Every Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest Host, Ranked (Part Three)

Alright Folks…now for the real countdown.

Out of all 59 guest hosts, the ones in this post are, in my humble opinion, the 20 best. There was something about the way they hosted that captivated me, entertained me, impressed me, and made me laugh like hell. I’m gonna note here that this may not be everyone’s opinion, that I may have ranked some people too high, or too low. But this is my list, and I think I did a pretty good job feeling out where everyone belonged.

Right. Onto #20, a show I was outwardly fearing..

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 4.52.31 PM.png

#20- James Blunt (Series 25 Episode 8)

Talk about a guy who knows exactly who he is.

What I like about James Blunt is that he’s probably heard every ‘James Blunt sucks’ joke there is, and still manages to be funny, and an amazing sport. When it came time for him to host Buzzcocks, after a fantastic appearance on the Terry Wogan show, he was prepared, and he went at it with high energy and some nice, if Tokvig-esque whip-fast, reads.

I do have to say that the majority of the show was the panel screwing in him, not just on his status as a punchline, but as it came out that he’d had relations with, and I quote ‘20% of the Pussycat Dolls’. That joke alone gave the panel, including Sarah Millican and Matthew Crosby, enough fuel for the rest of the night. Even better, James was a fantastic sport, never being afraid to make fun of himself. His reads would occasionally slip, and sometimes his quick presenting would impede with jokes, but he had a fantastic night, and proved that within the punchline was a legitimately funny performer.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-9-14-50-pm

#19- David Tennant (Series 23 Episode 12)

In 2009, just as David Tennant was wrapping up his beloved run as a certain timelord, he agreed to do a run on some panel shows, to give back, and have one last Who-related run in the spotlight. His show on QI was wonderful, but for Buzzcocks, he decided to do something special. He made the whole show a DOCTOR WHO SPECIAL, rolling out two of his Who compadres, Catherine Tate and Bernard Cribbins, and two celebrity Who fans, Jo Whiley and Jamie Cullum, and peppered the entire show with Ood, Cybermen, Daleks, and a giant TARDIS sitting outside the range of the panel. To say it was Buzzcocks’ most ambitious themed show was an understatement, but it’s also one of the most rewarding, if you’re a fan of Who, and if you’re a fan of NMTB.

David was sure to let his personality shine through, by revealing that he’s an unabashed Coldplay fan, and having a running gag angrily shouting the name of a certain fellow Who-verse star. He was also great at the ‘hosting’ portion of the show. Like Blunt, after a while he knew when to let the panel snipe amongst themselves, especially considering Tate’s mental breakdown…and the fact that Bernard Cribbins became the show’s secret weapon. Even if David’s off-the-cuff abilities were sort of down, he still made sure everyone enjoyed themselves, and oh boy did they…

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 6.05.55 PM.png

#18 – Lorraine Kelly (Series 25 Episode 3)

Fresh off the rebranding of Series 25, and two forgettable, unnerving shows, Lorraine Kelly brought us a breath of life from a series that many thought was about to go south. Kelly, contrasting from her squeaky-clean morning show persona, introduced a swear box, spanking paddle, and halfway through the show waxed Phill’s legs. So in terms of morning show presenters, Lorraine Kelly was willing to bend over backwards to put them all in the dust.

It helped that, as a presenter, she didn’t have a problem hosting the show, or keeping the show running smoothly, but she was also responsible for being really funny, and leading to some ‘how the hell is that coming out of Lorraine Kelly’s mouth’ moments. She had this joking way of flirting with some of the contestants, which backfired in a way when her bra sort of exploded during a take, leading the entire panel to improvise around her. She was collaborative, funny, and melded well with everyone on the panel, even if the occasional dip to the well of sexy humor may have distracted from her endeavor of hosting the show.

Still, her show was something of a classic, and her presence ramped up the show into one of the craziest recordings in Buzzcocks history (and half of it wasn’t even Tony Law’s fault.)

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 6.16.24 PM

#17 – Lee Mack (Series 24 Episode 8 & Series 26 Episode 5)

Like Jack Dee, Lee Mack’s another instance of a guy who was sensational on his first time out, and whose 2nd hosting gig pushed him down a few pegs, though the strength of his first outing has pushed him up to #17. I don’t think anybody’s been more on top of his game than Lee on the Series 24 show. Every second, the breath of the comedy gods was flowing through him, and he was giving some spectacular off-the-cuff material, in addition to keeping the show tight. He managed to go off on a tangent on the proper flight attendant uniform, Andrew Stone’s proclamation is that a triple threat is someone who can sing, dance, act, and is coming for you, and his former roommate Noel Fielding.

Additionally, his off the cuff skills led to one of my favorite moments of this era, the entire ‘BATMAAAAN’ Intros round, with Lee commanding the audience to join in, and eventually buckling at the one renegade audience member who does it a third time. Lee was able to work that stage to the point where he could have hosted the show full-time.

However…his second show was sloppily hosted, sloppily structured by the producers, and just a weak effort compared to his last show. Lee spent an entire 3-minute bit completely mis-doing a teleprompter read, and while it was funny and well reacted-to, it was still hard to see from a guy who did it all so well the last time. It was, frankly, a disappointing show, but it didn’t come close to taking away from how strong Lee Mack could be when left to his own devices. As a Buzzcocks host, he was dominant, fast, and insanely likable, in good times and bad.

Moving onto another fellow who’s worked with David Mitchell…

screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-12-20-24-am

#16- Robert Webb (Series 24 Episode 11)

It’s great- when I saw Rob Webb was hosting, I thought ‘yeah, he’ll be alright’. I never thought he’d be THIS GOOD. Like, I was floored with how active he was in the show, and with the contestants, as he was always, in my opinion, the more passive member of Mitchell and Webb.

It helped that Webb was given the comedy goldmine of having Chris Packham on the show, and while Chris was an amazing sport, and a great guy to have on the show…the amount of animal-knobbing jokes beckoned, and Rob was there to help, as well as screw with Cee-Lo Green and Example. He was also dynamite in terms of material, giving some great reads off the prompter, and giving the entire room a belly-laugh after a Sinitta joke.

I’m impressed because I wasn’t expecting him to come out this strong, and he ends up completely ruling the show, and giving one of the strongest efforts from a branded comedian the show’s seen. Even Chris Packham would agree.

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 6.38.55 PM.png

#15- Ricky Wilson (Series 18 Episode 3)

In 2006, the Kaiser Chiefs were the biggest rock band in London, and Ricky Wilson was one of the best young guest panelists that Never Mind the Buzzcocks had to offer. Hosting the show was something of a foregone conclusion, but, as a lot of musicians jumping from guest to host has shown on this list, it doesn’t always go well. Luckily for Ricky Wilson, he managed to host one of the single greatest episodes to not be hosted by Mark Lamarr. And I don’t just say that lightly.

Ricky Wilson was in a fantastic mood that night, not only riding high off the Chiefs’ success, but because he was really jazzed to be hosting the show, and it SO SHOWED. There were several moments where he just flat out had conversations with people, like Colin Murray and Ryan Jarman, just shot the shit. He did eventually have a show to host, and while his reads weren’t PERFECT, he was definitely charismatic enough, and at the same time serious enough, to carry the show.

He was responsible for hosting while TWO classic runners popped up- Ryan Jarman claiming that he’d invented Live 8, and Phill’s entire team deciding to mail the show in and aim to end the show with 0 points. Ricky was stern on both accounts, screwing with Ryan, and playfully rolling his eyes at Phill, even as Phill BELTED OUT various Kaiser Chiefs songs (to which he added “you’ll soon run out of Kaiser Chiefs songs. We’ve only got one record….but we’re gonna DO another one…”)

Even better, Ricky was vulnerable, accidentally making a faux-pas about Stevie Wonder (‘yeah, sorry Stevie, if you’re watching…’), and still landing on his feet. He wasn’t perfect, but with the amount of fun he was having, and the amount of joy that was clearly present in the show, he didn’t need to be.

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 6.51.41 PM.png

#14- Richard Madeley (Series 26 Episode 8)

As good as morning-show presenter Lorraine Kelly was in the host’s chair, Richard Madeley was even better. Why? Because as dirty and vulnerable as Kelly was able to go…Richard Madeley went deeper, dirtier, and crazier, to the point where Phill summed it up by saying ‘I’m going to need counseling after this show’.

Richard’s strength was not only assembling the madness that was this show, featuring Seann Walsh and Andrew O’Neil, but contributing to it. He was great at talking back at the contestants, contributing to jokes, and just having a fun time with it all. He was also great at hosting, and had some great prepared jokes.

Now…where his hosting gig gains traction is his ability to defy expectations, by saying some of the filthiest, least-Madeley-esque things, most famously involving auto-fellatio by way of wheely-bin, but also involving his co-host Judy giving him head underneath the desk. The panel went into hysterics at how un-Madeley Madeley was being, and the fun continued solely because Madeley allowed himself to kick back and enjoy himself.

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 9.49.04 PM.png

#13- Terry Wogan (Series 24 Episode 4)

Terry Wogan is one of those gets that only happens every once in a blue moon. The guy is one of the most world-renowned presenters and TV personalities, singlehandedly engineering Children in Need and the Eurovision Song Contest, and he’s the kind of guy whose kind, yet intimidating, presence can light up a room. So having someone as HUGE and PROFESSIONAL as Terry Wogan host a least-common-denominator program like Buzzcocks is a risk. Here, thankfully, it paid off.

Terry took this grand, wonderful approach to everything, and while sometimes it didn’t pay off [his reads were often a bit too plummy], his general demeanor shone through the show, offhandedly saying to Rufus Hound ‘D’you know I had no idea when I met you…the depths of your depravity?’ After even more panel shenanigans, he just looked at the camera, and yelled ‘ENOUGH OF THIS…SOCIETY ENTERTAINMENT!’

Maybe it was the fact that Terry Wogan was being undermined by Rufus Hound talking about C3P0’s genitalia, or maybe it was just the way he said it, but I don’t think Phill ever laughed harder than he did immediately after that joke.

The marvel of Terry Wogan’s hosting appearance is that literally everything he did was funnier because of the concept of Terry Wogan doing it or saying it on a panel show. Terry’s offhanded wicked sense of humor shone through in numbers, elevating even the quietest of moments, and keeping the entire panel in a fantastic mood. Though you could tell he was a bit drained by the end, and though you could tell the insanity could overwhelm and confuse him, he responded like a true professional, and had a positively wonderful time of it.

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-2-44-34-am

#12- Josh Groban (Series 24 Episode 10)

Josh Groban is living proof that people can have two sides in show business. One side can be the gracious, melodic, operatic singer that gets tons of sales at Christmas. The other side can be one of the most charismatic, all-out-funny people that Buzzcocks has ever had on, and his hosting appearance mixed the best of both worlds.

The main indicator of this show’s success was the mood everyone on the panel was in, especially Michael Ball and KT Tunstall, all having nice, ‘Grobanated’ moments throughout the show. Plus, having Ball on hand as Groban, who’s a big fan of his, got to host was a nice touch.

Look, I don’t think anybody knew it in 1996, but Buzzcocks was MADE for Josh Groban. The way he can interact with the panel, the way he can crack jokes, the way he can have really nice musical moments…that’s what the show had been clamoring for since its inception. Josh was quick, concise, had great judgment, and knew how to bring the best out in everyone, especially Tinchy Stryder.

His piece de resistance was the ending, where he and Michael Ball got to sing ‘I Dreamed a Dream’. You could tell this was a childhood dream of his, and it came off as an incredibly sweet, and terrific music moment. The show wasn’t perfect, but Groban gave more charisma and enthusiasm to Buzzcocks than arguably any American ever has.

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 10.23.52 PM.png

#11- Warwick Davis (Series 27 Episode 10)

Another one of the well-planned Theme Shows, the Movies special, was hosted by the guy who’d been in so many hit movies without you even knowing it, as well as being an incredibly funny compadre to Ricky Gervais, the great Warwick Davis. I think a lot of people underestimate Warwick because of his size, when in reality he’s one of the nicest, and funniest, guys in showbiz, and it certainly showed in Buzzcocks.

Warwick did a very nice job of keeping the show together, and keeping the panel engaged, coming off as an incredibly strong proctor for a ton of big personalities, including Chris Ramsey, who Warwick even had a little pseudo-rivalry with throughout the show. He also was able to provide an exclusive, once-in-a-show-run experience, with a tiebreaker round and a bonus Willow stunt double of his in the ID Parade. So, really, instead of the producers tailoring the show to him, he basically did all the tailoring himself, and it really showed- he seemed like he was having a ball.

He was terrific off the cuff, knew when to be stern, and, more importantly, wasn’t afraid of short jokes. Plus, this was a show where the panel could have easily overtaken the host, especially with the ‘Squirrels Ate My Cake’ runner, and…it didn’t really happen. So Bravo to Warwick..

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 10.47.49 PM.png

#10- Kathy Burke (Series 26 Episode 1)

So…knowing how good Kathy Burke was on her Series 5 show, I was expecting something funny, but I wasn’t expecting her to roll out the best Series Premiere since the Mark era.

You could tell she was up to the challenge when early on, she accentuated a joke with a casual wink, and she got loads of applause for it…and then threatened to do that for every joke for the rest of the show. She was also so incredibly laid back, as per her character, that the show just had this raunchy, fun, spontaneous feel to it, like any moment there could be a fun, ridiculous moment. And with Mark Hoppus on the panel, who also shared Kathy’s off-the-cuff and dirty ideology, that’s what happened.

Most of Kathy’s material could have been cut from the same cloth as Mark Lamarr, even with an ‘I *SAY* ____’ joke in there. Kathy, luckily, was savage enough, and had this no-holds-barred attitude about her, that a great deal of the prompter jokes were sold instantly. But moreover, she was able to communicate with the contestants, especially Greg Rutherford, and be very off-the-cuff (even lampshading that Greg’s seat was supposed to be taken by Mo Farra).

Kathy Burke may not have, on paper, looked like the greatest NMTB host, but she fit SO WELL with the brand of dry, sick humor, and she hosted a hell of a show.

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 11.09.15 PM.png

#9- John Barrowman (Series 25 Episode 12)

Onto another host that seemed to infect the entire show with their brand of humor, only this one in a jollier, slightly gayer fashion.

John Barrowman’s another guy who was born for this show, being a natural performer and a guy who’s entertaining simply breathing. What makes his show, which had a few gay jokes, different from David Walliams’ is that Barrowman doesn’t use it as a gimmick. He kinda uses his musical theatre background more than he uses his gayness this show, though he does plant a smooch on both Jason Manford AND Phill Jupitus. He gave all his energy to making this not only a show to remember, but a Christmas show to remember, and all the hard work paid off.

