“Tumble”: The Verdict


BBC’s gymnastics reality TV show “Tumble” debuted tonight during the prime time Saturday evening slot 6.30pm – 8pm. For the last couple of months we have been quite hesitant about what way the production would go. The verdict is in, we are pleasantly surprised. Don’t get us wrong, we are not committing ourselves booking a slot in front of the television every Saturday for the next 6 weeks but surprisingly “Tumble” worked.

The  10 contestants, most of who I don’t have a clue of, will perform over 6 weeks on Floor and Aerial Hoop. The majority of the floor work is some sports acro, dance and a little bit of artistic gymnastics thrown in. Once the show begins, you will realise how very like “Strictly Come Dancing” it is, minus the band but with a little more gymnastics than “Strictly”.

Involved  in the show on the judging panel are: London 2012 medal winning Olympian Louis Smith, Commonwealth Games gold medal gymnast Craig Heap, choreographer and aerialist Sebastien Stella and of course the stunning 9 time Olympic medallist Nadia Comăneci. In terms of the judging the contestants are marked out of 10 for their performance with a total of 40 marks up for grabs per performance. Craig Heap appears to be the equivalent of Strictly’s Craig who notoriously knocks down good performances  although I have to admire him that he did refer to some of the  theatrics and props involve and insinuate he’d rather see more gymnastics than props. Nadia’s feedback was good, picking out toes not pointed etc.  BBC commentator and Dutch National mens team coach Mitch Fenner also provides commentary after each performance. 

Now to the performances. We saw several hoop performances, hanging upside down turning etc, good job to all involved but that’s not what I’m interested in. When I do see a hoop aerliast I always cringe and think of this…


At the the costumes on Tumble are somewhat of an improvement!

The gymnasts will perform on aerial hoop and floor this week and next week and as explained can achieve a maximum of 40 points from their performances. The lowest 2 scoring gymnasts will face a “Vault off”, demonstrated by Craig Heap, this will be a handspring over the vaulting table with use of a mini trampoline. Head Judge Nadia will decide which gymnast is eliminated from the competition.

We saw a few floor routines. A lot of dance, a good bit of acro and not enough artistic work! From an artistic point of view, the best routines came from Ian “H” Watkins from the 90’s pop band “Steps” and Eastenders actor John Partridge. Why were they the best? Removing the theatrics and props aside, H performed a pretty good round off tuck back as his most difficult skill and John pushed the boat out doing a front somi and sliding down to splits.

You can watch all of the performances here on YouTube.

2 disappointments to mention are the mention of Beth “Tweedle” by presenter Alex Jones, get it right! Louis Smith is of course a featured judge in the show and a pre-recorded performance by Louis and his “friends” was shown. It would have been correct to mention the accomplishments of Daniel Purvis, Max Whitlock ,Nile Wilson, Adam Cox and Kristian Thomas  in their introduction that the “friends” were in fact World, Olympic, European and Commonwealth medallists.

British Gymnastics of course did a cracking job on Twitter of highlighting gymnastics in Britain and giving links to find local clubs. I only wish for my own neighbouring country that Gymnastics Ireland could have done the same and piggybacked on the show considering GI and BG have close ties with each other.

Overall, the show is in no way going to be bad for the sport of gymnastics. I’m looking forward to watching over the next few weeks but I feel that there should be more focus on the artistic side rather than the aerial gymnastics and a lot more diversity. It would be interesting to see some work on the beam, even if at 110cm or 115cm height. However it is fantastic to see gymnastics getting the recognition it deserves on television, no matter what discipline or related discipline is shown in “Tumble”. Gymnastics in the UK has come a long way in the last 10 years as we know and to have a prime time television slot dedicated to our sport is brilliant. Chris sure hits the nail on the head in response to my question:

There’s no doubt that the show will only be positive for gymnastics. We can see the USA taking this show up in no time.

You can read more about the show format and the contestants and their pro partners here.


  1. GAGA says:

    The verdict is that “tumble” has very little tumbling.

  2. Kari says:


    These are comments non gym fans thought about Tumble. i think it shows a different picture.

  3. Admin says:

    What is your point? The above is our view on it and not speaking for the collective television audience.

  4. Admin says:

    that is true!

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