Never Mind the Buzzcocks
Never Mind the Buzzcocks is a British comedy panel game, themed on pop music, that aired between 1996 and 2015. It first starred Phill Jupitus and Sean Hughes as team captains, with Hughes being replaced by Bill Bailey from the eleventh series, and Bailey replaced by Noel Fielding for some of series 21 and from series 23 onward. The show was produced by Talkback for the BBC, and usually aired on BBC Two. The title plays on the names of punk rock band Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks album, and the punk band Buzzcocks. The series was first hosted by Mark Lamarr, then by Simon Amstell, and later by a number of guest presenters, with Rhod Gilbert hosting the final series.
|Never Mind the Buzzcocks|
|Also known as||Buzzcocks|
|Genre||Comedy panel game|
|Created by||Bill Matthews|
|Presented by||Mark Lamarr (Series 1–17)|
Simon Amstell (Series 19–22)
Rhod Gilbert (Series 28)
Guest presenters (Series 18, 23–27)
Sean Hughes (Series 1–10)
Bill Bailey (Series 11–21)
Noel Fielding (Series 21, 23–28)
Guest captains (Series 22)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||28|
|No. of episodes||281 (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||BBC Television Centre (1996–2012)|
Riverside Studios (2013)
Elstree Studios (2014–15)
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Talkback (1996–2005, 2012–15)|
Talkback Thames (2006–12)
|Original network||BBC Two|
|Original release||12 November 1996 –|
15 January 2015
The show was noted and known for its dry, sarcastic humour and scathing, provocative attacks on other people and objects. It also had some controversial guests throughout its 18-year run. On 26 May 2015, it was announced that the BBC had decided not to re-commission the show, in order to "create space for new entertainment formats". In September 2020, it was announced that Sky was reviving the show.
The show ran from 1996 until 2015. From its inception until December 2005, it was presented by Mark Lamarr (who also produced the show from 2004 until his departure). Simon Amstell started hosting in October 2006. Regular team captains include Phill Jupitus, Sean Hughes (until May 2002), Bill Bailey (September 2002 – February 2008), Noel Fielding (October 2009 – December 2014), and also the guest captains (October 2008 – January 2009). Bill Bailey had appeared as a guest in series 4 on Phill Jupitus's team and series 5 on Sean Hughes's team.
At the end of 2005, it was announced that Mark Lamarr was to take a break from the show after 150 episodes, to concentrate on other projects. The series that aired in early 2006 was hosted by guest presenters, before being permanently handed over to Simon Amstell, who had appeared twice as a panellist (series 13, episode 8 and series 16, episode 11), and once as a guest presenter (series 18, episode 2). The first time Amstell appeared as a panellist under Lamarr's tenure, coincidentally, Lamarr jokingly accused him of "stealing his act".
Following series 20 (Amstell's second as regular host), a highlights show was broadcast, presented by Alan Yentob as a parody of his own arts series Imagine. The highlights programme was sub-titled Imagine… A Mildly Amusing Panel Show. From then on, every series included a compilation highlights show, usually including some mockumentary-style "behind the scenes" footage.
Series 20 of Never Mind the Buzzcocks concluded on 7 March 2007. The show began its 21st series on 15 November 2007 with Simon Amstell as host and Phill Jupitus and Bill Bailey as team captains, although Noel Fielding temporarily replaced Bill Bailey for three episodes of series 21. Series 21 concluded on 14 February 2008.
On 18 September 2008, the BBC announced that Bill Bailey would be leaving the show, after eleven series, to concentrate on other commitments. While Simon Amstell and Phill Jupitus returned for the show's 22nd series, Bailey was replaced by a series of guest captains, including comedians Bob Mortimer, Jack Dee, Frank Skinner, Stephen Fry, James Corden, Mark Watson, Russell Brand, producer Mark Ronson and television presenters Dermot O'Leary and Davina McCall.
On 25 April 2009, Amstell announced via his internet mailing list that he would not be hosting another series of Never Mind the Buzzcocks because of his desire to concentrate on his live tours and performances instead. The new series began 1 October with Noel Fielding as a new permanent captain. Guest hosts included Alex James, Dermot O'Leary, Jack Whitehall, Rhod Gilbert, David Walliams, Claudia Winkleman, Frank Skinner, Frankie Boyle, James Corden, Mark Watson, Martin Freeman and David Tennant.
In 2010, guest hosts continued to present the show's 24th series, including Mark Ronson, Jack Dee, Josh Groban, Terry Wogan, Tim Minchin, Robert Webb, Tim Westwood, Catherine Tate, Frankie Boyle (hosting for the second time) and David O'Doherty, who also hosted a compilation show transmitted on 11 January 2011. On 16 July 2011, the first ever live Never Mind the Buzzcocks special was hosted at Latitude. It lasted roughly two hours, was hosted by David O'Doherty, had the team captains Phil Jupitus and Noel Fielding, and featured guests Seann Walsh, Charlie Baker, Paloma Faith and Robert Milton (standing in for Seasick Steve, who was supposed to be there but never arrived).
