Well, we’ve made it to the end of Series 25. There have been ups (Lorraine Kelly, Greg Davies, Paul Foot), downs (Jack Dee’s episode, Cilla Black, the producers trying too hard), and definite standout moments. Now that I’ve made it this far, I think this deserves a reward.
…Okay, how about a CHRIIIIIISTMAAAAAAAAS show hosted by John Barrowman? That’ll do, right?
Also on the panel tonight are dour Joe Wilkinson, Jupitus collaborator Jason Manford, Shit-pop-hit churner-outter and SINGER OF HIS OWN NAME Jason Derulo, and Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton.
Cold open is pretty standard, with a gay joke and a Christmas joke. Only highlight is Phill yelling “OY! TORCHWOOD!”
For the first time since the early series, Barrowman mentions the series scores, that Phill’s won 6 and Noel’s won five. Again, I like that they’re looking backwards.
And, of course, John Barrowman’s autocue reading skills, as well as hosting skills, are pretty fantastic, and he’s definitely captivating the audience. Again, I see him as a cross between Tom Cruise and Chip Esten, but he’s just all personality and he’s wonderful.
Noel’s done up like a member of Kiss tonight, for the holiday…I think.
John’s intro for Joe says he has “the most impressive showbiz beard since Sinitta.” Again, maybe it’s the writers, but bravo Barrowman.
On the morphed photo
Jason: “It looks a bit like Peter Stringfellow, pre-makeup.”
Phill: “It looks more like if Peter Stringfellow leant toward a microwave for five minutes…”
Barrowman: “But which one of them pooped themselves onstage?”
Jason: “Wow…this is a Christmas special?”
Phill: “…it’s the yule log!”
Barrowman: “Rod Stewart looks like he’s pooping in that picture.”
Phill: “iiiiiiF you want my body, aaaaaaaAND you think I’m sexy…”
Jason: “WAKE UP, MAGGIE, I THINK I’VE GOT SOMETHING TO SAY TO YOU…I’ve shit the bed, love.”
Jason talks about getting sick onstage
Jason: “I went backstage, threw up, wiped me mouth with a curtain…you know what that’s like, John…”
Phill, wincing: “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD…We’ve only been on for a minute!”
John says he’s even got a Blue Peter badge
Helen: ‘When did you get it?”
Barrowman: “LONG BEFORE you were born…”
Jason: “Was John Leslie the presenter?”
Helen: “[Brown] is more likely to do it, then dine out on it!”
Jason: “WHOA, WE NEVER SAID THAT!”
Barrowman: “HOLD ON!”
Helen: “I don’t mean that…”
Jason: “We know you reuse stuff, but that’s too far…”
John talks about shitting himself onstage, owning it and continuing to do kicks, causing several appalled members of the front row to wipe it off.
Jason, disgusted: “MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERY ONE!”
For the Guess Who round, a hint involves John’s lips Clutch-Cargoed onto the merged faces, singing something.
Jason: “Your mouth is actually terrifying close-up. I’ve never actually been that close to it.”
Barrowman: “Would you like to be that close to it? I can arrange it?”
Jason: “…for Christmas?”
Barrowman, WALKING OVER: “No, right now…”
And…yeah, Barrowman and Jason share a brief smooch. It’s fantastic.
On the thrown-over Phill+Helen intro
Noel: “Have you got an idea?”
Noel: “I mean, I’ve got an idea, but it has nothing to do with this game…”
Derulo: “I mean, it’s got nothing to do with Christmas…”
Barrowman: “Choose your first instinct.”
Noel: “Wow, you’re like a Jedi…”
Barrowman: “I will show you the ways of the force..”
Derulo: “I DON’T WANNA SEE THE FORCE!”
Fantastic: Phill and Helen’s first intro is Mr. Blobby, which infuriates Phill so much that he can only stand still in agony. When they actually play in the clip, Helen and John dance around to it while Phill, angrily, repeatedly yells “TURN IT OFF!” AND THEY KEEP PLAYING IT, JUST TO PISS HIM OFF. John keeps dancing. Phill keeps screaming. I’ve never seen him so passionate about music, not since his backlash against Bank Robber by the Clash.
Each team gets a CHRISTMAS BONUS. So, Phill uses his for the 2nd intro, and a quartet of carolers join them onstage, and give one of the most beautiful intros that’s ever been on the show.
Noel:”Do you know this one?”
Derulo: “I guess I’m an idiot, too, because I-”
Barrowman: “Honey, you could NEVER be an idiot.”
Barrowman, on Derulo standing up for intros: “I…have the view of a lifetime…”
Derulo: “…I’m gonna face that way-”
Barrowman: “You can face that way if you want to…”
Noel: “You’re nearly there, aren’t you?”
Joe, nowhere near nearly there: “….yeah…”
Derulo takes over the second intro, and he’s just so smooth and charismatic.
Derulo: “You know your part, right?”
Noel, weakly: “….yeahhh…”
There’s a great bit where, for the Earth Song intro, Jason just does a really good MJ impression, and Noel goes ‘i’ll be the fan that keeps blowing back your hair’, and he’s just bobbing back and forth. It’s a pretty great visual.
An interesting twist on the ID Parade, one that hasn’t been done since Gonzalez (“SMITHERS! WAS I IN GONZALEZ?”). The panelists have to decide which person was NOT in these groups…maybe they were lacking funds for actors that week?
