If you are UK-based, then you probably watched (or have at least heard of) the Alpine-themed TV show’The Jump’, recently broadcast on Channel 4.
Okay, so it’s not likely to win any BAFTAs, but for its genre – and for snowsports fans – it was decent entertainment.
Watching C-list celebrities have a panic attack while flying down a skeleton run was fun.
Seeing Donal MacIntyre left behind as his bobsleigh sped off without him made us smile.
And realising that Sir Steve Redgrave wanted to win so much he cried when he had to withdraw made you wonder for his sanity.
The Jump not so scary
It didn’t help that the jumping itself looked lame. Viewed from the bottom, the jumps looked tiny and generally pathetic. We are assured that from the top it was much more heart-raising (which must be why a girl from Essex decided it was too much for her).
However, there were some definite winners:
1. Channel 4
Around 2m people watched each episode, with up to 4m tuning in. Considering the earlier episodes were up against ‘Celebrity Big Brother’, these are decent viewing figures.
Certainly on Twitter, the opening episode created a lot of chatter:
The channel sold sponsorship to Sodastream (in the news for their recent Superbowl Ad) and there is a good chance the concept* will be sold to broadcasters in other countries.
There is even a reasonable chance the programme will be recommissioned and will be back for 2015
2. Graham Bell
The presenter of Ski Sunday has probably never had so much screen time. By the time the Winter Olympics are over, Bell will have been on TV screens for most of the previous month.
After the BBC disappointingly cut the excellent ‘High Altitude‘ and reduced the number of Ski Sunday episodes each season, his time on screen has gone down in the last few years.
Since ‘The Jump’ his public awareness has increased – his Twitter fan base has recently shot up to over 16,000 – and it will certainly improve his marketability in the future.
Kuhtai did very well out of ‘The Jump’, as did Innsbruck. Both venues appeared to have good snow cover, and the weather even co-operated by snowing lightly during some live episodes (unless they had Edward Scissorhands off camera).
The indoor scenes at the Snow Centre at Hemel Hempstead also included a backdrop which included Austrian resort branding.
4. Warren Smith
Although he didn’t end up with as much screen time as Graham Bell, Verbier-based Smith came across well in the programme.
He has previous experience of working with celebrities, with Laurence Dallaglio and James Blunt on his client list. At the London Ski Show in October 2014, Warren was escorting Princess Beatrice around the show.
On ‘The Jump’ a number of the celebrities were clearly impressed with his skills as an instructor.
Sinitta chose to thank him live in person and he guided Ritchie Neville from complete beginner to competent GS skier in a short period of time.
Melinda Messenger was moved to post this comment on the Warren Smith Ski Academy wall (although according to the Daily Mail she may be biased).
5. The Ski Industry
Will ‘The Jump’ have any positive impact on the ski industry?
It will certainly have confirmed in some people’s minds that skiing is a dangerous sport; but most of these viewers would never have considered a ski holiday anyway.
But what about lapsed skiers? Among the negative Tweets and social comments (and there are many, many people who did not like this show!), there is evidence that it’s reminding people what fun skiing can be.
We found this word cloud on Pinterest that suggests that viewers are thinking about taking to the slopes:
We might be clutching at straws, but throw in a medal for Britain’s skiers or snowboarders at Sochi and we could see the return to wintersports that we’ve been hoping for.
By Iain Martin
* ‘Twelve famous faces take on some of the most challenging and dangerous winter sports as they bid to become crowned champion of The Jump’