The Final Nevermind Watchdown: S28E12, or ‘This is the wrong show for THAT shit!”

(long sigh)

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?”
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Rhod: “…I’m waiting for the defense!”
Louis: “No!”

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..”

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 9.44.39 PM.pngLloyd: “I love my rat so much I let him sleep under my nose.”

Screen Shot 2017-07-28 at 9.46.29 PM.pngPhill: “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.
Noel: “42!”
Rhod: “FOUR!”

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.
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Audience: “..aaawwww…”
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

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…


Nevermind Watchdown: S5E2 or The Answer There was #3

Back when I was juuust getting my ankles wet into watching all of Nevermind the Buzzcocks, it occurred to me quickly that getting episodes wouldn’t be as easy as finding them for QI, in which they’re all easily accessible on youtube. Right when I was watching this series down, the Youtube police started coming in and deleting all the Buzzcocks episodes behind me. By the time I got up to Series 5, episode 3 was already gone, and I had no real choice but to keep going with the Watchdown without it.

Well…here I am watching Episode 2 of Series 5. For numerous reasons, I’m pretty excited about that, because Faye Tozer from Steps is here for Mark to screw with, Glen Matlock from THE SEX PISTOLS is here for Mark to fawn over, and Junior Simpson is here to be giggly and the requisite comedian. Additionally, Sara Cox, who I know from the old Scottish series Space Cadets (whew, haven’t mentioned that one in a while), is in the building, as another requisite comedian.

It’s very weird going back to the Sean era after all this Bailey-age currently. Indescipherable lyrics is still here, Mark’s still in ’50’s throwback’ mode. It’s…weird, but good.

Weird part is for the first time in years, I can actually sort of understand one of the songs in Indecipherable Lyrics, Alanis Morrisette’s ThankU.

Mark: “Did that song mean anything to you, whatsoever?”
Sean: “She’s got very hairy nipples…”

Mark: “JUNIOR, JUNIOR…you don’t have to scream, you have a mic.”
Junior, taking the joke: “oh, okay…”

Sean’s trying to interpret the lyrics as her Miss World speech, saying “she’s thanking India, and Thailand- Thailand, of course, were disqualified for bringing in a man-boy”
Mark, cutting him off: “SEAN! Man-boy…that would be male, wouldn’t it?”

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Annoyed Mark is still his best

Faye’s explaining that she gets Alanis and what she’s saying, and goes on to say “if you’re premenstrual, you can really understand what she’s saying…”
Phill, in response, just walks off the show. Junior can’t believe what he’s hearing.
Mark: “She says menstrual, and a big red blob leaves…”
Phill comes back eventually, relishing the applause.

Faye: “I think she’s fantasizing about being a topless waitress..”
Sean: “Where does she keep the menus?”
Junior: “Don’t ask…”
Sean’s panel is tight as hell. Junior can be a bit annoying, but he still fits in well with the show…

Sara: “Good tune, though. Skids really made the mark with that one.”
(Collective groan from the audience, and Phill)

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Sara, ashamed as hell over the skid marks joke

Mark: “When he left the Skids, Stuart Adamson left to become a big country member…and we do remember.”
JESUS THE WORDPLAY. Phill doubles over in laughter.
Adamson would be on shortly, so I doubt he actually meant that.

Phill, when he’s doing the Believe intro for Sara, eventually just ends up doing a Chewbacca impression, one he keeps going after the record’s been played

Mark: “In a recently released interview, John Lennon predicted that he would live to be 90. Perhaps his least successful prediction, apart from “it’s alright, Yoko, it’s only a water pis- BELIEVE, BY CHER-”
Phill’s entire panel has to stop to recover from that one.

Mark, giving Sean shit over his intro: “Sean…were you playing the world’s tiniest guitar there? Or was there some bellybutton fluff comin’ out?”

Faye, before another intro: “Am I gonna do percussion for this one?”
Sean: “Well what do you play in the band Steps? What instrument?”
Faye: “…..”

