Veteran Olympian Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards finally earned sporting acclaim – nearly 25 years after his infamous Olympic flop – by winging his way into the next round of new diving-inspired talent show Splash!
British ski jumper Edwards, who soared to glorious failure in the 1988 winter Games, topped the ITV show’s leaderboard with a daring 10-metre dive, while bandaged-up sports presenter Charlotte Jackson won a head-to-head “splash-off” against reality TV personality Joey Essex to progress past the heat stage.
Edwards joked he had “ruined his reputation” by winning Saturday night’s round, earning praise from judges – Team GB’s diving coach Andy Banks, comedienne Jo Brand and former Olympic diving medallist Leon Taylor – as well as Olympic bronze medallist and competition mentor Tom Daley.
Jackson – who had several wardrobe malfunctions during practice sessions – performed despite suffering a double fracture in training. She had been diving from the high boards before Saturday, but had to be taken to hospital after breaking two bones in her toe. Banks described her dive as technically “easy”, but praised her for persevering with a heavily bandaged foot.
Essex used his catchphrase as inspiration for his effort – the “reem tuck dive” – from the 10m board. It was only enough to earn him 19.5 points from the judges, and next-to-last place on the leaderboard. But the public vote ensured his place in the splash-off with Jackson, who would become the first female to make it past the show’s first round.
American model Caprice, 41, wowed the judges with her one-and-a-half somersault tuck from the 3m springboard, scoring 24.5 from the judges. It took her to second in the leaderboard after the judges’ scores, but she was condemned to competition exit following the public vote.
Garden designer Diarmuid Gavin admitted having huge nerves before his basic but uncomfortable descent into the water. It earned him a paltry 16.5 points from the judges and he was also eliminated after the public vote.
Edwards was last to take to the water, where he completed the fiendishly tricky forward one-and-a-half somersault pike, described as the most difficult dive in the competition. And the former Olympian impressed the panel by executing a near-perfect routine.
Judge Banks said Edwards “brought some spice to the show”, with Daley suggesting the veteran athlete should have represented Great Britain as a diver rather than a ski-jumper.
Edwards and Jackson join comedian Omid Djalili and actor Jake Canuso in the next round of the talent show, with interior designer Linda Barker, comedian Dom Joly and boxer Anthony Ogogo all lined up to perform next weekend.