The guy’s skills as a presenter impressed me, as his reads and jokes were spot on, and the way he collaborated with the panelists, especially both Jasons (Derulo and Manford). Plus, once he realized something pissed someone on the panel off, he decided to use it to his advantage in the most cheerily evil way possible, like Phill and his hatred of Mr. Blobby (Rhod would use this several times in S28 as well.) Honestly, you could see how much love he had for the show, and the spectacle of it.

Even in the last moments, he got everyone that was a part of the show, including the ID Parade guests, to join him center stage to sing Silent Night. John Barrowman wanted to make this the single most memorable Christmas show of the series…and he damn near succeeded, too, but there’s one that beats his…

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 11.21.51 PM.png

#8 – Bob Mortimer (Series 26 Episode 12)

Now let me explain myself.

I just said so many great things about Barrowman’s Christmas show, the spectacle, the moment, the everything. So why, pray tell, does Bob Mortimer’s show, which pulled out less stops and was less grand, rank higher? Just look at Bob’s face. Bob Mortimer is capable of making literally any program he’s on the most fun time anyone’s gonna have. He did this back in his first appearance on Buzzcocks in S1, and he did this in his Guest Captain bit…but without the use of mistletoe, musical numbers or theatrics, Bob Mortimer was able to create the most fun environment this series ever had (save for a fellow coming up in a few spots).

Bob’s bizarre humor took full hold during the show, allowing for some bizarre Christmas anecdotes and crackers. The guy had a rolodex full of old-school keyboard sound effects that he kept throwing in to crack people up, and some of his jokes, and his ID Parade names, did enough to keep people laughing for HOURS. Plus, as host, he was able to second-guess contestants, screw with them, and yell keyboard noises at them.

The patron saint of this round was the entire Next Lines round, because everybody was already really happy and giggly, but the joke answers people were giving were insanely inspired. Plus, Noel and Bob’s dynamic was wonderful, both as weird comics, and both would crack each other up throughout the night.

So while, in a perfect world, both shows would be even, the Bob show slightly has the edge for just being insanely fun and ridiculous without trying too hard to be.

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 4.48.36 PM

#7 – Peter Andre (Series 27 Episode 3)

He sings. He dances. He takes off his shirt. He hosts. He smiles. He trains. He toilets. He celebrities. Yet despite all that, heading towards Peter Andre’s episode, I was fearing a dud. Why? Because like James Blunt, in my head I figured that someone that’d become a punchline also had to be a not-great person as well.

Well, look. Peter Andre, like James Blunt, knows exactly who he is. And he’s able to make fun of himself, as well as take a joke about himself. Literally moment one of the show, he’s coming in with his entire camera crew from his reality show, trying to document his hosting gig from both angles. If he was actually a stuck-up prick, he wouldn’t make a big thing of it at the top of the show. Even as a b-rate singer, he knows how to entertain people.

Peter’s hosting skills were great, and he was able to appeal to everyone without coming off like he was pandering. However, you can sum up Peter’s hosting gig with one song…Insania. When the song played in in Intros, Peter just waited for it to stop…and then he became visibly frustrated…and then the entire panel started dancing to the song.

Even funnier was the full ‘Insania’ round, which started with a full two minutes of Abbott-and-Costello-esque prattling between Peter and Noel (“Who am I?” “PETER!” “YES.”) The humor in this is the fact that Peter Andre is SO INTO HOSTING THE SHOW, and the charisma is SO SHOWING…and yet Noel, and Ana Matronic are BREAKING HIM. And there are moments where he just winces to the camera, but he’s doing it for the show, and he’s doing it for the experience. The whole ‘who am I’ but went on for so long, but only because Peter committed to it. Heck, Peter even brought out Bubbla Ranks, his ‘Mysterious Girl’ collaborator, for ID Parade, and for some of Intros, which is a great use of using your hosting cred to sweeten the pot.

So no matter how much Peter Andre squirmed, winced, or rolled his eyes, you could tell how much he wanted this show to be success, and how much effort he put in to entertain everyone.

Peter, exasperated: “…who am I?”
Tony Law: “…one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, frankly…”

(ironically, we go from Peter Andre to the guy that completely obliterated him on Mock the Week…)

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-4-42-53-pm

#6- Greg Davies (Series 25 Episode 6)

This show must have been a present sent from the Gods for Greg Davies. Not only did he have ‘H’ from Steps, not only did he have Frankie Boyle and Holly Walsh onhand, and not only did he have the offensively dumb Amy Childs in the building…but he had Tinchy Stryder, the guy basically half his height, on his show. The amount of comedic possibilities in that equation is endless, and damn if Greg didn’t milk it for all it was worth.

The thing that stands out is just how Greg absolutely MASTERED this show. He’s probably one of the most active hosts the show’s ever had, because every second of gameplay, he was collaborating with the panel, and making jokes with, and at, them. Plus, he engineered an entire runner around objects being small to him, and GIANT to Tinchy, which worked every goddamned time. Even when Greg and Tinchy had to go over to the ID Parade together, and you could see the insane height difference, it was still ridiculously funny.

Height jokes aside, Greg was insanely active in the game, and in most of the runners. When Frankie and Amy Childs were having their ‘vajazzling’ discussion, Greg absolutely had to keep it going. Greg was also great at fueling Frankie’s fire, having worked with him on MTW a few times. Additionally, the entire joke that Tinchy measures monetary amounts in ‘range rovers’ couldn’t have kept going without Greg needling Tinchy about it.

Greg was also naturally hysterical, both off the cuff and off the prompter, and was able to control the chaos of all the personalities by keeping the game running smoothly. And yet there are five spots ahead of Greg, which means that as top-to-bottom amazing Greg Davies was, there were five hosts that did better.

screen-shot-2016-11-05-at-12-26-40-am

#5 – Dermot O’Leary (Series 23 Episode 10)

Dermot O’Leary is responsible for hosting the single most fun episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks of all time. It’s very rare that people leave without any animosity, or without even demented, snarky jokes being hurled at them, but this was honestly one of the safest, most peaceful environments for a NMTB episode, and you’d be lying if you say that’s not Dermot’s fault.

This was a long time coming for Dermot, who’d done one quiet appearance during the Mark era, and one personality-laden-yet-still-lower-key appearance during the Simon era. The guy started off the show with a group hug (featuring a Mariah Carey song that wouldn’t shut off properly), and interspersed the show with Peter Dickson excitedly announcing the names of the panelists (and some of the rounds), which played either post-punchline [‘PHILL JUPITUS!’] or at the behest of a contestant who wanted to geek out [‘RUSSELL TOVEY!’].

Dermot’s strength, probably learned in his time as a presenter, is he knew when to be passive, like when he allowed David O’Doherty and Noel to go on about fake panda facts, and when to be active, like when he willed JLS’ Aston Merrygold to do a backflip center stage. He also was loose enough to have a personality through his reads and jokes, and interacted with both panels, making sure everyone got screen-time and awesome moments.

By the end of the show, Michael Ball and Phill were giggling to each other, and everyone was in a fantastic mood. That’s not a ‘good show’ detriment- that’s the sign of an amazing host.

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-12-15-36-am

#4 – Martin Freeman (Series 23 Episode 8)

I think, out of everyone who hosted the show in this era, Martin Freeman’s career aged the best. I mean this because when he hosted, he was famous for being on The Office, and doing some minor stuff…and as of right now he’s starred in all three Hobbit movies, he’s part of the MCU, he’s been on Fargo, he’s hosted Saturday Night Live, and he’s best known for playing John Watson on Sherlock. Most of this career-defining stuff happened after this episode. So to say this show aged well, especially considering how well Freeman did, is an overstatement.

Martin’s been portrayed as this sort of composed, stick-up-his-ass type in everything he’s been in, so to see him cut loose and throw Lamarr-style insults at Dappy and Charlie Brooker was refreshing, as well as throwing in a few of his trademark eye-rolls. He was a fantastic proctor, capable of screwing with teams when they were unable to get an answer, or more likely just screwing with Dappy when he couldn’t get all of a Next Line. He also used his professional sort of persona to make everything he said come off as genuine, even if he was taking the mick.

The thing is, I would have ranked him highly had he just been a fantastic, Mark-esque host. But what brings him up to #4 is the way he handled a certain incident on the show, where Dappy made a crack at a rather overweight member of the ID Parade…which caused Phill, in jest, to walk off.

I compare this one to the Clarkson show because, unlike just giving Phill shit about it as he went offstage, Martin was able to stay genuine, and convince Dappy that he’d legitimately just insulted Phill Jupitus, all while joining Charlie in screwing with him. He just kept this persona of ‘oh no, how could someone do this’, when all the while Phill was probably just taking a piss break, laughing his ass off. Martin absolutely sold the event, and clearly defined the side the audience should take (read: against Dappy), while still sort of trying to keep the show going, and to entertain the crap out of everyone in the room that wasn’t Dappy.

A lesser host couldn’t have handled that incident like Martin Freeman did. He took what could have been a chaotic moment and absolutely owned it, making it look like Dappy was the real victim. And to be fair, the bloke kinda deserved it.

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 5.36.43 PM

#3- Russell Howard (Series 27 Episode 2)

I imagine there is a difference between ‘not liking Russell Howard’ and ‘not liking Russell Howard on Mock the Week’. Because honestly, I think the latter bit is where most of the backlash has come from. Russell’s a fantastic stand-up, and has built a career on being an incredible improviser and comedian, but his material on Mock the Week, especially in comparison to Hugh Dennis and Frankie Boyle, definitely is kind of lackluster. I think he’s gotten more love as a stand-up because he’s in a medium he’s more used to.

To that end, hosting Never Mind the Buzzcocks may have worked out better for Russell than 5 years of Mock the Week did. Because Russell may have been the closest resemblance to Mark Lamarr from anyone on this era, and Russell probably gave the greatest audition for a long-term tenure as host.

The second he began, it felt like he’d done this show a million times before. Obviously Good News and Stand-Up Central had primed him for this, as his prompter-reading and audience-reading skills were already on par with the best. Also, the guy wasn’t selfish. If he was gonna make jokes, he was gonna collaborate with the whole panel, which was one of his strengths on MTW.

His biggest moments came from screwing with the panelists, in particular, Stacey Solomon and Lethal Bizzle. But HOW he screwed with them is what sets him apart from the pack. With Stacey, he took her offhanded impression of a sea-lion and turned it into an entire David Attenborough special, where he talks about animals and Stacey just does the impressions of them (i.e. “HERE WE HAVE THE MIGHTY BEAR. STACEY?”) I’ve mentioned this roughly a billion times on this blog, but it made me laugh so hard that it’s worth mentioning over and over again. Plus, with Lethal, he screwed him over his use of the term DENCH, even bringing up specific tweets (including the one that ended in ‘Hashtag Fannys’). Still, with all this teasing, I don’t think anybody left the show legitimately hating him.

He didn’t have to do anything flashy, he just hosted the show, and had some really funny material at the expense of the panelists, and just in general. Russell Howard truly impressed me in that regard, and that’s why he gets to be #3.

Screen Shot 2017-03-10 at 4.55.58 PM

#2 – Richard Ayoade (Series 26 Episode 7)

Sometimes someone gives such a tonal jolt to the show that you can’t help but ignore them. This almost happened with Simon’s ‘Family Friendly’ episode, where he tried to veer the show back into safe humor (while still having Alexei Sayle and Jack Dee on the program), but it still fell short due to Simon’s cheeky-bastard sensibilities.

Richard Ayoade came on the show, and announced up front that there would be no jokes in this episode. Likewise, he delivered one of the funniest shows in recent memory, yet he still stayed true to his word. How? Well, Richard Ayoade can literally make anything funny given the right context, and the right deadpan.

In that regard, Ayoade was perfect to host the show. He never once broke out of his droll, deadpan character, and strung the entire show along to be factual, and interesting, rather than funny. Of course this was meant in semi-jest, but Ayoade made damn sure that he looked like he was serious, going so far as reading odd facts about musical genres throughout the show, and inciting theoretical discussion whenever possible. He made the show funny through anti-humor, through subverting the expectations of the audience and giving a completely different kind of humor than what the show is known for. And in an era when the show went more broad than sophisticated in terms of humor, this was welcome.

Richard’s crowning achievement was taking an offhanded comment by guest Ed Sheeran, spinning it, and spending the entire rest of the show berating him about it. It started off as innocently as Ed saying he passes out after sex, and Richard went further, turning the whole show on his head and completely embarrassing Ed Sheeran…even after he elaborated further and further. Like the Freeman show, a lesser host wouldn’t know how to react, but Richard just used his utter confusion and multiplied it, transferring it to the entire panel, and eventually the audience.

He was also quick on his feet, and able to improvise around a stumble without breaking character, and he hosted the show so swiftly and adeptly that it felt like he’d been trained in it.

Richard Ayoade, as Buzzcocks host, was a stone wall, in that nothing fazed him, nothing got past him, and he just built on himself and got stronger as the show went on.

So, after all that, you’ve probably done the math and figured out who #1 is. If you’ve read the blog, you shouldn’t be too shocked.

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 9.09.49 PM.png

#1- Frankie Boyle (Series 23 Episode 11 & Series 24 Episode 10)

To a lot of people, this would be a lot like saying Cape Feare’s the best episode of the Simpsons, or that Goldfinger’s the best James Bond movie. Like, yeah…but that’s WAY too obvious? Do something risky, do something unusual! And to be honest, I came close to putting Ayoade at #1…but I couldn’t. I couldn’t not put Frankie Boyle at 1st place.

Frankie Boyle is the single funniest guest host this era ever had. Yes, you say, but Greg Davies was really funny! How come Frankie gets the top spot and Greg doesn’t? Well…Frankie borrowed a bit of ‘unfazeable’ material from Richard Ayoade. In both of his hosting appearances, he had some moments where he could have cracked, where he could have made an easy comment, and he came back with something incredible.

For instance:
Carol Vorderman: “Are you on Facebook, Frankie?”
Frankie: “I am.”
Carol: “What’s your Facebook name?”
Frankie: “….Frankie Boyle?”
[The audience takes a moment to laugh at this.]
Frankie: “…to be honest, Carol, I’d heard you were smarter than this…”

or even:
Frankie: “Yeah, Dappy, now HE’s a muppet…”
Professor Green: “That wasn’t very nice..”
Frankie, IMMEDIATELY: “I’m not a very nice man…Glad I could clear that up for you.”
Michelle Williams: “That’s not true, I think you ARE a nice man.”
Frankie, IMMEDIATELY: “Well, watch this…”

This is the kind of dialogue comedy writers DREAM OF. Frankie’s just so amazing at just knowing the exact right shit to say, not even taking a moment of thinking of it. When Andy Parsons made a joke about him on ‘Scenes We’d Like to See’, Frankie was literally walking onto the stage JUST AS ANDY WAS LEAVING. HE ALREADY HAD THE JOKE THOUGHT UP. IT TOOK, LIKE 2 SECONDS.

