David Walliams has said criticism of ITV’s Nightly Show is down to anger at the fact it has pushed back the news in the schedule.
Walliams hosted the first week of the new talk show, which goes out at 22:00 GMT – moving the news back to 22:30.
Different hosts have been lined up for each week of its two-month run. But the show has been panned so far.
“Because they moved the news, I think people were sort of angry about that,” Walliams told BBC Breakfast.
It began with overnight viewing figures of 2.9 million on Monday, but Walliams’s final show was watched by 1.2 million on Friday.
The comedian said he didn’t expect it to prove so controversial. “I guess because the ITV news was moved, I then think people felt, they were sort of comparing it to the news rather than comparing it to other entertainment shows,” he said.
Asked whether there was room for such an entertainment show in the schedules, he replied: “Yes. I think there is. I think the problem was ITV News was not getting many viewers for ITV so they wanted to try something different.”
But the decision to push the news back turned many viewers and critics against it, he added.
John Bishop has taken over as host for the second week – but the reception has been just as savage in some quarters.
The Telegraph’s Michael Hogan wrote: “Clad in sombre black, presumably in mourning for this dead duck, Bishop fared little better [than Walliams]. Arguably even worse.”
Davina McCall and Gordon Ramsay have been announced as future presenters.
The show’s executive producer Katie Taylor has asked viewers to give the show time.
She told the i newspaper: “We all feel passionately about comedy. People love to sneer at a new experiment but you have to experiment to innovate. We hope everyone grows to love it.”