MORE than a million UK viewers tuned in for the debut of Channel 4 sitcom London Irish last night.
Bosses at the British TV station have been left “very happy” by the figures, which show that their latest offering hugely out-performed acclaimed Irish drama Love/Hate.
Some 1.1million viewers watched London Irish when its first episode aired at 10pm yesterday, around 350,000 more than those who tuned into the premiere of Love/Hate on Channel 5 in July.
Although Channel 5 would be viewed as a less prestigious broadcaster than Channel 4, Channel 5 did beat its rivals audience share for the first time earlier this year with a figure of 5% share of total viewing, to Channel 4’s 4.94% share.
Despite the encouraging viewing figures, London Irish received a mixed reaction among critics.
Guardian TV reviewer Rachel Aroesti described the show as “a mindless, grinning sick-com”.
“(London Irish) might be intended as an exercise in bad taste, a stab at the dark art of boundary-breaking offensiveness,” she added.
“But because the tone is identical to that of a matey comedy, it all feels spectacularly misjudged.”
Time Out’s Tom Buxton, however, praised the show for its “potent and promising” culture clash between its four Irish protagonists and their new British home.
“London Irish is a controlled drinker, loose enough to indulge in risqué laughs yet sober enough to know when the joke goes too far,” the 19-year-old student wrote.
“That’s a rare combination, and makes for a far more appetising brew than its competitors.”
But comedy website Chortle echoed the words of Irish Post reviewer Ronan Early by saying the sitcom’s writer Lisa McGee has struggled to create credible characters.
Chortle’s reviewer Steve Bennett added: “Amorality may seem fun – and indeed isolated scenes are funny, in an exaggeratedly inappropriate way – but over half an hour the effect is dulled; as it’s hard to care much for characters with such lack of motivation for doing anything, however accurate a portrayal that might be of the world the series is set in.”