Total Wipeout: Mud, sweat & big red balls

a vision of masculinity for 2011When I was watching the splendid Just William recently, it occurred to me that the Outlaws, strutting along, chests stuck out with the bravado of the young buck, mouths bigger than their short trousers, blagging and boasting about being bigger and cleverer than they actually are, reminded me of a youthful version of the Top Gear presenters. That vision of masculinity for the twenty-first century: Clarkson, Hammond and May.

Now Top Gear was not a programme that crossed my mental path very often. Before I had a son, that is. Now I get the full gamut of things I’d almost certainly never have thought of watching – Top Gear, Richard Hammond’s Blast Lab, James May’s Toy Stories – and Total Wipeout.

My son adores all the Top Gear presenters, and refers to them by their first names, as if they were his mates. Actually, despite the many appalling, reprehensible things about Top Gear, (petrolhead politics, casual sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, cultural insensitivity), I do quite enjoy it. It’s frequently offensive, but can also be funny.

And Toy Stories, the series where James May revisited classic toys of his youth, such as Lego, Meccano and Hornby trainsets, with a crazy projects involving tons of volunteer help, can be fascinating, if at times slightly painful viewing, since May’s ‘delegation’ of tasks seemed to involve leaving a lot of young people doing all the hard work. The glorious lunacy of the Plasticine Show Garden made for the Chelsea Flower show by a raft of volunteers, of all ages and ethnicities, almost had me in tears.

But it’s Richard Hammond who is ubiquitous, presenting a ridiculously large number of children’s shows. And my son’s favourite, the Endemol-produced Total Wipeout, returns for a new series  starting Saturday, 6pm. Primetime family viewing. There’ll be no escape. The format is that presenters Hammond and the beautiful, but merciless, Amanda Byram, watch various men and women boast of their athletic talent and sporting prowess, before mocking them trying to navigate the seriously difficult, water-based obstacle course in Buenos Aires (no, I have no idea why it’s held there either). So you see pride coming before a series of, frankly nasty, falls. Off floating mats  into cold water, ‘punched’ until flat on their faces in mud, bouncing off giant red balls like rag dolls. It’s like an elongated, sadistic It’s a Knockout course, with the Jokers being the two people staying dry and doing sarcastic voiceovers.

I’m sure there must be multiple injuries. I guess contestants have to sign a waiver beforehand. If anyone reading this is insane enough to fancy their chances for the £10,000 prize in a future series by the way, you can find the entry form here. The ‘lucky’  three who get through the various early knockout stages then face the final, hideous ordeal of the Total Wipeout Zone, which is a really hard water-based assault course. I guess some people might regard it as ‘fun’, but I’d have to question their sanity. It makes my son scream with laughter. Maybe for him it’s like watching a computer game, with real people.

Posted by Inkface


Filed under Kids TV

21 responses to “Total Wipeout: Mud, sweat & big red balls

  1. Hat Junior keeps telling me she wants me to do Total Wipeout with her. Clearly no concept of just how difficult the courses really are. Anybody else fancy taking her round?

  2. inkface

    You might be able to put her off by mocking a ‘training course’ up at your local park/leisure centre, involving spinning her on a roundabout until she wants to vomit, throwing balls at her until she falls into the pool, them getting her to fall face first in large muddy puddles in the carpark?

    • If it doesn’t put her off, then she would at least be taken into care where she can pester social services/foster carers to take her to Argentina instead of me!
      In the meantime, sticking with the ‘you can’t go until you can swim without buoyancy aids’ line…

  3. arialbold

    I always feel Endemol chose their name rather badly. It’s like the worst combination of painkillers and stomach infections. Always puts me off watching anything they produce.

  4. pauseliveaction

    I regard it as “fun.”

  5. inkface

    Well watching it *is* fun, obviously, but I don’t think taking part in it is! And knowing you as I do, dear PLA, I can no more imagine you undertaking a pool-based assault course in Argentina than I can imagine me playing in midfield for Liverpool FC anytime soon.

    • Pauseliveaction

      Do you know, the funny thing is I would love to have a go on the course providing that – and this is crucial – no-one was looking.

  6. inkface

    Oh good lord. Am so in awe of you now. I’d only do it at gunpoint, and I’m not sure even then.

    • pauseliveaction

      I might possibly feel differently when I got there, because it’s quite high up and I’m not good with heights.

  7. Velocity Girl

    Inky, from what I’ve seen of Liverpool’s midfield recently, I’d expect the call any day now.

    I dislike Total Wipeout intensely yet hugely enjoy Hole In The Wall, despite HITW being as stupid as TW and indeed possibly even more so. Why is this?

    • inkface

      Richard Hammond is a smug twat. Anton du Beke is a berk. Hard to spot the key difference to be honest.

      • pauseliveaction

        I think Richard Hammond, or at least his script, can be quite funny on Total Wipeout. As for Du Berk (as we shall henceforth know him), can’t bear him. Fool can’t even read an autocue convincingly. Bring back Dale Winton. I love Dale. I even enjoy the occasional re-run of Supermarket Sweep.

      • Velocity Girl

        Supermarket Sweep! Those were the days! A part of me is still disappointed every time I leave Morrisons without a giant inflatable ham…

      • pauseliveaction

        I used to put off going to work till Supermarket Sweep was over. #OhTheShame

  8. Velocity Girl

    Anton Du Berk! *chortles like a simpleton all day*

    • inkface

      I’m sure you know his real name is Anthony Beak don’t you?

      • Velocity Girl

        I do indeed, though it never fails to amuse me. Love the fact that someone thinks they can get away with using an exotic surname like Du Beke whilst coming from Dartford (or somewhere thereabouts) at the same time…

  9. My two closest friends applied to go on Supermarket Sweep years ago. Unfortunately never heard back off Dale and I have never got over the dissapointment of a missed opportunity for years of mickey taking out of the pair of them.

    • pauseliveaction

      It’s about time we had some more blogging activity from you, miss! What a shame that your friends were so cruelly ignored by Dale. Can’t you convince them to go on Total Wipeout? Or Come Dine With Me?

  10. A Contestant

    You really should talk to a total wipeout contestant to see how it feels

    Oh how handy, here is one here.

    Lets just say the qualifier round is the hardest thing anyone can do. Following mine, I said all althetes should do it ‘as a rite of passage’

    Due to the large levels of foam, its is not as painful as its made out to be. I made 3 rounds with just a bruise is the shin, and the 19other contestants where similar. Ok, there will be the odd twisted ankle/knee but the team care provided is second to none. They want to see funny falls, but no injuries.

    As for doing it, the sense of achievement is incredible. Being through the process is exhausting, and if asked tomorrow, I would do it again. It has truely changed my life and the belief in myself. Everyone who signed up, knows what they’re in for post edit, but getting there was so amazing!

    And as for your question on why it is held in Argentina it is because it is a MASSIVE park with two identical courses used by 30 countries (including Argentina, so local for some!) . As oon as the UK moved out, Russia moved in. It is cheaper to hire the set the build their own, therefore actually saving the TV license payers!