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Series / Mock the Week

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Dara Ó Briain: Hugh and Frankie, just a suggestion, a slight editorial tweak, coming through my ear from the gallery. If we can have some stuff that we can actually broadcast, that'd be great.

Mock the Week is a British Panel Game that aired from 2005 to 2022. It is BBC2's equivalent of Have I Got News for You, with strong influence from Whose Line Is It Anyway? (which isn't surprising, considering they were created by the same people). It involves only comedians and is hosted by Dara Ó Briain, an Irish comedian.

The show's only regular panellist was Hugh Dennis, who had been with the show from beginning to end; other former regulars are Andy Parsons (series 3-14), Chris Addison (series 10-12), Russell Howard (series 4-9, left to star in his own show Russell Howard's Good News), Frankie Boyle (series 1-7) and Rory Bremner (series 1 and 2). There were also many semi-regular guests (Parsons, Howard, and Addison were among them before being promoted to regulars), including Maisie Adam, Angela Barnes (who was made a regular panellist for the final series), Ed Byrne, Rhys James, Milton Jones and Glenn Moore.

It was announced in August 2022 that the show would be ending following its 21st series, which aired in September and October of that year.


Final set of rounds:

  • "Picture of the Week": Also known as "What On Earth?", a simple game where the players are shown a picture of something that's been in the news and have to guess what it is, as ever making humorous suggestions before somebody comes in with the real answer. Initially very rarely shown on initial broadcasts (occasionally making it to end of season clip shows or the DVDs), this round occasionally replaced "Headline News" in the 2012 series, and beginning with 2013 appears to have permanently replaced it.
    [The picture is a group of men dressed as Santa]
    Frankie: Is this a picture of the sperm inside Santa's testicles?
    Russell Howard: This is actually what goes on inside Christmas crackers.
  • "Spinning The News": Some of the performers, usually one from each team, do a mini-standup routine on a randomlynote  selected topic. Dara gives the game a different, odd title each week, such as "News Wheel...Of Death!", "Harry Potter and the Wheel of News", "Danger! Danger! Subatomic Joke Collider!" or "Ashley Cole Sent Me A Picture of his Mock". Over the life of the show, the makeup of "Spinning The News" has changed somewhat. Originally all six players would have to do a mini-standup team, with the last two going head-to-head in a "tiebreaker". The number was soon reduced to four regularly, and later only two or three.
  • "If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question?": The players are given a choice between several categories of recent news stories such as sport, international news, and the arts, revealing an oddly-phrased or very oblique answer. The players then exchange joking questions before trying to figure out what the question actually is. The joking ones tend to be very elaborate.
    (answer: "15 per second")
    Lauren Laverne: How many pounds sterling is Simon Cowell paid to cut the cultural throat of our nation and drink its still-warm blood?
    (actual question: "How fast were copies of the final Harry Potter novel selling on release day?")
  • "Newsreel": While silent footage from a recent public or televised event plays, one or two players (at least one of them usually Hugh Dennis) narrates or does dialogue (or both) as the people featured go about their business. Still played occasionally, but definitely not as frequent as it used to be.
    Prince Philip (at a tour of a police station, spotting officers waiting to meet him): "Oh, my. It's the fuzz. No, no, I didn't know it was an osprey..."
  • "Scenes We'd Like To See": Always closing the show, Dara suggests topics like "Unlikely Things To Hear On Blue Peter", and the contestants come in with funny suggestions ("And that's how we make an ashtray out of the shell of a dead tortoise!"). Probably the funniest, or at least most consistently funny, section of the show.
    (topic: "Bad Things To Hear At Work")
    Fred MacAulay: "Get off, you're shit."

Former rounds:note 

  • "Headline News": The performers are shown a picture taken from a newspaper, with that newspaper's corresponding headline reduced to the first letter of each word, which they then have to decipher. Naturally, they have a little fun with likely letters of the alphabet, to the point where Dara sometimes has to rein them in. This was dropped in series 12 and replaced with "Picture of the Week" (likely due to the difficulty of coming up with suitable answers, given the simplicity of its replacement).
    (the letters are T.F.H.C. — and the players have been going on in the same vein for some time)
    Dara: Let me give you a clue — the first three letters do not stand for "This Fucker Has..."!
    Hugh Dennis: Is it "That Fucker Has Cancer"?
    Dara: Stop saying fuck! The 'f' doesn't stand for 'fuck!'
  • "Between The Lines": Originally a mainstay of the show, but has since fallen out of popularity and has not been played since Frankie Boyle left. The game consists of two players, one giving a speech from a well-known public figure, and the other saying what they really mean. Rory Bremner or Frankie Boyle normally performed the public figure (although at least 2 others - Sandi Toksvig and Russell Howard - have done it at least once), with Hugh Dennis performing their inner voice.
    Sandi Toksvig: (as Queen Elizabeth II) ...but there have also been times of incredible loss.
    Hugh: "..but there have also been times of incredible ("correcting" her extreme-RP upper-class accent) loss.
    Sandi: Lawss.
    Hugh: Loss.
    Sandi: I lawst things.
    Hugh: My yacht. (she nods) My private train. (she nods) Zimbabwe. (she nods)
  • "Dating Videos": A performer from each side was given an envelope, within which was a card they'd never seen before and made to sit in front of a backdrop. On the card was the name of a famous person they had to pretend to be, recording a dating video.
    Rory Bremner (as Nelson Mandela): "I'm over eighty. I look like a pint of Guinness. But wait until you see "Nelson's Column"!"
    Frankie Boyle (as Michael Jackson): "Hello. I'm sort of like a Scooby-Doo villain. I hang around an abandoned amusement park wearing a plastic face."
