Nevermind Watchdown: S27E02 or #Fannys

Early in the Simon Amstell era, we were graced by some low-key appearances by a young, mop-topped blonde haired comedian. He bid his time, went away for a while, grew up, and in 2013, he was back on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, older, wiser, slightly funnier I think, and a few years removed from Mock the Week.

Russell Howard, love him or hate him, was a nice choice for this week’s NMTB. However…as Phill’s panel has teen-sensation Conor Maynard and actual pea-brain Stacey Solomon this week…it’s not Howard’s safety I’m praying for.

At least Noel has an easier time- Lethal Bizzle, another holdover from the Simon era, is back, along with comedian Isy Suttie.

Already, I’m impressed with Russell’s autocue-reading skills, and he’s very high-energy and all class- it feels like he’s done this before.

On Noel’s Guess Who amalgamation:
Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 2.53.41 PM.png
Russell: “ooh, already that looks like a really wrong entry on Match.com, doesn’t it?”
Isy: “It looks like a lion, dressed as a man, dressed as a lion.”

Isy: “I think it’s John Lennon…”
Russell: “And who else?”
Noel: “Justin Lee Collins?”

Noel: “The other day I was reading that Shakira was on holiday, and she lost her suitcase that had all her songs in it. Which…it really made me laugh, the idea you carry your songs around in a suitcase. Some guy opened it, it went ‘LAAAAAA…”

Isy: “I feel like John Lennon would have been able to deal with [the sea lion]”
Noel: “He would have sang ‘I am the Walrus’, and the sea lion would go “…we’re sorta like cousins. I’ll let you go…”

Stacey disagrees with Phill on a sea-lion fact, and does this…impression:
Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 2.58.44 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 2.59.10 PM.png
Phill: “Okay, here we go, Discovery Channel, tell us about sea lions…”
Russell: “That’d be such a beautiful show, you and David Attenborough. Where he describes the animals and you just do impressions… ‘HERE WE HAVE THE MIGHTY BEAR. STACEY?’
Stacey: “RRRR!”
Russell: “What’s that in the bin? Is it a FOX? …Stacey?”
Stacey: “…FOX? Uhh…”
Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 3.02.31 PM.png
[I just think it’s kinda funny how every Russell Howard routine ends up including animals in some way.]

Noel talks about how when he was young, a llama ate his hair. “I was doing a drawing of a llama, and another llama came around and grabbed the back of my hair…”
Russell: “While we’re here, Stacey, what would a llama be like?”
Stacey:
Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 3.04.30 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-04-29 at 3.04.56 PM.png

Russell: “Did they gob on you as well?”
Noel: “Nah, I mean, think it’s because, I was blonde as a kid, they just sorta thought it was straw…”
Stacey: “Or your drawing was crap…”
Noel, verge of laughter: “This llama was an art critic…”

Russell, reenacting the sea-lion and Shakira incident: “Shakira was like ‘Uh-oh-ho-ho-ho-hooh…hips don’t lie…” And the sea lion went-”
Stacey: [Sea Lion noise]

On Phill’s Guess Who amalgamation:
Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 3.11.14 PM
Conor: “…dad?”

Stacey: “I think it’s Justin Bieber, because he’s just turned an adult…okay, not an adult, but an older child…”

Russell, channeling Simon briefly: “Conor, you’ve been accused of being the english Justin Bieber, which seems a bit unfair, I mean you seem like a lovely bloke…”

Noel: “Have you met Bieber?”
Conor: “I have, I’ve walked past him a few times- he’s very petite-”
Noel: “That’s sounded like a stalker…’I’ve drawn him while he was unconscious…'”
Conor, going back to the question: “I’ve dressed up as his nan and made him get naked…”

After Russell confirms that J-Biebs did, in fact, surprise his grandmother with a naked serenade on Thanksgiving: “What’s he do on Christmas? Tea-bag a reindeer?”

Lethal talks about having to get completely naked to take a crap. “I was doing it one day, and something said-”
Russell: “SOMETHING?”
Noel, heavenly voice: “LETHAL…YOU MUST GET NAKED TO POO…”

This episode begins Stacey’s descent into Intros-Round patheticness. Even when presented with an insanely good intro by Phill and Conor of ‘Thrift Shop’ by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

She does eventually get the answer for ‘Princess of China’ by Coldplay, but only when it’s practically handed to her by Russell.

