Well, this is it. The last Never Mind the Buzzcocks episode ever. The series went for 28 seasons, three permanent hosts, four permanent captains, and seven Richard Fairbrass appearances. And it wasn’t angry guests, or appalled network execs that did the show in, but a lack of ratings, and a network that wanted to move on to other programming. While I’d normally criticize BBC for not giving Buzzcocks a chance…they’d given them 27.
So tonight’s not only the last episode of the show, but the last Christmas episode of the show. A few returning players are here, like hateable X-Factor judge Louis Walsh and legendary Sex Pistols member Glen Matlock, as well as some newcomers, like comedian Lloyd Langford and R&B/Pop singer Melissa Steel.
Everyone’s in costume, too- Louis is early Yoko Ono, Glen is a ‘Cockney John Lennon’, Melissa’s wearing a puffy coat like the East 17 music video, BOTH PHILL AND NOEL are Roy Wood, and Rhod…is dressed like Mariah Carey.
Noel: “You look like Benedict Cumberbatch in drag!”
Rhod eventually asks Lloyd, in choir boy garb, who he’s come as.
Lloyd: “I’ve, uh, come undercover from Operation Yewtree”
Rhod, for his Album Covers round, asks some good rhetoricals: “Do Daniel Bedingfield album covers always feature a bloke called Daniel…in bed…in a field? Do Garbage covers always have a picture of Westlife on the front?”
And WHO DO THEY CUT TO?
Rhod: “…I’m waiting for the defense!”
Rhod, on the first album cover, with a guy with a beard looking at the camera: “What d’you think we’d see if we panned back a bit?”
Noel: “Children’s shoes?”
Audience groans at this
Rhod, trying: “Yes, because who doesn’t love…a children’s SHOEMAKER??”
Rhod, motioning to his costume: “It’s about an A-cup girl.”
Melissa: “Oh, you’re bigger than an A, darling..”
Lloyd: “I love my rat so much I let him sleep under my nose.”
Phill: “Is that just me, or is that a young Stephen Fry on the right?”
This round was actually really nice, and had a nice, loose feel to it, and we got a ton of personality out of the panelists without needling them. It reminded me of Alice Cooper’s final round, where Wretch-32 just had some really off-the-cuff hysterical answers.
A conversation with Louis about X-Factor stuff leads Noel to bring up Jedward.
Noel: “They were on my team when they were on. They were delightful boys. They ate a whole box of Celebrations before the show, and went out of their FUCKING MINDS…”
That explains a lot.
Phill, continuing reminiscing: “They had a handler with them.”
Noel: “Yeah, a whisperer…”
Phill, to Louis, pre-intros: “I’ll do the bells…and then you do the neighing, and then we’ll really get into it…”
Noel: “This is like the audiobook version of the song…”
Melissa and Noel work really well on Intros. This isn’t a necessarily funny round, but there are some really good intros here. Glen even says one of them sounded exactly like the record.
There’s a nice runner where whenever Rhod announces the scores, Noel overshoots a guess of how many points his team has.
i.e.-Rhod: “PHILL’S TEAM HAS 3, AND….OOOOOH, NOEL’S TEAM-”
Once again, this ID Parade has a former X Factor contestant, and Phill’s team needs to guess by voice.
#4 actually does a really good, soulful rendition of the line, even if it’s obviously not her.
Phill: “[Louis’] not actually on the X-Factor right now, sweetheart…this is the WRONG SHOW for that shit!”
Noel, as Louis deliberates: “Has this just turned into a game where Louis’ trying to remember someone he knew in the past?”
Okay, even in its final moments, and even in a pretty okay show, Buzzcocks is able to get one more belly-laugh out of me. For Noel’s ID Parade, Rhod brings out a parade of Snowmen, for the, well, The Snowman animated movie. They’re all snowman mascots, except for #5.
Rhod: “Or #5…..DEATH!!!”
Then, as the real Snowman is revealed, Rhod asks him to have a ‘walk in the air’ around the studio with Noel, and they do that for a bit…until Noel ditches him for one of the fake snowmen, as Rhod screams “NO! NO!” from the sidelines.
The snowman motions to Rhod that there’s a white vinyl of the Snowman coming out soon.
Rhod: ‘When’s it coming out?”
