The final countdown? Watch this space…Scotsman – United Kingdom
… the joke. However, media expert Mark Borkowski said: “I don’t think anybody will care what happens in Space Cadets tonight. “Those …
The final countdown? Watch this space…
FERGUS SHEPPARD MEDIA CORRESPONDENT
IN SPACE, no-one can hear you laugh. Channel 4’s giant TV practical joke, Space Cadets, ends tonight, but only a dwindling band of viewers are likely to be watching.
Despite a reported £5 million budget and an avalanche of hype, only 1.6 million viewers tuned in on Wednesday to watch the antics of amateur cosmonauts Paul French, Billy Jackson and Keri Hassett, together with a planted actor, Charlie Skelton.
The show was easily outperformed at 9pm by ITV1’s British Comedy Awards (5.4 million), BBC1’s Life in the Undergrowth (4.2 million) and BBC2’s raunchy historic drama Rome (3.4 million).
The three contestants who apparently believe they are orbiting the Earth in a shuttle will learn tonight that their entire experience has been a cosmic joke based at a disused military base outside Ipswich.
But the show has been falling to earth after its opening night episode attracted 2.6 million. There was a revival of interest on Monday night when 2.2 million people watched the “shuttle” blast off. However that figure fell to two million on Tuesday and dropped by 400,000 to Wednesday’s 1.6 million low – only marginally better than last weekend when viewing figures dropped to 1.2 million.
Even presenter Johnny Vaughan has had to work hard to keep the momentum when the in-shuttle action has consisted of a fake Russian pilot having his earpiece fixed.
Julian Henry, a PR expert, said the programme had “clearly run out of steam”, adding: “There are moments when it is plainly unbelievable, even to the people who are in it. It looks cheap despite all the money they say they’ve spent on it.”
Channel 4 said the audience figure for the ten-day show had “varied day to day”. A spokeswoman added: “We’ve got a loyal cult following. People have stayed with it.”
All the contestants will be flown next year to Russia for a real zero-gravity space flight to compensate for the joke.
However, media expert Mark Borkowski said: “I don’t think anybody will care what happens in Space Cadets tonight.
“Those people who come out will forever have the mickey taken out of them for years for having been duped. While we forget about this programme, those people in it will never be allowed to forget it.”
Channel 4 is flatly denying some of the wilder rumours about Space Cadets – that the show is a massive in-joke of which all the contestants are all professional actors, or even that the finale will reveal the would-be cosmonauts really have been in space all the time and the viewers have been duped.
Tonight will reveal all. But, as one critic said, will we tune in for a joke to which we already know the punchline?