6m watch John Cleese comeback sitcom Hold the Sunset – but the reviews are mixed

The Python's comeback sitcom – which also stars Alison Steadman and Jason Watkins – drew a big audience, but a fair amount of critics on social media

Hold The Sunset episode 1

More than 6 million people tuned in on Sunday night to see John Cleese first starring role in a British sitcom since Fawlty Towers with new series Hold The Sunset. But social media reviews for the Monty Python star’s new show were decidedly mixed.

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The comedy stars Alison Steadman as a retired woman (Edith) who accepts a marriage proposal from her neighbour, Phil, (Cleese) – their plan is to sell their houses and start a new life in the sun when her son throws a spanner in the works. The brilliant cast (Peter Egan, Jason Watkins and Rosie Cavaliero also star), however, couldn’t save it from some rather damning reviews from viewers on Twitter and Facebook, who labelled it “cringeworthy” and “boring”.

However, in its 7.30pm slot on BBC1, it’s clear Hold the Sunset was aimed at an older audience (the average viewer is apparently 61). Therefore it’s worth noting that many of those criticising the programme on Twitter may not have been in the show’s intended key demographic – and many of those older viewers who enjoyed it may have quietly done so at home rather than expressing their thoughts on social media.

A poll of RadioTimes.com users presented a more even split, with 38% of viewers confirming they “really enjoyed it” to 68% who “didn’t enjoy it at all”.

“Alison Steadman, John Cleese and Peter Egan should have made this a good show to watch, but oh what a disappointment,” Diane Dorward wrote on the Radio Times Facebook page. “It wasn’t funny, and we stuck it out until the end, in the hope it would get better, but it was boring. Whoever thought it was good enough to produce was quite wrong, and I can see from many comments I am not alone in the view.”

She certainly wasn’t.

However, there were also many more positive messages on social media:

“Laughed maybe two or three times, but I enjoyed it as it was good to see John Cleese on our screens; and Alison Steadman is always super,” Debby Richardson said on Facebook. “I enjoyed it, looking forward to next episode. Nice to see the gorgeous Peter Egan playing the neighbour again,” Josephine Mifsud added.

It will be interesting to see how the audience and opinions on the show change in the coming weeks.

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Hold The Sunset airs Sundays at 7.30pm on BBC1