Series: Room 101

BBC comedy show that has been running on-and-off since 1994, named for the Room 101 from the novel 1984. When hosted by Nick Hancock (1994-97) and Paul Merton (1999-2007), it was a chat show where that week's featured guest nominated some of their pet hates (people, objects, experiences, whatever) and argued why they should be consigned to Room 101; the host then had to decide in each case whether or not they had made a persuasive enough argument. If so, the item was went into Room 101; if not, the guest had to take it home with them.

In 2012, a revamped edition hosted by Frank Skinner began, with the programme now taking the format of a Panel Game as three different guests argue across a series of categories to try and get their chosen items into Room 101; only one guest's item in each category is consigned.


This show contains examples of:

  • Accentuate the Negative: The whole point of the show. Much of the comedy is found out of people attempting to put in rather tiny things, such as rooks.
  • Appeal To Vanity: one of Stephen Fry's choices for Room 101 was collector's plates - decorative crockery with terrible artwork sold at absurd prices (often advertised in the Daily Mail) to people who quite wrongly think they will appreciate in value. Merton then presented him with a plate depicting Fry himself, which he loved, and offered him a Sadistic Choice: he can put all the ghastly plates into Room 101, but if he does then the one of him goes in with them. Fry gave in and kept the plate.
    • At the end of the episode Fry pulled the same thing on Merton: he wanted to put Room 101 into Room 101, and Merton said he wasn't sure he could do it as the programme would then disappear into itself. Fry replied, "But if you don't, I've got to take it with me." Merton: "So it's either give it to you or commit professional suicide. (Pause.) It's going in."
  • Berserk Button: Often one particular little thing is what causes the guest's annoyance with their nomination. For example Stephen Fry's dislike of 'New Agers' was mostly to do with the misuse of the word "energy".
  • Catchphrase: In Paul Merton's run he would introduce each episode with "Imagine you could get rid of some of your worst nightmares—what would they be? My guest tonight is here to convince me to banish some of the items on his/her list to Room 101".
  • Colbert Bump / It's Popular, Now It Sucks: In-Universe, Johnny Vegas reluctantly tells Paul the name of the chatroom he's addicted to: "Beauty's Castle... everyone will start visiting it now it'll be ruined!"
  • Creepy Cockroach: Meera Syal put in cockroaches.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The whole point of the show is people trying to get minor pet peeves locked away in the universe's equivalent of Hell. Always Played for Laughs.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The room once 'vomited' out Piers Morgan, on the grounds he was 'too toxic'.
  • Everybody Hates Math: Richard E. Grant put in math teachers. Kathy Burke put in math itself.
  • I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: One of Bill Bailey's reasons for hating the 1980s.
  • Lighter and Softer: Paul Merton was far less strict about letting things into Room 101 than Nick Hancock, and the show was more of an excuse for amusing anecdotes.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The show's name is a reference to the room where Winston is tortured in 1984. This was referenced when Caroline Quentin nominated rodents. Nick Hancock noted that the clip used to illustrate was actually from Room 101.
  • Logic Bomb: Stephen Fry's last choice to go into Room 101 was Room 101 itself. Paul Merton eventually agreed that it should go in, and pulled the lever — causing an Idiosyncratic Wipe to black, and the immediate end of the episode.
  • NO INDOOR VOICE: Excessively loud people have been nominated by several guests.
  • Old Shame: In-Universe. Frequently guests will be reminded of their own past faux-pas, such as Ricky Gervais's time as the singer in a 1980s new romantic band (he looked genuinely embarrassed). Guests will often nominate things they're ashamed to have been in.
  • Place Worse Than Death:
    • Meera Syal put in Austria.
    • Mel and Sue put in Leighton Buzzard.
    • Neil Morrissey nominated Germany.
    • Spike Milligan put in his own house and Portsmouth.
    • Peter Cook nominated the British countryside.
    • Desmond Lynam put in France.
    • Sheila Hancock put in Chiswick post office.
    • Bruce Forsyth nominated Yugoslavia.
    • Phillip Schofield put in Southend.
    • Alan Davies put in Liverpool.
    • Jo Brand put in Bonn.
  • Retool: The Hancock/Merton-fronted original run was on BBC2 and took the form of a light-hearted chat show. The Frank Skinner series has moved to BBC1 and has turned it into a more straightforward Panel Game.
  • Right Behind Me: After Kirsty Young had used BRIAN BLESSED as an example of people who are too loud, Paul introduced him from backstage. He also pretended to do this to Dara Briain with Gillian McKeith, eliciting an amazing Oh, Crap face.
    [after saying goodbye to Brian Blessed]
    Paul: You did say he was a nice man before he came on.
    Kirsty Young: I did — thank God I said that.
  • Running Gag: For the final Merton-hosted episode (which proved to be the final episode of the run until the Retooled series), the guest was Ian Hislop, Merton's opposing team captain on Have I Got News for You and the only guest to appear twice in the original run. He deliberately chose items he knew Merton liked, such as The Beatles and Charlie Chaplin, all of which were refusednote , culminating in the final choice being Merton himself.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Jonathan Ross nominated his own dress sense.
    • Stephen Fry put in Room 101 itself, not as a bad show in itself but as a symbol of negativity in the media.
    • Ian Hislop put in the host, Paul Merton.
    • Sheila Hancock nominated herself.
    • Rhod Gilbert also nominated himself.
  • Serious Business: Nick Hancock (a former teacher) claimed all teachers regard biscuits as this.
  • Snipe Hunt: When Rich Hall learned that NASA had calculated the weight of the Earth, his first thought was that it was a joke project assigned to a particularly incompetent scientist to keep him out of everyone else's way.
  • Swapped Roles: In the first episode hosted by Paul Merton, Nick Hancock was the guest.
    Paul: Are you familiar with how Room 101 works?
  • Take That: The point of some of the nominations.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: In-Universe. One of Nick Hancock's items was '(annoyingly) happy people', and he gave the example of a bus driver he'd known:
    "Look, there! A tree! Growing! Well done!" (thumbs up) "There's a bloke, getting his shopping—good for him!"
  • That Came Out Wrong: Kirsty Young was disappointed meeting Jon Bon Jovi: "He actually made me gag..." (pause) Paul: "So you did get on well then?"
  • Too Kinky to Torture:
    • Danny Baker nominated an unnamed man who claimed to be a Robert Redford lookalike despite not looking anything like Redford. Nick Hancock rejected the nomination, claiming that he was so delusional that he would think Room 101 was a lovely place.
    • Nick also rejected Jeremy Clarkson's nomination of vegetarians, on the grounds that since Room 101 is a very austere place, they would like being there.
    • Paul Merton rejected Sean Lock's nomination of Jeremy Clarkson, arguing that Clarkson thrives on being hated and therefore it would be worse for him if he wasn't put into Room 101.
  • You Dirty Rat: Caroline Quentin put in rodents, noting that she especially hated rats.