
Itâs just unfortunate that we viewers donât receive similar compensation for withstanding Splash!, which by the way, features far too much skin for my liking. There is, after all, a reason why people on television are typically required to be fully clothed; obviously itâs because looking at somebody in a speedo as they nonchalantly address the camera is actually kind of creepy.
Itâs why you donât often find men lining up in Post Office wearing only their underwear. Nobody wants to see that, and even if you did, Google exists, meaning that ITV really doesnât have to broadcast these images of a weirdly androgynous, semi-nude legoman.
And somehow I havenât even gotten to the strangest part of the programme yet â i.e. the presence of Jo Brand as judge: the part where you start to genuinely consider that Splash! might have actually been conceived by a group of bored stoners.
The only explanation that weâre given is that âsheâs the sympathy voteâ?. See, the other judges know about diving and such, but she, weâre to presume, is only there to sympathise with the crap contestantsâsympathy being the characteristic that springs to mind when one thinks of a comedian.
A bit of quirkiness can go a long way, but Splash! is wholly stupefying. At least the premise of something like Naked Jungleâthe first entirely nude game show, hosted by Keith Chegwinâhas some sanity to it. Splash! just feels as if itâs the product of somebody throwing a bunch of vague, half-baked ideas into a blender, setting it to blend, and then vomiting in the blender, and then setting it to blend for a bit longer.
It might have worked well as a short segment on Comic Relief, but as a whole series itâs just as baffling as Heil Honey, I’m Home!.