This page covers the three main regulars over the years.
- Absent-Minded Professor: His onscreen persona can probably best be summed up as this. Deayton often had an air of authority that was somewhat let down by a very airy forgetfulness that was exploited by his co-stars for comedic effect.
- Captain Obvious: Typically, this was the brand of snark he employed towards guests.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Nowadays is probably best remembered as having been the Butt-Monkey for which Ian and Paul endlessly mocked. As such, it can be surprising for new viewers to go back and witness the many times that Angus got one over on Paul and left him at a loss for words.
- Genius Ditz: Despite having read languages at Oxford, comes across as the most airy and scatterbrained of the three.
- Deadpan Snarker: Perhaps not as prolific as the other two, but Angus is still notable as one of the very few people who could routinely outfox Paul Merton in a battle of wits and leave him at a loss for a comeback.
- Fascinating Eyebrow
- Humiliation Conga: He went through one after his prostitute/honey trap/cocaine scandal broke."Welcome to Have I Got News For You, where this week's loser... is presenting it."
- Lean and Mean: Perhaps not as mean as the other two, but still mean and certainly more lean.
- Sophisticated as Hell: He would sometimes explain who a modern pop group was to Hislop by describing them as a "popular beat combo", a reference to a possibly-apocryphal but well-known story about a judge in the 1960s who was informed about The Beatles in this manner.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: With Paul, in a production sense. In an interview on Parkinson, Paul stated he never liked Angus, and felt that losing him was "not a big deal."
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Ian, though the scandal seemingly put a strain on things between them.
- Your Cheating Heart: Years before Angus's scandal, it was a Running Gag that he was sleeping with Paul's then-wife, Caroline Quentin. Paul seemed to veer between playing along and finding it Dude, Not Funny!.[on a story about a footballer named Paul Merson being caught up in a cocaine scandal, and being confused in the tabloids with "TV's own Paul Merton"]Paul: There was a story going around that it was me for a while. My wife got phoned up last week in the middle of the night...Ian: I'm sorry. I am so sorry.Angus: No, no, don't apologize, it wasn't a problem.
- Arch-Enemy: Robert Maxwell and Piers Morgan, the latter of whom appeared in Series 11, Episode 06. The former supposedly drowned falling out of a yacht.
- Character Exaggeration: While Ian undoubtedly came from a posh background, his being out of touch with everything is a gag on Paul's part.
- Deadpan Snarker: Though unlike Paul and Angus, Ian is more British Stuffiness, Knight In Sour Armor, and Grumpy Bear.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: Parodied with a Running Gag in the latest series, with all of his impressions of people in the news (from Pakistani villagers witnessing the death of Osama bin Laden to Cheryl Cole) sounding exactly like Yorkshire playwright Alan Bennett.
- Sophisticated as Hell:
- He claims complete ignorance of popular culture, making questions about — or occasional appearances by — pop stars more entertaining.
- Occasionally he will subvert this for laughs by displaying surprise knowledge of popular culture, to which Deayton would reply with "That sounds dangerously modern, Ian."(sentence with a blank: "____ would have been surprisingly avant-garde for rural Highbury")Ian Hislop: Signing Thierry Henry.Paul Merton (into the ensuing silence): I think he's been taken over by a robot. (to Ian) You murderer! What have you done with him? You've made a fatal mistake there, Ian Hislop would know nothing about football!
- Team Dad: More than one contestant has jokingly called him 'Dad'.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Paul. Also with Angus, though the scandal seemingly put a strain on things between them.
- Author Appeal: Paul is an expert on The Beatles and silent films, which occasionally comes up. He is also a railway expert (his father was a London Underground driver) but that doesn't.
- Book Dumb:
Paul: New Bessemer converter?Angus: You seem to know a lot about this.Paul: I did metalwork! I know the theory, I just wasn't any good at the practice.Ian: You didn't have a Bessemer converter in your home...Paul: I had to make one for homework!Ian: But they're about as big as this studio, aren't they?Paul: Yeah, don't tell me about it!
- Paul likes to bring up that his only qualification is a CSE ungraded in metalwork. He points out on the DVD commentary that he cannot in fact make a trowel, despite one of his lines in Series 5, Episode 8.
- In Series 13, Episode 7, Paul guesses some missing headlines from Hot Dip Galvanising a guest magazine about steel-working.
"It's only when I come on this programme that I realise that I know stuff!"
- In general, Paul may have come from a lower-class background than Ian or Angus, and has fewer qualifications, but is a very intelligent guy.
- Captain Obvious: He likes to combine this with the Overly Long Gag occasionally. For example, in an episode just before the 2002 World Cup:Angus: Which match do they think might erupt into violence?Ian: England-Germany.Paul: Yes, there's a history of conflict between the two countries. In fact they fought two major wars, one between 1914 and 1918, and the other between 1939 and 1945.
[A picture of a man looking puzzled outside Tesco appears]Ian [buzzing in]: Tesco!Paul [after laughing and Face Palming]: Well, we can't compete against knowledge like this![Later, after this has been going on for a while and the next image is one of the Queen]Ian [buzzing in]: It's the Queen.Roisin: We are on fire!Andy Hamilton: We - we can't compete with this! They're out of our league!Paul: Somebody must have told them!
- One Picture Round in series 48 saw Ian and his team-mate Roisin Conaty make a Running Gag of buzzing in and giving the most obvious, brief descriptions of the pictures as possible. (They won the show by a large margin as a result of this.)
- Deadpan Snarker: The biggest one on the show, helped by his general stoic persona.
- Literal-Minded: A favorite joke format of his. Here's an example.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: He genuinely does do different voices, but generally just a few stock ones: the main ones are his 'posh rich idiot' voice (donchaknow!), his throaty London Gangster voice, and a disreputable American gold prospector voice.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Some of his more questionable outfits. Ian once accused him of wearing 'the top half of a gorilla costume'.
- The Stoic: His deadpan nature makes him seem this, although as the years have gone along he's opened up a bit in terms of laughing.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
- With Angus, in a production sense. In an interview on Parkinson, Paul stated he never liked Angus, and felt that losing him was "not a big deal." (In later interviews and his autobiography he seems better disposed towards him.)
- With David Shayler in Series 19, Episode 1. Shayler was on his team via television in Paris, which caused issues with comic timing. Paul eventually got pissed off, turned the monitor off, shook hands with the front row of the audience and borrowed a newspaper because he was just that hacked off.
- With Robert Kilroy-Silk in Series 27, Episode 8. Robert's racist remarks (the whole reason he'd been in the news) had already put him in bad standing, but his constant interruption and general jerkassery caused Paul to flip his lid, screaming for Robert to "shut the fuck up" repeatedly.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Ian.