Guardian's Mark Lawson applauds Olympic champ and 2012 Tour de France winner for role in long-running BBC soap...

The Guardian’s TV and radio critic, Mark Lawson, has complimented Olympic time trial champion and 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins on his acting skills following yesterday evening’s Sport Relief-themed episode of long-running BBC radio soap, The Archers (on BBC iPlayer here).

Wiggins fetched up in Ambridge to present the prizes for the Rough and Tumble race, and had the format of the event explained to him.

“After the water jumps, contestants climb that wall roll down the hill onto the parallel bars and then they pick up their bikes for the last leg and that’s the cycle sprint into Jubilee Field,” he was told.

“Quite the challenge, this Rough & Tumble,” replied Wiggins. “I wouldn’t mind having a go myself.”

Wearing a suit – a mistake in the country, as he’d later learn – Wiggins had to fend off questions such as “I thought you were northern?” to which he replied, “Well, I live near Manchester,” and “I was sure you were a woman,” which prompted the response of “Not the last time I checked.”

In a review of the episode that highlights the difficulty for celebrities to play themselves and sound credible, Lawson says, “It wasn't quite radio gold, but Wiggo delivered silver at least.”

He added: “Real-life cameos in drama can easily become a bike crash, as the royal appearances [of Princess Margaret as well as the Duchess of Cornwall on The Archers] showed.

“But this one worked because Wiggo is an experienced media performer and the writer (Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti) came up with the sort of stuff Wiggins might actually say (‘This looks a bit tasty’ and ‘My money's on the big fella’, when Ian and Rob locked handlebars).”

Another of Wiggins’ lines was, “Competition brings the worst out in people as well as the best,” that for some reason had us thinking about Wiggins and Chris Froome during the 2012 Tour de France.

There's a behind-the-scenes look at the Sport Relief special on the show's website.

Back in his day job, Wiggins has confirmed to the Team Sky website that unlike Froome, he won’t be riding the Volta a Catalunya.

Expectations are that he will ride in support of defending champion Froome at July’s Tour de France.

But following the latter’s withdrawal earlier this month from Tirreno-Adriatico due to a back injury, it’s the second race in succession where the pair were originally scheduled to feature in the Sky line-up but one or other pulled out.

Instead of racing in Catalonia, Wiggins will focus on his preparations for next month’s Paris-Roubaix, one of his main targets for the year, and May's Tour of California.


Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.