Have I Got News For You <hislopmerton>

"The nation's favourite satirical news quiz"

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Being away...10/31/08

i don't go on bebo for a bit and look what happens! the other moderator leaves so it's just me in charge... fuck!

so basically if there is anything you would like me to do or add to the page just ask in a comment below

By the way. how do you like the new series so far? i still think paul is definately the star

My HIGNFY experience5/2/08
Having seen just about every episode of Have I Got News For You (referred to as HIGNFY from now on. It?s easier) for nine years, I?ve become painfully familiar with the format and running of the programme and have enjoyed it immensely every week without fail. However, to gauge the full HIGNFY experience, I really wanted to see it from the studio itself as a member of the audience, or clappers, because that?s essentially what they are. To see Ian Hislop and Paul Merton in the flesh has always been a strong ambition of mine, and one that I?ve done all in power to achieve but with nothing to show for it. Until now.
Hat Trick Productions, the independent company who produce the show for the BBC, finally granted me tickets for last night?s recording after many years of trying. You can imagine my excitement when they finally came through the door, as I was assured that I would be witnessing this prestigious comedy show first hand.
I was already familiar with where it was filmed; about a year ago I attended ITV?s (and incidentally Hat Trick?s) much-ridiculed HIGNFY rip-off News Knight at the same studio. It was a good evening?s entertainment, with some great panellists including Marcus Brigstocke and Clive Anderson and some typical below-the-belt autocue gags being delivered by the sardonic Sir Trevor McDonald, but the show was in it?s first series, and the audience as well as the panel were finding their feet.
HIGNFY is different. In the 18 years that the show has been dominating political satire on our screens, regular viewers have familiarised themselves easily with the format and the contrasting yet brilliantly successful styles of Hislop and Merton. And it?s not only the viewers; Hislop and Merton themselves have become so engrained in their surroundings, that they almost feel it?s their second home. This results in every guest being toppled by them. It?s not an exaggeration to say that even if Oscar Wilde were alive and was to appear on the show, he would struggle in the island of doom that separates the tidal waves of the two regulars. Anyway, before I come down with cherry-blossom poisoning from the amount of bootlicking I?ve just done, let?s get to the nitty-gritty.
With News Knight, the queue was about 100 people strong with fifteen minutes to go until entry. With HIGNFY it was 500 strong by this point. We were lucky enough to have gained ?priority tickets?, so we jumped these unfortunate people, or losers, and were directed into the studio where we took our seats on the second row behind where Ian Hislop sits, with an excellent view of all of the panel. I don?t know why, well I guess it?s the power of television, but the studio itself seemed so nondescript to the delightful arena that I was expecting. Having watched this studio for nine years on television, I had built an image of a magnificent HIGNFY shrine. It wasn?t. The set was dull and unlit; the panel itself was strewn amongst endless cables and the round thing in front of it, which I?d always insisted was a solid circle of pure gold, was nothing more that a circular cut of carpet which was fraying at the edges. The backboards were creaky and poorly painted, the audience arena was positioned in such a way that many people had a completely obstructed view of the panel (which is much more compact than appears on TV), and the ceiling hung with so many lights, mirrors, microphones, macro phones and speakers that it wouldn?t have looked out of place as an exhibition at the Turner prize. I have no shame in admitting a tinge of disappointment. A place I?d imagined for 8 years to be kept in pristine HIGNFY conditions, with every nook and cranny dusted and cleaned to maintain an arena that could only be one show, was nothing more than a hastily-constructed set, with time for no man and built with all the passion of a Hyundai rather than a Ferrari. I was childishly disappointed, but only because of my love for the show and my ignorance of how television works in general.
The show itself was preceded by HIGNFY?s warm-up comedienne Jo Caulfield, who herself was extremely funny and interacted with the audience to get them, well, warmed-up. Our view was perfect, and as she introduced the main act of the evening, I hit into a kind of hysteric trance as the faces I?ve seen on tele for so many years walked out onto the panel. Accompanying Ian Hislop was Conservative MP Alan Duncan, and with Paul Merton was HIGNFY regular and prolific stand-up comedian Marcus Brigstocke. But this wasn?t just a bog-standard HIGNFY, it was a special one for the guest host this week was actor and explorer Brian Blessed. The show was on the road.
Blessed fitted his own persona into the famed presenter?s chair with intent. His trademark booming voice and other idiosyncrasies resulted in the show being centred on him. His performance was gargantuan, if at times fractured and ?un-HIGNFY?. Ian Hislop was fantastic; Paul Merton and Marcus Brigstocke were quiet, but what they did say was very funny. I guess in the week of local elections, Hislop would naturally be doing most of the talking. Alan Duncan started with his ?impressions?, but the audience and panel reaction to these meant his performance paled into insignificance as Blessed stole the show with ridiculous props and hilarious anecdotes. Merton particularly seemed to enjoy Blessed?s performance, but for me, as entertaining and rip-roaringly funny as it was, it was a one-off. I would love to see a typical HIGNFY, with perhaps Alexander Armstrong or Kirsty Young in the chair to compare.
The recording concluded with some retakes (which included about five minutes of the panel debating what a ?webisode? actually is). I?d expected the atmosphere in the studio to be more electric than it was; it didn?t feel like it was a television recording, it felt like a stage show. And as the panellists quietly scuttled away into the bar for their post-show beverage, content with a good night?s work, the set was being dismantled before everyone realised, and the HIGNFY theatre that I once imagined existed was folded away expeditiously by nonchalant staff, into dark cupboards as the next set was folded out and put up, ready for the next show and the show after that. At that point I realised its just another show, and for the panellists and the floor staff, it?s just a job. But then I thought perhaps this is how HIGNFY should be. No nonsense, no materialism, just plain funny. A brilliant night.
HIGNFY tickets2/28/08
Tickets for the spring series will be available from the Hat Trick productions website from midday on Wednesday 19th March 2008.

