Griff Rhys Jones hits at TV ratings game

COMEDIAN Griff Rhys Jones slammed TV bosses yesterday for making commissioning decisions based solely on ratings.

The 56-year-old claimed no one trusts him to front a series until they know the last one has been a success, and the waiting process feels like “they want to push you off the cliff at any point”.

Jones, who visits Sydney, Hong Kong and Rome in a forthcoming series of Greatest Cities with Griff Rhys Jones, said he did not yet know whether he would be commissioned to make another.

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He said: “We haven’t discussed it. It got very good figures but nobody in television will trust me to make a series before they’ve seen figures for the last one.

“Since Restoration I have made a string of incredibly successful series, but every time I ask, ‘What would you like me to do next?’ they say, ‘we’ll just see how this one goes’ and you get the feeling they want to push you off the cliff at any point – but I’m hanging on in there.” Jones, who found fame alongside Mel Smith in Alas Smith and Jones, also blamed the ratings game for keeping the 1980s comedy sketch show going for too long.

He said: “Trying to write 13 series of sketch shows is just an exhausting mountain to climb and we did it for that long because every time I said ‘I’ve had enough’, they’d say ‘Oh, but the ratings are good, do another one’. So you go on until one day they say ‘The ratings aren’t very good, get off, p*** off’.”

The actor, who is currently appearing as Fagin in the West End production of Oliver!, said it was not his decision to stop doing television comedy.

He said: “I’ve never said no to going back into TV but they decided in 1997 that they didn’t want [Alas Smith and Jones memories] any more, and I did spend a little bit of time knocking on doors and realising that they weren’t going to do what I wanted to do so I stopped knocking on doors and got on and did something else.”

Jones added, however, that he was grateful for his diverse career.