Martin Freeman: Tom Daley's Splash! Please adjust your television sets
OH, THE drama! Oh, the excitement! Ouch, the bright colours!
If you are Splash! virgin consult the telly's manual so you can turn down the colour.
Too late for me. With the opening credits rolling I grabbed my sunglasses and to discover how a show starring Tom Daley has led to so many newspaper stories.
Oh the irony, dear reader. The splash (without the capital letter and minus the exclamation mark) is what newspaper people call the big story on the front page. (Incidentally, an exclamation mark is referred to as a screamer – or a phrase that is too rude to put in a family newspaper; if you really want to know the naughty one, go Google – later, out of courtesy to me.)
The first shock was Gabby Logan's dress. The colour was so bright it might have been used by MoD ground crew when guiding a helicopter in to land in the dark in a fog so dense you couldn't see your arms. Except that the chopper would crash because the pilot was blinded.
The shade is catalogued as YELL!ow but is custom-made to order: go past the conventional mix-your-own section in B&Q; put on the protective suit and bravely enter the store room marked Danger: Chemical Hazard.
Faced with impossible challenges, high achievers get achieving.
But the butterfly minds of TV viewers flutter off unless distracted by something bright and beautiful.
The second shock was when Andy Banks, GB diving guru and coach to Tom – I'll get to him eventually – asked Caprice, "How old are you?"
There was a stunned silence in my living room.
My children have learned (painfully) not to ask such impertinent questions of adult females.
The lingerie model paused, had a think, and then revealed that she is 41.
Andy's point was that Caprice is not in the first flush of youth and had produced a stunning performance after a week's training.
He and fellow judges, the Olympic synchro silver medallist Leon Taylor and comedian Jo Brand, voted her into second place on the leader board in the diving competition.
In the topsy turvy world of Saturday evening entertainment gymnasts do the waltz, rugby players dance on ice, lingerie models dive into swimming pools and Vernon Kay struggles to be a TV presenter, shouting above his brutal blue suit.
You might wonder why a soft viewing show needs a third presenter when there is already the effortlessly professional Gabby and the supremely gifted Tom (yes; in a minute), on board.
Vernon is there so Tom can contrast favourably (at last sub-editor please insert screamer here!)
First, Tom's sometimes alarming tan appears quite normal compared with Vernon's suit. (I Googled "swimmers' tan" to discover why pool professionals are so bronzed, but learned only of the popularity of facekinis in China; astonishing subs, etc! go on, Google that one now.)
Second, it's as if he was born to present a telly programme.
When he's not teaching complete novices how to dive (cut to midweek training at Plymouth's Life Centre), he's talking expertly to camera (live) and (live again) bringing a warm Janner heart to the garish proceedings, hugging his charges, post-dive.
Mindful of school chemistry lessons gone wrong, Gabby shrank back from embracing the soggy celebrities, fearing what might happen if swimming pool chlorine mixed with YELL!ow.
Tom is the main reason why up to 6.2 million people tune in each Saturday night. Aside from showing off his talents, there's glimpses of him in his swimmies displaying pretty much everything else for the target audience (young and female, according to ITV1).
The viewing profile explains why Caprice was booted out in the phone vote in favour of Joey Essex. If you have no idea who he is, you don't need to know he is a "reality TV personality", just that he is a young, fit bloke.
Sanity prevailed and the panel gave him the elbow in favour of telly presenter Charlotte Jackson after she trounced him in a dive-off.
Charlotte is also young and attractive, and plucky (she dived with broken toes) and so would never meet favour with fellow youthful females (meeowch).
Top of the pile was cheery and daring Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards who dived like he had no fear (and a lot of athletic promise) but we of a certain age knew that already from his ski-jumping exploits two decades ago. The audience voted for him because they wished their dad/ grandad/bloke was funny and heroic, too.
The lessons learned from Splash! were as follows.
First, the fun show does more for sport than any number of administrators prattling on (and unfairly criticising Tom for failing to concentrate solely on diving). This is the true Olympic/Paralympic legacy, making sport look cool.
I can imagine women trying diving because they might meet men who look like Tom and men having a go because women who can't find men like Tom might settle for them if they can't see too well because of the chemicals in the pool.
And for Tom there is the scary lesson that much of life outside sport is a beauty and popularity contest.
Fourteen years ago a fully clothed Caprice stopped the traffic in Plymouth when she helped open what is now the Vue multiplex.
Now she causes barely a ripple in a swimsuit doing dizzying somersaults into a pool live on TV in front of the nation. Instead she is upstaged by a younger 'model' doing modest plops in a bandaged foot.
So Tom, whenever you decide to leap from sport to life, good luck to you. But the going might get tougher than you think.
In sport, the best win, unless the second-best cheat (as when a Plymouth sporting star from a previous generation, Sharron Davies, was robbed of Olympic gold in the pool in Moscow.
In life, success is decided by TV viewers with butterfly mi.... ooh look, Flog It! is on the other side.