'Complaints Welcome' host Tom Allen: "People love a moan"

Tom Allen
Tom Allen wants to know if we really are a nation of moaners. (Image credit: Channel 4)

Tom Allen will be using his new show, Complaints Welcome, to take a light-hearted look at some of the nation's favourite TV-related gripes. 

The new Channel 4 series, which starts Thursday Oct. 14 at 9pm, will see the host of Bake Off spin-off show An Extra Slice join forces will fellow comedians Jessica Knappett and Munya Chawawa to form a "Complaints Committee as they assess the week’s television and some of our favourite classic shows. 

The trio will be joined by guests from the world of TV as they playfully evaluate the opinions they’ve received and decide, which should be upheld, before laying on a few sketches to lampoon some of our favourite programmes. 

From the murder rate in the village of Midsomer, to the costumes on Strictly Come Dancing, nothing is off-limits and Tom, 38, hopes it’s a show that will get the nation talking…

Tom Allen on the inspiration for Complaints Welcome...

"Well, social media allows a lot of people to complain about what they don't like on TV, so we thought we'd embrace that and turn it on its head by evaluating whether people’s criticisms make sense or not. It’s a way of spoofing complaints and countering some of the meanness people sometimes put online, while also lampooning some of our favourite programmes. We see it as a cross between Points Of View and Harry Hill’s TV Burp!"

Complaints Welcome

Munya Chawawa will be co-hosting the show with Tom and Jessica Knappett (Image credit: Channel 4)

Tom Allen on why Brits love to complain about TV so much... 

"People have strong opinions on television and I think the TV is still like a member of the family that sits in the corner of our living room. I think we have some of the best television in the world and in a typically British fashion, we moan about it, maybe because we feel so close to it? 

"Iconic television shows have a real importance to us and when you think of Bake Off or Downton Abbey or Strictly Come Dancing, they aren't just a bit of entertainment, they are part of our lives and our weeks and weekends revolve around them. But also everybody loves a bit of a moan, don't they?" 

Complaints Welcome

Co-host Jessica Knappett is best known for starring in E4 comedy 'Drifters'. (Image credit: Channel 4)

Tom on the challenges of making each episode topical...

"It's going to be a really tight turnaround, but I think that’s going to be really exciting actually and we want some parts of the show to be really reactive. I think that's a really good way to work because with comedy, that immediacy makes it feel quite exciting. I find really topical stuff world well when you’re doing stand-up, because people know you just came up with it and it has an electricity." 

Tom on spoofing some of his favourite shows...

"We’ve done a sketch about Midsomer Murders and how people always talk about it being the most dangerous village in the world, which is true when you look at the statistics. So we have a bit involving an estate agent in Midsomer, which will hopefully be fun. Similarly, on A Place In The Sun, viewers often say people go on the show for a free holiday and never buy a house. So we get someone who’s been on the show and interrogate them Line of Duty-style, about whether they actually bought a house or not. These are things we all like to mutter when we’re watching on the sofa, so we want to take a closer look." 

Complaints Welcome

The village of Midsomer's murder rate is one of the worst in the world. (Image credit: ITV)

"I very much enjoyed doing a spoof of Come Dine With Me where I played all of the archetypal characters who crop up in every episode and we even get a belly dancer, because there are no end of belly dancers on Come Dine With Me. I’ve never been at anyone’s house and they’ve brought out a belly dancer, but it seems to happen on that show all the time! We're also hoping to do a bit of a spoof of Tipping Point with Ben Shephard, which should be a bit of a giggle!" 

Tom on complaints viewers have made about him in the past...

"Oh people love to have a go! It’s usually stuff like 'Why does he talk so much?' Well if you go on a chat show and don’t say anything, you look pretty silly. I got some complaints after I was on Sunday Brunch about talking too much. That viewership certainly makes its opinions known on social media! People also love to call you a 'So-called comedian' as well as they know that will be really hurtful. We all love a bit of a moan, but when you see the things some people put on social media, some it’s actually quite vile and I think making fun of it means that it loses some of its power." 

Complaints Welcome

Tom Allen co-hosts 'An Extra Slice' with Jo Brand. (Image credit: Channel 4)

Tom on this year's 'Bake Off' contestants...

"They're brilliant aren't they? Such a nice group and really lovable characters. And I like the fact that there's a really nice mix of age groups as well. It’s tough to pick a favourite, but I find myself talking about Maggie quite a lot on An Extra Slice. So I'm very excited to see what she comes up with next. She’s like a walking John Lewis catalogue - in a wonderful way - and she’s so much like Pru, It's uncanny.

"I would find it difficult to be unbiased if someone complained about Bake Off on Complaints Welcome. If people have opinions, then we’re there for them and I'm old enough and ugly enough to be able to take criticism if it's something personal to me. But what can people possibly complain about with The Great British Bake Off?" 

Tom on making his TV breakthrough...

"Well, I feel very honoured and privileged to get to work in the shows that I do, because I spent a long time as a stand-up and always wanted to do television. I left school at 18 and have been knocking on the door for 20 years, so I’m very grateful that all the hard work has paid off over the last couple of years!" 

Sean Marland

Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for whattowatch.com. He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.