With all of that said about Frankie, did he deliver, on BOTH his shows? Yes, he did indeed. His first show was great, as he was able to deliver phenomenal lines, some polished proctoring, and some really nice Carol Vorderman slams. You could tell he was a fan of the show, and a fan of music, and was pretty cheery to be honest, while giving his trademark amount of Michael Jackson jokes and AIDS slams.

His second show was the one that singlehandedly convinced me that I needed to do a watchdown for this show. Just from the way that Goldie spent the entire episode with his gold-plated teeth against the desk, laughing so hard, you could tell how outstanding that episode was. Frankie was able to screw with Professor Green, Goldie AND Michelle Williams throughout the show, to the point where I’m honestly surprised Michelle still liked him by the end. As dominant as he was in Show 1, he was even stronger in his second show, giving one of the funniest episodes I’ve ever seen, and never once breaking a sweat or not knowing what to say. And this episode had shit that could even render Richard Ayoade speechless, especially the ‘dotty bitch’ that showed up in ID Parade.

The best part of all this is that Frankie Boyle was able to comply with BBC standards, was still able to not really filter himself, and had a tremendous time both times. And he did so well that the producers asked him to fill in for Phill the very next series, which led to ANOTHER funny episode.

Simply put, Frankie Boyle crafted two of the funniest episodes of Buzzcocks of all time, and did so not only brutally, but professionally. To me, he is the greatest Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest Host of all time, and if he had ended up hosting the show full-time, I would have collapsed in joy.

So, those are my Guest Host rankings. You may not agree with them, but I had a ton of fun writing this up. Next up, I’m probably gonna rank some of my favorite recurring panelists. Hopefully those lists will take a smidge less effort.

Ever Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest Host, Ranked (Part Two)

When last we met, we counted down the bottom 19 Guest Hosts in Buzzcocks history, ranging from good-intending-but-badly-executed (like Alex James) to absolutely atrocious in every way (like Tim Westwood).

Today, we’ll tackle #s 40-21, the middle of the road section of the countdown. If you’d like guidelines for the ranking, check the previous post. We’re heading right into things here:

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 3.08.47 PM.png

#40- Sara Cox (Series 27 Episode 4)

We begin this stretch of the countdown with another radio/tv presenter who, despite some enthusiasm, couldn’t really distinguish herself from the rest of the pack. Sara Cox has always been a charismatic choice for Buzzcocks, giving a really smiley performance in Series 5, and graduating to give intros to Adam Ant in Series 28. So to say that she fit on Buzzcocks was an understatement. Her hosting gig wasn’t all that memorable, though it wasn’t really her fault as much as it fell on the shoulders of guest Iggy Azalea, whose antics and demeanor were the subject of lampoon and jokes from the entire panel. Sara couldn’t really compete with Phill and Noel for the Iggy jokes, so decided to just host a ship-shape show, which, to her credit, she did. Again, great personality, but by default she falls into the ‘anyone could have hosted this show’ category.

#39- Jeremy Clarkson (Series 18 Episode 5)

I tried to keep personal bias out of this one, as I’m not particularly fond of Mr. Clarkson, so I tried to put myself in the eyes of someone who, god forbid, does enjoy his work. Would a Top Gear fan, or Clarkson fan, have enjoyed Clarkson’s NMTB bit? Well…no, not really. While this was a very funny show, and while Clarkson was allowed to be himself and snipe at Antony Costa, you could tell there was a great dissonance between the material prepared for Clarkson and the mood Clarkson showed up in. It’s not always very obvious that Buzzcocks’ jokes are written by other people, but here more than anywhere else they just stood out, perhaps due to Clarkson’s plummy, shit-eating delivery of them.

But that’s honestly not the reason he’s this low. He’s also responsible for some generally murky editing around the last half of the show. To this day, for the life of me, I’m not sure if Phill walked off because of Clarkson, and if he really meant it. All I know is that once intros started, Phill wasn’t his jovial self, and was letting Antony Costa fly through the Intros. Then, mid-round, he got up and left, without any real reason given. He just left. And from the crack Clarkson had about a minute later, saying that Phill was already at a fish-and-chip shop, I’m not being given any reason to believe it WASN’T Clarkson’s doing. So I’m left with a hard-to-watch last half of an episode that was fun for some of the wrong reasons.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 3.22.55 PM.png#38- Catherine Tate (Series 24 Episode 2)

After putting forth one of the single most baffling appearances on the show from someone not named Bill Oddie, Catherine Tate’s hosting gig was thought as an odd choice from me going into Series 24, but after the Mark Ronson show, I was hoping for anything that was slightly coherent. Surprisingly Catherine was the coherent one, playing off her ‘am I bovvered’ catchphrase, leading a relatively ship-shape show, and having a great deal of fun. But ironically the incoherency came from Noel Fielding’s team, dubbed ‘Team Fuzzy’, featuring a jet-lagged Tulisa from N-Dubz, and a perpetually glazed Howard Marks. So it’s equally ironic to say that I remember more about the antics of Team Fuzzy, especially with Phill screwing with Howard, than I remember about the host, the lady who confused the shit out of Bernard Cribbins the year before. Again, nothing too terrible, but when you’re drowned out by Howard Marks, you’ve got to do something better.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 3.32.11 PM.png

#37- James Corden (Series 23 Episode 1)

I’m gonna start this writeup by saying that I don’t hate James Corden as much as everybody else does. Everybody in the UK’s probably sick of him, because he presented everything over there and wasn’t terribly funny, and Frankie Boyle wants him to kill himself. I…think he’s fine? I like The Late Late Show, I think Carpool Karaoke is a good concept, and I liked when he hosted the Tonys. His mindset is just having fun and making the best out of something dark, and I can totally respect that. Literally in the first seconds of the show, he brought up the elephant in the room, Simon Amstell, and said that this wasn’t gonna be another mean era of the show, which I thought was awfully nice.

The rest of the show Corden hosted…was okay. Not good, not bad. Okay. He didn’t do a great deal of envelope-pushing, but he didn’t need to. Obviously he knew how to read an autocue, and obviously he was good at interacting with the panel, but overall nothing really stood out on his show, save for Corden’s eternally jolly demeanor. It’s hard to believe Corden was the first guest host after the Amstell era, and while he didn’t start things with a bang, he at least gave an inoffensive, harmless entry into the canon.

Ironically, we move from the first ever guest host of the ‘era’ to the LAST ever guest host of the era, and someone who’s the exact opposite of safe and inoffensive.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.11.49 AM

#36- JOHNNY VEEEEGAS, (SEEERIES TWENT-EH SEVUNN, EPISOOODE THIIIIHTEEN!)

Well. Somebody gave Johnny some booze, didn’t they.

I’ve always been on the fence about Johnny Vegas’ character, because on one hand, he’s this loud, boorish, obnoxious character, but on the other hand, there’s something very childlike and innocent about him, and the latter bit has been winning out a lot on QI. I never particularly enjoyed him on Buzzcocks, though, as he’d always be rather loud, esoteric, and take away from the quiz too much.

The Christmas show he hosted was, uh…wild. Absolutely wild. Johnny was visibly drunk, he would go into digressions that I’m still unsure of whether or not they were intentional, and he was kind of compromised as a host, giving semi-intentionally bad prompter readings, and nearly screwing up the hole show by handing Phill’s team the entire envelope of Next Lines…and then taking another 5 minutes to sulk about it.

The reason why he’s not so much lower is that while he was disastrous on the show, there was still something truly entertaining about it that kept the whole thing from being a ‘Johnny’s drunk, this is really unwatchable’ kind of thing, like the Amy Winehouse show or the Bonnie Tyler show. He was having a great time, and he’d go on emotional tangents for the camera which I think were intentional, and made the whole thing entertaining, in addition to bizarre.  So obviously his episode was flawed, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 3.48.31 PM.png

#35- Tinie Tempah (Series 25 Episode 9)

In terms of rappers hosting the show, I think of someone who did pretty well, like Example, and someone who couldn’t break out of his funk, like Dizzee Rascal. I put Scunthorpe-obsessed Tinie Tempah somewhere in the middle. On one hand, you could see his personality there, and you could see he was trying to have fun, especially playing the Scunthorpe card, and plopping a giant bag of placenta on the desk, to the horror of the panelists. But on the other, some of his reads weren’t great, he took a passive approach to hosting, and didn’t have many cards to rely on in terms of material (hence the overreliance on Scunthorpe.) So while he was definitely enthusiastic, he fell short of lapping Example (who was on the panel that night), but the show could still be carried by the panel (and oh, what a weird show it was…)

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-1-48-07-am

#34- David Walliams (Series 23 Episode 9)

With the amount of prestige and acclaim David Walliams has gotten, and the fact that he’s generally well-liked by the public, I was kinda surprised how much of a let-down his show was. The main joke running through the show was how gay David was (even though we know now that he’s bisexual), and he was sort of playing this up throughout the show, even using world-renowned motion capture actor Andy Serkis for a cheap anal-sex joke. He also just essentially flirted with Gareth Malone and Basshunter the whole show. I mean, there was a lot of good energy stuff here, and I definitely think David’s a nice rudimental host, but a lot of his material hit the same notes for me, and couldn’t really be elevated above ‘okay.’

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 4.03.05 PM

#33- Elvis Presley (or Eamonn Holmes) (Series 27 Episode 6)

I’ve been going over in my head whether or not the Elvis thing was a show-long gimmick. I mean, I honestly think Eamonn just wanted to dress up like Elvis, didn’t have a ton of Elvis-shoehorning into the rest of the show, and this doesn’t really feel like the ‘Elvis’ show, to me. So it’s not a gimmick. Eamonn just wanted to dress up like Elvis, which he’s more than capable of doing.

Other than some rudimentary stuff, Eamonn didn’t really interact with too many of the panelists, and mostly stuck to his guns, which is why he’s down here, but I’d like to point out that his hosting skills were excellent (obviously, as all those years on GMTV trained him correctly). Additionally…the prompter jokes they gave Eamonn were some of the most savage, hysterical jokes in a while. Unlike the Clarkson show, it felt like Eamonn was perfectly game with the material, even if it included a fat joke at his expense, and a LETHAL Anthea Turner slam. He was insanely game with the script for the night, almost as if he helped write it. So while he wasn’t the perfect host, his skills in front of the prompter were top notch, and that’s what puts him above Walliams for me.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 4.11.11 PM

#32- Alex Horne (and his Horne Section) (Series 26 Episode 9)

This booking I will give the producers some credit for. On one of the foremost music institutions in the UK, having Alex Horne and his entire jazz ensemble host the show was a fantastic choice. The Intros round playbacks had band renditions instead of play-ins, and the Next Lines round had the band do the prompt, and required the panelists to sing back the Next Lines, leading to an adorable, impressive moment from Paloma Faith.

The interludes didn’t always work- in the middle of a conversation about olympic gymnast Louis Smith, the band improvised a song about Louis in action, which, while a great idea in question, took away some much-needed quiz time. These digressions weren’t always great, but the band was a great innovation for the show.

Again, like the Catherine Tate show, I don’t remember a ton about Alex’s hosting, charismatic as it was, because the show was taken over by Team Abstract, featuring Paloma Faith and Tony Law, two of the most bonkers panelists the show’s ever had. Most of their antics made up the show, instead of Alex Horne’s hosting. So while Horne and his section made for a great show, his hosting skills took a backseat to some panel action, which, while not a bad thing, takes away from what could have been a higher ranking.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 4.25.25 PM.png

#31- Michael Bolton (Series 27 Episode 8)

Sometimes an episode-long theme actually fits a host’s strengths, and this is no more evident than getting Michael Bolton, post-Lonely-Island-aided Boltonaissiance, to host the ‘Sexy Special’, complete with over-the-top mountain for Bolton to stand on, and Shane Filan to teach everybody how to stand sexily.

Look, Bolton’s strengths were obviously not in reading from a prompter, as some of his reads were kind of wooden and unnatural. Additionally, he’d get something wrong, like assigning a song to the ‘Kaiser Chefs’ (cue Seann Walsh going ‘WHAT’S THAT COMING OVER THE HILL, IT IS A BLENDER!’). So while he wasn’t the most mentally prepared for the show (maybe attributed to slight jet-lag), he still worked his charm when he could, and was still fully aware of his status as not only a sex symbol but a pop culture punchline. And yeah, he was capable of singing sexily anytime he wanted, leading to a great moment of, on Seann and Phill’s request, singing ‘IT’S NOOOOOT ANAL DAAAANGERR…”

So he was game, he was himself, but as a host he was lacking a bit. Still made for a great show, though.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 4.31.31 PM.png

#30- Example (Series 26 Episode 2)

Directly in the middle of the countdown is an appearance from E.G., a guy who was a panelist a bunch of times, and always seemed to have a really good time. As host…yeah, he was pretty good. I don’t have a ton to say about him, as he kept the game going well, interacted with the panel well, and came off like he was happy to be there. Granted, he was tied to a ‘And the Love Kick Starts Again’ runner, between Gareth Malone and Wretch 32, which, by the umpteenth rendition, had Gareth literally banging his head on the desk in frustration.

Still, Example kept the main bulk of the humor to the panelists, and thank god- Rufus Hound, Wretch and Gareth made this one of the filthiest shows on record, thanks to a ton of jokes involving soldiers’ wives and pantomime horses. Example, to his credit, joined in on the fun in addition to keeping the game going.

So yeah: Example is pretty much the standard for guest hosting. A perfect example, if you will.

#29: Huey Morgan (Series 18 Episode 6)

Before the mug-smashing incident, and after the show where he came to set high off a number of narcotics, Huey, the smooth MC, hosted a show in Series 18, as a friend of Mark’s. Was he a good host? No. His reads weren’t great, he screwed up a bunch of his lines, and wasn’t THE greatest at keeping the game going. BUT…off the cuff, Huey was absolutely hysterical. In messing up a line, he kept giving uncensored takes of a joke about Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz, because he was really passionate on the subject. He also had a ton of jokes about himself being secretly gay, and even more about a New Jersey weatherman taking on England. The stuff he improvised, and the amount of fun he was HAVING as well as IMPARTING onto the panelists (especially Phill) more than made up for his lack of mechanics as a host.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 4.42.50 PM.png

#28- Tim Minchin (Series 24 Episode 6)

Slightly disappointing seeing as Tim’s one of the more fun panelists and personalities of this middle-era of the show, but ultimately worth it being that it’s Tim bluddy Minchin hosting Buzzcocks. I like the fact that he was able to work off of pretty much everyone on the panel- fellow aussie Jason Donovan on his right, and fellow weird musician, and fellow weird comedian, Paloma Faith and Tim Key on his left. He had plenty of material on them all, even a little screwing with Tim in Intros.

