The Liberal Democrats, and before them the Social Democratic Party; anyone voting for them was treated as drunk or mad.
Alexander Armstrong: There's no time for the proposed 10% increase in cider prices, so great news for people in The West Country, who are free to resume to local tradition of getting so smashed out of their skulls they end up voting Lib Dem.
Along with the show's usual targets like Jeffrey Archer or John Prescott, at least earlier on.
Eric Pickles seemed to have been the generally agreed-upon joke fodder for season 40, Prescott now being elevated to the House of Lords and no longer on the Labour front bench, and Pickles being in government and being even more rotund than Prescott at his peak.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were targets throughout their run for the White House in 2012, to the point that even the leader of UKIP (itself a target as lampshaded by Nigel Farage) was able to get in a joke at them.
To stop a flood of potential entries for this moment, as long as you are not horribly disabled/have had some seriously extreme accidents or misfortune and have not been a major douche about it, you are this. And even then, depending on the contestants...
Even if you are dead, this trope is very much in effect, as shown for Robert Maxwell and Margaret Thatcher, and Saddam Hussein.
Angus Deayton. Depending on your viewpoint, he was a good part of the show or it got better after he left.
Godfrey Bloom falls into this territory to an extent owing to his politically incorrect views. He's either funny in a Crosses the Line Twice, ridiculously outdated, So Bad, It's Good kind of way, or he was horribly unfunny and should never have been on the show.
Janet Street-Porter fell into this initially, although with every appearance she makes she slides further into scrappy territory. On the one hand, she makes quite funny comments. On the other hand, she keeps targeting people who either cannot defend themselves (such as the poor sod who had a small penis and tried having sex with her) or are in trouble for things that she has done, such as Richard Bacon's stories getting in the tabloids.
Gyles Brandreth. Is he funny in the sense of being slightly bumbling and rather self-deprecating, or does he talk far too much and not give anyone else the chance to? His appearance in the Autumn 2013 series really highlights this, with evidence for both.
While Jeremy Clarkson was initially a popular host, if obnoxious at points, the news that the BBC are considering letting him return as host in the future, after his assaulting a producer on Top Gear, has split the base. On the one hand, some feel that he shouldn't be barred from the BBC altogether, whereas on the other hand some feel it sends the wrong message and implies he can easily get around (his version of) Top Gear supposedly ending. As it stands, Clarkson dropped out of Series 49's lineup but is due to return for the autumn/winter series in 2015.
Paul's fantasy of him skipping through a field with Ian during an Odd One Out in Series 19. He said that in hindsight, it opened the floodgates to more of thesenote It was his own idea which he pitched to the producers himself several times before it made it in.
The line of can-can dancers that cross the set after Angus assures the audience that crossing to BBC 1 won't change the show.
In the same vein, Angus reads out a complaint that the humour on the show is too clever, followed by an undercrankedThe Benny Hill Show-style moment where all the contestants chase a woman in a sexy nurse's outfit across the set.
Cringe Comedy: The 6th episode of Season 54 hosted by Victoria Coren-Mitchell (normally a fast wit and host herself) has a remarkable amount of Incredibly Lame Pun-themed punchlines (ex. using U2 song titles to refer to Bono's tax evasion allegations) within the host's teleprompter dialogue, to the point that she herself was struggling to keep a straight face saying it—eventually joining in with some of her own. Even Paul Merton was incredulous at how the quality of dialogue went down by the end of the episode:
Paul: "We're not finishing on that note are we?! That's done forever, that is!"
Some of the Margaret Thatcher jokes may come across this way, given her death and the fact that so many were made only a matter of days after she died. They're in poor taste, but arguably funnier because of that.
At one point, Alexander Armstrong discusses a party he ended up at where people such as Tony Blair were present, which caues Ian to snark "well, that cleaned it up". He follows this up asking whether certain people such as Harold Shipman (a real life Deadly Doctor and Serial Killer) or Jimmy Savile (now a known child abuser) livened it up with entertainment such as karaoke.
A few of the "jokes" made about Max Clifford in Series 47, if you find that stuff funny.
In S11E02, the panel cracked jokes about Princess Di observing a heart operation:
Ian: It's a bit ghoulish, isn't it? You wonder what Diana's going to do next. Road accidents? "Let me through, I'm the Princess of Wales!"
Made even worse by the fact that Dermot Morgan, who died of a heart attack, was on Ian's team that week.
Also in S10E01, Ian mocks Paula Yates for complaining about the media while courting it:
Ian: It's terrible, bloody media intrusion. Look the camera's here, Paula! (Points at the camera)
This clip from S32E04, in which Ross Noble jokes about Jimmy Savile chasing terrified athletes, while demanding "a bit of hows-your-father" (sex). Pretty funny at the time, but after September 2012 when revelations of Savile's Sex abuse of underage girls became public, this turned very, very dark.... yet still pretty funny.
