Bradley Wiggins’ new career as a celebrity TV personality took off yesterday and nearly crash landed within moments of his first appearance on The Jump, Channel 4’s winter sports competition for retired athletes, reality TV stars and ex-models.
Wiggins looked uncomfortable when he was introduced with the rest of his competitors. While they bounded up to the Austrian chalet with the usual arm waves, kickbox moves and cheesy grins, Sir Brad stayed grim-faced.
Was it nerves, a general awkwardness, or had he forgotten to take his fluimucil injection to clear his congestion? Perhaps he was remembering the comment he had made to the Guardian but a year ago when he said, “You don’t want to become just this pointless celebrity who’s here, there and everywhere, going can’t cook, won’t cook. I don’t want to become a captain on Question of Sport and go on every week playing the fool.”
Perhaps someone had forgotten to tell him that, part of being on a show like this, is you’re supposed to at least try to look like you’re enjoying yourself. In any case he took presenter Davina McCall by surprise when he explained, pre watershed, the real reason he was there: “Just to piss off the Daily Mail, really.” Classic Brad. Would that be the same Daily Mail that revealed details about the mystery package delivered to him at the end of the 2011 Dauphiné?
It was a while before they dared show any more of him after that – we had to make do with his Skoda advert in the commercial break in which he declares, “I think it’s important to be yourself.” (Hands up if you think Wiggins really drives a Skoda.)
But the former Tour de France winner, most decorated British Olympian and hour record holder soon featured in a little video montage where he said how determined he was to win what is basically a light-hearted celebrity competition with reality TV stars like Spencer from Made in Chelsea and a blonde from TOWIE.
There were the usual training shots of him falling over in the snow and getting angry with himself for, “skiing like a prat.” Brad, it’s supposed to be light entertainment, ok?
But he was soon paired up with a comedian called Mark Dolan for a slalom race. This was billed as “The stand-up comedian Vs the sit-down athlete.” Brad’s intention to “really psyche out” his opponent and to totally ignore him the day before didn’t seem to be in keeping with the spirit of the show. Dolan retaliated with, “I’m gonna let the air out of his tyres.”
Nevertheless, Brad came through the victor over the line. Just. He was mysteriously absent for much of the rest of the show and it was up to the likes of Spencer and rugby legend Gareth Thomas to lark about in the bar for the cameras.
When he did reappear at the end with his fellow celebs he looked a bit more relaxed and showed us this by repeatedly sticking out his tongue at the camera, rather like a Maori performing the Haka. Could this be anything to do with his ambition he shared with The Sun that “I’d like an acting role. I got asked to be in Eastenders. A lot of things like that I turned down because I didn’t have time.”
We look forward to more bizarre behaviour from Sir Brad next Sunday on Channel 4’s The Jump.