New ‘Don’t Rock the Boat’ sets sail tonight

Monday: Don’t Rock the Boat; (ITV, 9pm)
AJ Odudu and Freddie Flintoff present this new seriesAJ Odudu and Freddie Flintoff present this new series
AJ Odudu and Freddie Flintoff present this new series

No offence to the famous faces who are currently trying to master the paso doble for Strictly Come Dancing, or those who are gearing up for I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! (which this year is moving from the Australian jungle to a Welsh castle), but Don’t Rock the Boat may well be the toughest challenge on TV.

The series, which begins tonight and is broadcast across five consecutive evenings, sees a dozen stars attempting to row the entire length of Britain.

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It’s presented by Freddie Flintoff and AJ Odudu, who are certainly excited.

Freddie said, “I’m thrilled to be hosting this brand-new show for ITV. It sounds like it’s going to be a huge challenge for the twelve rowers so I’m pleased that I’ll be spending most of my time on dry land…hopefully! It should be a great watch for everyone at home and I can’t wait to get started.”

AJ Odudu added: “This is going to be a great show, with an epic line-up. Such a brilliant mix of personalities and challenges which always makes for good telly. I personally cannot wait to get going – especially filming with the legend that is Freddie Flintoff. We’re going to have so much fun! Bring it on!”

But then, as Freddie pointed out, they’ll be on dry land. It might be a different matter for the rowers. The famous faces taking the plunge are politician and author Tom Watson, Olympians Denise Lewis, and Victoria Pendleton, actors Adam Thomas, Lucy Fallon and Craig Charles, model and broadcaster Jodie Kidd, singer-songwriter Fleur East, YouTuber Joe Weller, Love Island winner Jack Fincham, The Chase’s Shaun Wallace and Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt.

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They’ll be splint into two groups of six, ready to battle it out over 500 gruelling miles, dealing with waves and wind. Even when they are not out on the water, they won’t get to rest as they will have to take part in a series of on-shore challenges to score an advantage over the opposition.

In the opening episode, they’ll be tackling the first leg of their sea journey, which involves rowing 90 nautical miles from St Ives to Pembroke. It’s a 30-hour trip, which will find them facing sea sickness and exhaustion.

Meanwhile, the celebs on land don’t have it much easier as they are challenged to race down a 170ft cliff, face first, to secure luxury accommodation for their crew mates.

Then in tomorrow’s episode, they are rowing the coast of Wales, where Victoria Pendleton’s competitive nature starts to ruffle a few feathers. Well you don’t get to be an Olympic champion without being driven, but is she in danger of breaking the show’s cardinal rule and rocking the boat?

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Meanwhile, Tom Watson will need to face his fear of heights during a 130ft game of high-wire catch.

No wonder tempers are beginning to flare by Wednesday – but just to add to the pressure, the crews are shocked to discover a huge game-changing prize for the land challenge which could alter the entire competition.

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