  • "Ask The Politicians": The show's tribute to the current-affairs show Question Time. Normally two or three players went into the studio audience, and were often called on with excessively-detailed or insulting physical descriptions; the others stayed in their seats. Dara, of course, played the host of the show. Rory Bremner played a certain famous Labour politician, and Dennis was usually a Conservative. Guest Al Murray appeared twice as "The Voice of the Silent Majority", portraying a xenophobic and hardline-on-crime "regular person".
    Al Murray: "Speaking for the people who would have shot that burglar a third time...I wouldn't have done that. What I would've done is dug a pit with spikes, put a rug on top, they fall in — (holding imaginary rifle) BANG! BANG! BANG! WHO'S THERE? BANG!"
  • "Prime Minister's Question Time": For all the players. Dara would take the role of Speaker of the House of Commons, Rory would play a certain Labour Prime Minister, and the rest would do their level best to play members of the opposing or majority parties, depending on which side of the aisle set they were on. Given a rather trivial news story to debate, they were to treat it as though it were the heavyweight issue of the day. Typically became a Hurricane of Puns.
    (regarding some frogs having exploded in Germany, and the House reacting as though it was a terrorist threat)
    Hugh Dennis: "I would like to know how the government plan to catch these frogs trying to enter Britain and if they do, will they slam the toads in the hole?"
  • "Bombshell Phone Calls": The only impressions-based game to be played past Series 2 (it got played once in Series 3), two players would pretend to be major world figures, one giving the other a call with a major revelation to make.
    Frankie Boyle (as Tony Blair, to George Bush): "You mean I left [my wife] Cherie behind?"

Our final round is a quick-fire round called "Tropes We'd Like To See".

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  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: One outtake showed Rory Bremner as George W Bush with Greg Proops as his aide, taking a telephone call from Tony Blair. The aide has to remind Bush of Blair's nationality: "He's from Great Britain, sir."
  • Accidental Misnaming: One "If This is the Answer What is the Question" brings up just a number 6.
    Nish Kumar: Is it "how many times has my father referred to this show as Mock of the Week today?"
    Dara: It is literally written right behind me. Read it. Read it, arsehole.
    Ed Byrne: Is it because your head looks like an O? (laughter and chaos ensue)
  • Actor Allusion:
    • invoked In-Universe example for "Things You Wouldn't Hear On A Kids TV Show":
    Hugh: Well, things are hotting up in Balamory. Archie's been radicalised.
    (Hugh looks at Miles Jupp before walking away)
    Miles: Well, Miss Hoolie, I'm wondering if I'm going to be regretting this job in 14 years.
    • Ever since the Robot Wars reboot aired, with Dara in the helm, the show has been added to the list of things that the cast use to poke fun at him. Dara has joined in occasionally, referring to Hugh Dennis as "Sir Killalot" and joking about him getting flipped over.
      ["If this is the answer, what is the question?" A: 18 billion]
      Gary Delaney: Is it, "How many virgins watch Robot Wars"?
      [Dara looks offended for a moment before glaring at the camera and dramatically raising his arms]
      Dara: Attack him, Carbide!
    • Similarly, whenever "Things you wouldn't hear on a science show" is the category, performers usually poke fun at just how many of these types of shows Dara hosts.
    • In season 19, "Spinning the News" hands Nigel Ng the topic of food, and Nigel immediately focuses on how Westerners handle rice, which alludes to his popular "Uncle Roger" video about Westerners attempting to make Asian fried rice.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • Frankie cracks a smile at Andy's rejected exam question "If Sally buys three oranges and two apples, how far south of Scotland is she?"
    • During "Commercials That Never Made It to Air", Chris makes a bald joke at Andy ("Do you suffer from dull, lifeless hair? Don't worry, Andy Parsons'll buy it off you"). Andy gives a "challenge accepted" reaction and responds with a dig at Chris' Direct Line adverts that leaves Chris laughing.
    How much did you say you earned for those Direct Line car insurance ads? Well, people deserve to hear about this! [mimes honking a horn, a la the advert]
    • Seann Walsh almost doubles over laughing after a Take That! from Josh Widdicombe while suggesting "Unlikely things to hear at Christmas time".
      Josh: Yes, it's just what I wanted! A Seann Walsh DVD!
    • After Milton and Rachel Parris make direct digs at Nish Kumar in "Scenes We'd Like to See", the camera always cuts over to show Nish Kumar laughing the hardest at it.
  • Aerith and Bob: One of the few suggestions for this round to actually mock a general fantasy trope rather than making the usual Harry Potter / The Lord of the Rings gags;
    (category: "Cut Lines From A Fantasy Film")
    Greg Davies: "Hey, John. How's it going? Yeah? How're the kids? Great. See you later."
  • Air Quotes: The stand-up challenge of S07E09 gives us the following:
    Stewart Francis: Just because I have arthritis, doesn't mean I can't live a... [raises his hands] ..."normal"— Oh. [freezes wincing, his bent fingers getting stuck]
  • All Just a Dream: The final episode ends with a Newhart parody, with Dara waking up and talking about his horrible dream of hosting a topical panel show for seventeen years, only to find Hugh in bed next to him.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Not really alternate company, per se, but Mock the Week is to BBC2 what Have I Got News for You is to BBC1.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    Miles Jupp: While I've been speaking, I imagine that a lot of the ladies in here have been looking at me, thinking is he...or isn't he? Well, I've got to be honest with you ladies: I am looking for a cleaner.
  • Ambiguous Syntax:
    Chris Addison: In the 1980s in Manchester, there — we had this huge pigeon problem in... well, not huge pigeons...
    Dara Ó Briain: AAAAAAH! [mimes pecking]
    • Ed Gamble on the subject of health:
      "Recently I had my penis looked at. (Beat, audience already laughing) By a doctor... I didn't just wake up one day and think 'Hmm, more people should see this', and then spend ten minutes with it pressed against a window..."
    • Russell used the old "man-eating-squid" joke in a cruise-themed Scenes We'd Like to See. "After that, he's having chips."
      • He also did the "bear-left" joke in a satnav-themed Scene: "And over on the right, squirrel!"