Also, for continuity’s sake, Noel’s expression the second the Coldplay clip plays in:
Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 4.20.52 PM.png

Isy does a pretty nice impression of ‘Lady Gaga singing from down in a well’. Unfortunately, that’s all the edit’s letting her do so far.

Russell gives Lethal some shit, as he has all night, for sending an angry political tweet, polished off with “#Fannys”. He’s just bewildered about the little amount of sense that makes. Lethal, meanwhile, is having a great time, and trying to defend himself, but he can’t even.

Stacey, after the impression: ‘Wow…I bet you’re never lonely…”
Russell: “Wow. That is the cruelest and kindest thing anybody’s ever said.”

Russell and Noel are talking about how David Bowie’s son (Zowie Bowie) changed his named to Duncan Jones. Stacey, however, becomes confused.
Stacey: “What, he left his son with Zowie Bowie? He changed his own name and said ‘haha, you can keep the crazy one’..”
Noel: [cracks]
Russell: “Nono, David Bowie is not called Duncan Bowie…”
Noel: “I’ve never heard anyone get the wrong end of the stick so aggressively. ‘RIGHT, AND THAT’S WHAT HE FUCKIN’ DID?’…’No, he didn’t. “AH. WELL…HE SHOULD’VE!”

Isy: “I like #4’s medallions. He looks like he’s been rifling through Jimmy Savile’s drawers…”
[Strained audience response]
Russell: “Uh, there’s a better way of putting that, Is…”

Stacey: “The blonde one looks like he’s from Wales…”
Russell: “…why d’you say that?”
Stacey: “Because he’s blonde.”
Russell: “…I think you’re confusing Wales with Sweden there.”
Stacey: “…No, they’re ALL Blonde in Wales.”
Russell: “They’re NOT all blonde in Wales…”

Stacey: “Is that a real beard on #5?”
Phill, patience beginning to wane: “OR…HAS HE SAVED A BADGER???”

Next Lines: “I could stay awake, just to hear you breathing.”
Noel: “…but that’d be creepy and the police would be called.”

It’s hysterical- Phill’s team ends up winning because Stacey wants to answer the Aerosmith lyric correctly even though it’s not her turn. As the scores are announced, Noel’s in outrage…even if it’s mostly fake.

Also, as a bonus stinger, the credit-rolling comes with the backdrop of Noel and Phill getting to operate the cameras, leading to this award-worthy visual:
Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 4.44.33 PM.png

Overall: Fantastic show, even better than Episode 1. Not only was the panel relatively even, save for some under-editing from Isy, but Russell was one of the more impressive guest hosts in a while. He didn’t have to be over-the-top and going into characters, he just told jokes and kept the quiz going- exactly what Mark and Simon did. I have to applaud him for doing such a nice job. Lethal and Conor had some nice moments, and Stacey was, rightfully, the dartboard of the show.

Guest Host Rating: 10/10. You’ve come a long way, Russell.
Best Regular: Noel
Best Guest: Lethal
Best Runner: Stacey’s animal impressions.

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Nevermind Watchdown: S27E01, or Come Round and see me Licking Ball!

Well, I think that was a long enough gap. We’re finally onto Series 27 of Buzzcocks. Last series of Guest Hosts, 2nd-to-last series of the ENTIRE SHOW, and a series filled with some insane personalities, some less-obvious bookings, and a mug-smashing that is gonna be painful to write up. Nevertheless, we endure.

Tonight’s Series 27 premiere features a guest-hosting gig by John Hannah, a definite ‘that guy’ actor, who I remember as the tearful Scottish pallbearer in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and a veteran of the Mummy films and Agents of SHIELD.  At the time of the broadcast, he was pushing A Touch of Cloth. Lovely.

In terms of panel presence, all four haven’t been on. Three of them I don’t know. One of them, which I do know, is one of the funniest Mock the Week semi-regulars of this current era, James “RoboBongoCuckooCop” Acaster.

(…or James “Goddamn I Love These Peaches” Acaster. Either one works.)

The opening shows that there’s a bit more budget this season, so Phill’s got a larger mug and Noel has ‘a chair made from 100% crow’s skin’, which are nice touches. John eventually enters, and he plays off of the fact that no one knows who he is. He mentions some of the things he’s been in, no one reacts. He says he was “the gay one in Four Weddings and a Funeral who had that really sad speech”, and everyone applauds. Yeah, can’t lie and say that wasn’t be pre-this episode.

And, appropriately, John strolls in to the sounds of ‘Love is All Around’ by Wet Wet Wet, a Richard Curtis film staple. He just seems jazzed to be here, which is nice. They also cut to Phill, who just seems pretty happy that John’s in as well.

