|Have I Got News for You|
|Genre||Comedy panel game|
|Created by||Harry Thompson|
|Presented by||Angus Deayton (1990-2002)|
Guest presenters (2002-)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||60|
|No. of episodes||525 (as of 3 October 2020)|
|Production locations||The London Studios (1990-2017)|
Elstree Studios (2018-)
|Running time||30 minutes|
40 minutes (extended)
|Production company||Hat Trick Productions|
|Original network||BBC Two (1990-2000)|
BBC One (2000-)
|Picture format||576i 4:3 (1990-1999)|
576i 16:9 (1999-2010)
1080i 16:9 (2011-)
|Original release||28 September 1990 -|
Have I Got News for You (HIGNFY) is a British television panel show, produced by Hat Trick Productions for the BBC, which premiered on 28 September 1990. The programme, loosely based on the BBC Radio 4 show The News Quiz, focuses on four panellists divided into two teams - captained by Ian Hislop and Paul Merton - answering questions on various news stories on the week prior to an episode's broadcast. However, the programme's format focuses more on the topical discussions on the subject of the news stories related to questions, and the satirical humour derived from these by the teams. As a result, the style of presentation had a profound impact on panel shows in British TV comedy, making it one of the genre's key standard-bearers.
The programme originally aired on BBC Two for its first ten years, before moving to BBC One in 2000 for future series, including a series of extended episodes titled Have I Got a Bit More News for You featuring additional content. Subsequent repeats are named Have I Got Old News for You or Have I Got a Bit More Old News for You. Until 2002, Have I Got News for You was hosted by Angus Deayton, until his sacking following several scandals about his private life in national newspapers. Since then, the programme has been hosted by various celebrity hosts, many of whom add to the comedy by adding their own elements to an episode.
The programme gained recognition for its performance on British television and comedy, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 British Comedy Awards, and the 2016 BAFTA for Comedy and Comedy Entertainment Programme.
Have I Got News for You was initially conceived as a pilot for the BBC called John Lloyd's Newsround. After filming the pilot, John Lloyd decided not to proceed as the chairman, and the job fell to comedian Angus Deayton, with team captains Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, and comedian Paul Merton returning from the pilot. The BBC commissions two series each year, with the first airing in October 1990; the number of episodes being finalised to set amounts between the Spring series, aired from April to June, and the Autumn series, aired from October to December, with the latter taking a small hiatus for a week to allow for the broadcasting of Children in Need.
For the first ten years of its broadcast, the programme was aired on BBC Two. During this period Hislop would be the longest-serving member of the three on the programme since its premiere. He has not missed a single episode. Merton took a break during the 11th series in 1996, having become "very tired" of the show and that he thought it had become "stuck in a rut". His absence led to his role being assigned to celebrity guests, with Merton himself returning as a guest on Hislop's team. Merton himself returned for the following series as team captain, deeming that his absence had given the programme the "shot in the arm" it needed and that it had been "better ever since".[note 1]
By 2000, the BBC made a decision to relocate its late evening news bulletin from nine o'clock to ten o'clock, after ITV moved their long-running ten o'clock bulletin to eleven o'clock. The resulting move caused a gap in its schedule that needed filling, effectively leading to Have I Got News for You being moved to BBC One and granted access to a broader audience in October that year. In 2002, Deayton was caught using illegal drugs and soliciting sex with a prostitute - a fact that he was ridiculed for on the programme, after it became headlines - putting his private life under scrutiny by news media outlets. Further scandal effectively forced the BBC to terminate Deayton's contract with them two episodes into the programme's 24th series.
At short notice, Merton hosted the first episode after Deayton's departure, with a series of guest hosts appearing for the remainder of the series, including Anne Robinson, Boris Johnson, and Jeremy Clarkson. Despite an initial search for a permanent successor to Deayton, having a different guest host each week proved successful, with average audience figures increasing from 6 million to 7 million, leading to it becoming a permanent feature in the programme's format in June 2003.
Between 1990 and its spring season in 2018, the programme was recorded at London Studios, the former home of London Weekend Television; it briefly was recorded at BBC Television Centre for a 2001 Election special, the Friday after the elections were completed. Since the 2018 Autumn series, recording is conducted at Elstree Studios, although the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom in 2020 impacted production of series during that time. The spring series saw Hislop, Merton, and the celebrities for each episode filming episodes virtually from their own homes, against a superimposed CGI recreation of the studio. In contrast, the autumn series was filmed at Riverside Studios in London under safety measures to prevent the spread of infection, which included socially distancing panellists and host with screens while on set. Initially audience numbers were reduced - half those attending each recording being allowed in the studio, and the other half watching the recording in the studio's cinema - but upon the British government implementing a second lockdown, all remaining episodes in the series would be recorded with a virtual audience.
Episodes are usually set to around 30 minutes in length, and are edited from the footage taken from a longer recording session by those involved the day before an episode is broadcast. The time frame given is used to allow the programme to retain the topical elements that an episode will feature, while allowing for any potentially defamatory material to be cut by the BBC's team of lawyers to avoid legal issues. The focus on each episode is on four panellists - the show's two regulars, and two guests - split between two teams, answering questions related to topical items in the news that occurred within the previous week, but the format often forgoes this aspect and the scoring system in favour of the panellists' witty exchanges, jokes, and satirical discussions on the question's relevant news item.