    • In regards to a case of English and French fishermen getting into a row over the rights to fish for scallops:
      Tiff Stephenson: It doesn't really matter to me, cos I'm terribly allergic...
      Dara: To the French?
    • In regards to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau:
      Angela Barnes: He's like the Michael Bublé of politics, in that you and your mum definitely would.
      Dara: (sounding like he's holding back a retch) Presumably... you'd want some kind of gap between y...
      Angela: Not at the same time, Dara!
    • Lampshaded when Nish Kumar mentions being at an event he remembered roughly as the British-Asian Small Businessman Benefit:
      Ed Byrne: Is that for small British businesses or small British businessmen...?
      Nish: Given the average size of the average Asian businessman, both.
    • Nish gets involved in one again when Rhys jokes that the difference between an Asian (elephant) and an African elephant “is that one is an elephant.”
      Nish: Hello, I’m not an elephant!
  • Annoying Laugh: The Series 8 outtakes featured a woman in the audience constantly interrupting a round of Scenes We'd Like To See with this, leading to a rare Out of Character moment for Milton.
    Russell: And now, a special - [dissolves into laughter] Sorry, that woman's laugh is amazing.
    Milton: [with great gravitas] It was a horrific crime. [she laughs, Milton looks put out and tries again] It was a horrific crime! A woman was attacked with a blowtorch - [she laughs again, Milton looks genuinely annoyed] I wish it was you!
  • Anti-Climax: Provided by Seann Walsh twice.
    • [Unlikely Lines To Hear In A Disaster Movie]
      "Oh, yeah, just press that, you'll be alright."
    • [Unlikely Things To Hear In A Superhero Movie]
      (miming talking on a phone) "Just call the police." (Walks off again, miming throwing the phone over his shoulder)
    • Greg Davies did one as well with "Deleted lines from a Fantasy Film":
      "You all right, chum? How's it goin', all right? Yeah. How's the kids? All right? See ya later."
  • Anything That Moves: Part of Frankie's repertoire:
    "I'd shag an owl; no matter which angle you do it you can always have eye contact."
    "Don't knock sex with old people, they're far more experienced and they'll tidy your room."
  • Apocalyptic Log: Due to taking place in the same year (2017 AD for the record) as North Korea's increased nuclear testing and shouting contests with Donald Trump, the Clip Show of season 16 starts with Dara acting like it's one of these.
    "You're watching the post-apocalyptic edition of Mock the Week; please remain on this frequency and do not exit your safety zone. Instead watch this specially-prepared feature of unseen bits and some of our favorite bits, from happier times. Stay calm, do not panic. (Beat) I was really too serious..."
  • Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: Frequently in the two rounds where the player has to guess the answer, they will get closer to the answer before somebody sends it steering off into the ridiculous again.
    [The letters for the Headliners round are C.D.W.B.]
    Dara: "Church" is the first word...
    Andy: "Church Decision, Women Bishops"!
    Lucy Porter: "Church Do Women Bishops"!
    Michael Mcintyre: "Church Deny Wearing Bedspreads"!
    Dara: The 'D' stands for... see, everyone got closer and closer and closer, and then suddenly "deny wearing bedspreads"!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Frankie Boyle (as Shappi Korsandi struggles to believe that Erik the Red used false advertising to bring people to his Greenland colony): "Oh yeah, the Vikings did a lot of bad shit. Not just raping and pillaging; also lies!"
    • When Frankie summons Memnok the High Elf to buy gifts for the regulars, Dara gets an avatar for his soul to enter upon death, Hugh gets a box in which to store the souls of his enemies, Russel gets a sword that belonged to a rabid monkey, and Andy gets £110.
  • The Artifact: Hugh Dennis is the only current panellist without a background in stand-up comedy; he is a remnant of the show's original premise as a topical version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, with more rounds focused on impressions. To take it to almost its logical conclusion, he is also the sole remaining regular panellist.
  • Artifact of Doom: After Russell Kane made a fairly audacious joke, the others joke that it's because he was sitting in Frankie's old chair.
    Russell Kane: I swear, I've never had those type of thoughts before!
  • Ascended Extra: Several of the regulars started out as guests before being promoted to a regular role, including Andy Parsons, Russell Howard, and later Chris Addison.
  • Ascended Meme: Under "Weird Things To See On A Roadsign"...
  • Audience Participation Failure: Icelandic comedian Ari Eldjarn once attempted to demonstrate an Icelandic crowd clapping exercise. The audience didn't catch on to the idea that they were supposed to clap when he did. Lampshaded by Dara when he quips "Here's a clue: watch for his hands and then clap; not when the mood struck you!"
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: "What a Rugby Commentator Would Never Say":
    Hugh: So it's England versus Samoa. A team of rank amateurs against Samoa.
    • During a discussion on the escalating tensions between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un:
      Hugh: It's quite scary, isn't it? A megalomaniac with nuclear weapons and a bad haircut, taking on Kim Jong-Un!
  • Banana Peel: During a "Things You Wouldn't Hear on a Cookery Show" segment, Milton says he's making 'banana wine' and is going to press the skins with his bare feet. Cue him taking a massive tumble on stage.
  • Berserk Button: Hugh's one is telling him that foreign jam is better than British jam.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: One Spinning The News routine involves Frankie saying that if he had to have sex with animals he'd choose an owl or a kitten — the former because you could theoretically always maintain eye contact, the latter because you'd at least want to cuddle it afterwards. This is after joking that he had sex with an orangutan while blindfolded, thinking that she was a Geordie.
  • Big "NO!": Dara, after waking up next to Hugh in the All Just a Dream ending of the final episode.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed:
    • This exchange between Dara and Hugh:
      Dara: You used to be a porn star under the name "Huge Dennis" didn't you Hugh?
      Hugh: Yes I did, but Dennis was actually a misspelling of another word.