Episode S17E07, when Jimmy Savile appeared on the show. A number of offhand jokes and comments made by him are pretty disturbing in hindsight. An example is him being "feared in every girls school in the country", in reference to his failure as a wrestler. Given many of the sex abuse accusations stemmed from his visits to girls schools, this becomes far, far more sinister.
This was only compounded by him joking about doing "anyone he could get his hands on" while living in his caravan, when this was exactly what he has been accused of doing to underaged schoolgirls. S 44 E 01 lampshades this, when they played this very clip and the audience cringed at the line.
Another disturbing and meta example was a hoax transcript made in 1999 brought up in the same episode purporting to be the record of some unsettlingly angry outtakes where Paul Merton furiously accuses Savile of child abuse, raping children in his caravan, and intimidating them to stay quiet. At the time it was pretty much nothing but a distasteful joke, but now each one of these charges has been pretty much confirmed it has become far more disturbing.
Not in the same league as the above examples, but every time Paul needles Angus, it's quite clear in hindsight that he wasn't kidding, even though the audience laughs when he does it.
Some of the older jokes about Max Clifford are less funny to some, since Clifford was convicted of child abuse in 2014.
Also in 2014, Rolf Harris was convicted of child abuse, making his appearance as a guest host considerably less funny - not least because the episode contains references to virtually everything he's known for (from a "Cartoon Club" based round to leading the audience in a rendition of "Two Little Boys") and is a reminder of how much cultural history a serial sexual predator was part of.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Norwegian adaptation of this this show, titled Nytt På Nytt has consistently been Norway's most popular TV show for several years.
Harsher in Hindsight: Boris Johnson's appearances ultimately led to him building up enough of a public profile that he became Mayor of London, which was still funny if a little terrifying. It stopped being quite as funny when he became one of the leading campaigners for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum on the matter, and his presence was credited as what ultimately swung it for the Leave campaign to win, throwing the country into a total meltdown of which Johnson subsequently washed his hands when he withdrew from the Conservative leadership contest. (It is widely believed that Johnson actually wanted the Remain side to win and was using the whole thing as a massive Xanatos Gambit to become Prime Minister which backfired on him.) Several of the show's writers and producers, as well as Paul Merton himself, have openly stated that they regret their part in Johnson's rise to fame.
The joke about Iain and Duncan Smith being identical twins running a political party got even more amusing when that actually happened in Poland — the Polish twins became President and Prime Minister. (And now a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment now that one of those twins was the highest-profile casualty of the 2010 Polish plane crash.)
The running gag about Angus shagging Merton's wife Caroline after Angus was reported to have paid a Caroline Martin (Paul Merton's legal surname) for sex.
A lot of jokes about sex/drugs made to or by Deayton while he was host take on a different tenor watching them now.
Countless jokes over the years about the Lib Dems never being able to get into power, when they finally managed it in 2010 (as part of a coalition government).
Inversion — in one episode Deayton criticised the BBC leadership, then added "and tune in next week to see this programme on its new home at 4 AM on BBC3". Quite funny now, but much funnier back then as there was no BBC3. Arguably funniest of all now that BBC3 has moved from a broadcast service to an online-only one which nobody watches.
Hardly hilarious, but as she was an old woman... during the 2008 U.S. presidential race, Frank Skinner speculated about what would happen if Barack Obama's grandmother died the day before the election.
In the second ever episode (broadcast in 1990), the What Happened Next round has footage of Joe Biden, and Deayton points out that "of course, what happened next for him was that his career came to nothing, nobody voted for him and he never achieved high office".
In Series 16 episode 3, after Angus has read out a "fascinating fact" about Sean Connery that was found uninteresting, Paul remarks, "I don't know where we'd be without you, Angus. BBC1, perhaps?" Angus lasted less than 2 years on the show once it moved to BBC One.
The show reporting that a disgruntled DLA employee had doctored Tony Blair's driving licence, changing his name to "Saddam Hussein AKA Twatface". This coming years before Blair led the war that resulted in Hussein's execution.
When Ian was having yet another pop at Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, Paul immediately said they were next week's hosts. Campbell did indeed play guest host... in June 2012.
Ho Yay: Played once for laughs, between Ian and Paul:
If you're a guest that has done something wrong, such as "accidentally" announcing a General Election early, or claiming quite a bit on expenses, then Ian will call you out on it. No exceptions.
If you're the host, everyone will take the piss to varying degrees.
Angus and his scandal - this was the reason he had to be let go. After his scandal it became near impossible for him to skewer the guests or people in the news as anybody who felt defensive would say that he wasn't one to talk, given what he had done. There are a number of examples of this in the episodes after the scandal and before his departure.
Of course there's still a chance this might have eventually been averted and the scandal die down... if more allegations hadn't surfaced just a few months after the first lot.
