Strong audience for Horne & Corden

But the critics hate it

Mathew Horne and James Corden’s new sketch show became the most-watched comedy debut in BBC Three's history last night – but was mauled by the critics.

Their debut show attracted 817,000 viewers – about two and a half times the channel's average for the 10.30pm Tuesday slot, and representing 5.7 per cent of all viewers.

But while the show was a hit with viewers, most critics found the comedy too broad, with overexciteable delivery and a script too ready to rely on Corden’s girth for a cheap laugh.

In the Guardian, Sam Woollason wrote: ‘I wasn't prepared for quite how awful it is. Never has a three-minute sketch felt so long, and the joke inevitably comes down to the fact that James Corden is fat and is happy to show us his wobbly bits. Or one of them gets his arse out.

And Benji Wilson in the Daily Telegraph called it ‘about as funny as credit default swaps’ with sketches that were ‘floundering around for a punchline like a drunk looking for a light switch’.

The Mirror’s Jane Simon said the show coasted on Horne and Corden’s popularity, but added: ‘Creating that effortless on-screen chemistry is a lot, lot harder than Ant and Dec make it look.’

Metro’s Keith Watson concluded: ‘At worst offensive, to downright dull, this was a sad case of a show trying way too hard,’ but added that the duo did show promise. ‘When it calmed down, it hit the spot,’ he wrote, ‘but they need to get over the need to whip each others’ kits off.’

The Independent’s Tom Sutcliffe conceded that the duo knew their audience well, and wrote: ‘They’re both talented comic actors, so where there were dips, it was usually the result of material rather than delivery. And, though it would be ridiculously early to write it off, it was worrying that their opener should have been so reliant on material that struck you as a bit end-of-term-revue in character. Corden's naked body was treated as a kind of get-out-jail-free card, with no less than three sketches in which he got his kit off and at least one more in which the only gag derived from his weight.’

Bruce Dessau in the London Evening Standard also said that while the show wasn’t for him, it was ‘unthreatening, unadventurous, comedy’ that may find a mainstream audience.

Published: 11 Mar 2009

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