Even better, Tim donated his piano talents to the Intros round, as he gave both teams a ‘Tim’ card, saying he’d help them out with a piano rendition of the intro in question, which was a great touch. His jokes, and autocue reading, take him down a few pegs, as well as the quality of the ongoing ‘bow and arrow’ joke directed at DJ Target. He could have done better, but I’m still quite happy this show happened.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 9.35.58 PM.png

#27- Alice Cooper (Series 25 Episode 7)

Alice Cooper is probably the NMTB producers’ greatest triumph- not only getting him to come on back in Series 14 and joke around with Mark Lamar, but getting the so-called Prince of Darkness back to host in Series 25. Ohhh, let me tell you, the opening moments of the show were followed by a great deal of geeking out on my end. Then, I saw Alice Cooper the man, rather than Alice Cooper the performer, do his greatest strength- amidst the black smoke and lightning, he grew a goofy smile, and, like the uncle who’d just made a toast at a wedding, semi-pathetically asked everyone to ‘siddown’.

Alice Cooper’s strength is his ability to be, you know, ALICE COOPER, while at the same time, still be able to come off as a normal dude from the midwest. In hosting the show, this really came off well- he wielded his rock cred with a smile and grin, and quizzed the panel on the name of his new album as a twist. But still, he came off as one of the nicest guys in rock’n’roll, and even managed to throw in his Elvis story, which I’d heard before, but was even funnier when surrounded by Noel and Phill.

Still, some of the prompter reads needed some work, and Alice wasn’t a terribly active administrator, but I didn’t care. He was ALICE COOPER- he could be as good as he wanted to be.

screen-shot-2016-11-24-at-1-35-08-am

#26- Jack Dee (Series 24 Episode 3 & Series 25 Episode 2)

The trouble you can get with bringing someone back a second time is that they can back away from what made them great the first time and instead stick to what’s easy, and hand in a less-than-favorable result. And that, sadly, applies to the eternally-dour Jack Dee.

Jack’s first go-around was fantastic, thanks to the influence of a certain pair of Irish chipmunks to send Jack into a near-tailspin for most of the show, and give him enough comedic fodder to remain grumpy for the entire show. Jack can read off the prompter well, and like we saw in his Guest Panelist show, he’s very savvy and inclusive when he needs to be, sort of behind the guise of this character. He didn’t reinvent the wheel, but his hosting skills were outshone by his ability to work off the cuff and keep screwing with Jedward and the rest of the panelists.

The problem he had in the 2nd show was that he didn’t really have a natural source of grumpiness, and the show had to center the show around Jack being grumpy, complete with digressions and prop-related asides that fell flat. It felt manufactured, rushed, and fake, and while Jack did the best he could to still give funny moments, he was dwarfed by the production team’s intervention…when they clearly didn’t need to intervene.

Jack’s a great talent, and had a great first show, but the weak quality of his first show pulled him down a tad farther than I would have liked.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 9.56.23 PM.png

#25- Adam Buxton (Series 25 Episode 4)

Adam Buxton’s hosting tenure was responsible for one bit I really, really hated…and another bit that makes me laugh to this date. The fact that he’s #25 on the countdown means that the second one won out a little bit.

Adam was another victim of the show tailoring the specific episode to the host in Series 25. Between every round, Adam sang a self-written jingle, describing the next round, done in a specific style. I…did not like this. Not one bit. I do love the fact that they were all written by Buxton, and the fact that he was really into it, but I felt like it took too much away from the quiz, and since Adam hadn’t really made a big deal about being a radio personality on his prior 2 shows, it was sort of an odd angle to go about. So, love the ambition, hate the execution.

His other innovation was the final round, where, instead of Next Lines, he’d read Youtube comments left on videos featuring the panel (and other vids), and asked them to fill in the blank. In concept, I wasn’t too pleased, but once this round got going…oh dear lord, I was in tears. The second he started imitating the voice of commenter ‘GerryBaboona’, who said, on the subject of magician Dynamo, ‘DIS GUY MUST BE AN ALIEN OR SUTIN’, and going off on a bit there, I was gone. And the round just got funnier and funnier from there.

Adam’s hosting abilities were great, and he, for the most part, knew how to keep people engaged. I took away some points for the jingles, but I think he was a terrific host.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 10.03.35 PM.png

#24- Nick Grimshaw (Series 26 Episode 4)

Nick Grimshaw had a pretty difficult task lined up for him- not only did he have to host Buzzcocks, but he had to host one of the most ambitious themed-Buzzcocks shows in years. The ‘Hey Mr. DJ’ show, which features ample screen-time for guests Pat Sharp, Tony Blackburn and Mike Read (all three Buzzcocks royalty, by the way), was engineered to have a new element to the game, and be even more live and innovative than the rest of the show. So while Grimshaw didn’t exactly succeed with flying colors, he did a pretty nice job of keeping the ship tight.

He was great at engineering the soundboard of DJ sounds, and knowing when to hand it off to the three guests, as well as keeping the DJ element present and including them when necessary. He was also great at reading the prompter and keeping some guests into the mix. The one flaw of his is that he wasn’t always there to bring humor right off the bat, as he was a bit preoccupied with things, but luckily Nancy Dell’Olio was on hand to provide several cc’s of unintentional humor, and Fred Macpherson and Joe Lycett were there to spin the humor back onto her. So, honestly, having Nick not really be the funniest guest host wasn’t really a problem, as the show was insanely funny anyway.

A solid start from the so-called ‘Savior of Buzzcocks’, especially considering the workload he was given.

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 7.00.47 PM

#23- John Hannah (Series 27 Episode 1)

Admittedly, John Hannah was a very odd choice to host the series premiere of Buzzcocks. He’d been a character actor for years, most famously appearing as the gay widower in Four Weddings and a Funeral, but he’d never really been a spotlight type, so even he admitted he was an odd choice. However, the first second of Hannah’s energy, charisma, and exuberance, I kinda knew we were gonna be alright.

Hannah’s show was essentially Tennant lite. He had a good show, was great at interacting with the panel and reading from the prompter. Plus, his actor cred shone through a few times, during a bit where, as a Kiss song played, he mimed passing a blunt to Phill’s panel. The whole time he just seemed really happy to be there, which I love.

The big moment that vexes me happened in Next Lines, where John recited lines from his speech at the end of Four Weddings, next to a picture of the deceased professor. It vexes me because I’m not sure whether or not the producers booked him JUST BECAUSE of Four Weddings, and just because that moment was gonna happen. Either way, the panelists’ way of reacting was friggin’ hysterical, especially Noel’s addition of ‘My Sharona’.

So John Hannah, despite not being anyone’s first choice to host a great show, hosted a great show. Just not quite memorable enough to top this piece of Buzzcocks royalty at #22…

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 8.02.12 PM

#22- Jonathan Ross (Series 18, Episode 1)

Wossy was, in fact, the very first guest host that Buzzcocks ever had, and he was vocal about the fact that he did the show as a favor to Mark Lamarr, who, at that point, was only taking a break due to mental exhaustion (or Toyah exhaustion). To say that Ross was a natural for the job was an understatement- he’d been appearing on the show since the beginning, and knew the exact beats Mark hit as host. He spent some time screwing with Tom from McFly, rolled his eyes at the antics of Bill Bailey and Teddy Mitchell (or Bill and Ted), and kept the game rolling, though stopping to make his usual amount of fun, quick-paced digressions. Said digressions aren’t really for me, and made the show kind of hard to edit, as the first round squeezed Intros-to-Next Lines into the 2nd half of the broadcast. So in terms of hosting and keeping the emphasis on the quiz, he wasn’t great…but in terms of everything else, he was Jonathan Ross hosting Buzzcocks, and it went exactly was well as you would have thought.

Screen Shot 2017-08-02 at 10.28.40 PM.png

#21- Frank Skinner (Series 23 Episode 5)

Frank Skinner was responsible for guesting on a supremely good Series 5 episode…another really nice Series 6 episode, and being the best Guest Captain of Series 22. So I had no doubt in my mind that he’d be a fantastic host, and while he didn’t completely outdo my expectations, not well enough to land in the Top 20, he still managed to host a bang-up show, and was able to be himself.

Frank’s best stuff came from screwing with panelist Tinchy Stryder over his height, his fame, and ‘de knickaz’. He was very fun off-the-cuff, reacting to the panel like Mark would, and keeping the show going like Mark would. He’s also responsible for one of my favorite callbacks in the show’s history. Jon Richardson’s constant guess for Intros was ‘Winds of Change’, by the Scorpions, so Frank was able to get lyrics from that song into Next Lines…and Jon couldn’t get it!

Honestly, what keeps Frank out of the top 20 was the fact that, with the exception of the things i mentioned, I can’t remember a ton about his episode. He was obviously a fantastic host, with some funny material, but the folks in the Top 20 gave me a little more to take away than Frank did, not to disparage him whatsoever.

So, those are the Middle 20. Expect the Top 20 very soon, and expect the #1 spot to be fairly obvious if you’ve been reading the blog.

Every Never Mind the Buzzcocks Guest Host, Ranked (Part One)

I’ve got a few different ways of wrapping up the ubiquitous Nevermind Watchdown planned for the next few days. I figured since this one only refers to a specific timeline of Buzzcocks history, I’d start with that one. So, we’re gonna count down every single person who’s ever guest-hosted an episode, from the bottom to the top.

Several criteria have been taken into account, including hosting skills, funny material, the overall quality of the episode, and the memorability/repetition. So if you were a host who ran a shipshape panel show, made a ton of great jokes, hosted a fantastic episode and came back for an equally great appearance, you’re probably gonna rank highly. People who’ve hosted multiple songs will be subjected to an average- so if you hosted one fantastic show and one terrible show, the average might drag you down a bit. Or, in the case of a certain Mr. Whitehall, if you hosted two terrible shows and one surprisingly fantastic show, you’re only gonna rise a smidge.

Everyone who hosted from Series 18, as well as from Series’ 23-27, is illegible, save for two names…Simon Amstell and Rhod Gilbert. As they ended up hosting series’ of the show, it’s kind of obvious that their ‘audition shows’ in the Guest Host series were successful. Additionally, one of them may have hosted a show that wasn’t really indicative how how their full-series went. So, for the sake of continuity, they’re not included here.

On with the rankings, from #s 59 to 41:

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 5.52.17 PM.png

#59: Tim Westwood (Series 24 Episode 7)

(fixes palm to temple)

Somebody had to come in last, and if it was somebody other than Westwood, I’d have seriously question the quality of guest hosts Buzzcocks had. Westwood, to his credit, was himself, didn’t change for the recording. However, that was also his biggest problem- this childish, unsophisticated, boorish DJ was the absolute wrong fit for the show, constantly referring to Phill Jupitus as ‘Uncle Phill’, and trying to keep the show hip and cool while simultaneously dating it with every colloquialism and slang phrase. The show’s runner, the ‘wheel of JLS’, was even shoddier with Westwood at the helm, and not even Aston Merrygold could escape from the banality. Hell, Noel had to stop the show at one point to correct Westwood’s atrocious delivery on a joke, which resulted in an even more painful, awkward telling of it.
Just…the absolute worst. And probably my least favorite episode of the show.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 5.57.27 PM.png

#58- Mark Ronson (Series 24, Episode 1)

Say what you will about Mark Ronson’s achievements in the world of producing, helping Adele produce ’18’, and currently prepping the latest Queens of the Stone Age album, but when he showed up on the Series 24 premiere, something felt…off. Especially considering his boilerplate-but-harmless appearance guest-captaining the Series 22 premiere. This Mark felt distracted, lost, and…for lack of a better word, high off his tits. I’m not sure what kind of substance Mark was on that night, but his autocue readings were a series low, and his joke-readings were just as appalling as Westwood’s. Plus, his appearance looked straight out of a bad sequel to The Mask.
Despite this, I will say his moment of geeking out to ‘Captain Cabinet’ with Noel was pretty great, but he seemed dead and blurred for the rest of the show.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 6.03.03 PM.png

#57: Kristen Schaal (Series 27 Episode 5)

As much as I love Kristen on Bob’s Burgers, and on 30 Rock, leaving her to her own devices as guest host was a mistake, as she was annoying and yelly for most of the show. Kristen’s known for this childlike, high-pitched, goofy, borderline psychotic demeanor (So Louise Belcher, essentially), and it was off-putting for the panelists, as well as for the audience. The producers’ decision to stock the show with 3 X-Factor personnel who all knew each other…and David O’Doherty, who only knew Kristen, was also a mistake, as the dynamics were mixed and flawed from the start. The boorish show was capped off by a dastardly plot to give the show to Kristen’s pal Noel by swerving next lines in his favor, which pissed off Phill’s team. Just an unfortunately unwatchable show from someone who’s best suited for an ensemble.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 6.10.48 PM.png

#56- Ne-Yo (Series 26 Episode 6)

That picture just about says it all. Ne-Yo just thinking to himself ‘how the fuck did I get here?’

To be fair, Ne-Yo tried, quite hard actually, to make the most of a booking that’d obviously been handed off at random, but his autocue readings, his unexcited demeanor, and his slowly growing confusion as to what the hell was going on around him, led to a less-than-favorable performance, one where it seemed like the well-stocked panel was carrying the show forward despite him. It didn’t help that Noel, David O’Doherty AND Stacey Solomon were there to take his relaxed demeanor and make him regret it. In all fairness, this was a pretty nice show, and the panel was pretty sharp, but Ne-Yo’s performance detracted from what could have been a great one, ironically, by simply not wanting to let himself love us.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 6.25.11 PM.png

#55- Juliette Lewis (Series 24 Episode 10)

Along the same school as Ne-Yo, in that the people who do the bookings for the show probably put up their hands and shrugged, and Juliette Lewis probably wasn’t doing anything that week…and probably agreed thanks to the promise of booze. I mean, on one hand she was happy, and in a great mood, but on the other hand she was so wasted that you really couldn’t have expected a coherent show out of her. She also didn’t really know how to host, as she gave teams points for deliberating between the correct answer, and just sort of kept the game on autopilot, again, leaving the panelists to carry the game by themselves. I mean, with Vic Reeves there you really didn’t need her, but the fact that she was so out of it definitely detracted from the show. That’s the main problem with Juliette- she was a distraction rather than an addition.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 6.39.58 PM.png

#54- Cilla Black (Series 25 Episode 10)

When someone with legitimate old-school mystique around them hosts the show, you kinda want them to pull through and knock it out of the park. Sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and the people you’ve been building up in your head as these legendary, indestructible figures are a now kinda senile and scattered. This was unfortunately the case for the great Cilla Black, who seemed a bit out of her element hosting Buzzcocks, and aside from a nice little anecdote about the Beatles’ sex habits, never really got the laughs she wanted (that weren’t unintentional). It felt like she was being carried by the mystique of what she used to be, rather than what she was trying to be then. Plus, having Angelos Epithimieou on the panel may not have been the best idea for someone who’s easily confused like Cilla Black. So yeah, the thought was in the right place, but it didn’t work out, and that’s kinda sad for someone who had a career like Cilla’s.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 9.25.22 PM.png

#53- Rizzle Kicks (Series 27 Episode 7)

Ah, yes, the two guys responsible for one of the hardest-to-watch Buzzcocks episodes of all time. It’s not that they weren’t funny- they actually had some nice moments, especially Jordan’s cry of racism when Noel didn’t invite them to watch Grease with him and Paul- but how they handled the Huey Morgan meltdown was pretty mean-spirited. First of all, they kind of goaded him on throughout the show, annoying him to the point that by the time Next Lines came around, he was sick of them, to the point where he, yes, smashed a mug and stormed off. The sadder part is that up until that point, Rizzle Kicks were merely okay at hosting, without any real memorable moments, or anything that lifted them above par. It’s just the Huey incident, and the way they followed it by making fun of them, that damages their case. They tried, but no matter whose side you’re on in the Huey-Rizzle Kicks debate, you have to admit that they could have handled the whole thing MUCH better.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 9.31.14 PM.png

#52- Jack Whitehall (Series 23 Episode 4, Series 26 Episode 3, Series 27 Episode 9)

When I was going through a few message boards for Buzzcocks, I got a lot of people saying that Jack Whitehall’s episode was one of the worst, because he’s not at all funny. And as someone who agrees that Jack Whitehall is not funny, I tried to find a silver lining in his episode in Series 23…and I couldn’t. Not for the life of me.