    • In a later episode, Hugh mentions that in Iceland, people have patronyms instead of surnames, and since his father's name was John, if he was Icelandic, his name would be "Hugh Johnson".
      Hugh: That has kept me happy for three or four days now...
      James Acaster: Yeah, that and your big dick!
  • Black Comedy: An excellent example stems from an episode where the topic of Alexander Litvinenko, who died of radiation poisoning after being dosed by polonium-laced food and drink, came up. Frankie Boyle said that the British people obviously respected him very much:
    Frankie Boyle: "If you go to his gravesite, there's no weeds. (lets it sink in) In fact, there's no plant life for a mile around. And if you look, you can find all sorts of small woodland creatures who've just died of sadness, Dara."
    • In general, Frankie Boyle is made of this trope.
    • In a later episode, Miles Jupp comes out with this gem during "Things You Wouldn't Hear at Christmas."
      Miles: Dear Santa, this Christmas could I please have a less violent step-dad?
    • In a case of Black Comedy Burst, it's Milton Jones who comes up with this answer for If This Is The Answer...?:
      [The answer is Poultry, Axes, and Pills]
      Milton: What three things do you need if you're going to make an abattoir where the chickens have a choice?
      Dara: Oh, that is... wow, that is dark.
    • One that very nearly sailed under the radar:
      Rhys James: My parents are easy to shop for. Old white people... My mum just says "Bath stuff, just buy me bath stuff." I got her a toaster. She didn't see the funny side.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Referenced:
    Gary Delaney: Are you the only black guy in a horror film?
    • Sophie Duker (who is black) imagined a subversion of this during one "Unlikely Lines from a Horror Film" round.
      Sophie: Hey guys! It's me, your token black friend from the start of the movie! I survived!!!
  • Book Dumb: Rob Beckett often gives off this impression, such as when he thought the word "Machiavellian" was referring to Shakespeare, before admitting he'd previously thought it was a type of nut.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Of a sort, invoked by the production team. After Dara had previously been compared to a sausage costume, complete with a side-by-side comparison shot, he was later compared to the character on the back of the Megabus. After the obligatory side-by-side (which included a yellow hat they'd actually given Dara) the production team went to the extra step of comparing Dara to the sausage costume with the Megabus hat edited onto it.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    • From "Unlikely Small Ads":
    Russell: "Lady seeks male for walks, laughs, and eye-watering anal sex."
    • From "Bad Things to Hear from Your New Neighbour":
      Hugh: Yes, the son's in a brass band, the wife breed rottweilers and I'm a paedophile.
    • Practically enforced with the prompt "Unlikely Things to Hear at a Wedding or Funeral."
      Ed Byrne: Does anybody else find there's a seriously inconsistent tone at this 'wedding or funeral'?
  • Brick Joke: In 12x1, Milton Jones spins History:
    1896: H. G. Wells publishes the book The Time Machine. 1897: H.G. Wells writes the book The Time Machine. [...] And finally, 3642 AD: H.G. Wells is born.
    • Then in Scenes We'd Like to See: Unlikely things to hear on Doctor Who:
      We are a million years in the future. H.G. Wells has just got married.
    • Hugh Dennis' "Sepp Blatter" Running Gag from 2011 was briefly revived four years later after Blatter resigned as FIFA president.
    • The famous "Private Browsing" discussion received a Call-Back from Ed and Dara in a Series 15 episode after Ed made a joke about Dara searching "Welsh grandmother" on Pornhub (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Bridal Carry
    Russell Howard: "Dear Deirdre: (points to Greg Davies) Can that giant man lift me up like a baby?"
    • You bet your ass he can!
  • Bring My Brown Pants: "Unlikely Things To Hear On a History Documentary":
    Hugh: And it was here, on this exact spot, faced with thirty thousand baying Frenchmen, that Henry the Fifth... shat himself.
  • Broken Aesop: Their theory that the moral behind "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is that Reindeer are incredibly shallow.
  • Buffy Speak: On "Ill-advised Things to Say in Court":
    Frankie: So to conclude, there is no evidence, but he does look a bit rapey.
  • Butt-Monkey: Dara is always the butt of someone's joke, many of which revolve around his (supposedly) oversized head and the fact that he doesn't stand up during the show.
    Hugh Dennis: (Unlikely things to hear on Crimewatch) Sometimes victims of crime don't even know they've been robbed because they use the items taken so infrequently. Take Dara O'Briain. Burglars stole his legs six months ago.
    • In Series 13, Episode 2, Dara came out to make Hugh's team stand behind a dissolving foam line during "Unlikely Things to Hear at the World Cup" after four straight jokes, then did a mamba. Andy was amused, saying it was the first time in years anyone had seen Dara's legs.
    • Series 12, Episode 2 ended with "Things You Wouldn't Hear in a Science Documentary". Dara O'Briain has presented several such documentaries, prompting Miles Jupp and Chris Addison to both take pot-shots at him. Dara declared that neither team would be receiving any points for that round.
      • Series 14, Episode 4 revisited the joke - except this time it went completely Off the Rails and turned into a whole stream of jokes at Dara's expense.
        Romesh Ranganathan: I would just like to say that I think Dara O'Briain's a legend.
    • Sometimes it's Ireland that gets the brunt of the joke. In one Scenes, after Andy Parsons made a disparaging remark about Ireland, Dara pre-emptively buzzed him for the rest of the round.
      • In Series 17 Episode 2, "Unlikely things to Hear at the World Cup"...the first few were, of course, various riffs on the fact that Ireland wasn't there. Even with the fact that there were at least half a dozen teams that would have been better targets (including two former World Cup champions and the United States).
  • Call-Back: Milton does this sometimes during Spinning the News.
    Seann: [On the subject of helping his friend look for a missing £5 note] I went to the bathroom and found his fiver. I could have gone and given it to him, but then I look like I'm guilty and decided to give it back. I can't leave it there, he's seen me go in and it's going to look like I've planted it, so I just nicked it.
