It was great to see TFI Friday back - but will it really work for a whole series?
The trip down memory lane was great, says Mark Jefferies, but there are lots of pitfalls Chris Evans will have to avoid to make a full series a success
So first the good news.
TFI Friday’s one-off 20th anniversary show was a huge success for Chris Evans and Channel 4.
Fans loved it, ratings of over four million were huge – bigger than when it first aired in the 90s – and a series seemed inevitable.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and Chris Evans has duly announced a new eight-part run.
And if you’re hungry for more, the good news is it will air later this year.
So I don’t wish to be a party pooper – I was one of those down at the studios for the anniversary show – but I would sound a note of caution amidst the Second Coming of Chris Evans and TFI.
There are plenty of pitfalls which can stop the series being as good, and as popular, as the one-off comeback.
For a start, producers Will McDonald and Suzi Aplin, writer Danny Baker and Evans all spent months fine-tuning that comeback show. They won’t have that luxury for each episode of the new series.
A-list guests like Ewan McGregor came on and Roger Daltrey and Liam Gallagher even did a duet.
Can Evans get such big stars again when the show is less of a novelty? And if he can, can he get enough of them for eight weeks to make sure one or two episodes don’t look a bit weak?
Many of us loved the trip down memory lane with the return of some of the “freak or unique” guests all grown up. But Evans can’t really do that segment again. Or if he does bring back more people from the 90s, it won’t have the same impact the second time around, in the same way that Shaun Ryder can’t come back again every week for easy laughs.
By the last section of the anniversary show, I reckon most people watching had necked a beer or glass of wine, but it wasn’t half as good as the opening hour, featuring an overly long Lewis Hamilton interview which would have been better suited to his new gig Top Gear.
So sticking to an hour per episode for the series is definitely a safer option to avoid it appearing bloated and too self indulgent.
If the new series is to work, one thing's for sure, Evans and his team need to keep their foot on the throttle, otherwise TFI won’t stay in top gear for long.
Mark Jefferies is Showbiz Editor at the Daily Mirror