Between 3 June and 22 July 2013, a special eight-part retrospective programme called What a Load of Buzzcocks was aired, with narration by Alex James. The show revisited key years and events through classic moments and clips from the show's 16-year history.
Phill Jupitus is the only performer to have appeared in almost every episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks, missing only the recording of series 25, episode 6, where Frankie Boyle filled in as team captain, and a special episode filmed as part of Comic Relief's 24 Hour Panel People.
The show usually consisted of four rounds. The first round changed multiple times over the course of the show. In early series it was often Freeze Frame (where a music video was paused at a key point and teams had to guess what happened next) or I Fought The Law (where teams had to guess which of a given list of crimes or lawsuits a pop star had been involved in, and whether they'd won or lost their case). Later, it usually consisted of the teams being asked a question concerning a unique fact about a musical artist or artists, such as "Why did Girls Aloud once have to cancel a show?" or "What have we pixelated in this still from a music video?" Sometimes the teams are given options to pick from; at other times they have no help. Alternatively, the first round was 'Connections' in which the teams are asked to identify the connection between two bands or artists. Series 25 introduced sets of props for the guests to identify as being part of the answer.
The second round was the Intros Round, wherein two members of a team (the captain and usually the musical guest) were asked to convey the introduction of a song a cappella (but using vocal sounds for instruments rather than words) for their teammate to guess. During the Christmas specials, the teams were often given instruments with which to play, though they are usually inappropriate or toy instruments.
The third round was usually the Identity Parade, though this was occasionally replaced by a few other alternative rounds. The audience was shown a video of a musician (often a member of an old band or a "one hit wonder" singer), and the teams have to pick the correct person from a line-up of five people. The audience and people at home are the only ones to see the video, making it harder for the contestants. The host will go through each member of the line-up, giving them humorous names based on either the name of the musician in question or their song.
The final round was called Next Lines, in which the host spoke a line of a song and the team had to name the next line of the song. Often the songs chosen will be ones mentioned in earlier rounds and ones recorded by panel members. In the latter case, guests often prove incapable of reciting the lyrics to their own songs; for example, Romeo Stodart of The Magic Numbers failed entirely to recognise a line from a song which he joked was "like the B-side from our first single".
For the Christmas Eve 2006 Bumper Edition, the Next Lines round was omitted in order that the teams, plus a guest band and members of that show's Identity Parade, performed a particular song (chosen, in a short skit, by a dreidel). Phill's team, with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, performed Rachel Stevens' "Some Girls", and Bill's, with the Bollywood Pandits (a Bollywood Bhangra band), performed the Rednex's "Cotton Eye Joe".
In the first series of 2005, Mark Lamarr introduced a new segment after the end of the quiz proper, wherein Lamarr tells the audience out-of-context punchlines which weren't used during the show. Often these have included incongruous references to fingerless gloves.
In most of the episodes in the Spring 2006 series, there was an intro or outro sketch where Phill, Bill and Athelston Williams (a frequent member of the lineup in the Identity Parade round) played in a pub band called "Fat, Gifted and Black" (a play on Young, Gifted and Black), or "Athelston, Lake and Palmer" (a play on Emerson, Lake & Palmer). The guest presenter would usually be the lead singer for this segment (e. g. Lauren Laverne and Ricky Wilson).
A running joke of the show was for Noel or Phil to remark on passing comments as "good band names", an example of this being "The Diabetic Squirrels".
|Presenter||Mark Lamarr||Guests||Simon Amstell||Guests||Rhod Gilbert|
|Team captains||Phill Jupitus|
|Sean Hughes||Bill Bailey||Guests||Noel Fielding|
Until series 18, Never Mind the Buzzcocks was chaired by Mark Lamarr. Until series 10, the team captains were Phill Jupitus and Sean Hughes. After series 10, Hughes departed and was replaced by Bill Bailey. Lamarr left after series 17, and series 18 was chaired by a series of guest hosts. One of these, satirical comedian and former Popworld presenter Simon Amstell, took over as presenter from series 19 to series 22. Amstell sent an email to his fans on 24 April 2009, stating "I am Simon Amstell. Here is some news, should you be interested in this sort of thing. I will not be hosting another series of the fun pop quiz, ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’. When I first took on the role of hosting ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’, my only hope was to bring joy and laughter to the world and if I was lucky, put an end to war, disease and poverty. Now that I have achieved that, I plan to concentrate on my live work." Series 23 was chaired by a series of guest hosts which continued for Series 24 because "none of the guest hosts were good enough" according to the comedic voice over on the first episode of Series 24. In July 2014, it was announced that Rhod Gilbert would be the next permanent presenter for the 28th series.