John, as he’s a method actor, asks aloud “what is my motivation?” Just then, a barrel of cash falls from the ceiling. It’s a staged bit, but he sells it.

Aluna Francis was singing lead for pop-duo AlunaGeorge. Dave Myers is a celebrity chef and ‘One Half of the Hairy Bikers’…as well as runner-up in the Kim Newman lookalike contest. Felix Buxton’s in dance-pop-duo Basement Jaxx. Wonderful mix of anonymity.

John introduces a new round called ‘Buzzcocks Content Advisory Warning’- it’s like Jimmy Kimmel’s Unnecessary Censorship, only with 3 unnecessary clips and one truly bleeped clip. Interesting idea.

There’s some amusing insinuations here- one saying ‘Perfect Day’ features the line ‘fucking animals in the zoo’, and the other saying Coldplay’s big song ended with the line “I will try…to fuck you.”

Aluna’s defending 1D, saying “I’ve met Harry Styles, and he’s very bright, and-”
John: “…d’you fuck ‘im?”
Aluna, after taking a good 5 seconds to laugh: “…ON THE RECORD, no-”
John: “YOU FUCKED HIM ON THE RECORD???”

Noel on Chris Martin: “He’s singing in the middle of the motorway ‘lights will drive me home’- not if I’m driving….YOU WOULD BE ROADKILL!”

Dave, on Miley: “I liked her when she was Hannah Montana…when she was wholesome..”
[Noel cracks up at Dave’s pronunciation of ‘Hannah Montana’]
Aluna: “Everybody’s got to grow up sometime…”
Dave: “Well, not like THAT…”

Dave keeps talking about a ‘licking ball’, that horses use, and this keeps coming up.
Noel: “STOP SAYING ‘LICKING BALL!’…IT SOUNDS WEIRD!”
Phill: “Noel Fielding just said ‘stop saying Licking Ball, that’s weird. NOEL FIELDING…SAID THAT!”
Dave: “I out-weirdoed him…”

James thinks their answer is Cliff Richard, whose crotch-area was fake-censored in their round.
John: “…wouldn’t it be great?”
James: “We genuinely think it’s Cliff…and we do intend to talk about it for a bit longer, but our opinion’s not gonna change…”

One of the options for why Avril Lavigne was banned from performing in Malaysia was that women aren’t allowed to skateboard there.
Noel: “I have seen Avril skateboarding in another part of the world.”
Felix: ‘Where?”
Noel: “Bromley…”

Noel, for his first intro, does this weird ‘LA-LA-LA’ thing against Felix’ beat. When the audience chuckles, he just flips them off.

James jokes that ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ is his ringtone. Sure enough, once the ‘How it should have sounded’ bit ends, he mimes picking up his phone and talking.
James: “John Hannah’s here, wanna talk to him?…..yeah, Four Weddings…”
He eventually passes the invisible phone to John.
John: “What’s her name?”
James: “Miley.”

James Acaster gets a nerd-dom A+ from me for NOT ONLY detecting that Noel and Felix’ second intro is ‘God Gave Rock and Roll to You’ by Kiss…but KNOWING IT’S THE END-CREDITS SONG FROM ‘BILL AND TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY!’ 5,000 POINTS TO GRYFFINDOR!

Just like the phone, as the Kiss track plays in, John mimes hitting a blunt, then passing it to Aluna…who takes a hit herself. She passes it to Phill, who dunks the invisible joint into his bigger mug. This is actually a pretty cool, chill panel so far.

Fantastic. Phill and Aluna do their first intro, Dave has no idea, so he just goes “…I am siamese, if you please…”
Right to Lady and the Tramp logic. Just random enough, Dave…

Phill’s having a lower-key day, thanks to some kind of sore throat, but his rendition of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, right down to breaking off from Aluna and covering the Nile Rodgers riff himself, is pretty fantastic.

As the real Daft Punk track plays in, Aluna and Phill start dancing around…and then, with this sudden burst of energy, THIS HAPPENS:
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I’m not writing down all of James’ stuff, because he’s a very elaborate humorist, and it’d be a lot of effort to get it all down, but…his digression about Wigfield is pretty great.

James hints that he danced to this song at his school disco.
John: “SHOW US!”
Music starts playing. The whole audience is egging him on. James is just standing, slumped over, by the panel desk, going “I wish I were dead.”

