An updated format for television programme World’s Strongest Man was unveiled to the public in a glitzy London ceremony yesterday. In a bid to compete with other programmes such as Britain’s Got Talent that pull at the heart strings, WSM will include both physical and mental strength tests. TV psychologist Linda Papadopoulos has been drafted in to help with the mental side of the contest and commented, ‘What we found with WSM was that it was purely testosterone fuelled which is at odds with the complete picture of a modern male human. We needed to test the emotional strength of these men to fully appreciate their strengths and weaknesses.’
Common events in the contest such as the atlaspheres and the truck pull have been spiced up to test competitors to their limits. During the atlaspheres, in which contestants lift boulders of ever increasing weight onto platforms, the strongmen will be read excerpts from the Diary of Anne Frank. ‘This has been designed to see how the strongmen deal with hidden feelings of anxiety and guilt, which may lie below the surface and manifest in strong emotional reactions. Those guys may find it impossible to lift an atlasphere when it is covered in tears,’ said Papadopoulos. During the truck pull contestants will have negative comments made about their appearance at the same time as watching episodes of Animal Hospital on giant screens. ‘This is a particularly hard test’, claims Papadopoulos, ‘these men will be straining physically from pulling the truck, whilst also dealing with an internal dialogue triggered by comments about their hair and the size of their bottoms, coupled with trying to control their emotions whilst looking at a 40ft high image of Rolf Harris crying as a cat is put down. It’s dynamite stuff.’
Presenter John Inverdale was cautious about the new format, ‘This is certainly a new departure for WSM,’ he said, ‘but it remains to be seen whether it will be as entertaining as the old programme. Nevertheless I am up for it and looking forward to seeing what happens.’ Previous winner and strongman Geoff Capes has already applied for the new show after hearing of the changes. ‘I feel that this new format is ideal for me. I can still tip over a stripped out Citroen 2CV but also have a softer side from my bird breeding. When one of those little buggers goes to the big aviary in the sky it’s difficult not to be affected.’ he said before breaking down in tears and howling like a baby for 20 minutes.