TV review: For those of us who remember Kermit and the gang, That Puppet Game Show was very confusing indeed

That Puppet Game Show, Sat, BBC1 // The Hairy Bikers’ Restoration Road Trip, Sun, BBC2

It was disconcerting to see Jim Henson’s puppets open their felt mouths and talk with broad Northern accents, and Scottish ones, and in RP English. For those of us who grew up with Kermit and the gang, That Puppet Game Show was very confusing indeed, and not just for its mix of Bronx and British voices. Were these the classic American Muppets reincarnate? When was Miss Piggy going to show? And why were Jonathan Ross and Katherine Jenkins straining smiles behind the singing Scottish sausages?

They were launching the BBC’s new game-show format, of course, a mutant Saturday night creature that seemed  to be a cross-breed of the good old Saturday-night quiz show and the good old Saturday-night Muppet Show. Sketches featuring Henson’s partially created puppets  (an armadillo, a former PE teacher called Ms Taptackle  and a supervisor called Mancie) were spliced with quiz heats in which Ross and Jenkins went head to head to  win £10,000 for their chosen charity.

To this end, they bantered with the sausages-in-kilts  and “punched their own lights out” in a boxing ring. But  did they really have to jump up and down on a trampoline as the puppets played in a garden? How much fun was  this for us?

Fans of the anodyne quiz show might have liked it (who are these people?). Those who regard the telly as comforting background noise might also have felt no reason to turn it  off. It was only at the trampoline stage that it threatened  to become a car crash of yet another badly conceived Saturday-night show. On the whole, its quality was higher than the average TV car crash, though Henson enthusiasts might have been left discombobulated. Many of the puppets had more than a passing resemblance to Muppets of old – the  armadillo carried himself like Kermit, Mancie might have been Miss Piggy with different hair and minus the snout, while Clyde the Crab, who announced the scores, was just as crabby as the two old grouches of Muppet Show legend.

There were some charming lines – Jenkins was described in the boxing ring as someone who “sings like a mezzo  soprano and fights like Tony Soprano” and in one “meta” moment, a family of puppets were seen staring at the TV while Ross and Jenkins did their bit, as the father said:  “You know telly is supposed to educate, inform and  entertain. Which one is this then?” It was chuckle-worthy, but it was also the kind of pre-emptive humour that leads a fat person to make jokes about their weight. In the end, they could easily have done away with Ross, Jenkins and the silly quiz and made more of the puppets.

Is TV cookery on its way out? If so, Si King and Dave Myers have got their fingers in a new pie with The Hairy Bikers’ Restoration Road Trip. Except that this was all about the old industrial era – and  its machinery – and not the new at all. This first  in the series saw them meeting men of a certain  age who showed them around ancient boilers,  steam trains and mine or farm machinery that they  were lovingly restoring. For those types who collect miniature steam-train sets, this slice of Britain’s industrial past might have been riveting; in all fairness, grainy archive footage of miners and the London Underground was fascinating to see.

But hearing the bikers ooh and aah at driving a train (“in steam engines, this is what a gear lever looks like”), oiling an ancient wheel or lagging a 60-year-old boiler (“without this clever little widget the whole boiler would run dry”) sent some of us to sleep. Next week, they’ll be looking at restoring another hulking piece of machinery connected to a giant wheel. Oh God.

twitter.com/Arifa_Akbar

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum