Trivia / Have I Got News for You

  • Actor Allusion: This has happened with numerous guest hosts and panellists to different extents:
    • When Bruce Forsyth was a guest presenter for the first time, the show turned into a parody of Bruce Forsyth's Generation Game and Play Your Cards Right, the latter as "Play Your Iraqi Cards Right", a reference to the "deck of death" to the utter bewilderment of Hislop and utter delight of Merton. His second appearance featured incidental music from Strictly Come Dancing, and ended with the points revealed in the style of that show. Hislop later described "Iraqi Cards" as being quite possibly the most tasteless thing the show had ever done. (It could have been worse — the writers wanted to call it "Play Your Kurds Right".)
    • Jerry Springer's episode featured descriptive captions for the panellists and his trademark 'final thought'. Also, Paul suggesting they have a lie detector test, and Ian suggesting a fight.
    • Nicholas Parsons did a Just a Minute round.
    • Joan Collins' episode featured a spoof of the Dynasty opening sequence (using the shots of the team captains from the first ever episode)
    • It also happened with guests, like the spoof Mastermind rounds.
    • Dominic West had the "Squad Car of News", because of his role on The Wire.
    • Benedict Cumberbatch had The Round of the Baskervilles.
    • Anne Robinson's guest hosted episode ended with "exit interviews" of Merton and Hislop in the style of The Weakest Link.
    • BRIAN BLESSED: "In the news the polls continue to slide for Gordon Brown, and some people think he's dead and buried. But I think the opposite, I say: GORDON'S ALIVE!!!" He does it again when he returns to host in a 2013 episode, this time managing to fit it into a conversation about Margaret Thatcher's death.
    • Tom Baker appeared by being "transported" in via TV special effects, complete with TARDIS noise. He then proceeded to introduce the show thusly:
      "Good evening, and welcome to Have I Got News For You. I used to be Jon Pertwee."
    • William Shatner opened the show with the background sliding open like automatic doors with a familiar ssshtk sound, and the host's chair had been modified to resemble the captain's chair on the Enterprise. Then there were lots of little phrases hidden throughout the show relating to Star Trek. He even did a song round, reference to his singing career. Also all the guests did their best to bring up Star Trek at every opportunity.
    • When Sir Roger Moore hosted, the James Bond allusions started before the opening credits, with Ian stroking a toy Right-Hand Cat. Also, when Sir Roger comments that an Archbishop needs the patience of a saint, a halo appears above his head.
    • At the end of the episode where Daniel Radcliffe hosted, a stinger showed him turning Paul Merton into a toad.
    • This exchange in series 44, episode 5 (extended).
      Damian Lewis: What's Radio Four for?
      Paul: Radio 4-4? Is there two of them? [...] Is there a Radio 2 too?
      Harry Shearer: Radio 1-1 makes 11.
      Damian: "Look it goes to eleven."
      Harry: Ohh, yeah.
      Audience: Ahhh.
      Damian: Spinal Tap joke!
      Harry: I knew it would happen.
      Damian: Got there early. I am so, SO happy I've got that in.
    • Robert Lindsay signed off his Series 45 guest host appearance by saying, "Power to the people."
    • Ian's editorship of Private Eye is brought up a lot.
    • Victoria Coren Mitchell did an Only Connect-inspired round which she called "Simply Link" instead of the "Odd One Out" round on her appearance in Series 48.
    • The Wheel of News is occasionally given a host-related revamp, such as Jeremy Clarkson presenting the Steering Wheel of News, and Mel Giedroyc presenting the Pithivier of News.
    • In the episode hosted by Michael Sheen, who played Tony Blair in The Deal, The Queen and The Special Relationship, one of his linking bits involved asking if any of the panellists could do a good Blair impression.
  • Career Resurrection: Bruce Forsyth's first episode as guest presenter has been credited with boosting his career and getting him the presenting job on Strictly Come Dancing.
  • The Cast Show Off: Lembit Opik randomly gets out his harmonica during the 2010 election special.
    Lembit Opik: I don't mean nothing governor, I've got me harmonica, I can play that for you, if you want. And I have. No, I have. I have.
    Paul: Are we witnessing a mental breakdown?
