Can’t Touch This is Wipeout-Lite mixed with Ninja Warrior.
I enjoyed Wipeout back in the day, or Total Wipeout as the BBC called it, but its main problem was that the obstacle course rarely changed. Given that it was filmed in Argentina, and that many countries used the same set for their own version of the show, and that the US version had much more variety in what the contestants had to do, this showed that we were being inexplicably short-changed. In the end, the BBC wiped it out at the end of 2012, after almost four years, and the franchise as a whole expired in September 2014 when the last episode was broadcast in the US.
So, what happens in the show? Contestants start at the beginning and have to negotiate an obstacle course, running the opposite way along a travelator, clearing a patch of water on the pole vault, and landing in the foam pit, as in foam bricks, not soap-style foam. Touch the prize symbols along the way and you can win a 3D printer, a satnav, a smoothie maker, bluetooth speakers, a luxury pan set, cuddly toy… (no, that’s not there), a holiday to Barcelona – bizarrely, not the major prize out of all of these and a robotic vacuum cleaner – one of those which attempts to clean the floor while you’re out, as long as you haven’t got any furniture or rugs for it to negotiate (yep, that’s why I’ve never bought one). There’s a 30-second penalty for any touch points they miss.
Stuart was the first one up. He is 62, he has a walking stick, and started off in the human catapult. All the cliches are here: near-pensioner Stuart set off to Iggy Pop‘s Lust For Life; elsewhere we had I Like To Move It by Reel 2 Real featuring The Mad Stuntman (rather apt, given the crash helmets they each have to wear) and Randy Newman‘s Short People for tiny T. When a contestant takes an age, their ‘journey’ is paused while they look at another one, just like Total Wipeout used to do. Whenever anyone falls over, the footage is repeatedly endlessly and, if they go slow, we get Bjork‘s cover of It’s Oh So Quiet.
The pole vault is impossible to get across unless you’re about 10 foot tall and, if you’re male, you can kiss goodbye to your genitals as you fall square onto it, the pole bashing your own pole right between the legs.
And in the end, you haven’t won these prizes yet. In a final obstacle course challenge akin to a game of musical chairs, only one will be the winner and have the *chance* to win these prizes following one more feat of indignity. Well, two, because there’s also a car to be won.
So, with the BBC looking for time to fill ahead of the 7pm The Voice slot, which has never found a long-term career for any of its winners (so why ITV bought it, I have no idea, other than them really being desperate to shelve The X-Factor), the England V Germany football match on its opening night means this first episode goes head-to-head with the crazy-successful Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, meaning its chance of ratings success is as good as Paul, the 50+ “risk taker” who failed to get out of the pool because he didn’t understand what the rope ladder was for.
Whereas Total Wipeout was set outside in the bright Argentian sunshine, Can’t Touch This is filmed in the BBC’s bargain basement. I’m not sure who thought this was a great idea because it’s been done before and better.
Similar to Total Wipeout, Amanda Byram’s talk-to-the-contestant role is performed by C-list presenter Zoe Ball, Richard Hammond’s voiceover is brought to us by Sue Perkins, throwing in some mild innuendo as always, while dancer with the daft name, Ashley Banjo, is the spare part, his only distinguishing feature being a hairdo in the same shape as HR Giger’s creature in Alien.
Can you really believe it’s been almost 10 years since Banjo’s dance troupe Diversity were formed? Did you care? No to both.
Oh, and that car I mentioned? Initially, there was no apparent reason why it was suspended from the ceiling in the studio. Before it came into play, I hoped it would eventually fall on him.
Can’t Touch This is soon to be known as Can’t Recommission This. Still, at least it’s not Don’t Scare The Hare… is it, Sue Perkins? 😉
Can’t Touch This: There’s 9 more episodes of this to come, the next one being next Saturday on BBC1 at 6.10pm. If you missed it, you can watch the first episode on BBC iPlayer, up until April 25th.
Episode 1 Score: 2/10
Director: Chris Power
Producers: Matthew Claxton, Clare Miller and Mary Doyle
Writers: Ivor Baddiel, Christian Manley and David Spicer
Presenters: Zoe Ball and Ashley Banjo
Commentator: Sue Perkins
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.