The first installment of Channel 4's The Games has just ended, with Cornish Liberal Democrat MP Julia Goldsworthy placed third of five in the women's contest after suffering a dunking in the white-water kayaking despite being the pre-contest favourite.
Looking at her contestant page on the C4 website, bits read as if it came off a Focus leaflet – in fact, a fair bit of it probably did as it's also on her personal website.
I'm a huge reality TV junkie and enjoyed previous series of The Games, because it's one of those shows (like Hell's Kitchen and Strictly Come Dancing) that stretch people to unexpected heights using skills that they'd never normally exercise. But of course I also looked at it from the point of view of a Liberal Democrat wondering how one of the best and brightest of our young MPs would fare in a medium that only a few weeks ago holed George Galloway below the waterline.
Would anyone actually watch it? What would be the likely outcome of her participation for her and for the party? Good thing? Bad thing? Greater exposure to a different audience? More 'Chatshow Charlie' criticism?
My worry before the show was that every reality TV programme needs a villain, and an MP is a pretty good candidate to be transformed into the Wicked Witch of the South West in the edit room. That didn't seem to happen – we saw lots of her in the background encouraging her fellow contestants. Failing to win the event will have also prevented her from coming across as too unsympathetic and driven, odd though it sounds.
In fact, she was in the background a lot – we didn't see much of her in the foreground, especially in the athlete's village set-up where they all have to stay overnight. This makes me wonder whether she's got a dispensation from the producers to spend less time there than the rest because of her day job (we didn't see a great deal of her in the training footage either). If that's the case, it reduces the chance of any damaging Galloway-style pictures – but also makes it difficult for her to make an impact on the viewers. And it could also be that the producers think she's too boring to show.
Best moment BY FAR was when she was introduced to the cheering crowd as “Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury” – any Tories in the audience will have been spitting tacks. Their boy Rickett did well in the waterski jump, though.
Reaction on the Digital Spy forums has been somewhat muted: people are starting to make their minds up about the competitors, but I don't sense any strong swing for or against anyone, despite this post:
A good first night, I thought …..
Obviously, some training repeats from E4, but also some new shots of the village …..
Amanda dumped – hahahahaha – Nil points – she is crap at everything ….. :(
Bernie – scared shitless but did her best – well done ….. :)
Javine and Michelle – excellent performances ….. :D
Julia – tried too hard and blew it – will do better ….. ;)
But some comments suggest Goldsworthy has already fallen victim to the near-inevitable fate of reality TV women – to be judged on her looks and physique rather than her abilities:
ic1male: Why is he calling Julia Goldsworthy the Peanut Smuggler?
slappers r us: Because her nipples were sticking out :D
ic1male: Oh! I wasn't paying much attention to those bits of her anatomy :D
Kayak first………….. whaddaya reckon ? I guess it's the one with the quickest time wins……….. I think I'll go for Julie………… see looks like a kayaky girl to me
Also did you note how they stressed 'MP' when they introduced…………. she's obviously this year#s posh totty. Anyway, she's got a nice big bum………… should keep her wedged in that kayak…………. :o
Nine days of that sort of thing should set her up nicely for her return to the House of Commons…
But despite that, overall, so far so good I think – no banana skins trodden on yet. It just depends what role the producers think she should fill in the show's ongoing narrative…