What made you want to be a judge on Splash!?
I just thought it would be a hoot. I was recently in a show called The Big Splash, where I met a variety of people who had a love of water and they put me through what I thought was absolute torture in the water – swimming in the wild, wading through sewers and muddy water racing. I thought it would be very nice to see other people on the receiving end. I like the idea of me sitting there, smiling smugly as they throw themselves into the water. I can’t wait!
Will you be cruel in your judgements?
No. Having been a nurse, I will be full of joy and empathy. I’ve never wanted to be a Simon Cowell type. It’s just not in my nature – although some people who have seen my stand-up might disagree! But having been a nurse for a long time, I actually like people and I like encouraging them.
How will you be inspiring the competitors?
I will be telling them that it doesn’t actually matter in the long run if they don’t get into the Olympic diving team. The more entertaining the contestants are, the better. When all is said and done, this is an entertainment show. So if they take it really seriously, I think that’s a big mistake. It’s just fun. You need someone on the panel who is like the viewer at home. The other judges are great experts and will be looking for technical ability, but I won’t be at all.
What’s your take on Tom Daley?
He’s lovely. Everyone loves him, and rightly so. He’s amazing. I watched him do a few dives yesterday, and what he does is absolutely gobsmacking.
Do you admire the competitors?
Absolutely. I know how scary it is, and I really admire them, big time. It’s brave of them not only to do it in swimming costumes – particularly the middle-aged ones – but also to do it live. To me, that would be appalling!
Do you have any experience of diving yourself?
Yes. When I was younger, I did springboard diving. When I was 17, I worked with adults with learning difficulties. One day we took them swimming, and I was boasting about what a good diver I was. So one of the other carers said to me, “Show us.” I couldn’t get out of it, so I had to dive. But I mistakenly dived into the shallow end and hit my teeth on the bottom of the pool. They went straight through my face. It was like Jaws – I was immediately surrounded by blood in the water. God bless the adults – they thought that was how you were supposed to dive and started clapping. But it got worse for me. At A&E, the doctor said, “Your face’s too swollen, so we’ll have to stitch it up without using an anaesthetic”. That was delightful!
Finally, what qualities do you think the contestants will require to carry out a high dive?
To use a contemporary parlance, they will have to get themselves in the zone. I don’t know what that means, but I think it’s something to do with stepping back from the pure horror of what you’re doing. Anyone doing a dangerous sport has to do that. I’m a sure mountain climber would have to do the same. They manage to distance themselves from the potential disaster of what they’re doing. The more dangerous sport is, the more you have to hold onto your bowels. I don’t know how they do it. I’d be a gibbering wreck!
Splash! is on ITV1 tonight, Saturday 5 January, at 7:15pm.
To read our Five Minutes with… Emma Willis, click here: https://www.womansown.co.uk/?p=14419