Superstars TV review – Mark Webster

Return of Superstars delivered what we wanted: sporting heroes outside their comfort zones

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UPDATED:

00:01 GMT, 31 December 2012

Ah, telly's golden years. When gangs of formation dancers you didn't know in DIY costumes waltzed their way around Come Dancing, before it went Strictly.

This was a good thing, of course. Because it meant there was absolutely no good reason to watch it. Then came the celebrity version, though, and a sudden, compelling desire to see Ramp's rumba, Audley's jive and, of course, the victorious Louis Smith's cha cha cha.

There was once a show, however, that Louis might have won without the need to slip into a skintight satin onesie. While still giving us the joy of what we really want – seeing our sporting heroes outside of their comfort zones.

Up a creek: Farah has many talents - kayaking is not one of them

Up a creek: Farah has many talents – kayaking is not one of them

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Superstars was the light entertainment show for real men that once delivered that.

Inspirational theme tune, cool logo, a genuine desire to win and short shorts – REALLY short shorts. On Saturday, the 2012 version turned up on prime time BBC1.

Thus providing us with the opportunity to not only get all nostalgic about the fun old format, but also enjoy the sight of a group of our brand new Olympians back where they belong, in the spotlight.

Not that the opening shots of Gabby Logan wandering around a market in Bath exactly set the pulse racing for what was about to come. It struck me the show opener would have been the ideal opportunity to really remind people of what Superstars was all about.

We did eventually get to see Kevin Keegan famously come a cropper on his bike and former judoka Brian Jacks owning the gym. Yet these clips were fleeting. Surely a few more trips down memory lane would have sat well

And surely a chance was missed to have some old competitors on hand to set up the show, wax nostalgic and mix with the next generation

That aside, once the events did get under way and you saw Anthony Joshua genuinely delighted he'd triumphed in the opening event, the sprint, you knew that old spirit was back.

Because the thing is of course, we normally only get to see these people in their natural environments, in competition. That is the duck gliding gracefully across the water.

As I alluded to earlier, Superstars is the flippers flapping frantically below the surface. Just like the endless days of hard training each of these competitors endure in their professional lives are. All blood, sweat and tears, but also good friendly, competitive fun. And that is what we grew to love on Superstars.

Keen competitors: The stars were put their paces in a number of disciplines

Keen competitors: The stars were put their paces in a number of disciplines

Keen competitors: The stars were put their paces in a number of disciplines

Thankfully, that sense of camaraderie and competition was brought to life by Iwan Thomas, who as an experienced TV presenter and former athlete, knew just the right buttons to push as he interviewed the eight women and eight men going for the titles, throughout the show.

While a sense of gravitas was added on commentary by the always measured, authoritative tones of Paul Dickenson. If this man were a station announcer, he could make the delayed 11.20 from Hounslow sound like a Murder On The Orient Express.

Of course what this was really all about though was a great bunch of people warming the cockles of our hearts, which they all managed in abundance.

For me, there were plenty of highlights throughout the two days, and ninety TV minutes of competition. Watching the Brownlee brothers having their own little sibling battle was great fun.

Alistair couldn't have looked more delighted when brother Jonny flipped his kayak in the pool, and both impressed in a nip and tuck one, two in the 800 metres.

But, holy mackerel, they can’t throw!

Rebecca Adlington was on hand to coach them all in the swimming event, during which Jade Jones left the blocks just as her mentor might. However, a split second later, she entered the water like Tom Daley from the 10 metre board!

I bet she couldn’t do that twice.

Elsewhere, Christine Ohuruogu nearly had someone's eye out during the archery while Mo Farah managed a magnificent 'spider' – archer speak for a dead bullseye.

On you r bike: Classic action involving Kevin Keegan

On your bike: Classic action involving Kevin Keegan (above) with Jackie Stewart, Barry John, and Tony Jacklin (below)

On your bike: Classic action involving Kevin Keegan (above) with Jackie Stewart, Barry John, and Tony Jacklin (below)

However, what proved just as unequivocal a little later…Mo don’t row!

proved a more than worthy platform.

Sprint finish: Credit to those involved - they served up a rare treat

Sprint finish: Credit to those involved – they served up a rare treat