  • Colbert Bump:
    • Boris Johnson is perhaps the most successful example of a politician enjoying a Colbert bump — he became famous enough to become Mayor of London because of this show, when before he was merely infamous in journalistic circles. It is now quite possible that BoJo will become leader of the Tories and even the country, which the show will have significantly contributed to. Lampshaded by Paul Merton frequently, remarking "His plan worked, so he won't be coming back".
    • As Dara O'Brien puts it: "If I knew that's what you get from hosting Have I Got News For You, I wouldn't have settled for Mock the Week."
    • Many people have appeared as a panellist before being upgraded to the host's chair.
    • For a non-person example, one episode featured a signed photograph of Ian Hislop on eBay that had attracted six hits and no bids. One week later, it had attracted a maximum bid of over £110.
    • Politicians sometimes take a gamble to try and get the same success Boris has. Unlike him, however, they are often not that successful. Among the more successful would be William Hague, former Conservative Party leader, who ended up doing a few years as a rather successful after-dinner speaker before eventually becoming Foreign Secretary in 2010.
    • Some writers have tried using the show to springboard their books being launched. Also unlike Boris, it tends not to work for varying reasons, although particularly self-mocking hosts always get a good laugh by making an ironic plug.
    • Charles Kennedy, the late Liberal Democrat leader, had similar success to Boris Johnson. The opportunities on the show to exhibit his famous wit boosted his popularity with the general public, to the extent that HIGNFY was often mentioned in his obituaries. To recognise this, on the first episode after his early death HIGNFY featured a short montage of his appearances, and avoided discussing his death as a point of news as a sign of respect.
    • Series 44 Episode 6 had Rachel Johnson on to promote her new book (it sort of didn't work as the panel ignored her) and Roger Moore admitted that was the "only reason" he was there and showed his new book to the screen. Later on in the episode, it was shown that Ian had taken part in a Greek adaptation of on of his wife's novels and stated that a new one was coming out soon - Moore then showed off his book again to the camera.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Ian sometimes refers to modern or popular things in a way that suggests he's not familiar with them, although it's likely he's just making fun of his own reputation as a culturally elitist person. See below:
    • Ian tried to bluff his way through talking about the musician Fatboy Slim, prompting Paul to press for more details until he slipped up. Apparently, Fatboy Slim is one of the world's top rave DJs and is responsible for the "Ibiza Sound".
    • When asked about which team a famous footballer plays for, Ian replied: "He plays FOR FOOTBALL!"
    • Strangely averted, however, when Ian went on a rant about Pokémon, correctly naming several of them (but getting their evolutions wrong, which he had no real reasons to learn). He has kids who were in the 5-10 age when the TV series and first movie came out in the UK.
    • And he was outdone on this front by Miles Jupp, whose improvised song "Let's All Go Sex Up That Bitch" is hilarious all in its own right. To the tune of a hymn, no less.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Paul took a break from the show in series 11, viewing the show as suffering from Seasonal Rot (he cited failed gimmicks such as the series 10 episode where one of his teammates was a parrot intended to squawk heckles at Angus); he was replaced by guest captains for that series. He rejoined in series 12, however, and said that the show had improved significantly in his absence.
    • Anne Widdecombe's second experience hosting the show went so poorly that she almost stormed out of the recording, and she was very public in voicing her displeasure with the Black Comedy and Vulgar Humour of Jimmy Carr, one of her panellists that week. She has announced that she does not plan to host a third time.
    • Will Self announced in 2007 that he was getting tired of the show, and that he was no longer going to appear again, since he viewed the show as having "lost its edge" and become victim to Executive Meddling.
  • Creator's Favorite: Ian is on record as saying William Shatner was his favourite guest host. Paul also mentions him under his favourite guest hosts in his autobiography, and singles out his claim that Ilfracombe was "laced with prostitution" as the one thing that always makes him laugh whenever he remembers it.
  • Direct-to-Video: Two special episodes in The '90s, Have I Got Unbroadcastable News for You and The Official Pirate Video.
  • Fan Nickname: Episode six of series twenty-three is known as, by everybody, the "Angus Deayton Scandal Episode" (a CD release of highlights from the show referred to it as "The Angus Show"). Episode two of series twenty-four is known as, by a lot of the core fandom, "Angus' goodbye", or some variation.
  • Hostility on the Set: Paul Merton revealed that he didn't get on with Angus Deayton, finding him aloof and arrogant.
  • In Memoriam:
    • When HIGNFY creator and original producer Harry Thompson died in 2005, the first episode to air after his death was dedicated to his memory.