    [Later, during Milton's routine]
    Milton: I tried to get here by train today, but they said, "Today, there's a bus replacement service." So I gave them a tin of pineapple chunks. They said, "What's that?"; I said, "That's my money replacement service." I didn't have any money because a friend nicked my fiver. [Audience laughs] Thanks, that normally doesn't work.
  • Camp Gay: Tom Allen. The bald head and facial hair REALLY sell it.
  • Camp Straight: Guest panelist Hal Cruttendon.
    "The other day I brought the wife and kids to visit my mum, and she was all (exaggerated giggle) 'Ooookay! Keep on living in denial!' "
  • Captain Obvious: The answers to the Picture of the Week round are invariably this, and usually given by Hugh Dennis.
    Hugh [on a picture of David Cameron]: I've a suspicion that that is David Cameron.
    Dara: Yes, of course. Congratulations, Hugh.
  • Car Meets House:
    • "Worst Things to Hear Over a Tannoy"
    Frankie: The train to Nottingham will arrive in five minutes. Which is a pity, because this is Tesco.
    • "Weird Things to See On a Roadsign" (Downplayed case)
    Ben Norris: If you can read this, you’ve crashed into my front garden.
    • "Unlikely Things to Get Through your Letterbox"
    Ed Byrne: How’s my driving? Call 0800-CRASHED-INTO-YOUR-HOUSE.
  • Cats Are Mean:
    The answer is '50 nights'
    Frankie: Dogs are known to fetch help when their masters are in trouble; how long would you be lying dead before your cat gave a shit?
  • Chained to a Railway: Discussed in one episode, where Dara thought that the villains who did that sort of thing would be amongst the people most affected by the train cancellations that saw only 1 in 500 London Midland trains running at the weekend.
    Dara: [mimes piano playing] "Keep it going, there'll be one along in an hour or so..."
  • Character Tics: Russell's habit of picking the microphone up during the "Scenes We Like To See" round.
    • Noticeable in that this actually becomes memetic, as no one ever seems to pick up the microphone until after Russell does.
    • In fact, the first time he does it, he actually asks if it's okay to take it before he does.
    • After saying a punchline, Hugh's eyes often dart back and forth as if he's reading a very fast teleprompter.
    • After playing Spinning The News, Milton tends to end his set by throwing both hands in the air and then running back to where he'd been standing.
    • During "Scenes We'd Like to See," Gary will usually give a little nod after his joke like he's thanking the audience for their laughter.
      • Andy also does this, and then sometimes rises up slightly onto the balls of his feet before dropping back down and striding back to his spot.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: "Things You'd Never Hear a French Person Say":
    Frankie: Of course, it looked hopeless, but we kept fighting.
  • Christmas Episode: Inevitably leading into Twisted Christmas moments...
  • Classically-Trained Extra: Invoked by Ed Byrne when the subject is "Things you wouldn't hear on a Kids' TV show":
    Look, Iggle Piggle, it's the Ninky Nonk! Oh, the Nin... (sighs) Olivier said my Hamlet made him weep like a little girl. note 
    • Also invoked by Frankie Boyle:
      "What's wrong, Captain Picard?" "What's wrong? I'm a serious Shakespearian actor and I'm talking to the ambassador of the fucking worm people!"
  • Clip Show: Once a Season, a mix of unseen clips, Hilarious Outtakes, and "best bits" from the series gone by.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Milton Jones' appearances.
    (category: "Unlikely Lines To Hear On A TV Election Debate")
    Milton: "Hellooo! I am the Messiah! And the Queen is a biscuit!"
    Hugh: "I am almost certain that was a floating voter."

    (the answer in the "If This is the Answer..." round is 15)
    Milton: Is it how many magic biscuits there are on the magic biscuit tree?
    Dara: I would love that to be the correct answer. But there are in fact 19 magic biscuits on the magic biscuit tree!

    (Another "If This Is The Answer..." suggestion:)
    Milton: Is it how many tiny farmers with their tiny ploughs does it take to make a field of corduroy?
    • In one episode Milton pulls a carrot randomly out of his pocket.
      • Andy Parsons once commented, "It's hard to tell which week Milton is mocking sometimes, isn't it?"
    • In fact, Milton's Cloud Cuckoo Lander nature is lampshaded in an outtakes episode.
      Andy: They say that one in seven people are on drugs. Judging by this panel, I'd say it's Milton.
    • Hugh Dennis and Russell Howard also have shades of this at times. James Acaster eclipses both of them.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right:
    • On some occasions, somebody has given a joke answer in the "If This is the Answer..." round only to discover that it was, in fact, correct.
      [The answer is "Between 19 and 23"']
      David Mitchell: Is it the number of English counties likely to be underwater in a hundred years' time?
      Dara: Yes, indeed it is!
      David: [Face Palm] Jesus Christ! That's terrible!
      John Oliver: Less a joke, more an alarming fact!
      David: I thought of something ridiculously awful, turns out it's gonna happen!
    • In S14 E5, when asked what doctors have been asking people not to do:
      Milton: People have been taking helium, and they enjoy it. They speak very highly.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: When Frankie Boyle or the rare foul-mouthed guest gets revved up...
    Hugh: (after fluffing a joke) Oh, bollock piddle fuck wanker.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Dara jokes about Ed Milliband not seeing the glaring flaw in his plan to make people stop seeing him as a geek... by proudly announcing to the world that one of his supporters is none other than Patrick Stewart himself!
    • James Acaster has a bad habit of doing this during Spinning the News. When he was given the subject of "Britain", he talked about wanting to be Mexican; when given "Adventure", he spent the whole time talking about cheese slicing.
    • Elis James once joked about joining a boxing club, in which he seemingly learned nothing but skipping (a common warm-up for boxers). He pondered what use skipping could possibly be in a combat situation.
  • The Comically Serious: Romesh, Romesh, Romesh.