The biggest problem I have with Jack Whitehall, especially on this show, is that he’s way too cheeky and outwardly mean towards people, especially people on the panel. After a low-energy Series 22, I thought that Buzzcocks was trying to get away from someone like Simon Amstell, someone who was busy making it fun for him rather than making it fun for an audience. And through Jack’s first few gigs, that’s what we got- direct meanness, takeaways from the quiz, unfunny jokes, bad hosting technique, and just some really poor shows.

What keeps him off of the bottom spot is the fact that his Series 27 episode was a ton better, but only because he had the kind of panel to buttress his cheekiness. Kriss Akabusi and Alex Brooker swerved the offensive from Jack onto the panel…to the panel onto Jack, thanks to the running gag about Johnny Worrell’s sister. So they managed to get a good episode out of Jack Whitehall, thanks to someone finally getting the best of Jack Whitehall.

#51 – Dale Winton (Series 18 Episode 7)

Series 18’s guest hosts stand out to me, because it’s clear that the producers tried to farm from a wide range of BBC talent, but mainly stuck to a bunch of presenters (Ross, Laverne, Clarkson, Amstell). Dale Winton was the umpteenth presenter to, well, present Buzzcocks, and definitely brings up the rear as far as Series 18 efforts are concerned.

Dale’s main schtick is being an orange gay guy who occasionally hosts Supermarket Sweep- I’ll argue that he was used a ton better in the Series 21 episode he was a panelist on, rather than this episode, where I can barely remember any of his material, mostly just lines had at his expense. I don’t think I need to tell you that he can read a prompter or be good on camera, but I don’t think he was the greatest fit for the host’s chair. Not really for any appalling things he did, but for what he didn’t do, which was make any real impact.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 9.47.16 PM.png

#50- David Hasselhoff (Series 25 Episode 1)

In 2011, David Hasselhoff was plucked from his steady gig judging for America’s Got Talent to judge…Britain’s Got Talent. It was so close to his old job that the Hoff couldn’t have been able to fuck it up…and yet, he did. Still, while he was farming his comeback in the UK, he stopped by Buzzcocks to host, and it was…memorable. Yeah. Memorable.

Part of Hoff’s appeal is that he’s not exactly what you’d call intentionally funny. The guy’s made a career out of being a joke, whether he’s taking himself too seriously or not seriously enough. He kept the former ideology while hosting Buzzcocks, with some over-the-top autocue reads, bombastic hosting, and general bizarre Hasselhoffishness. Honestly, his biggest problem was his ultimate inability to take the show seriously, taking some time out of autocue jokes to break character and go ‘this is true’ or ‘this is gonna get me fired’. You could see Hoff the character cracking to reveal Hoff the man.

Like Whitehall, Hoff’s finest moments here were when the joke was on him, including a moment where he had to read a nasty joke about Simon Cowell and Sinitta, and you could see the enthusiasm drain from his face with every word, knowing he’d be losing his job soon.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 9.55.35 PM.png#49- Dizzee Rascal (Series 27 Episode 11)

While Dizzee’s show was a solid middle-of-the-road one, fueled by some insane panel moments, a botched backflip, and Jamie Cullum’s piano playing, Dizzee’s hosting was less middle of the road and more tar off the road. The guy’s idea of hosting was just sitting around and watching the panelists go, instead of realizing that he could occasionally chime in. He kept a very low-key, defensive approach to the game, which ultimately stopped his episode from making a real impact.

His only highlights were his brief abilities to be himself, breaking into an impromptu version of Bonkers, and laughing at an autocue joke about himself. Other than that, not much lifted him off the ground.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 10.02.17 PM.png

#48- Mark Watson (Series 23 Episode 7)

My main gripe with Mark Watson’s show wasn’t his humor, his hosting, or anything. I simply thought he was a much better panelist than he was a host. Mark’s best stuff comes from adding onto material rather than initiating it, and with him as the anchor this show, it wasn’t as successful. The show was fine enough, if kinda low-key, but Mark took a quieter, less animated approach to reading and hosting, and fell victim to a gimmicky bit involving Chico, who, according to Mark, had ‘been down there since 2006′. So yeah, while he’s a funny chap, and had some great Buzzcocks’, his hosting gig was disappointing to me.

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 10.06.05 PM.png

#47- Stephen Mangan, (Series 26 Episode 10)

What the producers would do rather often during this era was take a host that didn’t bring too much to the table and assign them a gimmick to weave through, rather than spin them on their own merits. With Stephen Mangan, they made his episode the ‘World Music Special’, which detracted from a quiet enough panel. While the gimmick was initially amusing, there wasn’t a great deal that was fresh after a while, and once you took away the theme, Stephen didn’t have a ton of great material, despite having his usual charisma and quick lines. I mean, Stephen tried, but what can you do when the producers are more focused on what the theme/gimmick can do than what you can do?

#46- Lauren Laverne, (Series 18 Episode 4)

Another presenter-friendly Series 18 booking, and another great personality that failed to break out of a ho-hum show. I’ll give Lauren credit for trying, as she’s one of the better recurring guests of the show’s history, and she used the personality to her advantage with her autocue reads, but I can’t remember much at all about her material, or her dynamic with the panel. If anything, this was more Rhod Gilbert’s show than it was Lauren’s- the fact that you could see that a panelist would be a better pick as host than the person actually hosting wasn’t a great sign. Again, Lauren would have much better luck as a panelist, but her hosting gig, while not particularly bad, couldn’t really make itself memorable.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 10.27.57 PM.png

#45- Claudia Winkleman, Series 23 Episode 6

Even from her opening moments, Claudia Winkleman knew she wasn’t necessarily the producers’ first choice: “I’m Claudia Winkleman, and that can only mean one thing…Biggins is busy.” With Buzzcocks, you can’t really be sure if this is an indirect slam or an allusion to a booking that fell through, but if it’s the latter, that does explain why Claudia didn’t have a ton to do that set her apart from the pack, other than having fun and doing good-enough hosting and reading. Honestly, what brings her down this low is the forgettability of her hosting- I remember more about Harry Shearer and Jamelia than I do about her hosting, which is kinda sad. Yeah, Claudia’s a great addition to the fold, and her stuff as a panelist, and on the Big Fat Quiz, is exemplary, but she didn’t have a ton to do here. Maybe an appearance from Christopher Biggins would have at least been more memorable.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 10.34.37 PM.png

#44- David O’Doherty, Series 24 Episode 5

David O’Doherty HOSTING Buzzcocks. In my head, this was a fantastic idea, and I was kinda looking forward to the show as it got closer, knowing his bizarre humor, especially relating to pandas or megaphones. But when I got there…the producers decided to throw me a curveball, and, like the Mangan show, made it entirely gimmick based, with almost no room for David to be himself and make weird, fun little jokes, because the entire show was beating the one-joke premise that Shakira was supposed to host, and David O’Doherty is absolutely nothing like Shakira. Maddeningly, that’s really the only takeaway from this show that it was the ‘Shakira show’, not the ‘David O’Doherty show’. Again, as funny as he is, especially on shows where he was a panelist, the producers shafted him when it came time for him to host.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 10.39.24 PM.png

#43- Liza Tarbuck, Series 26 Episode 11

We’ve gotten to the part of the countdown where some of these guest-hosts were so middle of the road, so good-but-passable that honestly anybody could have hosted, and the game would have gone on the exact same way. Liza, despite her enthusiasm and the fact that her birthday was the day after the taping, hosted a very middle of the road show. She was good, didn’t make any wrong moves, but didn’t do anything too memorable, either. When it came time to screw with guest Rita Ora for her dog fixation, it was mostly Jason Manford and Noel Fielding who took the offensive. I’d actually compare her material here to anything from an episode of QI with her- amusing, good for a second’s glance, but nothing too extraordinary.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 10.44.55 PM.png

#42- Alex James (Series 23 Episode 3)

I’m not gonna sit here and lie and say that Alex James wasn’t happy to be here- he was thrilled, enthusiastically blasting his band’s ‘Song 2’, and handing out his trademark cheeses throughout the show. What keeps him this low is the fact that he didn’t especially do much else, other than cover those same two bases over the course of the night. It’s obvious he loves the show, and he loves the experience, but his reads were slightly askew, and he let Peter Serafinowicz and Holly Walsh do most of the comedic heavy lifting for the night. That’s not to say that James made no impact on Buzzcocks history- his eventual return as a panelist was pretty cool, and his role as narrator of the eventual retrospective series ‘What A Load of Buzzcocks’ was a charismatic touch on the generally pretty good run. But the hosting gig of his wasn’t as good as could have been because it only scratched the surface.

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 11.00.55 PM.png

#41- Will Young (Series 25 Episode 5)

Yeah, you can tell by that first shot that the former Pop Idol winner wasn’t 100% into this hosting gig. Young stuck with a very laid-back approach to hosting, and a general demeanor that said that the producers had waited about 8 years too late to book him. I mean, he was harmless enough, and did well enough keeping the game going, but his autocue reads were less than favorable, and he didn’t seem terribly interested in the proceedings. The one saving grace of his episode was the fact that Phill and the panel were able to rip him a new one over allegedly having sex in a bin, and the fact that Will didn’t really know how to break from his hosting demeanor in order to respond.

That’s all I’ll do for tonight- expect #s 40 to 21 to come very soon. Expect a bit more optimism in those.

Nevermind Watchdown: S27E13, or The Vegan’s on FIRE!

To quote tonight’s guest host, “I DID IT. *I* DID IT…[oh, sorry…]”

This is the last guest-hosted episode of Buzzcocks. After five series of it, countless classics, a few clunkers (looking at you, Westwood), and two Frankie Boyle episodes, the Guest Host era came to a close in 2013. I have gotten a ton out of this, proving that there didn’t need to be a host anchor to amount for a ton of great Buzzcocks moments. However…I am excited to see how Rhod Gilbert does in Series 28.

So, tonight’s Guest Host, the final one, is a guy I’m honestly mixed on. On one hand, Johnny Vegas is capable of being very funny, and capable of bringing out the best in people just by osmosis. On the other hand, I’ve never quite been a fan of him on NMTB. He’s just never won me over here. Tonight, he’s got the helm, and it’s the CHHRRRRRRIIIISTMAAAAAASSSS Show so it’ll at least be nice (I hope).

Of course, Johnny is lifted onto the set, dressed as a snowman, while Aled Jones’ Walking in the Air’ plays triumphantly. Can’t help but love an opening like that.

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.11.49 AM.pngAnd from here, he begins to yell the intros: “ON PHILL’S TEAM TANIIIGHT…”

The panel’s a nice bunch- Brian McFadden hasn’t been on since he kept repeatedly calling Mark Lamarr a duck. Sara Pascoe’s never been on Buzzcocks before, but tonight that all changes, and it’s about time. DJ Locksmith is an EDM DJ, and they were all the rage in 2013. Jessica Hynes hasn’t been on since the infamous ‘arm-wrestling’ episode with Simon. Hopefully she does better tonight.

Johnny, to start, has a series of ‘this-or-that’ Christmas questions that go from commonplace to bizarre pretty quickly.

I’m not writing down a ton of this, but it’s so wonderful, and it’s so insanely Johnny Vegas, going from bizarre and funny to emotional from one-second to another.

Johnny’s set-up is “How has Cliff Richard annoyed One Direction this Christmas?”
Sara: “Has he joined?”

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.31.34 AM.pngJohnny: “That looks like it was just removed from my ass…with a snowman doctor goin’ ‘it’s okay, they’re benign…”
Yeah,there is absolutely nothing quite like Johnny Vegas’ humor.

On the ID and Cliff mugs:
Johnny: “Cliff just wants to know, and I want the other four out me house before the police arrive…”
Phill: “There’s 5 of them.”
Johnny, channeling Stephen Fry: “Yeah, well, you’ve got to keep one in the basement, haven’t you?”

Noel, on his “Fleet of Cars” prop, which is just a big window pane: “Is this a fleet of cars? Because it just looks like the scene from Midnight Express…”
Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.41.53 AM.png

Noel: “This is like Week 1 of Marcel Marceau’s training cottage. “…and now without the glass…”

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.44.41 AM.pngJessica: “…problem is I just feel like Lady Gaga…”
Locksmith: “Call me kinky, but I probably would…”

Johnny: ‘I’m gonna have to press you for an answer…”
Noel: “THE WINDOW!!!”
Johnny: “IT’S NOT A WINDOW, IT’S A FLEET’TA CAAAHS!”
Noel: “A FLEET OF CAAAAHS!”

Johnny, on the playback for When a Child is Born: “This is the point where me mum would drop a quiche and wet herself.”

Also, this image:
Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 12.49.59 AM.png
Noel Fielding is the greatest.

After Sara steals both of Noel’s Intros
Noel: “The Vegan’s on FIRE! The red meat’s slowing us down, but the vegan’s on FIRE…”

Mid-standups, Johnny just randomly breaks into the Cheers theme song. I swear to god, nobody can write something this funny.

Johnny questions Phill’s ‘driving’ mime.
Phill: “I WAS PLEASURING *TWO*…*LORRY DRIVERS!*”

Johnny stops Phill and Brian’s 2nd intro, and suggests that Brian play him as bongos, as he literally lies down on top of the desk. Sure enough, Brian starts patting his chest for the percussion…which Johnny responds with ‘OW!’ noises.

(For the record…Sara Pascoe answered every single intro correctly tonight. I never thought she’d be THIS GOOD at this game. She’s like the Kim Newman of Buzzcocks.)

Johnny, on #2, aka Craig Phillips: ‘He’s got that Robbie Williams look to it. LET’S PEEL HIS FLESH OFF…AND LET WOMEN SKATE AROUND HIM…WHILE WE’VE GOT THE OPPORTUNITY!”

