Winter Wipeout – The Cantab Scoop

SASKIA GOLDMAN grabs an interview with “the one from Cambridge” on the BBC’s new extreme-humiliation gameshow.

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Tomorrow evening, 5 million people will watch Cantab Laura Keough try to navigate a snowy and ridiculous obstacle course on BBC1, narrated by Richard Hammond.

Today, The Tab ventures into the mind of a madwoman.

“A half-marathon just wouldn’t do it for me, but jumping on bouncy red balls in a snowy setting, I mean, why wouldn’t you?” Actually, Laura, I can think of all sorts of reasons…

At the BBC’s bidding, she was flown out to Argentina with “nineteen other nuts people” and subjected to humiliation on a grand scale. The show, a festive Total Wipeout spin-off, describes itself as a “thrilling nightmare” and “a journey full of bangs, splashes and festive crashes.”


A taste of the course, and Laura’s competition

So what could possibly make her to want to participate? “Who would say no to £10,000 [the winner’s prize], especially with the student debts we have these days?”

“I like to make an embarrassment of myself… I’m very energetic and excitable” The show’s selection process is the start of all this humiliation. “You put yourself through it… you knew you had to be noticed, [it was] a one-minute chance to sell yourself in front of a judge” So what did our ex-Cantab do to impress?

“I wore a gown, not my college’s gown because I’m at Churchill and we didn’t have a gown, and a mortar hat and walked on saying “I’m Laura, I’m really pretentious.”  I put on the Cambridge act, then whipped it off and unleashed my crazy side… doing the splits and the hula dance and the limbo.”

Laura on-set with presenter Amanda Byram

I have to admit I think Laura might be a little idealistic about what kind of spectacle she’s making of herself. “When people fall off balls, it is funny when they don’t hurt themselves, if anyone did get hurt, people would suddenly stop laughing.”

“We’re not laughing at the people who broke their legs on the show, we’re laughing at the people who say “Look at me everyone, I’m falling off and looking like a twirp.””

So, if she admits the show is “ridiculous”, what kind of PR are we all getting from her on-screen Cantab persona?

“I think it’s good publicity for Cambridge.” Though I’m convinced it won’t ruin our image, “good publicity” has never looked so desperate. She admits at Cambridge she was no daredevil, but that she did undertake some rather unconventional extra-curricular activities: “I did acrobatic rock’ n ’roll dancing, I was a life art model… I basically just gave everything a go.”

“[I am] someone who did very well at university and kind of misses all of the opportunities university has and two years on thinks ‘oh my goodness’ there was so much… how could real life compete with that?’ It’s hard to keep up with how awesome Cambridge was and how many opportunities are there, on a plate.”

It seems, for Laura, Winter Wipeout is filling the Cambridge gap. Despite great professional success post-university, getting herself on a competitive grad scheme in marketing, she readily admits  “Nothing  can live up to Cambridge; once you’ve left, how can real life ever compete?”

Laura wants “to escape from the realities of a life that could turn out to be very ordinary”, and in her own, strange way – she seems to have managed. In front of everyone.

Laura’s episode of Winter Wipeout will be on BBC1 tomorrow at 6.25pm.