BBC gives up on Persuasionists

Sitcom shunted to graveyard slot

The BBC says it has shunted its ad-agency sitcom The Persuasionists to a graveyard slot to make room for something more ‘mainstream’ in primetime.

BBC Two shunted this week’s episode from 10pm on Tuesday to 11.20pm on Wednesday - just three episodes into the run.

And although it is an old-fashioned studio-based sitcom, with live audience, the corporation suggested that it was too niche to work at primetime.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘By moving The Persuasionists to a later slot it will still be available to the viewers who are really enjoying it, but gives us room to play something more mainstream in the earlier slot.’

Tuesday’s episode was yanked at the last minute – too late for most published listings – and replaced by an 18-month-old rerun of Grumpy Old Women.

It is rare for the BBC to move a show mid-run but The Persuasionists, starring Adam Buxton, Simon Farnaby, Iain Lee, Jarred Christmas and Daisy Haggard has proved a ratings flop.

Last week’s episode attracted just 330,000 viewers, or 1.6 per cent of the total available.

Critics haven’t been kind either: The Guardian dubbed the show as ‘the eighth circle of sitcom hell’, while the Mirror called it ‘so imbecilic, you had to see it to believe it’.

Even studio warm-up man Richard Sandling turned on the show, and blamed poor editing for the show’s problems – claims denied by the show’s producers Bwark.

The Independent, however, recognised some things to love in the over-the-top comedy, saying: ‘There's enough going on here, I would have thought, to persuade viewers that it might be worth sticking around.’

It seems they didn’t agree.

Published: 4 Feb 2010

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