Channel 5’s TV show Tour de Celeb continues to amuse, frustrate and entertain in equal measure. It follows the fortunes and otherwise of eight ‘celebrities’ as they train for and attempt to complete the 2016 Etape du Tour from Megeve to Morzine in the French Alps.
Like all these shows the term ‘celebrity’ can only be applied in relative terms. I remember Austin Healey as a rugby player, Darren Gough as a cricketer and I think I knew that Jodie Kidd was a model a few years ago. Louie Spence is that camp guy from ‘Strictly’ and Hugo Taylor is from ‘Made in Chelsea’. We then start to get into more obscure territory: Angelica Bell is a TV presenter that I don’t recognize, Amy Williams won a winter Olympics medal in the skeleton and Lucy Mecklenburgh is a model.
As you’d expect from this eclectic group, there’s a fair spread of abilities with the former sportsmen and women stretching ahead of their fellow celebs. Hugo lacks commitment and determination, dropping out of the Surrey Hills sportive with 10km to go and Lucy is simply terrified of riding a bike, especially going downhill. Last night’s episode saw her actually throw herself off onto the grass verge. Plucky little Angelica shows the most determination and proves the point that this is as much a mental as a physical challenge. The least experienced rider, she hasn’t mastered clip-in pedals yet, but has the guts to push herself and go for it. Louie also has a habit of coming off, usually when the bike is still. Jodie Kidd shows promise but is struggling from a knee injury sustained in a team-building assault course event.
The narrator’s style of commentary apes that of The Apprentice. Everything is hyperbole: “Some will Triumph, others will falter…all will suffer,” and the Celebs join in the over blown description of everything they do. Jodie Kidd says that, “This is one of the most difficult things I would ever, EVER, have done in my life.” And Angelica says that giving birth is easier. Not to be outdone ex-England rugby star Austin Healey declared that, “There’s a good chance you’ll get seriously hurt…or die. That’s not just me saying that for TV. It’s a fact!” Later on we learn that the Etape is “notorious for pile ups and crashes” while they show shots of the professional peloton have some monster crashes on the actual Tour de France.
Dame Sarah Storey joins the group to train them as they tackle the “punishing gradient” of Box Hill and she is absolutely lovely although Hugo feels she’s pushing him too hard as she tries to get him to increase his cadence. Meanwhile, despite stating that she “loves a physical challenge and I’ll work however many hours to get it done,” Lucy actually gives up pretty easily on a training sportive.
But it’s Louie Spence who has the best lines. “That wasn’t choreographically what I wanted,” he says as he falls off his static bike again. But his best line by far is the expletive “Big Fat Vagina Lips!” as he struggles to get up a hill. Austin Healey tries to show off, answering his phone on the climb but ruins it by attempting to spit over his shoulder only for the saliva to dribble down his chin and sleeve.
Goughie, Healey and Amy get to go to Andorra for a Lawrence Dallaglio ride across the Pyrenees. Of course the former cricketer and rugby player can’t resist a night out on the tiles before the event. The inevitable occurs when Goughie has to pull up and evacuate the contents of his stomach on the side of the road. Credit to him, though, he gets back on the bike, finishes the ride and says that it’s been one of the best days of his life.
With less than two months to go it’s going to be tough going for the likes of Louie, Lucy and Hugo who look pretty miserable at this stage in their preparation. The others are really enjoying their cycling which is great to see. Respect to Angelica who’s gone from complete novice to completing the Surrey Hills Sportive in a matter of weeks. Recommended viewing!
You can catch Tour de Celeb on Mondays at 7 PM on Channel 5.