British Celebrity Panel Quiz Shows - Part 1

Category: , By Rev/Views

Today I'm going to take a quick look at a very British show and my favourite form of light entertainment. The Celebrity Quiz Show. The UK has more of these than I have thumbs and it seems that over here we've got the style and format down to a fine art. These shows come in a variety of flavours but all have the same basic ingredients; take a celebrity host and team captains -- who are normally the same each week -- then add between two and four guest team members, add in a series of questions on topics, sprinkle comedy over the top and leave to set for around twenty minutes to half an hour.

It's a great little format and one which has proven entertaining in almost every iteration of it, here's a tribute to some of my favourites, I shall be judging these on one simple criteria -- Has the lovely Lucy Porter been on the show?

This list got a little away from me so I've decided to break it into two parts.

Who's Line is it Anyway?

Who's Line is it Anyway? is a Classic show which losely falls into this category and can be considered one of the veterans of the genre. Instead of questions the panel of comedians would improvise scenarios as suggested by Clive Anderson and the audience. A real showcase of comic talent this show rotated Richard Vranch, Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops and Colin Mochrie as their primary "team captains" and boasted a huge range of superb comic actors making many appearances.

Here's a classic scene featuring 'The Party Scene' where the contestants would act out coming to a party but each guest would have an unusual quirk. It was the job of the "host" to identify each guest by their particular quirk.

Porter- Factor: Unfortunately WLIIA finished before Lucy started seriously doing television work so she never appeared on it.

Have I Got News For You:

Have I Got News For You is an absolute classic from the BBC, HIGNFY is the peak of the topical quiz show, now at over three hundred episodes it remains every bit as funny and clever as always. Ian Hislop and Paul Merton are the show regulars and captains of the two man teams. Originally the show was hosted by Angus Deayton, but after he was discovered to be a man's man and the newspapers kicked up a fuss he was fired and replaced by a series of guest hosts. Some of which are up to the job of facing down Hislop and Merton (who are always sharp and blisteringly witty) others who aren't as good. Some of the best guest hosts included Jeremy Clarkson, Clive Anderson and the unintentionally hilarious Boris Johnson.

If there is one complaint that can be levelled about this show it is it's topical nature, if you're not up ontop of the news then some of the jokes can get past you and fall a little flat. Also this means it dates very quickly, but fortunately enough of the comedy is timeless.

Here's a collection of scenes involving Boris:

Porter-Factor: Lucy has indeed appeared in HIGNFY, unfortunately it's been just the one appearance so far but she was great in it. So HIGNFY passes, just.


QI is my personal favourite on this list, QI is the gentleman's panel show. Filled with quite interesting facts about a wide range of subjects, each season is based on a letter of the alphabet and each show is themed. The wonderful national treasure Stephen Fry presents the show with Alan Davies as the resident dunce cap wearer. QI is a show which rewards not just the right answers but also gives extra points for interesting facts and deducts points for wrong "common knowledge" answers.

Included here is a great clip featuring the Manikin Bird:

Porter-Factor: There is only one thing I can hold against QI and that's the complete lack of Lucy Porter, she still hasn't made an appearance, but I could never mark QI down for that because it has Stephen Fry and he's lovely.

Never Mind The Buzzcocks:

Never Mind the Buzzcocks was originally hosted by Mark Lamarr, with rotating team captains Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitus and Sean Hughes. Never Mind the Buzzcocks is a panel show about popular music, it's slightly unusual with it's choice of guests, eschewing the normal safe choice of sharp witted comic guest panelists and instead plumping for members of the music industry. This has resulted in a very mixed bag, at times the synergy is magical and at others it falls a little flat. But on the whole the format has resulted in more hits than misses.

Most recently Simon Amstell has taken over from Mark as the host and has proven more than up to the task, as demonstrated in the following clip also featuring the hilarious Amy Winehouse:

Porter-Factor: Lucy has never appeared in NMTB and unless she steps in as a guest captain/host for one episode she's unlikely to do so because the show tends to use musicians. So a big loser here.

Shooting Stars:

Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer and Matt Lucas present Shooting Stars, an off-beat and sometimes surreal quiz show with a great deal of talent. Ulrika Jonsson and Mark Lamarr were the original regulars but Mark left so Will Self and Johnny Vegas were brought in to fill the void. Johnny in particular excelled at this. The show is best watched rather than described.

In this clip the incandescent Johnny Vegas joins Bob and a coconut.

Porter-Factor: This is another entry on the list which fails to have it's required dosage of Lucy, but it does have Ulrika instead and I feel that goes a little way towards making up for that.

Mock the Week:

Mock the Week is a pretty young show compared to the rest, it's another semi-topical comedy show hosted by comedian Dara O'Briain and it normally features comedians Hugh Dennis, Frankie Boyle, Andy Parsons and Russell Howard along with other guest comedians -- including Lucy Porter!

Less a news related show than HIGNFY and more a showcase of short stand up talent Mock the Week doesn't date as quickly as HIGNFY. But it's also a less balanced show in many aspects. Quite often the show becomes dominated by the regulars as it's somewhat a free-for-all when it comes to getting time to speak. Also the format doesn't suit everyone who goes on the show -- Russell Howard's brand of comedy doesn't really fit most of the time.

This clip is from the rotating stand up finale and includes Lucy! (Sadly she doesn't get much time to speak here):

Porter-Factor: Lucy has been on Mock the Week twice now, which makes Mock the Week the winner of the first part of this list and gives it a special place in my heart. Even if she is bullied away from the microphone at times.

This is continued in a second part here:


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