What Simon Said

30 september 2009 | In BBC TV | Comments?

I’m a big fan of british comedy panel shows. Have I Got News For You, of course (would they benefit from a new permanent host? If so, my vote is for Kirsty Young or Alexander Armstrong, both being capable of reading the autocue with the right form of detachment), QI, because it got Stephen Fry by the bucket in it, plus the rest of my favorite participiants (I could, and probably will, write at length about the supporting role of Phil Jupitus, the trademark rant of David Mitchell, the off-on-a-tangent brilliance of Bill Bailey etc.), even Mock the Week (Dara O’Briain’s physics jokes, Frank Boyle’s pseudo-psychopathy) and Would I Lie to You (sad to see Angus Dayton leave, but it is a much better vehicle for Rob Brydon), and I haven’t even started listing the radio shows.

And then there is Nevermind the Buzzcocks, returning to BBC tomorrow without the adorable and irreverent Simon Amstell, whose hosting for the past few years can hardly  be improved upon. Seriously: when it comes to sheer comedy brilliance, Amstell’s hosting off Buzzcocks is comparable to series 3-5 of the Simpsons. And, even more remarkable for a topical quiz show (about pop-music, no less), it seems to age remarkably well. It’s as much what he says (reads) as how he says it and to whom. Like the question ”When did you first realise that you had what it takes to be Rod Stewarts daughter?” or, to David Gest: ”You’ve must have met Grace Jones? Or married her?” . Or, when Noel Fielding pointed out that Courtney Love could break him (Amstell) ”like a twiglet”: ”Or kill me, and make it look like suicide” (BBC included a disclaimer in that episode.) I’m probably not alone in pleading to the BBC to release the episode with Russell Brand which got cut as part of the official punishment of Brands ill-advised phone calls.

The upcoming series will probably be more or less like when Mark Lamarr left, i.e. a long audition for a new permanent host. It will probably falter for a bit, but I will be there to watch it do so, and so will enough people to keep it running.

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