Douglas is Cancelled viewers divided over Hugh Bonneville's cancel culture drama

Douglas is Cancelled
-Credit: (Image: Brentwood Gazette)

Douglas is Cancelled, the new four part TV drama starring Hugh Bonneville and Karen Gillan, made its debut on ITV on Thursday 27 June, and fans were quick to rush to social media to share their opinions of the series (all episodes are also streaming on ITVX).

The series stars Downton Abbey and Paddington star Hugh Bonneville as TV news presenter Douglas, who faces having his career cancelled after he tells a sexist joke at a family wedding and a stranger overhears and mentions it online.

Matters are complicated when his co-presenter Madeline, played by Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan, retweets the comment to her two million followers and it goes viral, causing a public backlash.

The series, written by Doctor Who and Sherlock’s Steven Moffat and also starring Alex Kingston as Douglas’s newspaper editor wife, Ben Miles as his producer and Ted Lasso’s Nick Mohammed as a comedy writer enlisted to help Douglas respond to criticism, has divided critics, with the show getting a five star review from one newspaper and a one star review from another.

Nick Mohammed found the disparity in the reviews so amusing he tweeted an image of them.

Fans are also completely split in their opinions of the series, which starts off dealing with cancel culture but then becomes another show entirely by the third episode.

Hugh Bonneville as Douglas, Karen Gillan as Madeline and Ben Miles as Toby
Hugh Bonneville leads the cast

On the positive side, one viewer wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “#DouglasIsCancelled is EXCELLENT! Great script, fantastic pace form Moffat and it’s very funny. Well done ITV,” while another praised Alex Kingston by saying: “I’m obsessed with her I can’t lie. Alex Kingston is a Queen in #DouglasIsCancelled.”

A third viewer wrote: “Whoa. Just binge watched all of #DouglasIsCancelled. Suckerpunch ending is really something. And @karengillan is vulnerable and powerful in the same instant, exactly as so many women are. We balance on a knife edge. Extraordinary telly, a mix of nuance and comedy and tension.”

However, while there were viewers praising the show, there were also many who didn’t like it at all.

One commented: “Gave up on #Douglasiscancelled after less than two episodes. The script is infuriating and frustrating, the acting is childlike, overdone and caricature. Switched off at the ‘hand-holding’ scene in Madeline’s office. Awful and ridiculous.”

Another added: Douglas is Cancelled has to be the worst thing Steven Moffat has written. It isn’t funny & and crass representations of the PA & daughter are grating. What’s with Karen Gillan’s voice? She’s obviously been directed to speak lower and from the throat to sound harder. Awful.”

More viewers picked up on the depiction of women in the show – especially Douglas’s stroppy teenage daughter – with one adding: “The teenage character is so poorly written. It’s like every cliche all just thrown together,” and another viewer commenting: “watching #DouglasIsCancelled and I am yet again reminded that Steven Moffatt cannot write credible women characters.”

One more summed up a lot of people’s opinions of the series: “Great cast. S**t script. Not funny.”

In an interview for the launch of the series, Hugh Bonneville acknowledged that the show isn’t quite what viewers would expect from the first episode.

“Some of the twists and turns are toe-curlingly funny, but by the end, the lights have gone out, the fun has evaporated and we’re into dark territory,” he explained. “To read the whole thing in one sitting was as riveting as it was uncomfortable.”

“Hopefully the audience will have a similar rollercoaster experience.”