Olympic medal-winning diver Tom Daley will be mentoring a new batch of celebrities as Splash! returns for another series on ITV this Saturday (January 4) and he says this year’s celebrities are better than ever.

What’s on TV caught up with him to talk about facing the show’s critics and seeing Simon Cowell in a pair of Speedos…

How do this year’s celebrities measure up against last year’s lot?

“The standard’s a lot higher. It was a surprise because normally people that are new to diving have no idea what they’re doing.”

Diversity dancer Perri Kiely can fit himself into all sorts of shapes, so is that going to give him an edge?

“He’s definitely got an edge in terms of spatial awareness and he knows where his body is, but he needs to work on making it a bit neater.”

A couple of questions about the Gemmas [Merna and Collins] – they’re both quite well endowed. Is it that going to be a hindrance?

“No. There are other divers who are quite ‘well-endowed’, as you put it, but as long as you get the technique right it’s fine. I don’t watch TOWIE, but I know her because she’s a massive character. She’s as confident as anyone though so she could surprise a few people.’

The show took loads of stick from critics. Did that affect you?

“No, the criticism didn’t affect me because I never really read what’s going on in the newspapers. I just stick to what I’m doing and enjoy that. I mean the viewing figures kind of spoke for themselves really and then towards the end of the show even the critics warmed to it a bit!”

Why do you think it was a hit with viewers?

“The atmosphere in that pool was so much fun. It was kind of like a pool party I guess!”

Can you remember the first time you jumped off that 10m board? Was it scary?

“Yeah I was terrified! I was eight years’ old and I remember it took me a few attempts to actually jump off. I went feet first the first time!”

Everyone will be on national TV in their swimsuits so are the celebrities staying off the turkey at Christmas?

“I’ve no idea. Maybe they’ll just be going to the gym to get in shape for it. I’m definitely on a diet over Christmas. I’ve never had a Christmas where I’ve been able to gorge out!”

That must be hard!

“I have a couple of chocolates and that, but I make sure I don’t have loads because I know I’ve got to train the next day.”

You must be very well disciplined…

“It takes a lot and sometimes I do cave in, but you know it’s part of the job. It’s not just a job that you can leave at the office… it kind of carries on throughout your whole life.”

You must be looking forward to retiring and enjoying your food?

“No, because I think I’ll become a bit of a fitness freak and paranoid about getting fat! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop and just do nothing.”

If you could have any celebrity on the show who would it be?

“To be honest I think it would be quite good to watch Simon Cowell do it! Just because he’s normally the one who’s always so bossy, so it would be funny to see the look on his face on that top board. We could actually get some trunks to fit him!”

It must be hard to get people on the show knowing that they’re going to be exposed in their swimsuits…

“Yeah, that’s one of the main things that people have to be comfortable with themselves to do it.”

There are quite a few Premiership footballers who have a talent for diving, what about them?

“I’m not a big football fan, but I always get tweets from football supporters saying that certain footballers are going to be my new synchro partner.”

You’ve been injured recently. Are you on the mend now?

“Yeah the tear’s healed so it’s about gradually and slowly getting back on the 10m and getting ready for my next competition which is the national championships in February. The beauty of doing Splash! is that the TV set is a diving pool so I can carry on with my training as normal.”