    • A 2011 episode was dedicated to the recently deceased George Webley AKA "Big George", who composed the theme tune.
    • Following the sudden death of former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy in 2015, the final episode of Series 49 ended with a montage of his first appearance on HIGNFY in 1992 and an appearance from 2008 in which he verbally sparred with guest host Jeremy Clarkson.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes:
    • As it is a topical programme, no full releases of series have been made. Many episodes from across the series were available on YouTube until a spate of copyright claims put an end to that. Other copies do exist.
    • The episodes featuring Jimmy Savile, Max Clifford and Rolf Harris as guests are unlikely to ever be broadcast on television again after Savile was posthumously outed as one Britain's most prolific sex offenders and the latter two were convicted of indecent assault against children as part of the ensuing police investigation.
  • Old Shame:
    • Peter Hitchens, who appeared in an episode in series 17, afterwards described HIGNFY as being a "repellent programme".
    • The appearances of Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris and Max Clifford are this for the staff and panel.
  • One of Us: Paul wore a The Prisoner jacket in one early episode that aired when Channel 4 were beginning to repeat the series.
  • Playing Against Type: Intentionally done with several of the guest hosts, as people such as Boris Johnson are placed in a position where they are expected to keep order and move the show along smoothly.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Bruce Forsyth wrote to Paul Merton asking if he could host one of the shows, saying he really enjoyed them. Sure enough...
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Angus Deayton was presenter until lurid tales of drugs and disguised prostitutes came to light. He was mocked relentlessly on the show and had his salary slashed, and was then booted out in October 2002. Paul Merton later claimed that it wasn't Deayton's behaviour itself that led to his dismissal, but rather that it would make it near-impossible for him to fulfill his role of skewering politicians and other public figures for the exact same behaviour; the few episodes he filmed after the story broke suffer for that very reason.
  • Screwed by the Network: The 39th series, shown in Spring 2010, was moved out of the Friday slot the show had occupied for nineteen years to a Thursday slot. The reason given for this was so they could show an Election special on May the 6th, the day Britain went to the polls. However, it then turned out that if the Thursday broadcast went ahead, the show would not be allowed to discuss the election at all in case they influenced the way people voted (as it would be broadcast before polls had closed). The episode was hence hastily rescheduled... for the day after, which was of course a Friday. Quite why the BBC thought they could put a satirical news programme on before the polls had closed on election day under broadcasting regulations is beyond anyone.
  • Streisand Effect: After an executive order that said Peter Mandelson's private life was not to be discussed, the show went out of its way to basically imply all it could without outright violating the ban for some time. Eventually, Paul essentially said "fuck it":
    Ian: We're not allowed to say on The BBC that Peter Mandelson is a hom...eowner.
    Paul: What's wrong with gay people owning homes?note 
  • Too Soon:
    • Especially the show which aired immediately after the BBC issued strict instructions that no programme was to raise the matter of Peter Mandelson's private life in any way (including having Mandelson as a choice in all four Odd One Outs, the first of which also featured Michael Jackson, Jason Donovan and the Queen). Eventually one of that week's guests, who just happened to be Jackie Mason, called them out on it.
    • The News Quiz, a radio programme from which Have I Got News for You was originally adapted, did a similar gag stating that "We are unable to say that (classical music fragment) is (another classical music fragment). As the BBC were very much locking the stable door after the horse had bolted (and possibly mounted another horse along the way), everyone knew exactly what was being said.
    • Hislop also managed to call Mandelson a "friend of John Birt" (the BBC boss who made the decision) in a way that suggested it was an Unusual Euphemism.
  • What Could Have Been: Sandi Toksvig auditioned to be the original host; the producers told her they preferred her to Deayton, but "couldn't have a woman in charge".
  • The Wiki Rule: Here.
  • Writer Revolt:
    • When Merton was teamed with disgraced ex-MI-5 agent David Shayler displayed on a television satellite feed with a two-second delay, he refused to play along for the first half of the show (due to Merton's strong belief that timing is the most important part of comedy, which a two-second delay greatly interfered with) and even turned the television off at one point. Stephen Fry treated said ex-agent quite viciously as well, beginning by referring to him as "David Traitor" and going from there.
    • The same thing happened when the BBC were instructed to shut up about Peter Mandelson's sexuality, as the panel and audience basically followed the orders to the letter.