Apocalypse Wow



AJ Odudu (2021)

Arielle Free (2022)


The Mistress: Donna Preston


Tuesday's Child for ITV2, 16 July 2021 to 29 July 2022 (12 episodes in 2 series)


Something for Donna Preston to do now Hey Tracey's been cancelled. An ITV press release demanded to be read.

An epic and hilarious new physical game show arriving on ITV2 and the ITV Hub this summer.
Set in a “Torture Dome”, an outrageous secret underground club, part-BDSM dungeon, part Fight Club, Apocalypse Wow is hosted by AJ Odudu alongside Hey Tracey’s Donna Preston who assumes the role of ‘The Mistress’.
Every episode a Clan of five celebrities enter the dome to take on The Mistress’s terrifying Superhuman ‘Bosses’ such as Master Enormo (one of the world’s strongest men), The Horn Hunter (a back-flipping parkour master), Hot Slippy Jesus (the UK's no.1 gravy wrestler), The Mermaid (a mermaid) and more. The Clan must unite in a bid to defeat these extraordinary opponents taking them on in a series of ludicrous and entertaining physical challenges. Alone the celebrities would be demolished, but together they stand the chance of overcoming a series of crazed contenders to win the day and take home a load of cash for charity.
Each episode the weakest celebrity must be banished in a hilariously unique way and a new famous face will enter the Torture Dome to join the Clan.

The host welcomes us to a bizarre show.

A show for late Friday nights, straight after the Love Island vote-off. It's hosted by AJ Odudu, it's got Scarlett Moffatt, like every other programme on telly. And it's got a massive metallic dome with people clinging to the outside, like absolutely no other programme on telly.

Let's meet the ruler.

Presiding over this whole shebang is "The Mistress", played by Donna Preston. A harsh taskmistress, she expects nothing but the best, and even that might not be good enough.

The Mistress has employed some superhuman "bosses" who can do incredible things. One can crack a whip so accurately that he can extinguish a candle with it. Another is a superfit parkour expert. And, because Apocalypse Wow caters to all tastes, there's the pole dancer, and the man who wrestles in a pond of grease.

Our five celebrities prepare to do battle with Mr. Enormo.

Playing against The Mistress is the celebrity team – five ITV2 celebrities, captained by Scarlett Moffatt, and all familiar to ITV2's viewers.

Each show is made up of four challenges. The Mistress will bring on her player, and set out the challenge. She'll then offer a range of advantages to the celebrity team – a head start, or having more players take on the challenges. The smaller the advantage, the greater the reward – success will earn hundreds or a few thousand pounds for charity.

The pole dancer: dances with poles.

What were the challenges? Let's take them Boss by Boss:

  • Master Enormo (played by World's Strongest Man legend Mark Felix) had two challenges. One was to knock contestants off tyres while they tried to jump to a matching colour. The other was to pass liquid between each other, while held by chains pulled by Enormo.
  • Polecat (Jessica Deebank) tried to put 500 gold tokens in the pot at the top of her pole, before the celebrities put 500 gold tokens in pots at the top of their individual poles.
  • Mr. Whippy (Edward Bagguley) put out candles by throwing his whip at them. The celebs could relight the candles using tapers held in their mouth.
  • Hot Slippy Jesus (Joel Hicks) challenged the celebs to remain in a grease wrestling ring with him.
  • Horn Hunter (Tim Champion - yes, that Tim Champion) got the celebs to wear unicorn horns, and deposit them through holes in a tree trunk, before he could snatch the horn from them.
  • The Belly (Leah Shutkever) is going to eat a feast. The contenders are to eat other items in awkward positions - bobbing in a bathtub, or inside a spinning washing machine. Whoever finishes first wins.
  • The Hungmen (Ian Brown and Helmut Kirchmeir) will collect liquid and balance it on a tray held by piercings through their nose. The contenders have a similar tray, chained to their shoulders, which isn't to spill. Most liquid wins.
  • Johnny the Loon (Johnny Brenner, assisted by Simon Hall) forms a stack of blocks to ring a bell some distance off the ground. The blocks tend to be unstable and topple over.
  • The Mermaid (Grace Page) can hold her breath underwater for minutes. Can the celebs combine to hold their breath for longer?

