Points of View for the Twitter generation? I'd like to make a complaint...

Munya Chawawa, Tom Allen and Jessica Knappett - Rob Parfitt/Channel 4
Munya Chawawa, Tom Allen and Jessica Knappett - Rob Parfitt/Channel 4

Remember Right to Reply, which ran from 1982 until 2001? Presenters Roger Bolton and Sheena McDonald, invariably wearing shoulder-padded power-suits, allowed the public to air their grievances about the likes of Brookside, Minipops or The Singing Detective’s sex scenes. Punters got the chance to confront programme-makers face-to-face. Lively debate and even more complaints ensued.

Well, Channel 4 have updated and "yoof"-ified the format for Complaints Welcome, a new series which runs viewers’ complaints past a committee of comedians and an opinionated studio audience. Or as the opening monologue put it: “Welcome to the show that invites you to sit down, relax and tell us what gets on your televisual tits.”

Our three hosts were the ubiquitous Tom Allen, the bracingly rude Jessica Knappett and British-Zimbabwean comic Munya Chawawa, who shot to fame when his satirical songs went viral during lockdown. He duly stole the show here with his swift wit and luxuriant eyebrows. And that was even before he ripped his shirt off.

For this opening instalment, the complaints were a random grab-bag. Is it rude when contestants on The Chase refer to Bradley Walsh as “Brad”? (Answer: a bit but he doesn’t mind). Is Squid Game unrealistic? (Answer: of course, it’s not a documentary - thankfully.) Does the Antiques Roadshow theme tune remind viewers that it’s the end of the weekend and back to school tomorrow? (Answer: yes and it still throws me into a panic that my maths homework is several decades late.)

There was a well-observed compilation of Strictly Come Dancing presenter Tess Daly letting viewers know when people stood up. The Tess-bot’s regular cries of “They’re on their feet” have indeed become vexatious - up there with her patronising young contestants by cooing “Look at your little face”.

Presenter and comedian Munya Chawawa - Rob Parfitt/Channel 4
Presenter and comedian Munya Chawawa - Rob Parfitt/Channel 4

However, far too many skits were lame. A Come Dine With Me parody fell flat - at least, until contestant Kev Riley, who went viral for shoving an entire whisk in his mouth, popped up to perform his party trick. A segment about Channel 5’s obsession with programmes about Yorkshire (not to mention Nazis, serial killers and Jane McDonald) went around in circles. Spoofs of Normal People, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Crown were met with tumbleweed.

Considering there were eight additional writers listed on the credits and the presenting trio also contributed their own material, one wonders where all the proper gags had gone. If screen-grabbed tweets and audience members (step forward, genitalia expert Esther) are funnier than the professionals, you know the script’s not up to snuff.

The testcard-style graphics and warehouse studio were generic and outdated. I could’ve also done without the try-hard laughter track and the laptops on the presenting team’s desks being colour-coded according to gender. Blue for the boys, pink for the girls. What was this, a 1970s toy catalogue?

There was the germ of a decent premise here. Playfully putting TV on trial is a promising idea and there’s plenty of material in the streaming age. This could have been Points of View for the Twitterverse.

At least proceedings ended with a flourish. Comedian Rosie Jones, who has cerebral palsy, gave her response to ableist comments about her recent Question Time appearance. It comprised three pithy words.

Channel 4 presumably hoped to have another Gogglebox on their hands - a TV hit about TV. There’s a lot of work to do before Complaints Welcome becomes anywhere near as beloved. Bring back Roger Bolton’s moustache and shoulder pads.