Audience walks out in 'sick' Lily Allen BBC chat show debutShe is being touted as the saviour of BBC Three, a hip young presenter whose unique appeal to the internet generation will attract a new audience to the much-criticised digital channel.
But Lily Allen's late-night chat show might not be the huge hit Corporation chiefs are praying for.
During recording of the all-important first programme, more than a third of the studio audience walked out, saying they were bored and complaining it was "horrible" and "limp".
But Lily seemed to shrug off the criticisms of her debut when she was photographed last night arriving at a pre-Baftas party with a mystery man.
The reaction to her show, however, will be a heavy blow to the BBC, which has placed the singer at the heart of a major revamp of the £83million-a-year channel.
BBC Three has come under fire from many quarters as a waste of money, and even BBC veteran John Humphrys has called for it to be scrapped and the money diverted to news and current affairs.
However, in defiance of the critics, BBC Three will undergo a bold relaunch on Tuesday, including a new pink logo and a more interactive website. And the Corporation is hailing Lily Allen And Friends as the flagship programme of the first night.
Yet Friday's recording at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire, does not augur well for the series – especially as the 150 audience members had been specially invited from among Miss Allen's online "friends".
One of the fans who walked out said: "Everyone really, really wanted it to work for Lily. She is such a lovely person but all the jokes fell flat and she seemed very nervous. It just did not work.
"I do think she's got a nice voice but she didn't sing at all. I think everyone was expecting she would."
Off-camera, the 22-year-old, who was wearing a slinky red off-the-shoulder dress, admitted she was nervous of her first test as an interviewer, quizzing guests Cuba Gooding Jnr, comedian David Mitchell and the band Reverend and the Makers.
As well as her inexperience, Miss Allen had to fight technical glitches including a jammed Autocue, which left her reliant on handwritten cue cards.
One guest said: "We were all standing about, getting quite tired.
"She was halfway through her interview with David Mitchell when she seemed to forget the questions and launched into an attack on all the horrible things people had written about her on online chat forums.
"It was terrible. Even David Mitchell had to remind her not to criticise the very people who would be watching the show."
Miss Allen then showed a series of internet videos showing animals having sex. Cuba Gooding Jnr summed up the mood when he told the audience: "I don't know what's sicker, animals having sex or you clapping."
Another guest said: "We were all told when to clap and laugh but a lot of people, including me, were very uncomfortable. Much of the humour was very limp."
A pilot episode was made last month to allow producers to fix problems before broadcast – but it appears this was not enough.
The show aims to tap into Miss Allen's popularity on social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace, which helped launch her music career.
As well as recruiting the audience online, fans were invited to submit questions for Miss Allen to ask, and add their own profiles to the show's website.
However, an hour into filming about 50 members of the audience had left and by the end, the studio was a little over half-full.
One BBC source said: "You have to have a brilliant wit and be a real quick thinker to handle a show like this. It's a huge responsibility for someone so lacking in TV experience.
"It's cruel to heap so much responsibility on one girl, especially at a time when she has had such unhappiness in her private life."
Miss Allen recently suffered a miscarriage, and has split from boyfriend Ed Simons, of the Chemical Brothers.
Lily arriving at a pre-Baftas party with a mystery man....an upgrade from Ed Simons, imo.
Mystery man has been identified as George Lamb by super smart, very observant ONTD'ers.