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!”
(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?”
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…”
Rita: “WHOOOA, NOT IN THAT WAY.”
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.