Jim Henson Co.'s BBC 'Puppet Game Show' Draws 2.5 Million U.K. Viewers in Debut

The show, which combines elements of game shows and sitcoms and features celebrity guests, got mixed reviews.

LONDON – That Puppet Game Show, a new BBC show from the Jim Henson Co., which created The Muppet Show, debuted Saturday night with an average audience of 2.5 million.

That meant a share of only 16.2 percent of people watching TV in Britain at the time, according to ratings data unveiled on Monday.

Flagship network BBC One saw its viewership for the program in the 6:45 p.m.-7:30 p.m. time slot peak with 3.6 million though. The show, eyed for an eight-episode run, combines elements of game shows and sitcoms and features celebrity guests  competing to win money for charities.

The first episode's celebrity guests were U.K. talk show host Jonathan Ross and singer Katherine Jenkins.

British TV critics on Sunday gave the show mixed reviews.

"All the things that made The Muppet Show so great have been half-heartedly copied in a cheapskate fashion and paraded like a bad tribute act," wrote The Telegraph. "That Puppet Game Show’s awfulness is epitomized by the presenter, a bland, chinless wonder called Dougie Colon (pronounced “Cologne” and voiced by Vernon Kay). Somewhere, a little green frog is burying his head in despair."

The Guardian
said the show "is yet another attempt to crack the Saturday evening family entertainment nut" and concluded that "some of the games don't really work."  

But the paper also concluded: "It does all feel very 1987, but it's warm, funny at times, and the guests (so far) are game. It should become more interesting once you get to know the puppets' personalities a bit better."

The Independent was among the most bullish about the show. "The game show format is spectacularly revived with the help of some colorful old friends," it wrote.
"It took a while to warm up – Ross and Jenkins looked embarrassed for the first 10 minutes – but once it did, this was vintage light entertainment."

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai