Total Wipeout this weeks opens with a shot of the contestants jumping up and down and cheering hysterically. Now, take a moment to think about the filming of that shot. “Now, lads, we want you to jump up and down and cheer, right, but proper enthusiastic. And for ages. Don’t you dare let those smiles waver for a second.”
Total Wipeout, a sort of hi-tech It’s A Knockout, features contestants fighting a huge, nightmarish version of a primary school playground for a cash prize. Before they have a go at the course, the human smug machine Amanda Bryam performs a quick interview with them with the sole intention of making them look like the dinner party guest from Hell- an arrogant, stupid, middle-class bastard who likes the sound of his or her on voice far too much. Then we get the brilliant shots of them running the course. Still filled with, well, you know, rural rage, seeing the Sons-of-bankers bastards taking a pounding and crawling through mud to Richard Hammonds commentary which summates to a comedy toot-toot noise is verging on patriotic. Speaking of the mud, it appears to be laced with morphine, as even the liveliest contestants is turned into a virtually comatose zombie within seconds. There’s a surreal, crammed-in-in editing sequence specifically to point and roar with laughter at failed contestants. And ignore that Hammond is middle-class- IGNORE IT- DON’T EVEN THI-
It’s okay that Amanda Bryam is middle-class, you think, because we’re not meant to like her. She’s just there to shake her tits and conceal her snorts of laughter. And she’s oddly pretty when she’s laughing at contestants misfortunes. And God knows if they thought we would like the contestants. One of them’s an opera singer which, although cool, makes me want to punch him when he sings a “spontaneous” burst of his opera music. It’s teatime; I don’t want to be made to feel inferior. And one woman has donned a t-shirt emblazoned with “WELSH AND WACKY”. Imagine her deciding the two words that described her most- “Well, I’m Welsh, obviously, and….Yes, I would say I’m wacky, too. Yes, put “wacky”.” It’s that type of person we’re dealing with here.
But I tell you bloody what- once I’ve got over my cynicism, this show is brilliant. It’s good, clean, teatime fun, the course looks like it’s properly difficult, making it a thrill when someone gets over it, Hammond’s little asides are patchy but even mildly amusing at points, and the contestants fully commit to the cheese of the show and look like they’re having a whale of a time. And occasionally, thrillingly, someone is in some pain- and we just point and laugh. It’s great.