#3 in Phill’s ID Parade is this big, strong, scary black guy.
Phill: “#3 probably ate eggs for breakfast. #3 is probably taking time out of his extensive workout regiment. Later on I’m gonna see if he can bench me.”

This is great- for Next Lines, John is seeing if people can do the next lines from his speech from Four Weddings.
John: “Stop all the clocks…cut all the telephone…”
James, getting the wrong idea: “Ring the plumber.”
John: [sigh]
Noel: “Put the cat out?”
Felix: “Have a bath? Take a shower?”

John, still trying: “My noon, my midnight…my soul…”
James: “…My Sharona.”
John, and the whole room, can’t help but break here.

John: “Hey girl, I’m waiting on you, I’m waiting on you…”
Aluna: [realizes it’s her lines and pauses}
Dave: “…COME ‘ROUND AND SEE ME LICKING BALL!”

Overall: Really solid show to start the season. John was having a ton of fun, Phill’s panel was tightest and had the most material, with Dave having some nice lines and Aluna having some good moments. James, while a bit too monologue-based for NMTB, was still fantastic here, having great moments in Intros and the ID Parade. Felix was a bit underedited, though.

Guest Host Rating: 9/10. Solid job, John.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: James
Best Runner: Licking Ball.

Nevermind Watchdown: S26E13, or TWENTY FOUR PEOPLE!

I’m gonna be honest, after a strong start…Series 26 of Buzzcocks underwhelmed me. There weren’t enough truly great shows, and it felt more like gimmicks and artificiality was taking over. Even really good hosts, like Lee Mack and Stephen Mangan, had their shows taken over by some unneeded digressions. At the same time, some hosts, like Kathy Burke, Richard Ayoade and Nick Grimshaw, survived gimmicks and made for great shows.

So…where does this leave Bob Mortimer?

Look, Bob’s been wonderful everytime he’s been on the show, even if he was a bit ill-fitting as a guest Bill. He’s got the kind of humor that drove Mark Lamarr up the wall in the best way possible. And he’s a perfect fit to host the Christmas show tonight, last show of the series. He’ll probably be great.

The panel does look well stocked- Sporty Spice, Being Human’s Russell Tovey and hat-wearing requisite comic Joey Page are here, as well as Dubstep producer (and Bob’s favorite Glade Plug-In) DJ Fresh.

Bob’s already in the right spirit, starting the show from emerging from a Christmas cracker and going into a showy but tongue-in-cheek musical number. He’s gotta be loving this, as one of the few remnants of the old guard to visit the new era of Buzzcocks.

Bob also announces the fact and joke that came with the cracker. The fact was “Professor Brian Cox is so clever, he doesn’t need 3D glasses to watch a 3D film.” The joke is “What did one lawyer say to the other lawyer? We are both lawyers.” Again, Bob’s absolutely selling it, though.

For Phill’s first round:

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.01.41 AM.pngNoel: “Russell, is that a prop, or have you turned into a reindeer?”
Phill: “…he’s a were-deer.”

Joey, on Noel’s prop round: “None of these things look especially Christmas-y to me?”
Noel: “Joey, that’s a partridge in a pear tree. Did your mum just black the windows out at Christmastime? And go ‘there’s nothing happening, Joey, go to sleep…'”

Joey starts talking about his only dressing room experience, and in the middle, Noel moves the pear tree out of his way.
Noel: “Sorry, but to the audience, it looked like the tree was telling that story…”
Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.08.33 AM.png
Joey, continuing: “SO I WENT BACKSTAGE…”

As Bob goes for an answer, he just has these basic keyboard sound effects he lip-syncs to. “I’m gonna have to say-” “COME! ON!””
Phill just starts losing it.

Russell’s having a hard time with the intros.
Noel: “D’you think if you change into a werewolf, you’ll get it?”
Russell: “…probably not.”

Noel’s expression, and the noise he makes, once Bob tells him he’s right in guessing Cliff Richard, is priceless. It’s like Cliff was in the room…maybe not wearing clothing.

After the Cliff Richard song plays in.
Noel: “I wrote that song, Bob.”
Bob, earnestly: “Did you? Why?”

Bob’s humor works so well for this show, because he’ll have these incredibly bizarre jokes, or set-ups, that don’t always make sense but just set this very bizarre mood for the show. Noel’s absolutely losing it at most of them, because that is his type of thing.

Noel, to Joey, pre-intros: “Are you alright? Are you alive? D’you want your mummy?”
Joey: “I’m just…worried, is all.”
Noel: “What d’you mean? That you slightly fancy me?”

