Bradford-born interior designer Linda Barker braved the heights to dive her way into the finals of ITV’s hit show Splash!
The 51-year-old impressed judges and viewers with her inward dive with tuck from a 10m board to book her place in next Saturday’s showdown, where she will perform a synchronised dive with Olympic bronze medalist Tom Daley.
The TV presenter, who grew up in Shelf and found fame through BBC's Changing Rooms, will also perform her most technically challenging solo dive as she competes with fellow finalists daredevil Olympian Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards and Benidorm actor Jake Canuso for the chance to win the diving-inspired talent show’s title.
Speaking after finding out she was the first celebrity to get through after a public vote during Saturday night’s live semi-final, Linda said: “I’m so thrilled!”
Linda became the show’s first female contestant to dive from the 10m board and, before taking the plunge, told host Gabby Logan: “It’s a very scary place to be, I cannot kid you. I mean, my nerves are shredded.”
But after performing her dive in front of cheering crowds, the panel of judges – diving coach Andy Banks, Jo Brand and former diver Leon Taylor – praised her effort and gave her a score of 25.5 out of 30.
Comedienne Jo told Linda: “It was a very difficult dive and it was executed beautifully!”
Afterwards Linda told host Vernon Kay she had only decided to tackle the 10m board that morning and said: “That was my sweetest dive I think – I hope!”
Eddie ‘The Eagle’ scored the first perfect ten of the series for his one-and-a-half somersault from the 10m board and was the second celebrity to find out he had won a public vote to put him through to the final.
Jake won the last place after a semi-final dive off with fellow competitors Omid Djalili and Charlotte Jackson.
Olympic boxer Anthony Ogogo was forced to announce his retirement from the contest early in the semi-final, after aggravating a pre-existing injury during a dive on last week's show. As the results were announced, and asked where she could take her diving, Linda replied: “I’m not even thinking about the final, I’ve got no ideas, it wasn’t in my sights!
“I’m thrilled, thank you everybody for voting at home.”