Didn’t they do well? No, they did not. Bake Off cast-offs Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins last night took a great British institution and ran it into the ground.
The BBC’s Easter Sunday attempt to resurrect The Generation Game was cheap, shoddy, devoid of genuine slapstick and barely able to raise a single titter in an entire hour.
This woeful flop summed up everything, with the notable exception of its flagship Strictly, that’s wrong with our national broadcaster’s approach to family entertainment.
Flop: Mel and Sue are the new hosts in the latest iteration of the Generation GameiPhone transfer software
Bruce Forsyth compered the show from 1971 to 1977 and again in the early Nineties. Pictured with Anthea Redfern
Despite a heritage of great gameshows and variety comics, Auntie has lost all ability to haul up her bloomers for end-of-the-pier larks that have broad appeal and bond an audience.
Hamstrung by political correctness, this was a Generation Game in which ’elf ’n’ safety appeared more of a concern than laughs.
The lowest point came with that classic challenge — spinning the dinner plates on bamboo poles. Everyone, including Mel and Sue, had to wear safety goggles.
'The BBC’s Easter Sunday attempt to resurrect The Generation Game was cheap, shoddy, devoid of genuine slapstick and barely able to raise a single titter in an entire hour,' writes Stevens
Every segment felt as if it had been assembled from a bag of off-cuts, with the camera lurching back and forth between contestants
Witless ‘personalities’ you’ve never heard of from reality TV shows you’ve never watched gawped at the camera and fluffed their lines. The only guest with a claim to genuine celebrity, Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet, looked like he wanted the studio floor to swallow him up.
Every segment felt as if it had been assembled from a bag of off-cuts, with the camera lurching back and forth between contestants. The director couldn’t even get the canned laughter right — often stopping it dead mid-guffaw.
With all due respect to the great man, the whole thing could scarcely have been worse if they’d dug up Brucie to present it. It was all so contrived and patronising — to contestants and viewers.
Forsyth, who compered the show from 1971 to 1977 and again in the early Nineties, constantly teased participants and mocked them as they struggled to complete the games. His despairing looks to camera, as another challenge ended in disaster, were the highlight of the show.
Camp compere Larry Grayson, who took the reins between 1978 and 1981, was gentler but still withering. A roll of the eyes or a little twitch of the mouth told 18 million viewers on a Saturday evening that he was at his wits’ end with another hapless couple.
Brucie's despairing looks to camera, as challenges ended in disaster, were the highlight of the classic show
But Luvvies Mel and Sue are far too inclusive and non-judgmental ever to utter a hint of cruel humour. Instead, they adopted an irritating whimsy: all eight of the contestants were told how wonderful they were, what lovely faces they had and how talented they seemed.
The duo took it in turns to deliver laboured lines, killing all hope of the ad libs that made the original show such unpredictable fun.
The plain fact is that a couple of right-on, Oxbridge wits like Mel and Sue are not the right faces for good old knockabout peak viewing TV on a Bank Holiday. Nobody at the BBC understands this, because they’re all right-on Oxbridge types themselves, who would die rather than admit at a dinner party they ever watched the Generation Game.
Mel and Sue proved they can be a delight in a cookery tent, but they’re entirely the wrong casting for the kind of game where Gran and your Uncle Norm are encouraged to make perfect fools of themselves for daft prizes.
Forsyth constantly teased participants and mocked them as they struggled to complete the games
Though the Generation Game was based on a Dutch format in the Sixties called Eén van de Acht (One Of The Eight), it’s heritage was rooted in the variety shows of the Fifties, the staples of a summer season in seaside towns like Torquay and