Have I Got News For You’s stay-at-home experiment has received mixed reviews from viewers on social media, though many praised the show for persevering in spite of the coronavirus pandemic.
The satirical programme returned for a new series on Friday night, with team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton joined by host Steph McGovern and guests Miles Jupp and Helen Lewis.
However, due to social distancing guidelines, the teams filmed from their own homes and were then beamed into a virtual studio.
Without an audience to laugh at the jokes, all viewers could hear were the reactions from the teams. Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan was not impressed.
“My village mates’ ZOOM session earlier this evening was a lot funnier than this,” he tweeted.
Other social media users were more scathing.
One tweeted: “You’ll struggle to watch anything more excruciatingly awful in your lifetime than tonight’s #HIGNFY.”
Another said: “Awkward to watch, cancel next week’s please.” One wrote: “Nice try but this isn’t going to work. It’s a no from me.”
And another said: “Have I Got News For You is on conference call! Fair play to them for trying, but I’m not entirely sure it’s working.”
However, not all the responses were negative. Many praised the show for offering levity amid the pandemic.
“Under the Circumstances, that was BRILLIANT,” one viewer said. “I really dont know what people expect, reading some of the comments.”
Another commented: “Well, #HIGNFY isn’t exactly the same with social distancing, but I’m so glad they’re soldiering on – oddly comforting to have our favourite programmes finding an awkward new normal along with the rest of us.”
And another wrote: “Thank you. It would have been so easy to cancel this, but we are chuckling away at have I got news for you, so thank you for having a go and broadcasting. It beats watching repeats.”
During Friday’s episode, the panel watched a clip of a family from Watford singing their lockdown-themed version of a Les Miserables song, with Merton delivering the verdict: “Dreadful! Absolutely dreadful.”
Hislop replied: “I’m very worried about you Paul.
“Well they keep discovering a lot of new symptoms… one of which is that people have no taste… I mean from your shirt, it’s pretty clear…
“And now, being a really miserable bastard… I didn’t know! But I’d get yourself tested!”
Merton retorted: “You’re calling me a miserable bastard? You’re the man who’s been mentoring me for the past 30 years…!”