30 September 2010

"Shrivelled old walnut - what's she ever done?"


Have I Got News For You celebrated its 20th birthday this week. The first episode was aired on September 28th 1990 on BBC2.

It remains one of my two television obsessions. I have seen every episode and own on video each from the first 13 years. I've also been in the audience three times.

I'm not as influenced by it as I used to be, mainly because it has evolved into more of a generic comedy show and is not as reliant on topicality and newsiness as it used to be. The guest hosts have been an active part of this, especially when recruited from celebrity land or politics rather than from a performance profession, making them the butt of the show's jokes rather than credible targets from the news.

But I still never miss it. Merton is on auto-pilot most weeks and is capable of behaving like an arse on the show, but Hislop is far funnier now than he was in the early 1990s, when he was far too straight and angry and pompous.

But the show misses Angus Deayton, even if the skippers don't. At the very least, it needs a regular, articulate host again. I'd have given the job to Kirsty Young years ago.

Anyway, I won't go mad with memories or rehashes of great moments. I might just point you in the direction of this three part history of the show I wrote for the excellent Off The Telly back in 2005.

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