Alastair Campbell's appearance on this show (where he was one of the few political contestants to stand up to Ian's mocking, and played the bagpipes) is widely regarded as one of the best guests ever, and endeared him to a lot of people who otherwise despised him.
Sadiq Khan MP is an odd example. His appearance on the show was generally regarded as subpar (and not in a So Bad, It's Horrible way, just simply boring). However, he did gain some lost approval back by donating his programme fee to charity.
William Hague, who hosted the show twice and went from being overtly hated to somewhat tolerated. It helped that from all hosts, he was perhaps the only one to out-wit Paul Merton, of all people.
The Scrappy: Many, owing to the long history of the show. While unfunny guests are high in number, also owing to the long run of the show, some really take the cake. Most of the following examples are guests who are simply too eager to laugh at themselves or don't understand they're on a comedy and not a serious political programmes.
Piers Morgan is not popular for his appearance in Season 11, Episode 6. In it, he admitted to sending photographers round to the houses of people he disliked and then demanding his privacy. Stealing jokes from previous guests did him no favours, either. The segment, in spite of this, is considered one of the funniest owing to the verbal smackdown he got from other guests.
Louise Mensch, née Bagshawe, did not prove popular during her two appearances. In the former she simply isn't funny. In her second appearance, she rants against the Occupy movement as being largely comprised of hypocrites owing to Insane Troll Logicnote she accused the protesters of all being Soapbox Sadies who hypocritically supported capitalism's flaws simply for buying coffee from Starbucks once or twice - none of them knew about Starbucks at the time in terms of tax and in some cases they were simply using the toilet. This made her the topic of an epic rant, mostly from Paul and Danny Baker.
David Shayler, especially as far as Paul Merton is concerned, who felt that his appearance via a satellite feed didn't work as it made it difficult to maintain 'comic timing'.
The public did not react well to Rachel Johnson, as she basically tried plugging her book throughout the entire show (for the record, Roger Moore did this twice as part of the scripted joke and it went down well), didn't get the joke several times, made several Incredibly Lame Puns and defended the Daily Mail. Paul and Marcus Brigstocke didn't have time for her, and even Roger Moore seemed rather pissed off on several occasions. Then there was her getting at Ian for being a member of the Church of England and seeming to think that it meant that he was wrong on everything that related to the story on women bishops in the Church of England. The subject might have been controversial, but by the time she brought up Ian being a Anglican for the third time it started to look like a bigoted attack on Ian's beliefs.
Robert Kilroy-Silk. The reason he'd been in the news alone (writing an article entitled "We Owe Arabs Nothing"- which got him fired from the paper he was on) had put a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths, but then he started interrupting a lot of people and being generally rude to the panel, including Paul who was on his team. This caused Paul to lose his cool and somehow combine Precision F-Strike and Cluster F-Bomb at him, basically telling him to "shut the f*** up" note In the unedited version at least, in the censored version he said "shut up", then called him out on his hypocritical policies. They did relent just a little when he mentioned he'd campaigned to remove war widows pension from income tax, but then immediately resumed with the bashing.
In terms of guest host Scrappies, Liza Tarbuck was deemed to be such a poor guest host that she was the only one to be left out of a Best of the Guest Hosts compilation entirely. Her appearances as a guest aren't so bad, but her hosting...
It was so bad, they briefly considered abandoning the use of Guest Host altogether, bringing back Angus as permanent host instead.
To quite a few people, Godfrey Bloom, although see Base Breaker.
So Bad, It's Good: Some of the guest hosts are this, especially Boris Johnson and BRIAN BLESSED. Easily flustered and/or unable to read the scripted material from the autocue convincingly, and yet never anything less than hugely entertaining to watch.
When Chris Addison derided Julia Hartley-Brewer for criticising Gordon Brown's reluctance to leave Number 10, after having derided her profession - professional journalism - throughout the entire show, Ian came to her defence:
A double example of Strawman Has a Point in the above, in fact, as most constitutional specialists consider Brown to have acted with the utmost constitutional propriety in the aftermath of the 2010 general election.
Discussed on the show a few times when a Ridiculously Cute Critter is shown and cause the audience to go "aww". Ian immediately calls the audience out on one occasion, for laughing when a human being dies horribly but for defending the animals.
Someone who is horribly disabled or has had serious misfortune is likely to be one of the few humans to not be made fun of on the show.
One of the few cases where you can't make a joke about a group is in the case of abuse victims, as Jimmy Saville and Max Clifford have proved. Time will tell if this extends to Rolf Harris as well.
The show notably did not cover the death of former Lib Dem leader (and nine-time guest on the show) Charles Kennedy as a news story, instead opting to pay tribute to him with a selection of clips from his appearances and describing him as "a friend of the show".
Unpopular Popular Character: Inverted with Swampy—when the viewers voted for their least favourite guests on The Official Pirate Video, Ian and Paul seemed surprised and upset he was on the list.