Each episode consists of a general format that is largely unchanged since the programme first premiered. All begin with an introduction by the host, who gives out a set of satirical, fictional comedic news stories that are often accompanied with a video clip from news programmes or general public recordings to provide the joke, followed by introductions of the episode's guest panellists. After this, the episode focuses on four rounds that generally follow the same arrangement:
After the rounds are completed, the host then gives out the scores, denoting which team is the winner. If time permits, the episode may feature a bonus round called the "Caption Competition", in which panellists are given a single or two pictures to make amusing captions to. The episode will always conclude with the host making an additional set of satirical, fictional comedic news stories, accompanied by a picture to provide the joke; in rare cases, an video clip may be used.
A repeat with a running time of 40 minutes, titled Have I Got a Bit More News for You, is often aired on the weekend, and features additional content cut from the original episode, and can often include scenes and outtakes made during the show before the opening credits or after the ending credits.
The format of Have I Got News for You is derived from the comedy that can be generated by the guests that participate in the programme, whether as a panellist, as a team captain (on occasions when Hislop or Merton have to be absent), or as the host for an episode since the 25th series in 2002. Although the positions feature a variety of comedians, they also have included politicians, television personalities, actors and news media personalities, several of whom have made multiple appearances on the programme. As of 16 October 2020, the most appearances on the programme is held by Alexander Armstrong, primarily in the role as guest host, while Andy Hamilton holds the record for most appearances as a guest panellist.
On rare occasions the programme has sometimes had participants who were signed up for an episode either cancelling their appearance or being forced to not appear for undisclosed reasons. As a result, production staff are often left to find someone who can replace them if time before filming permits this, although this is not easy to achieve. For an episode in 1993, production staff could not find a suitable replacement in time for Roy Hattersley (then an MP, having recently stepped down as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party), after he cancelled his appearance on the show at the last minute, and thus opted to replace him with a tub of lard. The programme compared Hattersley and the tub of lard, and claimed "they possessed the same qualities and were liable to give similar performances".
Throughout its broadcast history, Have I Got News for You has drawn considerable criticism from guests, politicians and viewers over some of the content it presented on television, and in some cases committing to using material that caused legal issues. Amongst these included:
Four VHS videos were released, two containing specially made editions of the programme:
The Very Best of Have I Got News for You (2002), a compilation of highlights from the first 12 years of the show, from the beginning up until the episode made after Deayton hit the tabloids. The running time is just over three hours long, and there are several hours of extras, including, among other things, running commentary of the whole presentation by Merton and Hislop. Also featured is a clip of Terry Wogan on Room 101, nominating the programme as one of his pet hates. In addition, interviews with political figures (taken from the Channel 4 Politics Awards) reveal their opinions on the series.
Have I Got News for You: The Best of the Guest Presenters (2003), which, as well as including the normal half-hour cut of Boris Johnson's first guest-hosting, also included a bonus disc, "The Full Boris", which showed a far longer cut of the same episode (lasting slightly under 60 minutes). Slightly longer versions of the shows featuring Martin Clunes, William Hague and Bruce Forsyth as chairman were also included, as well as a compilation of clips taken from other editions from the first two series with guest hosts (with only the episode hosted by Liza Tarbuck not represented). There are also several small extra features, including a discussion between Paul Merton and Boris Johnson regarding Johnson's appearance as presenter, filmed during his appearance as the celebrity guest on the Merton-hosted Room 101.
Have I Got News for You: The Best of the Guest Presenters Vol. 2 (2005), which is nearer in content to the first "Best of" DVD compilation than its direct predecessor. It contains four 45-minute compilations of the Autumn 2003, Spring 2004, Autumn 2004 and Spring 2005 series, rather than complete episodes; although it does again contain a bonus disc with an uncut version of Boris Johnson's second stint as presenter. This episode lasts about 80 minutes. "The A to Z of HIGNFY" is also included on the second disc. Each letter is used to stand for a different term or name often associated with the show, each highlighted by various example clips - except for the "problem letters" of X, Y and Z, which just lead into a selection of random outtakes. This feature also includes some behind-the-scenes content, with Marcus Brigstocke guiding the viewer around the studio and backstage, on a recording night.
During the late 1990s, the website haveigotnewsforyou.com, run in association with Freeserve, featured interactive versions of the show's games, including the missing words round and the caption competition, with prizes up for grabs.
Have I Got News for You started broadcasting a video podcast, The Inevitable Internet Spin-off, on 13 April 2007. It was initially planned to run for six series, from series 33 to 38, taking it to the end of 2009. Referred to as "webisodes", episodes are available via both the BBC iPlayer and YouTube.
From the beginning of Series 37, a new internet feature, Have I Got News for You, News... for You, was introduced. A short programme featuring typical opening and closing sequences (without the presence of a live audience) as well as other short sketches, it has so far been presented by Alexander Armstrong, and run fortnightly, bridging the gap between series 37 and 38.
Similar shows based on the Have I Got News for You format exist in other countries: