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:
Noel: “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…”
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…”
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:
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…”
Bob, still laughing: “It’s TWELVE something…”
Bob, trying to guide him: “TWEELLLVE…”
Bob: [breaks again]
Bob: “I don’t want a lot for Christmas, there is just one thing I need.”
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).