After Bob says that George Cole is ‘Cheryl Cole’s dad’ as a joke
Noel: “Did you say ‘Cheryl Cole’s dead’?”
Bob: “No, her dad…”
Noel: “Ah…wishful thinking-NOW-”

Plus, as Noel and Fresh do their first intro, Bob throws in a “YEEEAAHHHH” DJ sound effect, that throws them off a bit.

Joey: “Is it Girls Aloud? Pff…”
Noel: “…yeah…”
Joey: “Is it…one of their songs?”
Noel: “…as opposed to one of their collages?”

Noel’s second intro starts with him doing this ridiculous, incoherent baby noise thing. He does this for about 10 seconds, then Fresh looks at him, and dryly goes “…that’s the wrong one…”

Bob has another nice joke at Fresh’s expense: “The main thing with you, with your songs, is the hooks….then I realized you had Abu Hamza on keyboard…”
Man, that must have been leftover from Frankie Boyle’s set…

Bob: “Who’s your nemesis, MC Sell-by?”
Fresh: “…thought you were gonna say MC Hammer for a minute-”
Bob: “Well, he’s everybody’s nemesis, isn’t he?”

ID Parade, on the girl from WHAM’s Last Christmas video:
Russell: “KATHY!”
“…..”
Phill: “…nicely tried…”

Joey: “Are you looking for Andrew Ridgeley, or the girl? Because I was playing a different game-”
Phill: “Joey, I think we’re ALL looking for Andrew Ridgeley…”

Bob’s nicknames for the Snowman ID Parade are…well, ridiculous
“#2, with his face like an abandoned shit-farm…”
“#3, with his face like a grieving pug”
“or #5, with his face like Aled Jones’ soapy bollocks…”
Noel even takes an extra beat to laugh at these.

In the barrage of monotony in modern Next Lines, at least Phill can add in a Sean Hughes-ian misdirect every once in a while:
Bob: ‘And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas’
Phill: “Cause it’s BAKIN’!”

AND THEN HE STRIKES AGAIN!:
Bob: “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus”
Phill: “THE WHOOORE!”

Noel knows he’s not gonna win, so he’s just joking around in Next Lines:
Bob: “On the Twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me-”
Noel: “TWENTY-FOOOUR PEOPLE…”
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Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 12.40.24 AM.pngBob, still laughing: “It’s TWELVE something…”
Noel: “TWELVE….SUBMARINES!”
Bob, trying to guide him: “TWEELLLVE…”
Noel: “TWELVE…DUNGAREES!”
Bob: [breaks again]

Bob: “I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need.”
Noel: “STATIONARY!”

Noel: “Joey, come on, please, we’re really losing!”
Bob’s DJ Sound Effects: “COME! ON!”

Bob: “Well, I wish it could be Christmas everyday-”
Noel: “TWEELLLVE DUNGAREEEES!”
Bob: “…FOR HUMAN BEEEEIINGS!”

Overall: That was a really, really fun way of ending the series. It wasn’t perfect, and there was a bit in the middle where it slowed down, but it hit momentum mid-ID Parade and just kept getting funnier. Bob himself was having so much fun, and his jokes were really helping people. Joey and Russell had nice nights, Mel had a few good lines but mostly stuck to defense, and Fresh was quieter. The Next Lines in this episode was one of the strongest in years, thanks to Noel deliberately missing half of them.

Guest Host Rating: 9.5/10. Amazing stuff, Bob.
Best Regular: Noel
Best Guest: Joey
Best Runner: DJ noises

SERIES 26 SUPERLATIVES!

Guest Hosts, Ranked Best to Worst:
Richard Ayoade, Episode 7
Bob Mortimer, Episode 13
Kathy Burke, Episode 1
Richard Madeley, Episode 8
Nick Grimshaw, Episode 4
Example, Episode 2
Alex Horne, Episode 9
Lee Mack, Episode 5
Liza Tarbuck, Episode 11
Stephen Mangan, Episode 10
Ne-Yo, Episode 6
Jack Whitehall, Episode 3.