    • Tom Allen hits this note sometimes, too. From "Unlikely Things to Hear in a School Assembly":
      Drinking. Smoking. Fighting. These are all three reasons for me to be very tired today.
  • Common Knowledgeinvoked: When "Scenes We'd Like to See" does "Unlikely Things to Hear in Political Discussion":
    James Acaster: What most people don't realise is that the bell is named Big Ben and not the clock. The clock is named Tickety Ted the Time-Telling Bitch.
  • Content Warnings: Parodied by Hugh, "Unlikely Lines to Hear in a TV Show":
    And now the Antiques Roadshow. This programme contains scenes of tedious dullness right from the start.
    • Parodied by Frankie Boyle as well during "What a Television Announcer is Unlikely to Say":
      The following episode of Songs of Praise contains strong language and scenes of a sexual nature.
    • Yet again by Hugh with the same subject:
      The following programme contains swearing right from the fucking start.
  • Cool Shades: James Acaster brings out a pair of these for one episode, and subsequently calls himself "cool James" with them on. "Cool James" appears again in that episode's promotional picture.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Played for laughs in the finale when Dara has a go at the "Wheel of News" round, only for his topic to come up as "Job Loss". Understandably less than enthused, he asks for another spin of the wheel... and then, when the other contestants protest this, claims that this was always an option and they could have always asked for another spin rather than have to improvise a stand-up set for a topic they knew nothing about. (Of course, given that the resulting topics that Dara subsequently lands on are "Seeking New Employment" and "Retirement", it clearly isn't.)
  • Country Matters:
    • In the outtakes, one Headliner was a picture of David Cameron with CSIP. Frankie's answer is "Cunt Seen in Photo". Also, one of his answers to "Bad Ways for Gordon Brown to Address the Nation" was "If you thought Tony Blair was a cunt, watch this".
    • One of Russell's deleted answers to "Unlikely Small Ads" was a sweary parrot that said the word cunt.
    • Implied in this entry for "Things you wouldn't hear on a property program":
      Tez Ilyas: (gesturing above him) "Loads of notorious people live on these here branches: Piers Morgan, Katie Hopkins, Donald Trump— sor— what? "Escape to the country"? No this is escape to the c—"
  • Cute Little Fangs:
    • Look closely, Dara has them.
    • Gary Delaney too, in the rare cases when something can make him laugh out loud.
  • Dead Guy Puppet: Joked about. "Hello, I'm Ming Campbell. I am not dead, nor am I being operated by a pulley system".
    • Also joked about in Series 15 Episode 5 after Andy Murray's second Wimbledon victory: Josh Widdicombe remarked that for the first two sets of the final, he'd been wondering whether Ivan Lendl was actually alive, or whether they'd "pulled a Weekend at Bernie's".
  • Deadline News:
    • Parodied by Hugh, "Things you wouldn't hear on a News Programme":
      This is the first time I've reported on the Pamplona Bull Run - FUCKING HELL!!! (runs for it)
    • Invoked when they do "Unlikely Things to Hear on the Radio":
      Angela Barnes: "There's been a nasty helicopter crash on the M4. For more on this, we take you to our eye in the sky, Mark... Mark? Mark?"
  • Deadpan Snarker: Many, but particularly Hugh Dennis.
    • Romesh Ranganathan also seems to have this shtick, with a much more downbeat personality than anyone else on the panel. He almost never cracks a smile.
  • Death Glare:
    • Hugh Dennis is prone to staring at the camera in a rather disturbing manner.
      [Things You'd Never Hear On A TV Election Debate]
      Hugh: How will we shorten waiting lists? Simple: by letting the weak...die.
    • Parodied in an episode by James Acaster who turned to one side, turned back around with his eyes furrowed, and said, "You're gonna die!" Hugh did the same thing except for an open-mouthed smile and the others commented that that was scarier than an actual glare.
  • A Degree in Useless: There were several jokes about media studies being this.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    Ed: These are the Chilean miners, which are stuck down the Chilean mine...
    • "Rejected Questions From This Year's Exams":
      Holly Walsh: "What is amnesia? Is it A. Memory loss, A. Memory loss, or 4. The Battle of Hastings?"
      • Later:
        Holly: "What is amnesia? Is it A. Memory loss..."
  • Dirty Old Man: Prince Philip in his newsreel appearances:
    (meeting a woman in a police station): "Oh my, you... you really have a terrific pair of norks... Sorry to mention them again, but they really are wonderful. Are you a strippogram?"
    (meeting Nicholas Sarkozy and his wife): "Ooh, you froggy bastard, where's the wife... oh I say... ooh, she really puts the lead in my pencil. Quick, Carla, what's your number, we haven't got much time."
    (Hugh playing a Royal Commentator at an event that didn't feature Prince Philip): "And now the guests rise for the traditional musical chairs, and the Queen reads the rules: No ducking, no bombing, no grabbing... and no Prince Philip, you'll notice - He uses these occasions, when he knows exactly where the Queen is, to go and shag someone younger and more attractive."
  • Don't Explain the Joke:
    Hugh: Ryanair. Not just an airline; it's also the name of our cheapest sandwich. (beat) Rye and air.
  • Driven to Suicide: None of the performers, just jokes played for laughs. Example:
    Unlikely things for a sports commentator to say
    "I'm here at the Green Court (lawn) bowls — and I've started cutting myself."
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Frankie Boyle and Andy Parsons both missed what would have been their final episodes; Frankie because he was taken ill shortly before the recording, and Andy for no stated reason.
  • Dude, Not Funny!:
    • In a scene that didn't make the cut, Frankie pretends to be offended when Jo Caulfield tries a joke in his style and it doesn't go over well. In the "Headline News" round, the letters are B. C. A. H., and the picture shows Bill and Hillary Clinton:
      Jo: Frankie hasn't done this, I don't know why he hasn't. Is it "Bill Clinton Arseraped Hillary"?
