Have I Got News For You

Brand new guest hosts will be joining regulars Paul Merton and Ian Hislop on BBC One’s Have I Got News For You when it returns on Friday nights at 9pm from 13 April.

The first of nine guest hosts for the perennially popular series, the 43rd, is Episodes and Dirk Gently star Stephen Mangan, in his third stint in the chair. He is joined by actor, comedian and vicar’s son Miles Jupp (Rev) – so memorable for his recent somewhat deranged rendition of the Prodigy’s Firestarter in the final of Let’s Dance for Sport Relief – in his fourth appearance on HIGNFY, and journalist, author and broadcaster Grace Dent in her second appearance on the show.

There will be new guest hosts, including Communicator, Writer and Strategist Alastair Campbell, best known for his work as Director of Communications and Strategy for Prime Minister Tony Blair between 1997 and 2003, who will make his much anticipated debut as guest host in episode eight.

There will also be established guest hosts returning such as Jo Brand (ep two, her eighth appearance as guest host); Damian Lewis star of Homeland (ep three, his fourth, having thoroughly enjoyed his other stints in the chair); Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson (ep four, his ninth appearance as guest host) and Alexander Armstrong (ep five, a record-breaking 20th appearance as guest host).

The three remaining guest hosts – including at least one making their HIGNFY presenting debut – and panellists will be announced as soon as they are confirmed. The series continues on Friday nights until 8 June, with the extended repeats, Have I Got A Bit More News For You, screening on BBC One and BBC One HD on Sunday nights.

BBC In-house Comedy has won an unparalleled five out of the twelve competitive awards at this year’s British Comedy Awards. Overall, the BBC picked up nine awards, plus The British Comedy Lifetime Achievement Academy Award for Have I Got News For You.

Mark Freeland, Head of In-house Comedy, said: “I’m thrilled that In House Comedy won five categories at The British Comedy Awards. The creative range & excellence of the four shows recognised – Miranda, Twenty Twelve, Psychoville & Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle show a team at the top of their game & on screen talent who are very, very special indeed”.

Cheryl Taylor, Controller Comedy Commissioning said: “We are thrilled that the abundant charm and talent of Miranda, Stewart Lee, Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton, Armando Ianucci and the 2012 team have been recognised at this year’s Comedy Awards”.

Pat Younge, Chief Creative Officer, BBC Vision Productions, said: “I am enormously proud of this incredible achievement. As the most successful comedy producer at the awards, this shows that BBC In-house comedy creates a wide range of brilliant comedy across all channels, delivering fantastic content to massive audiences. A huge congratulation to everyone involved in making these productions”.

Ian Hislop and Paul Merton: Have I Got News For You

The ongoing MPs expenses scandal has given Have I Got News For You a new lease of life, with Paul Merton and Ian Hislop finally given something to get their teeth into.

Fair enough, Merton rarely treats any of the political or general current affairs topics seriously, but with Hislop given something to really have a go at after a couple of years of bland newspaper headlines to discuss, the show really is on the up again.

The secret of this I feel is as much about the subject matter as it is about the relationship between the two stars.

Merton can sit weeks on end talking randomly and interjecting with phrases such as “Dontcha know” and answering every question with “Is it the Duke of Kent?” but without the energy and conviction these can easily be forgotten or overlooked.

Taking the MPs expenses scandal as an example however, the fire that we see in Ian Hislop as he talks about this astonishing series of revelations seems to be reflected in the quality of surreal and off the wall observations that are then produced by Paul Merton.

This of course makes them the strangest of double-acts – they evidently aren’t a comedy duo, one is editor or a satirical magazine and the other spends his time talking about silent movies and improvisation.

It’s great to see Have I Got News For You looking so healthy however. For that we should thank the beleaguured British Government flailing around like a listing schooner in a storm (and the Daily Telegraph of course) who seem to have been brushing away every attempt at serious satire since 1997 with spin and disregard.

The best thing about corrupt public servants is that we can laugh at them.


Ian Hislop and Paul Merton

A stalwart of the British satirical scene since 1990, Have I Got News For You returns to BBC One 9pm this week that sees it coupled with Reggie Perrin as part of a new look Friday night.

As is the case since 2002, Ian Hislop and Paul Merton are joined by a raft of guest hosts over the coming weeks, starting with deadpan comedian and actor Jack Dee, and sports presenter Clare Balding as a guest panellist.

The big news this series however is the arrival of Australian artist, musican and presenter Rolf Harris CBE as a guest presenter on the May 14th edition of the series. Rolf says:

“I’ve been a big fan of Have I Got News For You for many years and am very excited to be invited to sit in the hot-seat – but also rather nervous, as Paul and Ian are both as sharp as a tack!”

He’s absolutely right of course and there will be other guests looking nervous on a Thursday morning (the day the show is recorded) in the coming weeks – such as Frank Skinner, David Mitchell and even the ever-reliable Alexander Armstrong. Other guests over the series include Alan Duncan and Katy Brand, Damian Lewis, Chris Addison and Janet Street-Porter.

There will be plenty for Hislop – as Britain’s top satirist – to get his teeth into as well, given the high profile of various UK government foul-ups and sleaze rows over the past few weeks.

Everything is coming together to give Have I Got News For You an overdue shot in the arm!

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