Get in there quick, because they are given away really really quickly!

Good luck

Classic exchange10/2/07
Angus: And finally, "Sex clamp hits _____"?

Paul: Prostitutes? They stand on the street corner, they get clamped! And eventually they can't move... They're starved! They starve to death. And the bloke comes along every three days and puts them into the back of a lorry.

Angus: It's not actually that story, no...

Paul: Oh isn't it?

Francis Wheen: Is it the BBC? Or something like that...

Ian: Francis just said it, didn't he? It's the BBC.

Angus: Erm, yes he did...

Ian: So give him the point!

Angus: Yer, so Ian loses out yet again...

Wheen: No, no... give him a point.

Paul: No we'll have the point! This could be one of the biggest scores we could have over that little shit (Ian) over there! I'm sorry!!! Sometimes when you talk quickly you don't know what the end of the sentence is gonna be, I do apologise!

Ian: No, no... Britain's wittiest man! "that little shit"...

Paul: I'm sorry, I'm sorry...

Ian: Roll over Oscar Wilde! Merton's in town!

Paul: I apologise, I apologise immediately, I'm sorry...

Angus: It is particularly ironic as that headline does refer to the BBC chairman who was ordered to crack down on sex and bad language in programmes!

Wheen: But only before 9 o'clock.

Angus: Thank fuck for that!
 1 Comment 
Classic "Odd One Out"9/13/07
Jack Dee (host): Ian, your four are... George W. Bush; Jonathan King; David Blaine and The Cabinet.

Clement Freud: Three of them are illusionists, and one of them is just a paedophile.

Ian: Is David Blaine still alive, as we speak?

Dee: Who cares? But he is the odd one out because he's the only one who hasn't had his food tested.

Paul: But how does the food testing work for Jonathan King? Does another prisoner eat his dinner and say, 'there was nothing wrong with that!'.

Dee: Yes, obviously. What did Tony Blair present George Bush with as a present earlier this year? Apart from the British Armed Forces?

Freud: A Dunkin' Donut?

Dee: It was actually a toilet bag.

Freud: What's the difference?

Dee: I don't know because I've never tasted a Dunkin' Donut. Which implies I've eaten a toilet bag...

Paul: We all get lonely.

Dee: The answer is they have all had their food inspected before eating, apart from David Blaine, who has had his urine inspected by the News of the World.
In Bournemouth, Tony Blair's meals were checked because it was especially important during conference week that not even the food disagreed with him.
When David Blaine came out after 44 days in a box in central London, he was disorientated and confused. Although the biggest shock came when he got to the pay barrier at the NCP car park.

Classic "Missing Words"8/30/07

Paul Merton: Oh, this is the happy goat. It's a new thing that you can put on, now that the Christmas campaign's coming on for drink driving, you put a goat on the front of the bonnet of your car, and as long as it's connected up to your speedometer, and as long as you're within the correct speed - the goat smiles. And then if you go fast, it pulls a face. And it's easier for the police to spot, they just look, there's an unhappy goat, book him! And they drag you off and they read the goat's entrails and it tells you what speed you were doing. It's the happy goat that smiles when you drive well. Is that right? The new electric car from Japan.

Dara O'Briain: Yes, the remarkable Toyota Pod �8,995, including road tax and goat.
Autumn series8/2/07
If anyone has any info for the series coming up in the autumn, then post it on here as soon as possible so that all us HIGNFY enthusiasts can be informed. Keep a check also on the release of the date for ticket appications. Hat-Trick's website is below -