      Frankie: I haven't done it because it's sick, Caulfield!
    • Dara's joke about Saddam's execution:
      Dara: It's pretty clear that Saddam Hussein is going to be found guilty, but there's still debate about how long he'll go down for. My guess is about four feet, before the rope goes tight.
      [Audience groans]
      Mark Steel: That joke was so contrived, people felt sympathy for Saddam Hussein!
    • Sarah Millican asked "How many hairs would you have to pluck from Susan Boyle's face to make her attractive?" which every single other panellist groaned at.
    • Lampshaded by Dara Ó Briain. Often, during his opening monologue, he would make a joke about, say, the assassination of JFK, and when the audience groaned would follow it up with a sarcastic "Oh, too soon?" This was particularly noteworthy when one such joke about a tragedy from decades ago got a groan from the audience, when moments earlier the audience had laughed merrily at jokes about Saddam Hussein's execution, which had happened that week.
      Dara Ó Briain "See, the last time Britain lost the Ashes in a white wash, it was in 1921. But at least that time they had a decent excuse — the first eleven had all been killed at the Somme..."
      (audience groans)
      Dara: "What, too soon?"
    • In Series 6 episode 3, aired on July 24, 2008, Frankie made two jokes in succession that elicited a mixture of boos and applause, when the subject was "Lines You Wouldn't Hear In a Superhero Movie".
      "What's that, Joker? You'll be back? Somehow I don't think you will be."
      "Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Whatever it is, it's heading straight for the World Trade Center."
    • Lampshaded again by Chris Addison when the Scenes We'd Like to See topic was "Unlikely things to get through your letterbox".
      Chris: "Gardening service, middle of the night a speciality, call Rose West on Broadmoor..."
      (audience groans)
      Chris: "What, too soon, too soon?"
    • Discussed on Series 13 Episode 7, which aired on September 11, 2014, a week after Joan Rivers' death. In the "If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question?" game, the answer was 307 years.
      Andy: Is it "Without the plastic surgery, how old did Joan Rivers look?" (shocked reaction from the audience) Tragedy plus time...
      Dara: There's no plus time with Joan Rivers!
      Gary Delaney: How long her body will take to decompose? (laughter) Sorry, Joan. It's what she would've wanted.
      Dara: Peace out, Joan. Peace out.
    • In September 2018, Ed Gamble's opening joke for "Unlikely Lines from Kids' Films & TV Shows" got this reaction.
      Ed: To me.note 
  • Dumb Jock: They regularly depict footballer Wayne Rooney as such. One round of Between the Lines featured Hugh pretending to be David Beckham and rolling with this trope.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first four series have a lot of this; a very different tone due to the different regulars and a different choice of guests, Dara's opening stand-up, everybody playing the 'Spinning the News' round, more categories in "Scenes We'd Like to See"...
    • Not to mention the focus on Rory Bremner's impressions, which completely disappeared once he left after two series.
    • In the first few series, the "Scenes We'd Like to See" would have some tenuous connection to the news (i.e. in the week where Tony Blair's plane was forced to land due to difficulties, the subject was "Unsettling Things to Hear from the Cockpit of a Plane"). This was dropped quite quickly.
  • Earpiece Conversation: Whenever the guests (or just Frankie) end up getting too out of control, cue Dara trying to calm everyone down since the producers are literally screaming down the earpiece at him...
  • Ear Worm: Invoked in one Season 14 episode with that one Greek song that starts out slowly and then gradually gets faster... They ended up playing it on four separate occasions, and neither the performers nor the audience seemed to get tired of it.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Insignificant Sausage-Muncher"? Also, "The Butt-Muncher."
    • Doubly subverted in one episode, in which Dara notes that Theresa May is apparently nicknamed "Submarine". He and Josh Widdicombe disagree on the meaningnote , but both agree that it actually sounds like a pretty badass nickname. Then Hugh Dennis, of all people, points out that submarines are always full of seamen.
    • James Acaster's superhero identity "The Pummeller".
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: While discussing the Chinese introducing anal swabs to test for COVID-19, a shot of the instruction sheet issued with the swab kit flashes up briefly on the screen. Dara then says that he didn't show it for longer because he doesn't want people to learn his tattoo actually means "anal swab".
  • Euphemistic Names: "Lines You'd Never Hear in a James Bond Film":
    Hugh: I hope you're not going to be one of those Russian agents whose name is just a cheap sexual pun, Miss Suckmeoff!
    Andy: So, she's smuggling diamonds, Bond, and your job is to find out how. Just go to the hotel reception, and ask for Fanny Vajazzle.
  • Evolving Credits: A subtle variant: the spoof headlines in the opening are updated with time. Although that shot of David Beckham receiving a medal has been there all the time, with a different caption.
  • Exact Words: James Acaster in one Spinning the News:
    "They say you are what you eat, and it's true, because when I bought this bag of 'Ready-To-Eat Apricots', I was... ready to eat... apricots. (Beat) Some people don't finish the whole bag, they should have bought 'Ready-To-Eat Some Apricots'."
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: From one of the "Unlikely Things to Hear Over a Tannoy" segments.
    Ed Gamble: If you look out the left window of the train, you'll see the sea! And if you look out the right window, you'll see the sea OH GOD WE'RE IN THE SEA!
  • Expy:
    • Al Murray's "Voice of the Silent Majority" character in the Question Time round bears an uncanny similarity to his usual Pub Landlord persona.
    • For the Whose Line fans, Frankie for Greg Proops, Hugh for Ryan Stiles, Andy for Colin Mochrie, and Russell for Chip Esten.
      • Of course, Greg Proops has made some appearances on Mock the Week as well, as has Clive Anderson.
      • And it's not hard to see that both shows were produced by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson.
    • James Acaster's trademark offbeat humor and clipped delivery make him a sort of bizarre love child of Hugh Dennis and Milton Jones.
  • Fake Brit: Frankie Boyle whenever he does an English accent.
