Can’t teach a celeb new tricks?

Some of the biggest, most popular shows on TV feature celebrities learning something new (and sometimes failing miserably!)

Who doesn’t love watching a famous person turn their formidable talents to a totally new discipline? Personally, I adore shows like these, and they helped to inspire my Spotlight Series of books. Strictly on Ice was heavily inspired by Dancing on Ice, and Celebrity SOS was inspired by I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, amongst others.

Let’s take a look at the shows which tried to teach celebrities new tricks – do you/ did you watch them?

Strictly Come Dancing
2004 – present
Average ratings: Around 9 million for the opening episode in 2020, peak of over 12 million for the final
From Ann Widdecombe to Jake Wood, from Georgia May Foote to Ed Balls, the show has given us hilarity, jaw-dropping dances, talent in spades, and lots of memorable moments. It is a show that seems to go from strength to strength and, 17 years after it hit our screens, is only increasing in popularity.

Dancing on Ice
2006 – present
Average ratings: 3.7 million for the final in 2021
Dancing on Ice was the inspiration behind my novel Strictly on Ice – a thrilling romance about an ice dancer and a rugby player who are thrown together for a skating show. The show has given us amazing feats of bravery and strength over the years, with headbangers and breathtaking lifts. It’s still glorious and fun and wonderful, but it takes a brave celebrity to take to the ice!

2013 and 2014
Average ratings: 5 million viewers in the first series
Won by Eddie the Eagle and then Perri Kiely, the show taught celebrities how to dive, mentored by Olympic medal-winner Tom Daley. It was scrapped after two seasons, and sadly received a drubbing from critics.

The Jump
2014 – 2017
Average ratings: Around 2 million
Learning to dance or ice skate is one thing. Learning to do a ski jump? A whole other ball game. The Jump saw celebrities trying to learn various winter sports, including the ski jump. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, the show led to a raft of injuries, from Beth Tweddle’s back to Linford Christie’s hamstring. It was probably the most dangerous reality show on TV.

All Star Musicals
2017, 2019, 2021
The show has taken place over several one-off specials, where famous faces are given vocal coaching and perform West End hits for an audience and a judging panel. It’s been a hit, with viewers begging for a whole series rather than just one-off episodes. The most recent winner was Robert Rinder in 2021, singing Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast!

The Great British Sewing Bee
A celebrity version of the sewing challenge show took place over two episodes in 2020. Featuring celebs like Denise Van Outen, Shirley Ballas and Lesley Joseph, the challenges were all Christmas and New Year themed. Denise was crowned the winner!

The Great Celebrity Bake Off
2018 – present
The ever-popular baking show has a celebrity spin-off in aid of Stand Up to Cancer. Featuring a load of famous faces and lots of delicious delectables, the show is a smash hit, just like the non-celebrity version. Each episode saw one celebrity crowned Star Baker – and winners in 2021 included Alexandra Burke, Jade Thirlwall, and James McAvoy.

Celebrity Painting Challenge
The celebrity version of this artsy show featured six famous people taking on the challenge to put their artistic skills to the test. Josie D’Arby was victorious over her fellow celebrities Jane Seymour, Phil Tufnell, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, George Shelley, and Amber Le Bon.

Pop star to Opera star
2010 and 2011
Pop stars were trained to sing opera in this short-lived reality series. The original judge line-up included Meatloaf and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, but they were replaced by Vanessa Mae and Simon Callow in the second series. Winners were Darius Campbell and then Joe McElderry – who also previously won The Jump and was on the X-Factor – a reality TV show veteran!

Sink or Swim
A group of celebrities who can’t swim are taught how to, aiming to swim the English Channel! A tough challenge for even an accomplished swimmer, but sadly the celebrities had to end the challenge due to the dangerous weather conditions on the day. Featuring celebrities like Linford Christie, James Argent, and Wes Nelson, the celebrities swam in hour-long shifts until they were forced to stop.

Get your act together
Hosted by Stephen Mulhern, the show saw 26 celebrities learn a variety of new skills to perform on stage, ranging from ventriloquism, to escapology, to trampolining, to impressions. The overall winner was Ray Quinn, also a winner of Dancing on Ice and runner-up on the X Factor.

I’m sure there are more shows where celebrities try their hands at something new – which ones have I missed? What would you like to see – celebrities learning to knit, horse ride, tightrope walk, or perhaps play an instrument?

If you love shows like these you might like my Spotlight Series of books, which are celebrity-themed, thrilling contemporary romances.

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