At the beginning of series 21, Bill Bailey was unable to attend filming, so Noel Fielding provided cover for three episodes starting 22 November 2007. Bill Bailey officially left the show after series 21 to pursue other commitments. His role as team captain was filled by several 'guest captains' for series 22 and permanently filled by Noel Fielding from series 23 onward.
Walk-offs and non-airingsEdit
There have been some instances of guests walking off the show, or episodes being pulled from broadcast due to guest behaviour:
- In episode 2 of series 3, Lemmy of Motörhead walked off the show near the end of the episode, purportedly after he realised that Mark Lamarr and most of the other panellists' jokes were making fun of him (as well as former Bucks Fizz singer Jay Aston). Lemmy's walk-off was not aired however as by this time, main recording for the show had already finished and only retakes were being shot.
- In episode 3 of series 20, The Ordinary Boys' lead singer Preston walked off the show after Simon Amstell read extracts from the autobiography of Preston's then-wife, Chantelle Houghton. He was replaced by audience member Ed Seymour, picked out by Bill Bailey (on the grounds that he was of the closest physical resemblance that could be found), and credited as "special guest". Bill's instructions to Seymour were "look surly and every time [Amstell] mentions Chantelle say 'that's out of order'". Coincidentally, Preston had been sitting in the same seat as Lemmy, leading it to be called the "ejector seat" by Phill in the next episode. In an August 2009 interview, Preston admitted that he regretted walking off the show and said that he would return to the programme if asked, saying "I'm struggling to think why I would have acted so weird".
- Russell Brand recorded an appearance as guest captain for series 22, but due to the Andrew Sachs prank call scandal that surrounded him, and his suspension—and then resignation—from the BBC, the episode was not broadcast until 19 January 2011.
- In episode 7 of series 27, during the Next Lines round, Huey Morgan of Fun Lovin' Criminals (who had also been sitting in the "ejector seat"), smashed a mug and walked off at the end of the show just as his team was announced as the winner. Morgan's behaviour was purportedly due to guest hosts Rizzle Kicks giving his team Fun Lovin' Criminals lyrics (even though previous musicians have frequently given lyrics to their own songs to test their memories). Both Rizzle Kicks and Noel Fielding made fun of the incident shortly afterwards.
International versions and similar showsEdit
- In 1998–1999 the Dutch-language Belgian TV channel Canvas aired one series of the pop quiz Nonkel Pop that was based on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, featuring an intros round, next lines, and similar panels of contestants. The show was hosted by Bart Peeters. The name of the show, which translates as 'Uncle Pop' was a play on Nonkel Bob (Uncle Bob—real name Bob Davidse), a legendary children's TV presenter from the early days of Belgian television. Bart Peeters made his television debut as a child on one of Nonkel Bob's shows.
- In 1999 Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa hosted a short-lived one-hour music-themed game show with a somewhat different format on the USA network called Happy Hour (not to be confused with the sitcom of the same name).
- In 2002, an American version of the show on VH1 with the same title, hosted by comedian Marc Maron, lasted for a month. VH1 has since played airings of the classic episodes with Mark Lamarr.
- An official Dutch version, Doe Maar Normaal (which translates to "Just act normally", part of the Dutch proverb "Just act normally, that'll be silly enough", and is also a combination of famous Dutch bands Doe Maar and Normaal), ran for five seasons from 2007 to 2012. It was broadcast by BNN. Regular panel members included TV presenter Dennis Weening and comedian Ruben van der Meer and it was hosted by Ruben Nicolai.
- A popular Australian show, Spicks and Specks, hosted by stand-up comedian Adam Hills and presented in a similar style but with different question formats was broadcast on the ABC from 2005 until 2011. It returned for one more season in 2014 with comedian Josh Earl as host. Adam Hills appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks in 2005.
- Despite persistent efforts by Foxtel, particularly by Darren Chau during his tenure as the Comedy Channel Group Programming Director, the programme could not be cleared for broadcast in Australia. Finally by 2012, the programme was cleared and launched in Australia on the Foxtel platform 16 July. It started to broadcast on ABC2 on 3 October 2013.
- ProSieben, a German network, aired Popclub between 2002 and 2003. Hosted by comedian Thomas Hermanns, the show's major difference from Never Mind the Buzzcocks was the absence of constant team captains. Every episode featured two teams that had to present a name and a battle cry for themselves. Additionally, at the start of each episode, each member showed the very first record they ever bought.