Glen, deadpan: “…Christmas…”
Lloyd, as the Snowman joins his panel, and hugs him: “This looks like a Grindr date that’s gone badly wrong…”
Overall: Not the heftiest, but a smooth, fun, inoffensive end to a generally pretty good season. There wasn’t really a standout panelists, though everyone had moments to shine. Glen’s aloofness suited him, and he seemed like he had a nice time. Louis’ always happy to be on. Lloyd had some nice lines, and Melissa was a really cool personality to have on. There were some good moments, though not too much to lift us over ‘passable’, but enough to end the season, and the show run, on something of a high note.
Best Regular: Noel
Best Guest: Louis
Best Runner: Noel missing the score
SERIES 28 SUPERLATIVES!
Best Episode: Episode 4, quite possibly the crowning achievement of the post Amstell-Buzzcocks era. James Acaster had a career performance, there was talk of deep-beavering, HarMar Superstar’s belly, and Rhod’s botched bongo playing, which is probably the hardest I’ve laughed at Buzzcocks in years.
2nd Best Episode: Episode 3, the John Cooper Clarke show, where the punk poet gave this weird amount of energy to a show that clearly didn’t need it, thanks to Amelia Lily’s baby noises and Sara Pascoe’s wonderfully adorable ID Parade performance.
3rd Best Episode: Episode 8. I nearly went with Episode 2, the Seann Walsh and Stacey Solomon show, but Episode 8 is probably the most feel-good show they’ve had that didn’t include Bob Mortimer. Paloma was even more adorable than usual, Loyd Grossman was an odd but game presence, Charlie Simpson kept going after lemon drizzle cake, and there was a great moment with a live rabbit AND with Rhod’s dog Rosie.
Worst Episode: Episode 10. Everything that worked in the first few episodes fell apart, with Rhod’s hosting becoming too lax and strict, and the panel not getting enough time to shine.
Best Regular: Noel Fielding, for taking one last chance to push his bizarre humor to high gear, and win with personality.
Best Comedian Panelist: James Acaster, Episode 4. There’s a ton of competition, but I don’t think anybody had a night like James did. He kept the entire show moving by his command, and was responsible for some of the funniest moments of a truly hysterical show (plus, his weakness is George Harrison music!) Honorable Mentions go to Seann Walsh, Sara Pascoe, Paul Foot, Joe Lycett, Aisling Bea, Sarah Millican, Katherine Ryan, Rob Beckett, Romesh Ranganathan and Bobby Mair.
Best Musician Panelist: Michael Ball, Episode 7. Tougher competition because while there were a ton of nice ones, nobody had a flat-out dominant show like Ana in S27 or Mark Hoppus in S26. Michael Ball is an exception, as he had even more fun than he did on his previous two performances, read some Adult Lit while Phill licked his ear, and correcting people on Streisand lyrics. Nearly went with Nicole Scherzinger, Lethal Bizzle, Charli XCX, Charlie Simpson, Glen Matlock, Professor Green, Matty Healy, Van McCann. Also would have gone with John Cooper Clarke here, but he blurred the line too much between comic and musician that it didn’t make sense.
Biggest Dartboard: Stacey Solomon, Episode 2. As per usual.
Most Confused Panelist: Stacey Solomon, Episode 2. Again, as per usual.
Best Sport: Louis Walsh, Episode 12, by taking all the Westlife slams and X-Factor jokes in stride, and just having a good time.
Best Runner: Rhod’s Invisible Bongos, starting in Episode 2 and popping up in a few more episodes. This one was the gift that kept on giving, leading to that insanely funny moment in Episode 4.
So, that was Never Mind the Buzzcocks. There were highs (Mark Lamarr’s era, the Donny Tourette show, Frankie Boyle), and lows (Series 17, Series 22, Tim Westwood), but I’m still glad I watched through this entire series, and I’ve learned a ton more about British music, British comedy, and toblerone bars.
Next…I’m gonna at least try to finish this series of QI, but I have another Watchdown planned. It’s slightly less expansive than Buzzcocks, but like QI this show is still going, and like Buzzcocks I have different hosts and regulars to combat and clash. Also, unlike QI AND Buzzcocks, I’m not gonna be watching this down for the first time. This is a show I’ve watched for years, and I’ve briefly skimmed through, and I’m deciding that it’s time I do a proper, full rewatch. I may polarize some of the fans who only read the blog for Buzzcocks write-ups…but I’m secretly hoping said Buzzcocks fans also enjoy some short-form improvisational comedy…