 1 Comment 
Merton the anarchist?7/17/07
once again during a rewatching of old episdoes session some paul merton oriented thoughts occured. one was the obvious ( my word what a rip roaringly funny individual, i dont speak like this btw) but the other was about how paul can throw quite the strop. i realise that as a comedian he will most likely want to keep everyone happy but when he doesnt like something he has his own wonderfully amusing ways of showing it. some may think i am referring to the episode where tere was an obscure politician who reaed the show more as question time and merton began to hang himself(mime) but i am more referring to ideas hattrick ha and forced it upon the hignfy cast. in one episode the production team decided upon the gimic of having a parrot under the table unveiled in the middle, merton ahs said he thought this was too much of a gimic so he cided to unveil it right at the end of the show. things like this lead to his deaprture from the show for a season or so . also during the tub of lard episode which he was suposedly livid about he seemed distant and like he wished he wasnt involved. i thoguht of an excellent example earlier but i have forgotten it , too much television not enough books perhaps? still what are your views?
Why was Angus really sacked?7/9/07
This page gives us scope to air many controversial opinions regarding HIGNFY, but this issue is definitely one to ponder at the moment. The issue in question is Angus' sacking from his position as host of the show in October 2002, and the subsequent reasoning and actions of the BBC. And the reason as to why now is a good time to ponder it is the broadcast of a new BBC show, "Would I Lie to You?", with Angus as compere. This sends contrasting messages regarding the Beeb's reasoning for Deayton's departure, in my opinion. It's an interesting debate...
At the time, the BBC's official statement regarding Angus' leaving of the show was something along these lines -

"After a second round of tabloid revelations regarding his private life, the BBC feel that Angus Deayton's position as a satirical commentator has been made untenable. Therefore, we have asked him to resign"

When this was announced, there was a mixed reaction. Some accepted the sacking, reasoning that it would be impossible for Angus to continue revelling in satirical swipes on the show, whilst essentially he's been the subject of even more controversy than the subjects of these swipes themselves. Basically, he'd be a hypocrite! Others argued, however, that it was a poor decision and would eventually be the ending of the show. Some articles expressed that Deayton's role was that essentially of "an actor reading a script", and superb HIGNFY panellist Stephen Fry announced his desire to not appear on the show again until Angus' return in protest.
The show went on, however, and with the surprising success of the guest presenters along with a seemingly replenished Merton and typically acid-tongued Hislop, Angus-gate was soon a thing of the past as the show gained bigger audiences than ever. But staunch HIGNFY fans will never quite forget the degenerate attitude that Hislop and especially Merton displayed towards Angus. You don't have to be rocket-scientist to work out that Merton wasn't Deayton's biggest fan. Long before the tabloid revelations, he had shown contempt and dislike for Deayton on a consistent level. Many people probably saw through this as humour on a topical news quiz, but there was an underlying problem which I believe was just as big an element of Angus' sacking than the revelations themselves. Hislop admitted in a recent interview that Merton "despised" Deayton, and these revelations gave Merton the perfect excuse to express this contempt on the show.
Let's leave Angus aside for a tad, and talk about Merton. I think all HIGNFY fans acknowledge that Merton is the reason why the show has been incredibly successful for a very long time. Not underestimating the great contributions of Hislop and the panellists, but Merton is the alkali which neutralises the political acidity of the shows content. He's someone for the majority of the audience to relate to; a working class man from a working class background with distinctly working class opinions. He also happens to be extremely funny with it. Merton is the prime reason why the show is now recognised as a flagship programme for the BBC. But for him, it could have degenerated into another show trying to inject satire into the politically-correct world of... well, politics. The crux of this point is, in my opinion, that Merton knows he's the main man aswell. There have been instances in the show's history where he has paraded an arrogance that went beyond comedic reasoning. Poignant examples include his comments to host Gordon Ramsay (remember? Should do...) and also this exchange between himself and Deayton -

Merton: You gave Ian a point though!
Deayton: Yes but then I don't like you.
Merton: Well, I'm keeping you in work...

Forgive me if I'm over-intepreting these comments to back up my theory, but I do believe my argument has some genuine mileage.
Now, let's relate this to Angus' sacking. Merton had a perfect argument to propose the sacking of the show's host. Of course, the prostitution revelations didn't do Angus any favours at all. But it does beg the question: did Merton force the BBC to sack Angus because he knew they'd rather lose Deayton than himself? Ok, this is purely speculative, but I think it's definitely possible. Even more so now that Angus, as mentioned at the start, has his own show, adopting a position whereby he makes satirical sideswipes. Surely this contradicts the BBC's reason for sacking him? What do you all think? Let's have some good responses to this, because it is a strong debate!

merton a must have possesion for a topical news based quiz?6/22/07
i was re watching old episodes the toehr day and i saw some of the ones from the year paul merton took a break from the show. i have to say its not half bad. it has some average episdoes but it also has a couple of gems ( the piers morgan episode and the one with the men behaving badly crew are personal favourties of mine.)

now im not denying the brilliance of paul merton and i relaise this somewhat contradicts the post i made a while back saying how marvellous him and hislop are but my thought is this:
Would have i got news for you survive without Paul Merton? does the fact that that particular season got good ratings suggest yes or was it just a "fluke" ?

my general feeling is you will call me a silly berk for suggesting that he is not needed and so on

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