Leader: Summer loving

Enjoy the warm, bright days while they last.

The start of the Ashes Test series between England and Australia coincided with a period of sustained warmth and bright sunshine. In the wonderfully fluctuating opening match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, Ashton Agar, a little-known 19-year-old debutant who was not included in the original touring squad and who until recently was playing club cricket for Henley, made 98 glorious runs in the first innings. He rescued Australia from a perilous position while making the highest ever score by a No 11 in a Test match.

Suddenly, it seemed as if every second person you met was talking about the cricket, just as they were in the summer of 2005, when England and Australia contested the closest and most gripping Test series in many decades. That was the last Test series to be broadcast on free-toview terrestrial television. Soon afterwards, the England and Wales Cricket Board sold the TV rights to Sky.

In his poem “Mother, Summer, I”, Philip Larkin writes of how his mother

Holds up each summer day and shakes
It out suspiciously, lest swarms
Of grape-dark clouds are lurking there . . .

Certainly in these islands, and especially after the long stretch of wet and floodwrecked recent years, we have become used to dark clouds in summer. No doubt they will return soon enough, so enjoy these warm, bright days while they last. Autumn – and the return of money-mad football – await us.

Brighton Beach on 14 July 2013. Photograph: John Connor Press Association Ltd / Rex Features

This article first appeared in the 22 July 2013 issue of the New Statesman, How to make a saint

The Jump/Channel 4
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The most dangerous show on TV: is The Jump becoming a celebrity Hunger Games?

Will it take a life-threatening injury, or worse, before the madness ends?!

First they came for former EastEnders actor Louis Lytton. Then, they came for former EastEnders actor Sid Owen. Then, they came for former Holby City actor Tina Hobley. But now, the third season of Channel 4’s The Jump has moved on from retired soap stars to claim a new set of victims: Britain’s top athletes, including Rebecca Adlington, Beth Tweddle and Linford Christie.

The winter sports reality show The Jump takes your average collection of D-list celebrities, with a few sports personalities mixed in for good measure, and asks them to compete in a series of alpine challenges – skeleton, bobsleigh, snowboarding and, of course, ski jumping – while Davina McCall says things like, “Look at that jump. Just look at it. Are you nervous?”

It sounds fairly mild, but Sir Steve Redgrave, Ola Jordan, Sally Bercow and Melinda Messenger have all withdrawn from the programme after injuries in the past.

Riskier than I’m a Celebrity, Splash! and Dancing on Ice mixed together, the third season of The Jump is fast turning into a dystopian celebrity harm spectacle, a relentless conveyor belt of head injuries and fractured bones.

So far, seven out of the competition’s 12 contestants have sustained injuries. First, Lytton tore a ligament in her thumb, before being rushed to hospital after a training incident at the end of last month. Then, Owen fell on his leg during the first episode having previously complained of “a bad crash during training” for the skeleton.

Adlington (who openly wept with fear when she first gazed upon the titular ski jump, described as being the “height of three double decker buses”) was hospitalised and withdrew from the show after a televised fall left her with a dislocated shoulder: she said the pain was “worse than childbirth”. Hobley soon followed with a dislocated elbow.

Tweddle suffered a particularly bad accident during rehearsals, and now remains in hospital after having her spine fused together, which involved having a piece of bone taken from her hip. On Monday, Christie became the fourth contestant to be hospitalised in the space of two weeks, pulling his hamstring. As of today, Made in Chelsea cast member Mark Francis is the fourth contestant to withdraw, after fracturing his ankle.

In response to criticisms, Channel 4 reminded viewers that 46 of their celebrity participants have so far emerged unscathed across the three series, which seems like a remarkably low bar to set for a major reality TV series: “no one’s been seriously hurt so far” is not much of a safety procedure.

Judge Eddie the Eagle implied that contestents were injuring themselves through their own laziness and coffee obsessions. He wrote in the Daily Mail:

“Those competitors should be up and down the steps relentlessly – jump and go back, jump and go back. Instead too many will have a couple of goes before going off for a coffee and forgetting to return because they're feeling tired.”

But as the celebrity casualty list approaches double figures and more than 12 viewers have officially complained, the channel has begun an urgent safety review of the show, after one insider reportedly labelled it “the most dangerous show on television”.

It all seemed like fun and games when we were watching reality TV stars rolling around in the snow in embarrassing lurid lyrca suits. But will it take a life-threatening injury, or worse, before the madness ends?! Pray for Brian McFadden. Pray for Sarah Harding. Pray for Tamara Beckwith. Pray for the end of The Jump.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.