(For the record, the reason that DJ Locksmith hasn’t been very vocal this show is because I think everytime the camera’s done a wide shot of Noel’s panel, he’s been laughing hysterically. So if you’re wondering why Locksmith’s underedited…blame it on Johnny for being so damned funny tonight.

This season wouldn’t be complete without one more fuck-up. Johnny, right before next lines, flips the envelope of Next Lines Questions AND Answers to Phill’s team…and seconds later, an embarrassed producer has to VO in and go ‘no, you read them out…”
The whole panel just facepalms, giggling. Noel gets a huge kick out of it.

Johnny just goes on this ridiculous, slightly-drunken, semi-serious rant, which ends with him looking over at Phill and going “…you know, if you weren’t so honest, you could have won this…it was all there for the taking, and you kept sliding the envelope back like I was some bloke in a car park trying to offer you money to put me willy where it shouldn’t be…”

Johnny, finally getting to the Next Lines: “He had a broad face and a round little belly…”
Phill: “That’s why they let him HOST!”

Overall: As a Christmas show, a bit uneven, a bit uneventful…but goddamn if I didn’t laugh hard. The problem is that, with most Johnny Vegas episodes, the focus was more on him and less on everyone else, and the panel was kind of underedited, as they had to edit around Johnny’s shenanigans. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as Johnny was friggin hysterical. It just wasn’t a great Buzzcocks episode, because there are people like DJ Locksmith, whose sole purpose in the edit was just dying at Johnny’s lines, and Brian McFadden, who at least didn’t annoy the host but came off as bland. At least Sara had some nice moments and a kickass Intros round, but Jessica didn’t do much. Still, a nice enough funny episode, even if it wasn’t very substantial.

Guest Host Rating: 8/10
Best Regular: Noel
Best Guest: Sara
Best Runner: …just Johnny Vegas existing, I guess.

SERIES 27 SUPERLATIVES!!!!

Guest Hosts, Ranked Best to Worst:
Russell Howard, Episode 2
Peter Andre, Episode 3
Warwick Davis, Episode 10
John Hannah, Episode 1
Michael Bolton, Episode 8
Eamonn Holmes, Episode 6
Johnny Vegas, Episode 13
Sara Cox, Episode 4
Jack Whitehall, Episode 9
Dizzee Rascal, Episode 11
Rizzle Kicks, Episode 7
Kristen Schaal, Episode 5

Best Episode: Episode 3, the Peter Andre episode, one I was dreading…but Peter managed to turn it around, not only with a willingness to play and make fun of himself, but with the immortal ‘Insania’ round, giving me some of my biggest belly-laughs of the season. Tony Law was his usual, insane self, and Scissor Sisters’ Ana Matronic was surprisingly amazing.
Second Best Episode: Episode 10, featuring Warwick Davis, an emphasis on music from cinema, and some of the best runner-based humor we’ve had since Mark Lamarr hosted. Other than ‘Squirrels Ate My Cake’, which…again, fantastic, there was Chris Ramsey giving his best Buzzcocks performance, some really nice hosting from Warwick, and a surprisingly funny tiebreak round.
Third Best Episode: Episode 2, with Russell Howard. I almost gave this to Episode 9, surprisingly the Jack Whitehall episode, but I could not forget Episode 2, especially considering Stacey Solomon’s animal impressions, Russell bagging on Lethal Bizzle (Hashtag Fannys), and the fact that Russell may have given the smoothest ‘audition’ of any guest host Buzzcocks had on in this era.
Worst Episode: Episode 5. Nothing got off the ground. The panel was comprised of three TV personalities that all knew each other…and David O’Doherty, who only knew host Kristen Schaal and didn’t have a great show. Kristen was loud, boorish, annoying, and wasn’t always great for the position. There were some nice moments, supplied by Rylan Clark and Noel calling James Arthur a koala, but on a strong season, this is the weak link.
Hardest-to-Watch Episode: Episode 7. I had to make a category for this one. Episode 7, while funny, and amusing in some pieces, cannot be watched without choosing a side in the debate over who wronged who. Did Rizzle Kicks annoy Huey Morgan to such a state that he couldn’t take it anymore? Or was Huey drunk, high, over the hill and grumpy, to the point where his ego couldn’t take these ‘kids’ bashing him in? No matter where you stand, it’s an ugly show.
Best Regular: Phill Jupitus, for keeping his boost of energy from last series going, dominating some episodes and returning to his active, jovial mood from Buzzcocks’ Golden Age.
Best Comedian Panelist: Seann Walsh, Episode 8. I nearly gave this to James Acaster for his performance in E1, but Seann had the bigger show, and bounced off of Michael Bolton with his bizarre, lion-esque humor. Plus, his ‘WHAT’S THAT COMING OVER THE HILL, IT IS A BLENDER’ line still kills me. Honorable mentions go to Sara Pascoe, Alex Brooker, Paul Foot, Sarah Millican, Tony Law, Chris Ramsey, James Acaster.
Best Musician Panelist: Ana Matronic, Episode 3. Last season Mark Hoppus got this spot, for coming from a very serious, well-known group and absolutely defying my expectations by having a shit-ton of fun on the program. Ana Matronic did that arguably better, by delivering a nasty, but good-natured, dig at Peter Andre, as well as getting some of the best lines in the show and collaborating well with Phill in intros. I also considered Lethal Bizzle, Iggy Azalea, Conor Maynard, Jamie Cullum, Shaun Ryder, Shane Filan, Alfie Boe, Aston Merrygold.
Biggest Dartboard: Stacey Solomon, Episode 2. Like usual, people had their fun with Stacey, but Russell at least put her to good use with the ‘animal impressions’ runner.
Most Confused Panelist: Shaun Ryder, Episode 6. He seemed very strung-out, but as a member of the Happy Mondays, it’s part of the contract. He at least had a nice time, unlike my other option for this category (Huey Morgan).
Best Runner: Johnny Borrell dating Jack Whitehall’s sister, Episode 9. I loved this one because Jack got more and more irritated every time someone brought it up (I laugh at his initial, annoyed “shut up” every time). Plus, Alex, Noel and everyone get in on it, and the joke is on Jack for once. (To be fair, I almost put Stacey Solomon’s animal impressions here as well).

Next up…the LAST EVER SERIES OF BUZZCOCKS. PERMANENTLY hosted by a guy with a potato tattooed on his arm.

Nevermind Watchdown: S27E11, or For the Record, I Don’t Write this shit, so..

The penultimate guest-hosted Buzzcocks…EVER. This one’s hosted by a POSITIVELY BONKERS RAPPER….I’m sorry about that pun…it’s Dizzee Rascal. I’m guessing he’ll have more of a Ne-Yo show than a Tinie Tempah show, but…we’ll have to see.

Tonight we’ve seen all-but-one of our guests before. Katherine Ryan’s back after a nice first go. Aston Merrygold, after bowing out due to sickness in the Whitehall show, finally comes back for this one. Jamie Cullum had a nice show back when David Tennant hosted. Foxes, pop singer and collaborator, is also on the bill.

Dizzee: “So, we begin with a round we’re calling…”
Clip: “BONKERS.”
Dizzee: [long sigh]

Jamie, on his stuffed panda prop: “This panda’s got really heavy legs…”
Phill: “That’s the thing about bamboo, goes straight to your feet…”

Jamie: “I mean, do any animals actually find humans sexy?”
Phill: “My labrador used to…”
Noel: ‘Yeah, I got humped by a, uh…”[pauses so the audience can laugh]”I think it was a greyhound. I was about 7.”

The whole first round, Jamie and Noel and everyone are talking about animals humping them, and Dizzee is just sitting there, watching…possibly forgetting he has to host the show. This may be what we’re in for, folks.

Katherine: “I know that Britney has a tour in Vegas- it’s not really a tour, she just plays in one place.”
Phill: “I bet she still gets lost.”

Once Dizzee sees that he has to read some standups on the autocue next, he has a Hugh Dennis-esque “oh, I forgot about this part” moment, and asks Jamie to help him with mood music, in response to how badly he fucks up the jokes. To be fair, the first one goes well.
Of course, afterwards he checks the camera and goes “yo, for the record, I don’t write this shit, so…”

Noel, trying to start conversation: “D’you have a train set, Foxy?”
Foxes: “Yeah, I did.”
Noel: “…you ending that answer there? ‘Yeah, I did. Moving on.”

I’ve noticed that so far, Dizzee is insanely laid back in his hosting techniques. He knows he’s just reading off an autocue, and just having a good time, not taking the whole thing seriously. To his credit, though, he’s smirking a bit as he reads off the next round, ‘JLS or JLNo”, which Aston does get a chuckle at.

Aston: “I actually technically know the right answers her-”
Dizzee: ‘You need to FALL BACK, PLAYA.”
Aston laughs for about 10 seconds here. You can even hear some Jupitus Giggling in the background. Yeah, even if he’s laid back, Dizzee’s still having a nice time.

There’s also a nice 30 second sequence where Dizzee cannot for the life of him say the word ‘contractually’. Aston just keeps laughing at this.
He eventually settles on: ‘…Aston’s been told he has to FUCKIN’ BACKFLIP EVERY TIME…”

Aston, of course, does one of his trademark backflips.
Noel, to Foxes: “D’you still want to do a cartwheel?”
Foxes: :I’ve gone off the idea.”
Noel: “What about a handstand, and I catch your legs like a weird PE teacher?”

They eventually agree on doing the inverse arrangement, which the audience applauds but Noel’s already going “NO! NO!”

Sure enough, Noel’s ENTIRE PANEL pushes him to take part in the stunt, with Jamie egging him on by playing on the piano. He’s still adamant about not doing it, which is hysterical.

HOWEVER…PHILL COMES BY, points to his lap, and gets him to do it…which fails miserably:
Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 11.26.20 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 11.26.36 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-15 at 11.26.44 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-05-15 at 11.26.56 PM.png

Noel: “I’ve broken both my knees.”
Jamie: “You could take that to Vegas…”
Noel: “I’ve gone blind in one eye…my cock’s loose in my pants…I’ve no idea what went on, then…I’ve got INTERNAL BLEEDING, DIZZEE. HELP ME!”
Phill: “YOU LANDED ON…*ME*!”

Dizzee, bringing the round to a close: “…well, the answer was Yes, ANYWAY…”

Dizzee, taking the prompter reading a bit too literally: “Now it’s time for the Intros round….hand over card.”
Phill: “THAT IS THE KIND OF HOSTING I LIKE!”

Annnd add Phill and Jamie’s rendition of Grandmaster Flash’s The Message to the list of all-time great Buzzcocks intros.

AND OF COURSE…Foxes and Noel’s 2nd Intro is, of course, Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal, which he just glares at them for, hoping they get it right.

In a very nice moment, after Phill guesses it, Dizzee offers to do some live in the studio, as Aston and Foxes give him a beat. He spits it off like it’s his job, and even throws in the sound-clip from earlier of ‘BONKERS’ just as a cherry on top.

Dizzee: “In 2009, I gave an interview criticizing the expense and inconvenience of the London 2012 Olympics…an opinion I held right up until the moment they asked me to perform…”
He has a nice chuckle here, even at his own expense.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 11.53.36 PM
Aston: “I LIKE #5…#5 looks like he could have a proper good time, like out on the town-”
Phill: “WHERE??? VICTORIAN LONDON?”

Foxes: “I feel like he’s seen the world.”
Phill: ‘Oh, he’s SEEN THINGS…”
Noel: ‘This round isn’t just ‘Whose Van Would You Get Inside?’…”

Overall: Imperfect, but still a fun watch. Dizzee wasn’t great at keeping the show going, but was still laid back and having fun, which I’ll accept. Panel was kinda down. Katherine wasn’t giving her best stuff tonight, Foxes was silent, and Jamie, while having a great night, didn’t do a ton of memorable work outside of the recurring piano. Aston had a nice night, but I don’t know if he was the best one. The stunt in the middle elevated this from being ho-hum.

Guest Host Rating: 7.5/10
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Jamie
Best runner: Bonkers clip.

Nevermind Watchdown: S27E10, or Squirrels Ate My Cake

3 Guest Hosted Episodes remain, and this one’s being hosted by a film legend. Warwick Davis, who’s been in charge of more animatronic and small characters than you could possibly realize, as well as being the star of Life’s Too Short, is in the building. He’s a heck of a personality, so he’ll probably do well tonight, on the “MOVIE SPECIAL”.

Warwick has a nice intro- the announcer plays him in as ‘one of the most beloved characters of all time’, complete with ET music. Once the smoke clears, Warwick has this confused, almost betrayed expression. Once he gets to the desk, he asks “…did they just play in the ET music?” It works, as Warwick just sounds like David Mitchell, just deepened a bit.

The panel seems fit enough- Tom Fletcher from McFly is back, as well as occasionally incoherent comic Chris Ramsey. Also, TV presenter Emma Willis and West End actor and part time Jean Valjean, Alfie Boe.

As the captains have come in costume.
Phill: “Warwick, I’ve come as the Captain from Das Boot.”
Warwick: “…you look a bit like Bluto, from Popeye…”

Chris’ prop is a very small minibar.
Warwick: “Can I just ask why that fridge has been removed from my dressing room?”

After a tangent that leads to Chris suggesting the squirrels were diabetic by the end.
Noel: “Diabetic squirrels…another good band name…Punk band. ‘Yeah, we’re the diabetic squirrels, what’cha gon’ do about it?”
Phill: “THIS ONE’S CALLED ‘I SHIT SNICKERS’. ONE TWO THREE FOUR!”

Chris: “I reckon it’s the money thing, if it’s true.”
Alfie: “I think it’s the minibar…”
Noel: “Yeah? [to Chris] Dyou think it’s the minibar?”
Chris: “…Noo, because I just said I thought it was the money…DON’T USE YOUR JEDI MIND TRICKS ON ME…”
Noel, Alec Guinness impression: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for…”
Warwick, even BETTER Alec Guinness impression: “These aren’t the SQUIRRELS you’re looking for.”

Of course, sure enough, they go with the minibar answer…and Chris’ money one ends up being right. He flips the minibar’s door shut in anger.

One of Phill’s answers for Keith Richards is ‘he got a bad sunburn’.
Phill: “In terms of the Rolling Stones, given that they’re so ‘ooh, don’t forget to put sunscreen on’, as they’re all like [DOWNS ALCOHOL AND SNIFFS COCAINE]”

The Intros round this week is…okay, a pretty great gimmick, to be honest. They’re all songs from films, and the person has to guess what movie they came from.

It’s even better when Phill and Tom’s version of Goldfinger is one of the better intros of the Guest Host era. EVEN NOEL, immediately after, goes “can I just say that that’s the best rendition I’ve ever heard on this show…”

Emma: “…[Phill,] your bit is making me think…Secret of My Success.”
Phill: “IS IT REALLY? [deep, camp voice] THEN IT WOULD BE DOING SO ERRONEOUSLY, MADAM.”

Warwick passes it over to Noel’s team
Noel: ‘Was it…The Squirrels Ate the Cake?”

