We like Dr Alice Roberts in my house. Or rather, I like Alice Roberts in my house. My wife, I suspect is a little more ambivalent seeing her as yet another addition to the already overlong list of top television totty pin-ups that I adolescently maintain in my mind to mull over on a rainy day.
But you see, Alice Roberts isn’t just eye candy. She’s intelligent and astute and has a soft gentle voice that was just made for television voiceovers. And she’s a doctor. And a scientist. And she sometimes dyes her hair red and she once showed an X ray (or something) of her clitoris on TV. Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: that’s going the extra mile in the name of science, but for me it was a very direct and very personal come-on – there it is, Steve; I’ve shown you where to find it!
So it was with interest that I noted she’d made a documentary for BBC4 on the subject of Wild Swimming. My mind blazed with images of Dr Alice, face and body painted like a tiger, cavorting in a swimming pool alongside other suitably painted animalized ladies... possibly the top ten from my list of top television totty pin-ups... but as I read the Radio Times review I realized it wasn’t going to be like that at all. It was in fact a documentary about swimming, free and unfettered, in the UK’s rivers and waterways. A televisual homage to Roger Deakin who extolled the virtues of wild swimming in his famous book, Waterlog.
And I have to say it was lovely. Although I am not a great swimmer, I can really see the attraction of wild swimming. You are immersed in the natural environment, part of it rather than just a casual observer, you are seeing the natural life of the river and the riverbank the way the wildlife sees it.
At first Alice did her swims in a wetsuit; her rubber enveloped limbs cutting smoothly through the peaty water, but she soon proclaimed that she was missing out on the full sensory experience. She wanted to feel the water upon her skin, moving across her flesh, tingling her all over... my Bunsen burner suddenly pulsed with an intense flame so blue it cracked my petri dish clean in half.
Could she mean...? Did she mean...? I hardly dare whisper the words skinny dipping... for, ahem, I was taking no vicarious titillation from the intimation only wandering how far Dr Alice could push the envelope of respectability whilst honouring the ethos of wild swimming and being at one with nature. After all, I am not the kind of man who watches TV programmes just to get off on occasional glimpses of flesh and suggestive movement, no; I wish to be edified and educated. My higher ambitions illuminated and excited.
As it was, Dr Alice merely meant losing the thermal protection of her wetsuit and swimming in nowt but a one piece bather. Would she be able to take the cold though? The average river temperature in the UK for the time of year she was filming was something like 15 degrees C. Now that’s damned cold. Would there be pokie action? Some of the more uncouth of you were probably thinking. But not I. No. I was pleased they showed how cold Alice was with nothing more than a nice thermal imaging camera borrowed from a passing thermal imaging camera salesman. Look how blue she’s gone. Oh heavens. That water is cold, isn’t it? I do hope they get her warmed up again soon. Nothing to titillate here, folks. All good science.
But as it was, all was not lost on the skinny dipping (purely for scientific research and artistic integrity) issue, for to honour the memory of Roger Deakin Dr Alice decided to conclude the documentary with... gasp... a real totally naked and unrobed skinny dip in an unnamed pool in the Lake District that has by now, I suspect, been religiously sanctified and dedicated to the memory of this great boobs-out event. (Latest news reports state that votive offerings have been left at rocks near to this sacred tarn and candles lit in the trees to better aid the sight-lines of passing binocular users).
And so, as the denouement of this fabulous documentary neared, Dr Alice, proud and curvy in her geeky boffinness, threw off her white fluffy bathrobe with an almost Old Testament defiance, and plunged full length and body long into the cold clear waters of Wordworth’s birthplace. Back and forth she surged, scarcely causing the surface water to ripple or break, a veritable nymph of the pool awaiting the pen of Tennyson to immortalize her forever... while some inept camera man floundered around behind her doing the doggy paddle and only managed to snatch occasional shots of her legs from the mid-thigh down and her arms barely up to her shoulder tops, I mean, really! What kind of shoddy camera work is this? Is this what I pay my TV license for, BBC? She was skinny dipping, for God’s sake. Bloody skinny dipping! Naked in that there pool and you had a ruddy great professional film crew to capture it. Where were they? Did they shove a couple of apprentices behind the cameras or something? Were the real film crew down the pub playing Sudoku or sinking jars of Riggwelter? Sod respectability and the higher cause of science! I feel really let down.
Damn you, BBC!
P.S. In protest at the BBC’s ineptitude I may have to start a new series on this here blog called Steve’s TV Totty Of The Week. This will be a new feature and will probably not be weekly at all but merely dragged out when I have little or nothing else to waffle on about and will feature – you’ve guessed it – my TV Totty Of The Week. Well done, Dr Alice: you have the honour of being the first in a very long and very shallow line of totally self indulgent, sexually gratifying blog posts about TV totty. A round of applause for this week’s winner, please.