The overnight figures for Mechannibals were, apparently, something like 1.5 million viewers, which is bang in that grey area between ‘sinking without trace’ (around 1 million) and ‘recommission this now!’ (around 2 million). However, it was up against Frost which evidently cleaned up, and the audience was skewed young, which is apparently causing some excitement since BBC2 engineering shows usually attract an older audience. Mind you, BBC2 engineering shows are usually fronted by Adam Hart-Davis, so…
The audience had dipped from 2 million watching Top Gear, but matched that of Bremner, Bird and Fortune over on Channel 4.
I’m not at all surprised the assorted forum and messageboard posts are so negative, incidentally (see comments to this post for links), in part since the average position of Points of View in particular has always been on the lambasting side of negative. And to be fair, I’m not sure the reviews are entirely wrong. I’ll be interested to see how the rest of the series turns out, since the Bognor shoot that went out first was unusual in being so emotionally divisive during shooting.
As I think I wrote months back, the assumption of the format as sold was that Wife Swap-style angst was vicariously enjoyable, but as the production developed it felt like it was turning more towards telling the stories of the machines. However, I don’t know how it panned out in the edit, which is where the series is really made – it could have gone in several different directions.
To be clear – I do believe the emotions on display last Sunday were an honest depiction of what happened. Building something like a shed-destroying machine, in two days, is an emotional journey, and a process that I think only Science Shack has tried to capture previously (maybe Now Get Out of That too, back in the 1980s). So there should always be moments of horror and struggle and disagreement. Equally, the families all wanted to win: some more than others, true, but they certainly weren’t duped into the show. Indeed, some were rather alarmingly up for ripping their houses apart, and certainly most did so with rather more readiness than we wanted – one needs a certain amount of reticence for the story to make sense!
I’m fascinated to see how the rest of the series pans out. I was there, but I’ve seen none of the other finished shows.