Best Episode: Episode 7, because it had an episode-long gimmick, Richard Ayoade proclaiming that there would be no jokes, and it didn’t seem contrived or like it was trying too hard- it just felt like the presence of a great comedian improved what the show had become. Plus, Richard’s takedown of Ed Sheeran was phenomenal.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 4, the Radio DJ Special. Even if Nick Grimshaw was, while a great host, more of a serviceable one than a funny one, the DJ gimmick was actually a nice one, letting people like Tony Blackburn and Pat Sharp come back to the game they’d ruled in the past, while letting new people like Joe Lycett and Fred Macpherson get some great laughs. This is also great for the panel consistently bagging on Nancy Dell’Olio in the best ways possible (“FOUR HUNDRED HAPPY MEAL.”)
3rd Best Episode: Episode 13, this very one. The Madeley one came close, but not to the fun of this one, to be honest. Bob Mortimer was a great host, the panel was pretty sharp, Joey Page had some nice moments, and Noel Fielding had his first true Bill Bailey moment in deliberately tanking Next Lines.
Worst Episode: Episode 3. It’s a Jack Whitehall episode. You’d think that after a while they’d learn to stop fucking having him on.
Best Regular: Phill Jupitus. For the first time in a while, the big man was coming out of his shell and dominating episodes. Look, it’s easy enough to take the defensive route when you’re on a show for years, and that’s what Phill had been doing for a while, but he was having some great shows, and great lines this series. Not to discourage Noel, who also had a great season.
Best Comedian Panelist: David O’Doherty, Episode 6. Almost went with Seann Walsh, but David had the better career day, complete with megaphone and bizarre humor, as well as kidding Ne-Yo about not knowing any of his songs. Runners up include Walsh, Joe Lycett, Rufus Hound, Jason Manford, Katherine Ryan, Joey Page and Tony Law.
Best Musician Panelist: Mark Hoppus, Episode 1. Like I was gonna give it to anyone else, even in a packed year like this one. Mark had an absolute ball, having some of the funniest answers, schooling Intros, and getting really giddy after singing his own lyrics in Next Lines (“THAT’S OUR SONG!!!”) I also considered Paloma Faith, Fred Macpherson, Wretch-32, Rita Ora, Ed Sheeran, Professor Green, Delilah.
Most Confused Panelist: Nancy Dell’Olio. As she said “…I’m learning.”
Best Runner: Pantomime Horse jokes, Episode 2. Runners up include jokes about Ed Sheeran’s sex habits (Episode 6) and Rita Ora’s dog habits (Episode 11).

Nevermind Watchdown: S26E11, or The BBC’s in Enough Trouble Already..

The penultimate NMTB of Series 26 has given us an odd hand.

Only one returning player, and that’s the exceptional Jason Manford. Rita Ora I’ve heard of, and pairing her and Jason with Noel could be cool. Noel’s panel has rapper Labirinth, and a TV presenter, Jameela Jamil. Guest hosting is someone who’s brought up the rear on a few QI episodes, and that’s Liza Tarbuck. I don’t know how well this is gonna go, but judging by Liza’s demeanor in the episode’s opening, it could be fun.

On the squirrel prop for their round:
Rita: “Is it stuffed?”
Noel: “No, that’s its house!”
Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 1.00.55 PM.png
(Noel’s expression kills me here, and also Phill)

Liza throws out a bonus round where she’ll ask if various celebrity antics were done by Rita Ora or another singer. Again, I wish they’d stick to the rounds, but this one at least makes sense within the confines of the episode.

Liza asks if Rita bottled her sweat after a performance so it could be sold.
Noel: “It’s Rita! I’ve bought some!”
Phill: “What’s it taste of?”
Rita: “Honey, lemon, and a little bit of sweet-and-sour chicken.”
Noel: “It tastes of a young Goldie Hawn…”

Liza reveals it’s actually Justin Bieber:
Noel: “AS IF HE’S EVER SWEATTED…”
Phill: “He doesn’t sweat, he’s computer animated! They’re just selling sea-water!”

Rita talks of ‘letting dogs lick her and everything’, which she says involves cuddling…and the entire panel takes this the exact wrong way. She’s still trying to defend herself, and Noel’s just comforting her, as if to say ‘give up, Rita, it’s not gonna work…”

Jason: “D’you have a dog now?”
Rita: “No-”
Phill: “YEAH, IT’S BEEN TAKEN INTO PROTECTIVE CUSTODY!”

And then, in further defending herself, Rita slips and says she licks dogs, which gets even more of an outcry from the panel.

Rita: “Oh god, that was a nightmare, it’s gonna come out and everyone’s gonna think I’m a dog-licker…”
Liza: “No, don’t worry about that…”
Noel, pointing at Rita: “DOG-LICKER!”

