Broadcast in 1999, right at the end of the most optimistic decade in recent memory, 'Epiphanies' encapsulates the feel-good outlook of its time.Mark Butler, i Newspaper, 25th May 2017
The Rob Brydon-helmed panel show is on its 10th series now, and it has endured for a reason: it's reliably good - albeit formulaic - fun, thanks to the counterintuitive chemistry of David Mitchell and Lee Mack, plus the well-chosen guests. Tonight's episode features the irascible Michael Smiley, the mordant Diane Morgan, the alwaysPhil Harrison, The Guardian, 9th September 2016
Alfie tries to resurrect his fledgling romance with Michelle after abandoning her for ex-fiance Carly, who, unbeknown to him, has been seeing Prop Maartie (Rufus Jones), Alfie's aggressively South African boss. Alfie's dad (Michael Smiley) is also back in town, flashy as ever, and this time apparently flush, too. But when he decides to raid Gary and Gary's anniversary celebration kitty, the facade starts to crumble. Robert Evans's B&B-set comedy pootles on amusingly, but plays it far too safe to ever broach real hilarity.Rachel Aroesti, The Guardian, 14th March 2014
Where, exactly, has Ambassadors gone wrong? The idea, sending blundering diplomats to a chaotic post-Soviet state, is sound, while the casting - with Mitchell & Webb as inept and smug respectively - is tried and tested. The fault lies in the tone: Ambassadors demonstrates, like so many others before it, just how difficult a comedy-drama can be to execute.
Tonight's final episode is another slice of ripe characterisation, featuring Michael Smiley's crack government interrogator and Natalia Tena as the Tazbek President's spoilt, tarty daughter. There are promising situations too, as a power cut and an ill-advised tryst leave Keith (Mitchell) and Neil (Webb) looking distinctly compromised. But the whole simply doesn't hang together - infuriating, given the talent involved. Ambassadors may need a rethink before serving another term.Gabriel Tate, Time Out, 6th November 2013
It appeared as if the BBC had little confidence in Father Figure from the get-go as it was broadcast in the post 10 O'Clock News death slot. Sitcoms previously scheduled in this slot include the horrid Citizen Khan and Ben Elton's recently atrocity The Wright Way.
To be fair to Father Figure, it was slightly better than both of those shows as it did have an innate likeability to it which was mainly due to the cast. At the same time though it had plenty of problems including one-note characters, a predictable script and gags you could see coming a mile-off.
The story of the first episode saw Tom Whyte (Jason Byrne) cooking a dinner for his neighbours to apologise for covering them in baked beans while they were trying to sunbathe. Then followed a well-worn script where the juvenile central character attempted to cook while fending off the interference from his family members. His mother (Pauline McLynn) tried to take over with the cooking while his friend Roddy (Michael Smiley) steals a giant cake from a hotel lobby. Meanwhile Tom's children are incredibly annoying and his wife Elaine (Karen Taylor) is presented as a serious alcoholic.
The episode climaxed with a scene which saw the neighbours being hit by the cake and covered in chocolate mousse while Tom's mother punched him in the face with a roast chicken. If any of these situations are putting a smile on your face then you probably would've enjoyed Father Figure more than I did.
The show was yet another addition to the list of poor sitcoms that have been produced in 2013 and to me Father Figure feels incredibly dated. As I said, the majority of the cast are incredibly likeable, particularly Pauline McLynn whose gift for physical comedy is put to good use here. But ultimately Father Figure feels doomed to fail and after watching the show I felt like Tom's neighbours - incredibly embarrassed and ever so slightly dirty.The Custard TV, 22nd September 2013
The success of Mrs Brown's Boys has left everything up for grabs, confirming that certain TV phenomena are just inexplicable. Who cares what critics think when viewers vote with their eyeballs in such large numbers? This Jason Byrne sitcom, transferred to telly from a Radio 2 series, is wretched: clichéd, derivative, predictable and crass. But that doesn't mean no one's going to like it.
Father Figure is trad. Looking to the gentler end of domestic comedy (Not Going Out, Outnumbered) for its inspiration, it leans towards the obvious at all times. Wondering what's going to happen to that large and elaborate cake in the living room? Don't expect to be surprised. But Byrne lacks Lee Mack's sheer relentlessness and the knack of taking things one step further than they might - done well by Outnumbered.
So Byrne's bumbling dad Tom just feels like an accumulation of his predecessors, but a dead end rather than a culmination. There are some decent performers in Father Figure including Michael Smiley and Pauline McLynn. But they just haven't been given anything to work with. Poor.Phil Harrison, Time Out, 18th September 2013
Do you find it hilarious when small children say cheeky things like "poo!"? Do you shriek with delight when a grown man is unable to cook a meal without resorting to ironing the steak?
Do you find it wholly plausible that someone would steal a massive tiered wedding cake and bring it to a dinner party as their contribution to dessert? Do you find that watching people being repeatedly covered in food, falling over, or falling over into food makes you roll on the floor laughing? Then, just like the studio audience who go into paroxysms at every scene, you'll love Father Figure.
A sort of combination of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and those kids' shows where adults are constantly being gunked, Jason Byrne's sitcom is a transfer from Radio 2. His amiable stand-up persona is replicated as hapless but well-meaning dad to smart-arse kids, husband to past-caring just-open-the-wine wife, son to overbearing parents (Pauline McLynn as his mum is more glamorous than her Father Ted character Mrs Doyle but no less a nag), friend to a wasted Michael Smiley and neighbour to some cardboard people who are only there to react in horror to his gaffes.
The show is relentlessly middle-of-the-road, determinedly populist and wholly idiotic. Were it not for the sweary-words and a few double entendres, it would be pitched firmly as family entertainment and has clearly been commissioned to try to cash in on the unexpected success of Mrs Brown's Boys.
In its favour, I suppose it's a bit better than Ben Elton's megaflop The Wright Way. It will no doubt run for years.The Scotsman, 14th September 2013