The story so far: In 2008, Russell Brand taped an episode of Nevermind the Buzzcocks. Then immediately after that he was caught in a phone scandal with Jonathan Ross (involving making fun of disabled people) which cost them some serious image work, but also managed to give Angus Deayton a hosting gig.
So, this episode taped while the Brand controversy was still high, and while Brand’s episode was shelved indefinitely (not to be seen until 2011, after Russell Brand was busy trying to save his career by remaking (and nearly ruining) one of the greatest comedies of all time), and while everyone else at the BBC was desperately trying to save face.
So…tonight’s show was, for the sake of Simon trying to keep his job, jokingly repackaged as a ‘kid-friendly’ program, complete with Simon wearing an over-the-top bunny suit.
Tonight’s guest Bill is Jack Dee, which is wonderful, and Phill has Lisa Maffia (!) and the adorably game Alexei Sayle (!!!!!) on his panel, so we’ve got some returnees at least. Stine Bramsen was a singer with Alphabeat. Anna Richardson was a TV presenter and personality (yaaaaay)
Phill: “Now, you were telling me that So-Solid Crew were banned from this very building.”
Lisa: “YEEEEAH. Top of the pops days. They got banned for smoking the good stuff.”
Simon, still very much in character: “Or as we call it here at the BBC…the illegal stuff.”
Alexei: “I mean…thanks to your pusillanimous lack of courage, this is a really shit show, isn’t it?”
Simon, after Alexei’s speech about wanting to still offend ‘the powers that be’: “We’ve all just got to have a nice pop quiz tonight, alright? [Emotional] There’s a question…what’s the answer!?!?”
Phill’s entire panel breaks.
Simon: “But you’re not really a communist anymore, right?”
Simon: “Why not?”
Alexei: “…didn’t work out, really?”
Phill loses it here.
After Simon struggles with holding the cards in his bunny hands
Alexei: “That’s the thing about these elaborate costumes- it works AT FIRST. Rik Mayall did a similar thing, back in ’80, he came on in this bunny suit, and…yeah, it’s been done before…”
Simon: “OH NO!”
Simon asks Anna why her sex education show NEEDS to be shown.
Anna: “What’s the #1 most contracted STI?”
Anna: “Have you been checked?”
Simon: “WELL…As an employee of the BBC, I….there’s no need for me to ever be checked because I’ve never…had sex.”
Anna: “…to be honest, in that outfit I can see why.”
Simon: “If this doesn’t get me laid, I don’t know what will…”
Jack’s actually great on this show, as he’s still his stoic, semi-grumpy self. Right after his team’s answer is deemed wrong, he makes it clear that they weren’t happy with that answer, and tries to say, with class, that they’d like to change their answer to A, after A’s already been announced as the right answer.
The second Jack tries to change his answer, Alexei pipes in, playing up his rage: “THIS IS A TRAVESTY! WHAT WE NEED TO DO IS…TURN THE CAMERAS *ROUND*…SO THAT *YOOOU* ARE ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS…”
Simon has to go over there, calmly tap Alexei on the shoulder and say ‘not tonight’, BUT ALEXEI’S STILL GOING.
Simon: “IT’S NOT *YOUR* JOB THAT’S IN JEOPARDY!!”
Phill, getting up for Intros: “So, the way you handled that incident with Mr. Dee’s team…that’s how the quiz now?”
Jack: “Would you just let it go? Come on…”
Simon: “Come on, let’s just have a good time tonight, Phill…”
Phill: “Right…we’ll just do the introduction to Freedom by Wham, and that’ll be the end of it…”
Simon keeps screwing with Lisa about being on CelebAir
Simon: “Alexei, if you win tonight…you could be on CelebAir!”
Lisa: “Would you stop taking the piss out of that show? I think that show was really good and I enjoyed it.”
Simon: “Yeah, we all ENJOYED it…”
Lisa: “Well, I done really well, I won over ELEVEN CELEBRITIES.”
Simon: “…Let’s say eleven PEOPLE, shall we?”
Simon, still going: “Do you feel closer now to So-Solid Crew, or the cabin crew?”
Simon: “In a Youtube video, Ringo Starr said that he wouldn’t respond to any more fan mail, as he’s got too much to do.Ironically, he’s now much busier…throwing away parcels full of dog shit.”
The whole panel, especially Phill’s loves that one.
Stine: “I honestly have no clue how to do that one…”
Jack: “I know, it’s great having you on the team.”
Phill, on his Hello Round: “This looks like Tarantino’s new film just arrived.”
Simon: “Would you do Celeb ARMY?”
Lisa: “Only if I could kick ass…”
Simon: “It’d be nice, you’d go to Afghanistan with Chico…’What time is it?’ ‘it’s WAR time’…”
Lisa: “I got paid really well for that job, so I don’t really give a shit…”
Simon: “…the old Danny Dyer excuse.”
Okay, so there’s a definite difference with Alexei this time, compared to the last time he was on. Yes, he’s had a great time, but last time, when Mark has him do his own lyrics, they both have a good time reciting them, as it’s clear Mark’s a fan. Simon, when he gives him his lyrics, just asks him to do some. And he does, but he adds “i’m a has-been from the 80’s…” and more self-depreciating stuff. He obviously preferred Mark, because Mark was a bit more fair in his hosting, instead of just using it for selfish means like Simon.
Overall: A very nice AU-of-sorts episode, with a change of tone that kept sliding off as the episode went on. Phill’s team had the best time, with Alexei and Lisa having great moments despite not especially meshing well with Simon. Stine and Anna had some nice moments, but didn’t do anything too amazing. Jack Dee was a solid guest Bill that didn’t really break down the walls but still did a nice job.
Jack’s rating: 8/10. Not too bad.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Alexei
Best Runner: CelebAir