Rita: “I did used to walk dogs, when I was younger…”
Jason: “Well, I bet you were very popular with the dogs…’WOO-HOO! IT’S RITA!'”
Phill: “Rita Ora, the only dog-walker that gives a happy ending…”

Phill refers to the cactus as ‘the poorest selling item at Anne Summers this winter…”
Jason: “Have you ever been in Anne Summers?”
Noel: “In Anne Summers, or in her shop?”

Rita, continuing to dig herself into the ground, gives a fun fact that foxes have ‘wheelies’ like a cactus.
Rita: “…oh, WILLYS! NOT WHEELIES!”
Phill: “FOXES DO *WHEELIES*?”
Jaleela: “Yeah, their penises get caught in the women-”
Phill: “FOXES HAVE SEX WITH *WOMEN*? This…this is like a hellish Springwatch!”
(Somewhere, Chris Packham nods, sadly)

Phill mentions it could be the hoover, as “imagine Florence coming to all her gigs with Henry over here…”
Rita: “he never lets me down- I use him at home all the time…”
Jaleela: “…CAREFUL…”
Rita: “WHOOOA, NOT IN THAT WAY.”
[beat]
Rita: “But, you know, it cleans a lot of things…”

Jameela, pre-intros, says “This is my favorite show ever, so I’m so chuffed [for this part]”
Jason: “…that’s how I felt when I was on the news…”

Phill and Labirinth’s first intro is You’re So Vain by Carly Simon, and they keep doing this amphibious bubbling noise, which confuses Jameela. Once it plays in, Rita argues it sounded nothing like that. Phill has them play it in again, then has Rita do it.
Noel: “I like hers better…”
Jason: “Yours sounded like Carly Simon was underwater…”
Noel: “Yours sounded like she was gonna go “YOOUBUBUBUBUBU’RE SOBOBOBOBO VAAAABBABABAIIINNN”
And then Noel does the rest of the chorus in this amphibious, weird throaty voice that cracks up the whole panel (and me).
Noel: “…I’ve got to defend Rita, she’s been licking dogs…”

Before Phill and Labirinth’s next one:
Noel: “Are you gonna do this next one in the style of a llama?”

Jameela, after failing to get either of the intros, INCLUDING ‘Stir it up’ by Bob Marley, she just embarassedly hides under the desk.
Phill: “Okay, the BBC’s in enough trouble already, get out from under there…”

Jason does get Rita and Noel’s intro for ‘Two Princes’…but cannot get the title.
Liza: “What’s it called?”
Jason: “…I sang a bit of it…ISN’T THAT THE GAME?”

Even better, you can tell that Phill either absolutely despises the song, or is just really angry with the taping, as he goes “IT’S TWO PRINCES BY THE SPIN DOCTORS” in this very uninterested, monontone yell.

Rita talks about crowd-surfing at a ‘very intimate gig’
Labirinth: “That’s the thing, you don’t want people to start probing…”
Phill: “Is that why they call you Labirinth?”

Jason, trying to find the Tom Jones superfan: “The thing is, Tom Jones isn’t really that good, isn’t he?”
Rita: “…it’s be great if #2 went and dropkicked you for that…”

Liza sings a bar of a Tom Jones song in a really good impression.
Labirinth: ‘Oh, so it’s YOU then?”
Liza: “Wouldn’t that be funny? If I’d dug a cellar out…”

Rita: “Imagine if it’s actually #3. I mean, she’s been quiet the whole time.”
Noel: “…they’ve all been pretty quiet…”

Rita gets one of her lyrics right in Next Lines
Phill: “What breed of dog is that about?”

Overall: Middling, but still pretty great. The countless Rita bashing brought this up a few pegs, though this was still a fun one. Liza Tarbuck looked like she was having fun, even if she was more of a functional guest host than a funny one. Rita and Jason were having a great time, Labirinth and Jameela were under-edited but still cool. Funny moments, but fell off towards the end.

Guest Host Rating: 8/10
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Jason
Best Runner: Rita and the dogs.

Nevermind Watchdown: S26E10, or Which One of you Melted Under the Heaton?

Onto another one, this one hosted by Episodes star and comedy personality Stephen Mangan, in the so-called ‘World Music Appreciation’ show. They’ve been doing a lot of ‘gimmick theme’ shows lately, and hopefully this one will be a bit more tongue-in-cheek.

Aside from Sway, who was here for the Russell Brand show, we have ex-popstar Michelle Heaton, Iranian-British actor and Four Lions star Kayvan Novak, and quite possibly one of the funniest women to ever be a semi-regular on Mock the Week, Katherine Ryan.