In 1999, BBC Worldwide published Never Mind the Buzzcocks: The Book, the CD, the Brief Intense Rush (followed by a feeling of paranoia and insecurity). The book includes famous moments from the first five series of the show, from selected Identity Parades, I Fought the Law, Word Up and Connections rounds, along with collections of Mark Lamarr's one-liners from the show. The book also features new material, including comic strips (one explaining the origin of The Human League frontman Philip Oakey's hairstyle) and "Great Moments in Rock History", in which photos of famous musical moments are altered to imply that line-up regular Athelston Williams was present. The CD features several Intros rounds from the show, in the format of a game to play at home.
In 2000, Paul Lamond Games released the Never Mind the Buzzcocks board game, licensed from the BBC and Talkback. The board game is played as follows: the players arrange themselves into two teams. They have two counters each on the board—one as a point marker along the edge of the board and the other to select the round they have to play on the roll of a die. There are six rounds that can be played:
- In the Style of..., where the team leader has to sing a song in the style of someone notable, e. g. "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in the style of Mick Jagger, or "Start Me Up" in the style of Jeremy Clarkson.
- When I Was Famous, where the team leader asks a trivia question, and the other team members have to guess the answer.
- Intros round, the only surviving round from the TV show. Each team gets two intro per round.
- Vital Vinyl, where the team leader asks a trivia question about a song or an album, and anyone from either team can answer.
- Songs in One Sentence, where the team leader divides their team into two, and one section of the team has to describe a song without mentioning the song title or any lyrics in the song, and the other section has to guess what the song is. This game was played once in the first series of the TV show.
- Your Number's Up, where the team leader reads the category on the card to the opposite team, for example, name four songs that mention American states in their titles, for which you might answer "New York Mining Disaster, 1941" (Bee Gees), "Hotel California" (Eagles), "Ohio" (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), and "Sweet Home Alabama" (Lynyrd Skynyrd).
The teams earn the number of points given for the round on the card. For "In the Style of…", it is always one point for the song, and two points for the artist they are doing the song in the style of. At the end of their turn, the team moves their counter on the outer ring clockwise, by the number of points they scored.
The team that overtakes the other on the squares on the edge of the board wins the game.
In 2015 Paul Lamond Games released an updated version of the board game.
Video and DVDEdit
In 1998, a video titled Never Rewind the Buzzcocks was released, containing an episode of the show that was specially-recorded for the video.
A best of DVD including some of the unbroadcastable scenes from the Simon Amstell series was released on 16 November 2009. The DVD contains 3 specials including:
- Never Mind the Buzzcocks: Imagine... a mildly amusing panel show (a parody of the BBC's Imagine series, with Alan Yentob acting as host)
- Never Mind the Buzzcocks – A Moving Tribute
- Never Mind the Buzzcocks – Technically, the Best Series Ever
- – Phill series win
- – Sean/Bill/guests/Noel series win
- – Series drawn
- Denham, Jess (26 May 2015). "Never Mind the Buzzcocks axed after 18 years". The Independent (online). Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Plunkett, John (27 May 2015). "Never Mind the Buzzcocks: top five moments". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
- "Never Mind The Buzzcocks to end after 18 years". BBC News. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
- Richardson, Jay (10 September 2020). "Never Mind The Buzzcocks being revived by Sky". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- "Never Mind the Buzzcocks". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 November 2007.
- "Fielding to guest captain on 'Buzzcocks'". BBC Press Office. 29 October 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
- "Amstell quits Buzzcocks". Chortle.co.uk. 25 April 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2009.
- "New look Buzzcocks returns to BBC Two". BBC Press Office. 14 September 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
- "jupitusphillip: #buzzcockshosts2010 include". Twitter. 15 September 2010. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "Comedian Rhod Gilbert to host Never Mind The Buzzcocks". BBC Online. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- Fletcher, Alex (13 May 2013). "Blur's Alex James to narrate 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks' spinoff". Digital Spy. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "UK TV listings schedule - What's on TV tonight? - Radio Times". RadioTimes.
- "All new Buzzcocks as Bill Bailey bows out". BBC Press Office. 18 September 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2008.
- "An interview with Phil Campbell (Motorhead). 2002". motorhead.ru.
- "Singer Preston storms off TV quiz". BBC News Online. 11 January 2007. Retrieved 13 February 2007.
- "My night on Never Mind the Buzzcocks". BBC News Online. 14 February 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2007.
- "Preston 'regrets' show walk out". BBC News. 6 August 2009.
- This would originally have been episode 5 but became episode 13.
- "Russell Brand's Buzzcocks to be screened". BBC News. 17 January 2011.
- "Airdate: Never Mind the Buzzcocks". TV Tonight.
- Paul Lamond Games website, Link Retrieved 1 August 2016.
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