So Faye and Sean’s 3rd intro is so bad…not only does is absolutely horrify Junior, but after a while Mark just gives him the car. Junior just starts laughing harder than I’ve ever seen a person not named Drew Carey laugh.
Mark: “What is it, Junior?”
Mark: ‘It was Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio…”

Ah. Here we go. Sean’s ID Parade is Edwin Starr, the guy who sang ‘WAR’. among them, appearing for the first time ever…ATHELSTON WILLIAMS!

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 6.00.03 PM

#3…Evelyn War

Junior: “Okay, before I go any further, I’m not gonna take the mick too much, because one of these guys could be related to me…”
Mark: “What, because you’re black as well?”
Junior: “No, because my father may have cut some of their hair…”
Mark: “Then #3 probably wasn’t a regular, was he?”

Sean: “I’m a little worried about #3…he’s just looking at a light, transfixed. YA OKAY, #3?
#3: “……”

Sean: “Well, four of them of course are from around here, and one of them’s flown over from America, so who looks jet-lagged?..IT’S THREE!!! HE HAD A NEAR-CRASH AND HE’S TRAUMATIZED!”

Sean and Junior KNOW it’s #4, and Faye eventually agrees, “I actually like #4 the best-”
Mark: “Not who you like, who you think it is…”

Mark: “You know, you are in the lead, so you can just pick your favorite if you want…”
Sean: “Well my favorite’s #3, obviously…”
Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 6.06.35 PM

Mark: “….doesn’t seem so fond of you…”
Sean: “3, I love ya, you’re comin’ home with me, we’re gonna live together…”
Mark: “Must be a very PASSIONATE MAN!”
Mark: “When they all walk off and he’s still there…”
Sean: “He is the most professional, though. They probably said to him before he went out ‘now don’t move, just stay where you are’, and he said ‘I’VE GOT YA!”

Sean: “He’s the BEST! He should get time-and-a-half! The rest of ’em, fidgeting and movin’ about…HE’S A MANNEQUIN!”

Eventually #4, the real Edwin Starr, steps forward.
Mark: “And, uh, just to set MY mind at ease, would #3 please step forward…”

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 6.11.03 PM

Now he’s just doing it on purpose

Eventually Sean and Junior get him to step forward, which upsets Mark. He’s very smiley and appreciative.
Mark: “It’s like the parable of ‘The Bald Man That Could Walk’!”

And then, right after the Edwin Starrs leave, they cut back to Mark, and he’s doing this:

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 6.13.31 PM

Mark’s Athelston Impression

Next Lines: “When the feeling’s gone and you can’t go on”
Sean: “…..boom bang-a-bang…”
Mark: “You must know it, Faye. ‘IT’S A TRAGEDY’
Faye doubles over, embarrassed as hell.

Mark: “Who’s the cat that won’t cop out, when there’s danger all about?”
Mark: “The answer there was #3.”

Mark: “In a Big Country, dreams stay with you.”
He smirks, remembering his ‘big country member’ joke from earlier. Phill cracks up here as well.
Phill: “In a lover’s voice from a mountain side.”
Mark, still smirking: “Yes, In a Big Country by Big Country”
Now the audience laughs every time he says ‘Big Country’. Outstanding.

Mark’s signoff is “you’ve been watching Nevermind the Buzzcocks, I’ve been Mark Lamarr…”
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Overall: Now…if I had seen this when I was supposed to, this would probably be one of the funnier episodes up to that point. Not only do we have the Athelston runner, which bewildered EVERYONE, but we have Junior being giggly as hell, Mark screwing with Sara about Northern jargon, Faye being a surprisingly good panelist, the Big Country runner, and most of the Alanis Morrisette Indecipherable Lyrics round. My one gripe was Glen was a bit too quiet, but was still in the right mood. The Athelston moments are amazing here, and I can see why they kept bringing him back.

Best Regular: Sean
Best Guest: Junior
Best Runner: Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 6.06.35 PM