TV star Nicholas Lyndhurst has hit out at the current state of TV, comparing “cruel” Britain’s Got Talent to the psychiatric hospital Bedlam.
The former Only Fools And Horses star said that the long-running BBC1 sitcom, starring Lyndhurst and Sir David Jason as brothers Rodney and Derek Trotter, would not get made today.
Lyndhurst, 52, who has replaced Alun Armstrong in veteran detective series New Tricks, said that his young son Archie has the “acting gene” and is a pupil at the Sylvia Young Theatre School.
But he told the Radio Times: “I wonder, though, what sort of industry he’ll enter. I can hardly say, ’Darling, do all this training and the best thing will be Celebrity Dog Watch.
“Take away the talent shows, celebrity cook shows, skating, dog training, dancing, putting people on an island – and what’s left? I’ve been asked to go on all of them.”
Only Fools And Horses, penned by John Sullivan, was not an instant hit when it was first broadcast in 1981 but went on to smash records with 24.3 million viewers for an episode in 1996.
Lyndhurst said: “Only Fools would never be made today, nor Dad’s Army. TV companies turn down good scripts because they’re not prepared to let them develop.
“A talent show will pick up seven million viewers and they can’t afford to nurture something that initially will only have a million.”
He said that watching Simon Cowell’s ITV talent contest Britain’s Got Talent was like gawping at patients in the notorious Bedlam asylum.
“Britain’s Got Talent? Hundreds of years ago we were selling tickets to Bedlam. It’s become like that. It’s cruel to watch these deluded people – the judges as well, sometimes.
“They don’t need to be talented, and that’s a shame because you don’t want to watch people who can’t do it,” he said.
Lyndhurst appears in the tenth series of cold case series New Tricks, co-starring Dennis Waterman, Amanda Redman and Denis Lawson.
Redman will be replaced by ex-EastEnders actress Tamzin Outhwaite when she leaves the BBC1 series, and Lyndhurst admitted: “You have to worry if it will continue to be successful.
“Lots of shows that run a decade-plus have familiarity. It’s comforting to see people you think you know in different situations. Our viewers are people who don’t want to play catch-up on their phones.”
Lyndhurst also confirmed that he turned down the 1997 film The Full Monty, about unemployed steel workers who form a male striptease act.
He said: “I was in rehearsal in Northampton, on a bleak day, and my agent phoned. ’Darling – availability check: British film, not much money, set in Sheffield, about male strippers’.
“I said I’d pass. I don’t regret it.”
He said that “sadly” he mostly meets his Only Fools co-star Sir David “at funerals nowadays” and recalled how he once “screwed up the most complicated sequence of the day” on the sitcom when he hired a plane to fly over the hotel where the cast were filming in Miami.