The contender tries to stay in the ring with the grease wrestler.

And new for series two:

  • Tiny Iron (not given, but Andrew Harrison) shakes a pole, and expects celebrities to hold on.
  • Pandora (Livvii Grace) throws a wrecking ball at celebrities trying to catch rats from a rubbish chute.
  • Cupid (John Henry Falle) shoots arrows at celebrities, who are trying to throw gimp heads at his heart.
  • The Locksmith (Rob Roy Collins) tries to break free from his own restraints before the celebrities free themselves from electrically charged pipes.

The contenders try to avoid the parkour runner and deposit their unicorn horns in the sacred tree. Seriously. This happened on network television.

The challenge takes place, it is fun to watch, Scarlett Moffatt is no use at all. We find that celebrities win (much cheering from the team, The Mistress sends a comic barb to her vanquished boss). Or the celebrities lose (much despondency and snidery from The Mistress, the boss walks out as though victory was assured from the moment they entered).

There's a genuine tension in the challenges. Can the horn-hunter hunt down all the horns? Will Mr. Enormo push all of the celebs off their tyres? What about Hot Slippy, is he a good oil wrestler, and did the celebs dress up in silly silver spandex for nothing?

Apocalypse Wow works as a spectacle. It takes the battle arena from Fight Club, and turns it up to eleven, and then turns it up some more. Action is set in "The Torture Dome", a cage where cybergoths wear neon shirts and studded collars, where dancers wear more fire than clothes, where regular society fears to tread. The show believes in its core conceit, and runs with it past the point of seriousness, and into complete comedy.

At the end of each episode, one of the celebs will be banished from the dome, and leave the show. The nominated celebrity becomes a human sacrifice.

Specifically, a human piñata.

Money earned in the challenges is put into balloons, and the balloons, are fixed into a cardboard donkey outfit. The celebrity is inside. The rest of the team use bungee ropes to jump up to the celebrity, and whack the balloons off the outfit. Whatever money falls to the ground will be split between the players' charities – over £20,000 across the series.

Apocalypse Wow has a subtle humour, too subtle for some reviewers in the dead-tree press. It's a fun show, and looks like it hits exactly the spot ITV2 wants - though perhaps not in the numbers they wanted.

The second series simplified proceedings somewhat. Rather than The Mistress giving the team five choices, she now only gives two, easy and hard, and only four celebrities play instead of five. AJ Odudu's star (and fee, presumably) had increased significantly by the second series, and so was replaced by Arielle Free. Also, with no apparent team captain, The Mistress decides who the celebrities sacrifice.


  • Series 1: Darren Harriott, Kimberly Wyatt, Bobby Norris, Chris Hughes (from Love Island, not the Egghead - although that would be entertaining), Scarlett Moffatt, Karim Zeroual, The Vivienne, Sam Thompson, Kemah Bob, Jordan Davies, Jessica Wright
  • Series 2: Amir Khan, Tinchy Stryder, Tanya Bardsley, David Potts, Luke Kempner, Harriet Kemsley, Yasmin Evans, Eyal Booker, Samira Mighty

Key moments

The Mistress' excruciating habit of referring to how many 'squid' she was offering. (Can you imagine turning up at a charity shop and trying to donate live fish?)

AJ Odudu giving Hot Slippy Jesus what for after he splashed her.


"Darlings, don't be shit!" - at the end of The Mistress's introductions to her challenges.

Title music

"In the hall of the Mountain King" from Grieg's "Peer Gynt" suite number 1, arranged by Jode Steele and David Wainwright. A more civilised version had previously been used by Bake Off: The Professionals.


Tim Champion had previously been a series winner on Ninja Warrior UK.

Alexander Halsall was "The Gimp", referee for the events.


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