Why Don’t British Viewers Rate the New Show?
Since lockdown, interest in cold water swimming has risen exponentially. After being caged in rooms and buildings for months on end, people are now craving nature and new adventures. Given this, you’d think that BBC’s new ‘Freeze the Fear with Wim Hof’ program would be a guaranteed success? Well, think again.
Wim Hof, known as the Ice Man to many, is an extreme athlete, and well-being guru. Born in the Netherlands, 62-year-old Wim Hof turned to ice and the cold as a way of dealing with the trauma of his wife’s suicide: a heart-breaking time for Wim and for his children. Unable to get through the thick fog of grief, Wim decided to develop his beliefs and passion for cold water with the aim of helping others who are facing personal challenges. Since then, Wim has amassed a huge international following, achieving bestselling apps, books and spiritual retreats.
Many of Wim’s followers are inspired by his incredible achievements, which often disproves science and, in turn, give Wim a sort of messiah complex. He has set 26 Guinness World Records, has run half-marathons barefoot in the Arctic snow, submerged himself in ice for 1 hour 52 minutes and has even climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in only shorts and sandals. Although Wim has his sceptics, no one can deny these incredible accomplishments, which were observed and officiated by professionals.
Wim’s antics have been going on for decades, but only recently has he become a household name. Since lockdown, more and more people are using the cold water as a means of decluttering their minds in a world gone wrong. Studies have shown that a cold shower a day can, in fact, keep the doctor away. Exposing yourself to cold water can help to reduce blood pressure, ease inflammation, and increase happiness and libido. There’s no surprise, then, that many cold-water swimmers are able to maintain their hobbies.
There is a unique character at the heart of each and every trend and, for cold water swimming, Wim is it. Unsurprisingly, BBC producers jumped at the chance to snap up Wim’s enthusiasm and wild energy for a high budget series. In an interview with the Guardian, Wim explained how this venture came about, “It came out of the growing popularity of wild swimming, cold therapy and deep breathing, especially during Covid. I developed the format with [UK production company] Hungry Bear Media and was thrilled when the BBC came on board. There’s suddenly so much interest because people are looking for ways to gain more control over their mind and body.”
After the first episode aired, there was a mixed reception. The most obvious criticism was the timing of the show’s broadcast, airing at a time when the cost of living has increased, with some households unable to heat their homes. “It is disgusting,” says one user on Twitter, “It’s like they are rubbing it in our faces.”
However, many viewers look beyond these criticisms and are appreciating the premise of the show, which is helping people overcome their fears and troubles with the simplest of techniques. “Fear is deep within us, only we cannot get a hold of it,” says Wim. “But go into freezing cold and suddenly you’re in the same area where fear comes from. We normally don’t access it because we live in our comfort zone but by going into the cold, you tap into this prehistoric deep brain stem.”
If you can look past the overloading of Z list celebrities and another Holly Willoughby fronted TV show, ‘Freeze the Fear’ offers viewers a fresh format, with a wholesome message.