Warwick, pre-Intros: “You should be really good at this, Alfie, as a singer…”
Chris: “…I notice ya didn’t say that to Tom…”

Alfie does a few big ‘DOOH- DOOH- DOOH’ drum noises…then has to stop and go ‘NOT EASTENDERS.” Yeah, he’s on the right show, I think..

Alfie, after an intro: “This is what I did to audition for the Les Mis movie…and I didn’t get it…”
Noel: “Who did?”
Alfie, matter-of-factly: “Hugh Jackman…”
Someone in the audience does a ‘WOO!’
Chris: “WHAT’DYOU DOING???”
Warwick: “DON’T ‘WOO’…LOOK WHO’S HERE!”
Noel: “That’s unacceptable…except if that was Hugh Jackman then…WHOOPING HIMSELF.”

Warwick: “You were quoted, Emma, in saying that you’d get naked for a million pounds.”
Noel: “Where’s the fake money [Chris] had earlier?”

Emma, inspecting the money: “Hold on…this is all fake. This is PAPER!”
Phill: “…at the end of the day, isn’t that what money is?”
Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 11.14.50 PM.png

Warwick: “Kenny Loggins’ wife is a doctor, and they met while she was inspecting Kenny’s prospect. He was so smitten with her that, right then and there, he popped a ring on her finger.”
Chris, after a good 10 seconds of reaction: “I’d high-five you for that one…”
Warwick, deadpan: “Not too high.”

ID Parade:
Tom: “Look at #4, he’s swaying back and forth-”
Phill: “Of COURSE he is, he’s built like a redwood!”

Emma: “I think I’m feeling four…”
Phill, taking this the exact wrong way: “RRREEALLY?”
Warwick: “He’s REALLY swaying now…”

Once they have the real movie voiceover guy, they have him, sort of like the CinemaSins guy, say some random stuff.
Noel: ‘Can you say ‘Squirrels Ate My Cake’
#4: [breaks, then] “…SQUIRRELS…ATE MY CAKE.”
Funniest part of this is Noel takes a pause after ‘Squirrels’, forgetting the exact quote of the runner. I feel like he had to ask Chris or somebody what the line was.

Chris, on the Lineup of Jareths: “#4 looks like he’s had some of frontward prolapse…”
Warwick, likely as the cameras are re-setting: “OHHH…DON’T DO A CLOSE-UP OF IT!”

Chris admits, right after Warwick talks about playing some goblins in Labyrinth, that the only time he’s seen the movie, he slept through it.
Warwick: “EXCUSE ME…what have YOU done in your career? How many Hollywood movies have YOU appeared in?”
Chris: “None.”
Warwick: “…I rest my case.”

Warwick brings up a nice point, that #3 in the lineup, a little person, was actually Warwick’s own stunt double in Willow. Fantastic that they managed to get that in there.

Also, using the gimmick very nicely, all the Next Lines are from movie themes. Again, I don’t hate gimmicks and things like that if they actually make sense, and these ones work well, especially for Warwick Davis being the host.

I do applaud Tom’s Next Lines skills, though Emma’s read of ‘the Sound of MUUUUSIIIIIC’ does, in fact, put Phill off, as he stops the round to go ‘WHAT WAS THAT??’

Noel, being Noel, gives the entire next line from Flash Gordon, and even throws in a ‘GORDON’S ALIIIIVE!’

Warwick: “Watching, I keep waiting.”
Noel: “Squirrels ate my cake.”

Warwick: “This is the end.”
Chris: “This is the end, I’ve been in loads of Hollywood films and I never mention iiiiiit…”
Warwick: [spit take]

There is a tie, which leads to some impressively dramatic tiebreaker round music.
Phill, post music: “….FANCY A CURRY???”

The tiebreak round involves the guest voiceover guy reading out hints about an artist, complete with pre-recorded buzzers saying the captain’s voices.
Phill, after pressing his: “I have an erection.”
Red: “oh, man…”[breaks]

Red: “At a young age, I found I could sing like an angel and dance like the devil.”
Chris: “JESUS!”
Phill: ‘DANNY DYER!”

Overall: The patron saint of Buzzcocks episodes that gain momentum as they go on. At the beginning, squirrels jokes aside, it was a tough one. But slowly…traction built, and by ID Parade we had an insanely funny episode on our hands. It helped that Warwick Davis managed to be a ton of fun, as well as holding the panel tightly. The panel was strong- Chris Ramsey had the best day, Emma and Tom had a nice time, and Alfie, while a bit shy, did have some great moments. Just a solid, wonderful episode with lots of gags to keep me coming back.

Guest Host Rating: 9/10. Excellent job, Warwick!
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Chris
Best Runner: Squirrels ate my cake.

Nevermind Watchdown: S27E09, or I Think You’ve had an Akabusi Attack.

Four episodes of Guest Hosted Buzzcocks to go, and we’re on a bit of a roll. Who’s up next?

UUUUUGGGGHHHHH! WHY DO THEY KEEP INVITING JACK WHITEHALL BACK???

Jack Whitehall has bungled hosting not one…but TWO NMTB episodes. Why? Because he subscribes to the Simon Amstell school of deliciously personal attacks, and is driving the show backwards rather than forwards. He’s also not funny, and he’s just not a great host. This will be his THIRD hosting gig. Let’s hope he’s made at least some improvement.

In terms of the panel, we’ve got The Last Leg’s Alex Brooker, Olympic legend Kriss Akabusi (in place of a preempted Aston Merrygold appearance), Razorlight’s Johnny Borrell, and pop singer Katy B.

Jack, in detailing the search for Kriss, said that the BBC was trying to find anyone around the studio with even the smallest, most tedious link to music, “comedians, presenters, Sugababes- UNTIL FINALLY”
That is actually a nice read…

Jack, starting the round: “Phill, Katy, and Aston Merrygold from JL…we should probably change that…[Kriss], you’re also probably not going to be able to do the bit at the end with the backflip…”

Jack: “I meant to, at this point, have a chat with Aston about JLS’ split…probably not gonna work, but let’s just try it with Kriss…”
Yeah, this is basically a Simon Amstell episode, though Jack is a bit funnier than he’s ever been, so I’ll give him that.

Of course, in Kriss’ hands, it succeeds in being a good bit- Kriss actually knows how to yes-and here, and confirms FOR Aston that JLS is gonna come back, ending the bit by saying ‘SEE YOU AT WEMBLEY!’. So now when Aston DOES come back on (what, next week?), he’s gonna have to denounce Kriss’ stuff.

Jack: “You ever use the JLS-branded condoms?”
Kriss: “…they’re quite small guys, ain’t they?”
Jack: “…not just quick on the track! I am…SO HAPPY Aston Merrygold is ill!”

Jack: “Kriss, you were wrong, because your team didn’t listen to you…”
Noel: “Is it now Kriss’ team?”
Phill: {switches places with Kriss]
Noel: “You know Kriss isn’t stopping at captain…you know he’s gonna be hosting soon…”

Jack, after fouling up a joke: “Gah, so much pressure now, because if I do get it wrong, now I just think Kriss will take my place…”
Then, Jack fouls up the joke again, causing the whole place to go wild.
Noel: “GET OUT OF THE CHAIR!”
Jack: “Kriss, come do the joke for me…”

They do the joke again, with Jack whispering the standup on the prompter into Kriss’ ear. Once he finishes the joke, he immediately gets it, and reacts accordingly.

After Kriss sits back in his own chair.
Phill: “BOOM! …Sorry, this seat’s got some secondary Akabusi on it as well…”

Noel, slowly realizing who one of the Guess Who options are: “…look at those big blue eyes…those Jesus-like eyes…I CAN’T! IT’S THE EYES OF MY NEMESIS! IT’S CHRIS MARTIN! I CAN’T LOOK AT THEM!”
Jack: “…stare a little bit longer…”
Noel: “I CAN’T! THE MEDIOCRITY MIGHT GET ME!”

Jack, to Noel: “You and me were on the same bill as Coldplay, and the whole night, you were avoiding him-”
Noel: “I didn’t avoid him. His roadies wanted to kill me!”
Johnny: “With cups of green tea?”

Jack, to Noel: “What would you sing to your baby?”
Noel: “BREAKIN’ THE LLLAW, BREAKIN’ THE LAAW…”
And he just keeps going, miming screaming into the baby and going mad.
Jack: “I think you’ve had an Akabusi attack…”

After Jack asks Johnny if he has plans to settle down, Alex interjects, saying that Johnny used to date Jack’s sister, all the while Jack’s trying to get him to shut up.
Alex: “I was reading your book on the toilet before…”
Jack: “Why are you talking about reading it on the toilet?”
Alex: “…well, it’s not quite good enough to take on Holiday, is it?”

This is pretty amazing, seeing not only Kriss upstaging Jack, but Alex tearing Jack a new one WHILE HE’S TRYING TO HOST THE SHOW. Maybe it’s because I hate Jack Whitehall, but I’m LOVING this show so far.

Jack makes his first snafu of the night, by revealing the answer to Phill and Katy’s first intro too soon. As the clip plays in-
Noel: “What’you doing? You’re supposed to throw it over…”
Jack: [collapses]
…he;s hosted the show twice before, HE SHOULD KNOW THIS.

He does actually throw it over, after the answer’s been given.
Jack: “Any ideas?”
Noel and Alex: “…errrrmmm…”

Kriss, not knowing: “I’m sorry…[buzzer noise]”
Phill: “…WRONG QUIZ!”

Jack makes his SECOND snafu of the night, giving Alex the point before he’s named the actual song. He says ‘Sister Sledge’, and Jack just reveals the song title. Man, it’s almost like Jack’s the worst guest host ever or something…

After Noel and Johnny don’t know how the 2nd intro goes…and then they bring over Kriss and he goes “oh,…I know the BAND…”
Alex: “I’m not too optimistic at this point…”

Then JACK comes over and all four of them have to do the intro together. As they get ready, Noel goes “we might have to take this group on tour…”

Jack: “Kriss, which of the lineup would you most like to boom.”
Kriss: “WHOOOOOAA…”
Jack: “NO NO NO NO NO! NO! KRISS HAS A WIFE! I mean like [Kriss hand motion] boom boom!”
Kriss, already past it: “No, I mean…”
Jack, still stuck on the audience: “No, YOU SICK BASTARDS, LOOK…KRISS AKABUSI IS ASEXUAL. HE DOESN’T DO THAT-”
Kriss: “I dunno about that, fella…”

Kriss: “Yeah, I like #2, she’s got the whole dancing action going on-”
Jack: “SHE’S STOOD STILL!”

WHITEHALL SNAFU #3:
Jack, Next Lines: “And oh, doesn’t matter how much we cried…if our eyes spat out the night…what i’ve done there, is read out BOTH lines of the song…so you’re gonna have to get the next one…”

Then, of course, Jack does 3 sister-related lines in a row to spite Johnny, like “Dance Little Sister” and “Sister don’t let go…”

Jack: “Sister don’t let go…”
Noel: “Just keep quiet, I can hear Jack coming up the-”
Jack: “SHUT UP!”

Overall: A surprisingly amazing NMTB. Even without Kriss Akabusi, this would still have been funny. Jack, while still not a great host, had more to work with, especially with his pal Kriss on the bill, and with Johnny having dated his sister. Alex had some of the best lines, Katy and Johnny were in great moods, but Kriss was having so much fun, allowed for some of the best moments, and saved this episode from being another crappy Jack Whitehall episode.

Guest Host Rating: 8/10. Slight upgrade.
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Kriss
Best Runner: Johnny and Jack’s sister.

Nevermind Watchdown: S27E08, or WHAT’S THAT COMING OVER THE HILL? IT IS A BLENDER.

Well, we need a nice boost of enthusiasm after last week’s good-but-traumatizing Rizzle Kicks show. So, let’s get….uh, Michael Bolton?

Yeah. On paper, Michael Bolton’s an odd choice. Yes, he did have a ton of hits in the 80’s and 90’s, but he was also one of the most uncool hitmakers of the time. However, in 2011…the Lonely Island came along with Jack Sparrow and instantly made him cool and funny again. So he’s probably a ton more self-aware, and this is probably gonna be a hella fun show.

Plus, we’ve got a pretty phenomenal panel on our hands- Carol Vorderman and Diana Vickers are on Phill’s side, while Seann Walsh and Westlife’s Shane Filan are with Noel. This has all the makings for a classic.

Annnd THIS is our opening image:
Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 5.08.11 PM.png

Note that the crowd goes kinda wild when Shane’s introclip comes out. Man, hope he doesn’t call anyone a duck like the last Westlife guy that was on…

Shane keeps making a big deal out of the decision to stand up at the key change of a song, which he credits to Simon Cowell.
Noel: “What else did he say? ‘I think you should open your mouths when you sing…”

Shane even teaches his entire panel to do the sexy-stand-up at key change, which vexes Seann because he tries concentrating, but sure enough:
Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 5.14.51 PM.png

There’s also a really nice sequence where Michael teaches Seann how to stand on the mountain and ‘BE Michael Bolton’, which doesn’t exactly work because he’s Seann Walsh. Look, usually I frown upon the extraneous pre-quiz stuff, but…it’s funny! It’s working!

I do want to note that the Paul McCartney ‘Ever Present Past’ clip they show has been on before, because I remember Bill Bailey going “what’s he doing on one knee? No, no, Paul, don’t go down that road again…”

Sure enough, Shane talks about meeting Sir Paul
Shane: “It was actually on my honeymoon…”
Noel: “You got married to Paul McCartney?”

Michael says he’s ‘come close’ to meeting Sir Paul.
Noel: “Come close? Like someone went ‘HEY, COME AND MEET…oh, don’t bother…”

Michael: “If you’re wondering what a brazillian grasshopper looks like, it’s just like a normal grasshopper, only shaved.”
Must have been one of the randomly lethal jokes leftover from Eamonn’s show.

Michael’s reads are actually kind of wooden, but they do occasionally work, like saying ‘at the end of the round, Noel’s team have done nothing, they have scored nothing, they are worth nothing…”

Noel brings back his smartassery from the Peter Andre show for the Lightning Bolton round
Michael: “True or false-”
Noel: ‘FALSE!”

Michael’s at least having fun with these questions One of them is “I was the singing voice of Pocahontas in the Disney film-”
The audience starts laughing before he can even finish it, so he even cracks a smile.

Phill and Diana’s first intro sounds like a ton of weird beeping noises.
Seann: ‘Phill, that sounds like dial-up internet…”
Phill: ‘I’m sending a fax!”

Michael hands it over to Noel’s team.
Seann: “Oh, god, it’s Too Much Lube, by Anal Danger.”
The audience takes 5 to recover.
Michael: “…it’s, uh…it’s not Anal Danger.”
Phill: “OHHHH, WHO HAD MONEY ON BOLTON SAYING *THAT* TONIGHT? *I* WANNA HEAR HIM SINGING IT!”
Michael, melodically: “It’s NOOOT ANAL DANNGEERR…”

My geekiness from James Acaster’s episode is coming back here, as I can only name Phill and Diana’s second intro as ‘the song from Kingsman’.

