Sometimes when you watch things on iPlayer, you have no idea what public opinion was of the show when it first aired. When That Puppet Game Show aired, I was at the Edinburgh Fringe so I hadn’t spoken to anyone about it. Indeed, when you bump into comedians at the Fringe and they say, “I stayed in last night and watched a bit of telly” everyone around them ooohs and aaaahs, calling them “a lucky thing” and pats them on the back for being brave enough to shun the live entertainment around every corner for a little bit of normality.
So I watched That Puppet Game Show with no clue as to general opinion. I like that. It’s like watching it live. If it comes up in a conversation, I don’t know whether to say “Isn’t it great?” or “Well, I like it!” And I did. I was reluctant at the start as I knew none of the original Muppets were in it as they’ve all retired. Fozzy Bear is 74, and piano-playing Ralph goes down a storm in the old people’s home. No doubt Kermit and Piggy’s grandbairns will have tuned in.
But I like the new ones. Obviously it’ll take a few episodes to learn their names. My name retention skills aren’t what they used to be. I’ve alphabetised the boys from One Direction A-F. There are only five of them? Are you sure?
As ever, the animal characters are more fun than the people ones. Personal highlights of mine are the grumpy crab in charge of the scoreboard, and the diva armadillo. A sentence I never expected to type.
I think my favourite characters are the sausages who are sort of the extras, popping up in various rounds and, in the first episode, improvising with Jonathan Ross. Not an easy job. And the Vernon Kay-like host even managed to steer the conversation back into family territory. Not bad for a bit of felt. Kudos to the whole team behind it. And all of the hands, obviously.
I hope families enjoy it. As an adult, I found it entertaining and funny and I enjoyed shouting out answers in the quiz bits. I hope kids these days aren’t too streetwise and cynical to love the Muppets. I told my 40-year-old fella that Kermit isn’t in it and he just went quiet. The magic of the Muppets lives in us all.
Sarah’s stand-up DVD, Thoroughly Modern Millican Live, is available at radiotimes.com/dvdshop
That Puppet Game Show is on Saturday at 6:25pm on BBC1