The first Guest Who round has a very disturbing combination card:
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Phill: “Is this the portrait in Madonna’s attic?”
Michelle: “Looks a bit Hulk Hogany, ya think?”
Phill: “Yes, if Hulk Hogan was hosting on Loose Women…”

Stephen: ‘Which one of [Iggy Pop and Ke$ha] claimed to have had sex with a ghost?’
Phill, Comic Book Guy voice: “WORST…SCOOBY DOO EPISODE…EVER…”

Noel: “What sort of ghost, like a traditional ghost? Because that’s just a sheet with eye holes…”
Phill: “Presumably the first thing you’d need to do is cut a third hole in it…”
Noel: “A glory hole…”

Noel: ‘Was it a Pac-Man ghost? Was it the pink one? Because he’s quite randy…”
Phill: ‘Were they having sex with a ghost, or were they having a whack-off with a sheet?’

Katherine says she learned what the phrase ‘grime artist’ meant earlier: “I used to think it just meant you make paintings with manure…”
Sway: “You’re wrong though…”
Katherine: “I know that now, but I’m learning…”

Phill: “Who was the ghost of?”
Noel: “Headless horseman?”
Katherine: “I think you should be able to have sex with a horse and not go to jail…”
Noel: “I can’t imagine many horses are gonna phone the police…”
He then does an Alan-Davies-esque miming of a horse trying to use a phone.

Sway talks about meeting Kanye West once, and that he was “pretty cool”
Noel: “Well THAT’S a boring story…”
Sway: “I did meet him one time in New York, and then another time in London, and he totally didn’t know who I was…”
Noel: “…what a wanker…”
Katherine: “Threatened by your music? And paintings?”

The ‘Stephen Mangan style’ runner, where Stephen asks questions about international bands, is pretty much a dead runner, but it does lead to a nice line from Noel about a Japanese band that just sort of stands around their instruments as a backing band plays in.
Noel: “Kinda like One Direction…”

The teams are given exotic international instruments to help with intros, which is a nice old favorite being brought back.

After Phill and Michelle’s ‘Material Girl’ intro, Kayvan just starts drumming and humming along, despite not knowing the title.
Stephen, joining him in pounding: “Let’s just do the show right here…”

And then, in the middle of this, PHILL…DOES THIS:
Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 12.37.49 AM.png

As the Madonna clip plays back in:
Phill: “*SOME* boys…HAHAHAHAHAHA…”

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 12.39.21 AM.png

Katherine: “Did you see Madonna’s nipple in Lithuania?”
Phill: “WHO…HASN’T…SEEN MADONNA’S NIPPLE…IN LITHUANIA? It’s now…on the flag.”

Also, this episode is probably the 54th time since 1996 that someone has done an intro for ‘Firestarter’ by the Prodigy on this show.

Noel, getting up for intros, to Katherine: “I think you’re gonna be good at this…”
Katherine: “…you’re wrong.”

Katherine says she once saw Drake throw a bottle at Chris Brown.
Noel: “What, do they fight over Rihanna? Except he just fights Rihanna-”
Katherine: “No, Chris Brown did that-”
Noel: “Drake just pecked her…”
[Jupitus giggling]

Sway and Noel know Katherine’s not gonna get the 2nd intro, so Noel just starts pounding on the big African drum he has as they do the intro…then Phill chimes in with the ram-horn, and Stephen has his instrument, and it’s just this barrage of cacophony. Poor Katherine.
Sway: “Love…you’re ruining it…”
Phill: “OH, *WE’RE* RUINING IT…”

Michelle mentions for Noel’s ID Parade that she MIGHT have hit it off with the correct person in the lineup.
Phill: “You’re from Newcastle, so the number of people you could have hit it off with…HIGH…”
Katherine: “Which one of you melted under the Heaton…”

Katherine’s also killing it at Next Lines, so even if this is a lighter show, she’s still keeping the energy insanely high.

Overall: Yeah, light but still kinda fun. The International theme did take a lot away from the dynamic, and Stephen was a bit more by-the-book than funny, but he kept things going. 3/4ths of the panel were more focused on having a good time than being funny, which…I can respect. Kayvan Novak was quiet, but I’m glad he was on, and Sway had some nice moments, but Katherine Ryan saved the show, by…well, being Katherine Ryan.

Guest Host Rating: 7.5/10- Good, but not enough to fall under an 8.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Katherine
Best Runner: Sway’s paintings.