Showing a silly, childish and almost entirely innocent sitcom like Father Figure (BBC One, Wednesday, 11.35pm) so late at night is weird.

It's wrong. It's like showing Postman Pat after the pubs have shut or The Exorcist at tea time. To make matters worse, Jason Byrne, the writer and star of Father Figure, specifically said he wanted to create a family sitcom, so why is it being shown at a time when families won't be watching?

Maybe it's another case of the BBC's infamous baby in the Serengeti tactic. If you haven't heard of it, it works something like this: the BBC loses faith in a programme but instead of killing it outright, it schedules it to death by leaving it out in a deserted and dangerous time slot - like a baby abandoned in the Serengeti desert - where it can't survive.

When the programme gets poor viewing figures, they can then say "See, it's not popular" and pretend that by axing it, they are only doing what viewers want. This is what they're doing to poor Kirsty Wark's Review Show. It may be what they are doing with Father Figure.

Except that, they shouldn't be. Father Figure is not bad. It's very not bad. In fact, if you're a fan of silent comedy, it's rather good. Indeed, much of the first episode is so reminiscent of silent comedy routines that Jason Byrne might have created a new genre: silent comedy with sound.

Take the first five minutes. A can of beans explodes and lands on the neighbours. Byrne's character Tom Whyte pulls over a fence. He falls through a trampoline. A television lands on his head. Knowingly or not, it is Laurel and Hardy. It is Charlie Chaplin.

This is most obvious in the food-in-the-face sequence, which is based on the old rule of comedy that food-on-table is not funny, food-on-face is funny. The rule was invented 100 years ago by Essanay Studios - where Chaplin worked - and has been adapted ever since. We saw it most recently in the flan attack on Rupert Murdoch in the Commons (although his wife Wendi's comedy punch was funnier).

In Father Figure, the food on the face is mashed potato and it's used in the climax of a sequence of running gags with Pauline McLynn, who plays the mother.

Some of the gags are funny, but together they seem like a trap for McLynn. For years, she played a mad Irish woman with a kitchen and God fixation in Father Ted and here she is 20 years later doing the same thing.

Even some of her lines are the same. "If the good Lord had intended men to cook, wouldn't we have seen them doing it on the telly?" she says. Didn't Mrs Doyle say that in Father Ted?

Perhaps it doesn't matter. Perhaps no-one will see it. I guess some people will watch it online at a more convenient time, but most of us still watch programmes when they are broadcast. Which means most of Father Figure's target audience will simply miss it. And isn't that a terrible waste of mashed potato?