And sometimes, Michael’s completely dry delivery makes the standups even better, like his one for KC and the Sunshine Band.
“They’re so disco, even their testicles are mirrored…”

Michael: “Noel and Shane”
Noel, faintly: “HEL-LO…”

After Noel and Shane’s first intro, Seann, who immediately knows it, gives a pretty perfect impression of Ricky Wilson, with the ‘ARMS BE-HIND DE BACK-AAAHH’, flailing around thusly.

Shane: “Can you hum the first line, Michael?”
Michael: “I don’t think there’ll be any humming on this show…”
Noel: “Not even for your estranged son?”

Even funnier, Michael reads the card as ‘Kaiser Chefs’, which the audience cracks up at.
Noel, Ricky Wilson voice: “ANNNND I LOVE MY CHOPPING BOARD!”
Seann: ‘WHAT’S THAT COMING OVER THE HILL, IT IS A BLENDER!”
Noel, even as people applaud Seann: “…wrong band…”

Noel and Shane give Seann a Michael Bolton intro next, which he…completely misreads, and adds a random rap stanza to, as Shane just looks on, confusedly.

Michael says the Kaiser Chiefs are named after a football club. “That’s nothing. My full name is Michael Bolton Wanderers.”
After a nice round of applause for that, he worriedly checks the camera and goes “…I DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.”

Diana, ID Parade: “I know #4- if not, I’ve met him before…”
Phill: “Number four, FOR SHAME…”

Diana, after going through several different options: “Just pick one…I’m so indecisive…”
Phill: “REALLY???”

Michael, as the round is going long: “Guys, I actually have a plane I have to catch…”
Noel: “I’m sure it’s your own plane…you’re getting no trip fee from us…”

Next Lines
Michael: “Feel your hands inside my soul.”
Phill: “…feel a BAKER’S…SAUSAGE ROLL…”
Michael: [cracks]
Phill: “Feel me cock, I’ll feel your hole…”
Michael: “I wish I’d written that one…”
Phill: “That’s a beauty!”

Michael: “Let me lick you up and down, til you say stop!”
Seann: “ANAL DANGER!”

Michael: “Take your heart and make it sing.”
Noel: “…or use your mouth, it’s up to you…”

Overall: Slightly disappointing, but still a nice episode. Phill’s team was underedited, but Diana had some nice moments of looniness towards the end. Seann, Shane and Noel were the stars of the night, with Shane having some great moments and not being afraid to have fun, and Seann being hysterical as usual. Michael’s reads were dry, and he occasionally went into the Ne-Yo category of ‘confused foreigner’, but it was a pretty nice show.

Guest Host Rating: 9/10
Best Regular: Noel
Best Guest: Seann
Best Runner: Anal Danger.

Nevermind Watchdown: S27E07, or Cavanagh, man…now that’s some dangerous music..

So…it’s come to this.

Tonight’s episode is the last big controversial important episode in the series’ run. Rizzle Kicks, who were amusing enough on their last time on, are HOSTING. On the panel tonight are Paul Foot, finally back again, American Southern-Alt-Rock singer Lissie, Irish model and presenter Laura Whitmore, and…yeah…Huey Morgan, from the Fun-Loving Criminals. This is going to be very, very interesting. Because Huey is about to have the absolute worst day of his life. Let’s watch together.

Among the implications of Phill’s Content Advisory round: Tina Turner sang “I don’t really wanna fuck no more”; and, most hilariously, “BOB THE BUILDER- CAN HE FUCK IT?”

Paul asks if Scissor Sisters are a successful group: “I thought they should have been censored for being excessively camp.”

There’s this big bit Paul does about lesbians getting shot out of cannons, that leads to the Cern collider smashing lesbians together, that’s so bizarre that I’m not gonna write it down verbatim.

THE FIRST SIGN OF CONFLICT
Huey talks about not getting kicked off of a plane: “Even in really bad shape, like my hair was messed up and-”
Jordan: “Hair messed up?”
Huey, pointing to his short hair: ‘My hair GROWS…”

And then:
Jordan: “A Green Day is a term for a day that’s spent by doing nothing but smoking marijuana.”
Harley: “For example, the Fun Lovin Criminals are in the middle of a Green DECADE.”
Huey, after a glare: “…son, we’re in our SECOND decade…”

Among the implications in Noel’s round: Marc Cohn allegedly wrote ‘Wanking in Memphis’; Katy Perry’s ‘You’re Gonna Fuck Me Raw’, which does work a ton better if you’re British; and a random wang in Olivia Newton John’s ‘Physical’ video.

Noel: “Paul, d’you know any of these people?”
Paul: “I’ve always wondered this…is Olivia Newton John related to Elton John?”
Noel: “Yeah, he’s her auntie…”

Paul says he’s never seen Grease.
Noel: “Well, we’ll have to grab some snacks and watch Grease…”
Harley: “Can we come?”
Paul: “….no.”
Harley: “discrimination…”
Jordan: “WHAT?”
Noel, after the laughter passes: “Sorry, Rizzle Kicks…no lesbians…”

Lissie, summing up the entire post Mark Lamarr era of Buzzcocks: “Like I said, I feel like I know what the answer is, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the point of the show, so…”

Laura, pre-intros: “I just wanna say that this is my favorite round, and I always get mad when people don’t get the intros because they’re really easy…and now I’m shitting myself.”

Again, at this point, Huey seems to be in a fine mood, and he and Phill do a nice rendition of Foster the People’s Pumped Up Kicks.

Laura and Lissie share a nice moment.
Laura: “Lot of stress, isn’t it?”
Lissie: “I have to do it in a moment, so I feel you…”

Now I think the monotony kicks in- Huey just lumbers over towards Rizzle Kicks and points to them as Phill and Huey do their intro- he’s not pleased, because it’s just about them.

Paul, trying to guess: “Lots of songs sound like sex and love, but that didn’t sound like it. Sounded more like…….’Let’s Mend that Dove-Cot.”
Harley: “The Dove-Cot?”
Paul: “Yeah, where the doves go. The home of the doves.”
Lissie: “What, like a little bed that it lays on?”
Paul: “They would have a bed in there, obviously…of course, they’ve got beds, they’ve got teas, they’ve even got a Corby trouser press- THAT’S HARDLY THE POINT, LOVE!”

Paul, still going: “It’s named after where the doves live.”
Jordan: “Like a dove cottage?”
Paul: “Dove-cottaging is a different thing…”

Lissie: “This one I may or may not remember how it goes…”
Paul: “Would it help if i did a bit with you?”

Sure enough, Paul and Lissie do it for Noel, who already knows it. Paul just keeps making weird noises and such, which cracks up Lissie.

Paul wonders aloud why #1 in the ID Parade doesn’t have shoelaces.
Huey: “Maybe the producers thought it’d be a suicide risk. I understand why…now…at this point in the fuckin’ show, but…”

Pre-Next Lines, Huey’s still in an okay enough mood, even after Paul’s ID Parade shenangians, which…I’m not gonna write down all of, but like last time it was pretty fucking great. Huey’s not, like angry. So what happens next is kind of a shock.

The first time Huey gets one of his own lines…he sighs, looks up at the ceiling, and recites it. Kind of like his first time on, but less funny.

Jordan: “JUNGLE IS MASSIVE! JUNGLE IS MASSIVE!”
Huey: “…I don’t fuckin’ know…”
Phill: “So big that thousands of animals can hide within it…”

After the umpteenth Huey lyric, which he delivers even more pissed off.
Jordan: “y’alright?”
Huey: “i’m fine, I just thought you guys would do something different for a change…not give me my own lyrics over and over…”
Jordan has to explain that this is what they do on the show, for a laugh- to his credit, he’s got an awful nice way of talking him down.
Huey: “I’ve been on the show, like, NINE TIMES…”

Then, right after Rizzle Kicks announce the answer for Cavanagh, Huey smashes his mug on the ground and yells ‘WHO’S THAT??”, freaking the fuck out of Noel’s panel, mildly startling Phill, and causing a few folks in the audience to  go ‘EYYY!’

After trying, and failing, to calm down Huey, Jordan actually has a good line here: “…Cavanagh, man, that’s some dangerous music…”

The rest of how Jordan responds, by just mocking Huey, throwing in the ‘you won’t like me when I’m angry’, and sticking the shard of mug in his hair, is basically just baiting him. I mean, on one hand, Huey may not have been in the right to get agitated over Next Lines, but on the other…Jordan was kind of being an asshole.

Harley: “Noel’s team, you need 5 points to win, but I’d maybe suggest…not winning…”

Of course, then Paul and Noel spend their entire Next Lines round pushing over Noel’s mug, just in parody.

Jordan, trying to wrap the show in a bow: “Tonights winners- well, tonight’s real winner…is music.”
This gets no response.
Jordan: “…no, alright TONIGHT’S WINNERS-”
Phill absolutely loses it here. Huey would, but he’s still pissed.

Huey storms off before Jordan and Harley get a chance to fully sign off. Phill’s just sitting there, kinda traumatized. And that’s the note we end the bloody show, man.

Overall: Good show, had great moments…but I can’t completely like it without thinking about the Huey incident- it kind of overshadows what was already a ‘good enough’ show. Paul had some nice moments, Lissie and Laura played well, and Huey had some good lines pre-smash, but…that last bit was hard to watch. Then it becomes a blame game, on whether it was Huey’s mental state or Rizzle Kicks being fucking assholes to him that caused it. Look, Rizzle Kicks didn’t have the greatest day, but I’m gonna bring them down a peg or two for how they handled that. A guy has an anxiety attack on your show, and what do you do? You make fun of him? Regardless of who caused the incident, the way Rizzle Kicks handled it was horrible, and I may have to side with Huey because of it, even if I’m not 100% agreeing with his tactics either. Just a strange show, one I’m not sure how to think of.

Guest Host Rating: 7/10
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Paul
Best Runner: Paul and the lesbians.

Nevermind Watchdown: S27E06, or STOP CONFUSING THE RYDER!

Onto another Buzzcocks, this one featuring morning show host and part-time Jabba the Hutt, Eamonn Holmes.

The panel’s light enough but still kind of happening, with Sarah Millican back, an appearance from Shaun Ryder from the Happy Mondays, requisite comedian Greg McHugh, and Jaymi Hensley was in pop-act Union J.

Eamonn enters the show in full Elvis getup.
Eamonn: ‘Did anyone actually think that was Elvis?”
Phill: “I’ll be honest, Eamonn, a bit of me did think ‘good lord, Elvis..a larger part of me thought we were at a very odd North Korean rally…”

I will say the best part of seeing Eamonn jiggle around in his Elvis getup is seeing Shaun Ryder long for death’s sweet embrace on the side. Man, if you think this is bad, wait until you see what the next guy in that chair thinks of Rizzle Kicks…

Phill, reiterating the Kesha question: “She asks people to sing to her in Dinosuar language?”
Shaun: “Barney the dinosaur…yeah, still watch him 5 times a week…puts me to sleep every time…”
Noel: “Is he the purple one, Barney…”
Phill: “Oh, here we go…you two…”

Eamonn: “Do you really watch Barney the Dinosaur?”
Shaun: “I actually do…it got me on Peppa Pig…”
Sarah: “Is that because you’re addicted to them?”
Noel: “‘I’m down to two Peppa Pigs a day…'”

Phill has to reexplain the sheep option to Sarah, that Kesha gets a person to dress up as a sheep and hop over a fence to get her to sleep.
Sarah: “Just one, though? Over and over again? That’s knackering, isn’t it?”
Noel: “The assistant has to pretend to be different sheep every time, slightly changing their hairstyle.”
Noel does a good impression of different sheep noises this person would do.
Noel: “WE’RE RUNNING OUT OF SHEEP IMPRESSIONS!!”

Phill: “Shaun, have you ever had an assistant?”
Shaun: “…me? I mean, we just went out and got a tour bus, let alone an ASSISTANT…”
Phill: “Who drives it?”
Shaun: “Bez.”
Phill: [breaks]
Shaun: “YOU TRY STOPPING HIM!”

Maybe I’ve been watching this show too long, but I already knew, when Eamonn started a standup about how dinosaurs talked, that it would ultimately end with a Bruce Forsythe joke (JUH-JUH-JUH-JUH-JUH…GOOD GAME!)

Sarah’s prop is a self-spinning spoon-in-teacup, which produces this whirring noise.
Sarah: “…I recognize the sound…”

Eamonn does a round where people have to guess if objects are on Shaun Ryder’s rider, or someone else’s. The last one is actually Sarah Millican’s rider.
Phill: “You missed the last bit, it was ‘and a little bit of heroin…JUST A TINY BIT, JUST TO TEEAAKE THE EDGE OFF!”
Sarah: “D’you think I sound like Elmo??”

Eamonn: “In her adolescence, J-Lo was nicknamed La Guitarra, because of her round, curvy shape…and because she was wooden and completely hollow inside.”

Shaun, getting up for intros: “…I am so shit at this…”

Shaun and Phill’s attempt at their first intro is great, because Phill’s trying to get Shaun to do a constant beat sound, but Shaun can’t stay in time…and then both Greg and Noel think it’s the Flash Gordon theme. As Phill’s trying to get back to the right one, Noel’s still going ‘GORDON’S ALIVE!’
Phill: “DON’T THROW THE RYDER! I JUST MANAGED TO GET HIM *SET!* STOP CONFUSING THE RYDER!”
Shaun, continuing suddenly: “…DUM DUM DUM DUM-”
Phill: “NO, NOT NOW!”

Eamonn: “In 2012, 19 people were injured at a Linkin Park concert….that is the last time I go crowd-surfing.”
Phill loses it at this one.

Eamonn: “When performing with Gorillaz, Damon Albarn shares the stage with ludicrous two-dimensional characters…I know the feeling, I worked with Anthea Turner for years…”
Man, the stand-up bits they’re writing for Eamonn are INSANE tonight.

ID Parade:
Phill: “Before the show, Shaun said ‘they might put one of the Mondays on, I probably wouldn’t recognize him…”
Shaun: “#2 is BEZ!”

Sarah: “#5, does that not look sexy to you?”
Jaymi: “Not to me.”
Phill: ‘Are you mental?”
Jaymi: “No, just gay, so…”
Phill completely loses it here, before, between chuckling, going “I didn’t know…”

Next Lines: “I’m so exicted!”
phill: “I’VE JUST MET ANTHEA TURNER!”

Overall: Light show, though not without its moments. Eamonn did sort of tire out the Elvis runner, but he was really, really good at keeping the show running. The panel was uneven, but Sarah had some nice moments, and Shaun, though confused, was having a really, really nice time.

Guest Host Rating: 8/10
Best Regular: Phill
Best Guest: Shaun
Best Runner: Elvis