BBC One’s revival of the Generation Game has received poor reviews from most critics.
The show, which has previously been presented by Jim Davidson and Bruce Forsyth, returned with Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins on Sunday evening.
Critics described it as “desperate” and “a shameless carbon copy” of the versions broadcast in the 1970s and 80s.
But it was a ratings hit – attracting an average of 5.1 million viewers, according to overnight figures.
It was the second most watched programme on Sunday evening after Countryfile, also broadcast on BBC One.
The Generation Game sees contestants – four families – compete in a series of challenges, often helped by star guests.
Richard Osman and Lorraine Kelly appeared on the first episode of the new series, which featured tasks including plate spinning and sausage making.
The Telegraph‘s Gerard O’Donovan gave the show one star in his review of the Easter Sunday episode.
“If the BBC doesn’t think a revival is potentially good enough to beat the Saturday night competition on ITV, then it has no business reviving The Generation Game in the first place,” he wrote.
“As for the show itself, there’s little to say other than that it was a shameless carbon copy of memorable moments from The Generation Game of the 1970s or 80s.
“In terms of what we should expect from prime time Easter television, this fell well short of the mark. And it focuses the mind on what we should be saying to those responsible for entertainment at the BBC: stop trying to revisit the past. Go away and think up some original ideas.”
The Times gave it a marginally warmer review, with Carol Midgley awarding it two stars.
“The Generation Game [was] cut from four to two episodes amid rumours that the shows were not good enough,” she pointed out. “So what we saw was the cream? The mind boggles.
“The problem here was that you could almost smell the desperation to make it work, from the canned laughter to the fact that it used penis-based humour in not one, but two of the games.
“It needs to relax and dial down the gush. Brucie made it look so easy. Didn’t he do well?”
(The BBC defended the show against accusations of canned laughter last week. A statement said: “The show was filmed in front of a live studio audience and the overwhelming majority of the laughter was from the recording.”)
Writing for the i paper, Jeff Robson agreed that certain elements of the show “smacked of desperation”.
“It was unfortunate this latest effort arrived so close to the BBC’s Bruce Forsyth tribute – a reminder of his gift for generating impromptu laughs (and an occasional frisson of annoyance) from the contestants’ ineptness or scene-stealing,” he said.
“By comparison, this felt forced and scripted, another territory for the Mel and Sue brand to colonise post-Bake Off rather than an original updating of an old format.”
But The Guardian‘s Sam Wollaston was more generous, awarding the show three stars in his review.
“Actually, I don’t think Brucie and Larry [Grayson, another former host] will be turning in their graves. They might even have approved,” he said.
“The resurrection recaptures the spirit of show – a throwback to a simpler time when Britain had neither Talent nor X Factor, and making a mess and peddling suggestive jokes was acceptable as family entertainment.
“Somehow, it manages to be both a little bit glorious and groansome to the max at the same time.”