When The Generation Game revival debuted on Easter Sunday, many TV critics and viewers were aghast. Why had the BBC again decided to hark back to the past – remaking and revamping a much-loved entertainment classic? The majority of reviews after the first episode were far from favourable.
But, really, what was everyone expecting?
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This is The Generation Game we’re talking about; a show that revolves around the sole premise of game-for-a-laugh members of the public willingly looking like total berks as they do magic (badly), dance (badly) or ‘act’ in what can only be described as horrendous am-dram productions that would be bad even in a village hall, let alone actually televised.
This is lighthearted silliness – one of those broadly-appeal-to-everyone-while-having-their-tea evergreen formats that you know isn’t going to be the most highbrow thing you’ve ever seen. This is BBC1 on a Sunday evening – it’s not BBC4, Wednesday, 10pm fodder.
A largely scripted Mel and Sue had the job of herding cats (not literally – although that could easily be a round on the show) for this two-part run and the second episode saw contestants icing a cake (the former Bake Off hosts couldn’t resist shouting “ready, steady, make!” before jokingly catching themselves) and make a balloon elephant (cue the phallic jokes by the trunkful).
The participants then starred alongside Danny Dyer (it’s hard to tell whether his mock-exasperation really was mock) in a skit so bad it was bad, before learning to Tango with former Strictly Come Dancing pros Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone.
Suffice to say with this version of The Generation Game, the BBC haven’t reinvented the wheel. In fact, the wheel has barely even been given a lick of paint (although again: another idea for a round?). But for every person tweeting how bad it was, there was another saying how much they were enjoying seeing Johnny Vegas’s madcap pottery class.
So what now for the future of the nth revamped Generation Game? The programme had a much-publicised halving of its initial four-episode commission (although quite what was deemed so awful in the shelved episodes makes you wonder. I refuse to believe that whatever was in them was any worse than the entirety of Wedding Day Winners).
However the overnight TV ratings were healthy, with over five million people watching the first episode (conversely, well-crafted, lavish and classy Christie drama Ordeal by Innocence came in at just under five million on the same night in the following slot).
But will that be enough for the BBC to want to commission a full series? We’ll have to wait and see. The Generation Game might not have been that good. But it wasn’t that bad either.