For ‘Goldie Looking Chain’, #3, who is introduced as ‘Goldie Looking Past His Prime’, just looks betrayedly towards John at that one.
Barrowman: “#2, have you got a chicken on your head?”
Jason: “I can’t believe you didn’t say cock, to be honest…”
Barrowman, on the Wombles lineup: “Guys…Wimbledon common looks pretty cleaned up, you might want to head to Clapham, there’s some nasty stuff in the bushes over there…”
Phill: “Not tonight there isn’t!”
Noel: “When they move around, it’s fine. But when they keep really still, they look real sinister.”
Barrowman: “Everyone just look at Noel.”
Jason: “I KNOW HOW TO FIND OUT, NOEL!”
[Jason throws an empty soda can in front of the Wombles]
Derulo: “I have…no idea what the hell this is.”
Joe: “D’you not know who the Wombles are?”
Derulo: “Not a clue.”
Noel: “This is our royal family!”
As the Wombles leave
Noel: “I REALLY hope they’re getting a tube back to Wimbledon…”
Noel, before the do-or-die Next Lines: “I’m feeling pretty confident. [Joe] just went to me ‘I never get these…'”
At the end of the episode, John gets up and launches the Buzzcocks Christmas Appeal, pleading towards the audience to donate for a worthy cause.
Barrowman: “Just 2 pounds a month can pay for someone else to say Jason Derulo’s name on his songs. 3 pounds can buy Joe Wilkinson shoes. While 5 pounds can feed a whole ID Parade for a month. ”
The show ends with everyone that’s been involved with the show, including the Wombles, Goldie Looking Chain, the Intros choir, and the entire panel, standing at center stage, singing Silent Night. It’s a truly amazing moment. Of course, the last second of the episode is Phill and John sharing a kiss, followed by John, as a stinger, going “WHAT DID YOU EAT???’
Overall: Well…that was a nice way to end the series. It was just a feel-good episode all around, with the Christmas theme not infringing too much on the jokes, a panel that wasn’t THAT overexposed, and a host that gave a Grade-A performance like it was his goddamned business. Barrowman KILLED. He gave a hell of a show, and I have a ton more respect for him. In terms of the panel, while it was quieter, Jason Manford gave an impressive, hysterical performance, Helen and Joe had some nice lines, and while Jason Derulo stuck to a quieter, Cee-Lo Green-esque performance, he still had his moments, especially his general confusion. A beautiful way to end a turbulent series.
Guest Host Rating: 10/10.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Jason Manford
Best Runner: Barrowman hitting on Derulo
SERIES 25 SUPERLATIVES:
Guest Hosts Ranked Best to Worst:
Greg Davies, Episode 6
John Barrowman, Episode 12
Rhod Gilbert, Episode 11
Lorraine Kelly, Episode 3
James Blunt, Episode 8
Alice Cooper, Episode 7
Tinie Tempah, Episode 9
Adam Buxton, Episode 4
Will Young, Episode 5
Jack Dee, Episode 2
David Hasselhoff, Episode 1
Cilla Black, Episode 10
Best Episode: Episode 6, a new standard of excellence, featuring a stellar guest-hosting gig by Greg Davies, an amazing performance as a guest captain by the one-and-only Frankie Boyle, conversations on vajazzling, and a great runner involving how much of a height difference there is between Tinchy Stryder and Greg.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 4, featuring a surprisingly obscene Lorraine Kelly, Phill getting waxed, Stacey Solomon being dim, Tony Law being weird, and Jarred Christmas ripping his shirt off after finally getting an intro. Just a weird show with an insane dynamic.
3rd Best Episode: Episode 12, this very one. Barrowman brought some insane energy to this show, as well as Jason Manford being a great guest panelist, some heartfelt moments with a choir, and Jason Derulo getting eyed.
Worst Episode: Not too many truly bad shows, but Episode 10 had the least amount of stuff going for it, thanks to a slow performance by Cilla Black, and a ton of disconnect between panelist, though at least Angelos Epithemiou had some nice lines. Episode 2 almost went here, but Seann Walsh barely kept it out of this spot.
Best Regular: Noel Fielding, for continuing to keep the dynamic high, and becoming an even better panel connector than Phill. Plus, he’s a good worker that can have a ton of great moments himself- I don’t think he’s better than Bill Bailey, but he’s still an amazing panel presence.
Best Comedian Panelist: Jason Manford, Episode 12, for just diving right in, never being afraid to cut in, and just giving grade A material. I almost have this to Rufus Hound, and Paul Foot, Mark Watson, Tony Law, Peter Serafinowicz, Angelos Epithemiou and Sarah Millican were all considered.
Best Musician Panelist: Tinchy Stryder, Episode 6, for taking his third appearance and making something amazing of it. He put up with Greg Davies’ jokes, as well as making some great ones of his own. Honorable mentions include Example, Alex James, Wretch 32, Jason Derulo, Sean Paul, Jimmy Osmond and Professor Green.
Best Sport: James Blunt, Episode 8, taking James Blunt jokes from the panel…and the writers. Honorable mention goes to H from Steps.
Most Annoying Panelist: There wasn’t really one this season, so I’m just gonna put Angelos Epithemiou here, because sometimes he’ll go a little over the top.
Most Confused Panelist: Stacey Solomon, Episode 3, but to be fair that is her most of the time.
Best Runner: Holly Willoughby’s Pool Cleaner, Episode 10. Runner up goes to ‘20% of the Pussycat Dolls’, Episode 8.