    • Becomes hilarious when you realise that despite his English accent sounding absolutely nothing like him, Frankie was always chosen to be the one to play Tony Blair. Perhaps they were operating on the logic that since Tony Blair was born in Scotland, why not send a Scotsman to play him?
  • Fake Guest Star: Despite appearing in every episode, Hugh Dennis was not offically considered a regular panellist until the fifth episode of series 1. Similarly, from Series 3 onwards Andy Parsons was only considered a "frequent guest" and was credited as a guest panellist despite appearing in every episode, and Russell Howard got a similar deal in Series 4 — it was not until Series 5 that both were officially considered regulars.
  • Feghoot: From "Things You Wouldn't Hear on the Radio"
    Gary Delaney: Travel news: a coachload of origami enthusiasts has broken down on the M-1, and they're all currently sat on the hard shoulder making paper models of cars. Traffic is described as stationery.
  • Finale Season: Series 21 was announced to be the final season in August 2022 (ahead of its premiere later the same year).
  • Foil: Romesh Ranganathan and Rob Beckett are this to each other: Rob Beckett is loud, enthusiastic, and Book Dumb, with a tendency to get worked up about menial things, whereas Romesh is a softly-spoken Deadpan Snarker with an almost perpetual Death Glare (Rob's jokes are sometimes just as acerbic as Romesh's, though). Rob even lampshaded it in one episode featuring the two of them, noting that while he was too happy, Romesh was too unhappy.
    ["If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question?": answer is "264"]
    Ed Gamble: Is it, how happy is Romesh out of one million?
    [audience laughs; cue Death Glare from Romesh]
  • Food Porn:
    Frankie: "The other night I watched Nigella Lawson and picked up a couple of good tips on baking bread, and in the process I just about ripped my cock off."
    • Later subverted in another round of "What A TV Chef Would Never Say":
      Frankie: "I'm Nigella Lawson, and what I love about presenting this programme is the knowledge that at home, Frankie Boyle has just about ripped his cock off."
      • Later subverted even further by Russell as he impersonated her, moving his arms like they were her knockers.
  • Foreign Queasine: We see an actual one in the season 15 Christmas Episode - Italian carbone dolce, using the myth about Santa Claus leaving coal in the stockings of bad children, and making actual edible candy that looks like coal, made from two types of sugar and eggs, and needs a hammer and safety goggles to prepare.
  • Formerly Fat: Ed Gamble - it all happened long before he joined up, but it's come up a few times.
    "So in the last 3 years, I've lost 6 stone in weight... I thought health would equal happiness... I'm a more worried person now. Am I eating right?... The other day I went on a run, I accidentally swallowed a fly, I had to Google "how many calories is a fly"! (Beat) Six per serving, if you're wondering."
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: According to James Acaster, Pinocchio came to life after being possessed by the devil, went around telling lies, and was burned to death for it.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In Series 15 Episode 1 a fly was briefly visible on top of Dara's head while he laughed at one of Hugh's jokes. Lampshaded in the following episode, with Dara mentioning the sheer number of people on Twitter who'd screen-capped the moment and sent it to him, completely ignoring the rest of the episode's content in favour of that one moment. Later, during "If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question", a toy spider can be seen briefly on top of Dara's head while he's laughing at one of Hugh's jokes.
  • Freudian Slip: When "Scenes We'd Like to See" takes on continuity announcers again.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • The premise of "Headline News".
    • One Clip Show brings up an article warning parents about the acronyms in teen texting:
      Ed Gamble: She said "I think my son is doing ganja, cocaine, speed, and ecstasy," and he's like "No honey, that's the GCSE...note "
      Andy: What's this mean, 'Bye'? "Bring Your Erection" What is it?!
  • Gag Dub: "Newsreel".
  • Genre Blindness: In one episode, Dara showed the players a recent news article on a report suggesting that people with larger heads were less susceptible to Alzheimer's... which had referred to him as an example of someone with a 'big head', even putting a picture of him (with the caption 'EXTRA LARGE') next to the article. When the players started teasing him about it mercilessly, he said that he expected sympathy.
    Dara: I was expecting sympathy! That's why I introduced this story!
    Ed: (incredulous) You were expecting sympathy?
    Chris: I revealed a weakness in front of six comedians, and I thought "There's a group that'll help me through this!"
    Dara: I—I think of you all as friends. I don't think of you as comedians.
  • Genre Savvy: Several times in the Too Hot for TV DVDs the panelists remark that they know none of the material is going to survive the edit.
    • The panel randomly mention programmes being aired late at night with signing. Dara then spends some time 'interacting' with an imaginary signer in the corner of the screen.
  • Genre Shift: Dropping the rounds that focused on impressions (due to Rory Bremner leaving the show) shifted the series to a more simple cross between a panel show and stand-up comedy.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: During a round of "If this is the answer, what is the question?", the answer was "A million a week". One of Rhys James' questions was:
    "As a teenager, how many girls who went to a different school did I claim to have got off with the summer holidays?"
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: "Unlikely Lines from a Superhero Movie":
    Hugh: You're the superhero every man wants to see! Girl-on Girl!
  • Girly Run: When Spinning the News brings up the subject of "driving", the Camp Gay Tom Allen trots up to the mike:
    • "Things an Athletics Commentator Would Never Say":
      Alun Cochrane: This should be a laugh: women runnin'!
  • Gratuitous German: Via Chris Addison.
  • Hates Being Touched: Invoked.
    Hugh: What I love about the beach volleyball is, every time they score a point, whether they win or lose, they hug... It's like they just really need to hug, and the sport is just incidental...
    Rob Beckett: Do you want Romesh to give you a hug every time you get something right?
    (Hugh moves with arms outstretched towards Romesh, who just gives him the most epic Death Glare in history)
  • Head Desk: Hugh does one whenever he mentions anything boring, such as when he admitted he knew a bit of trivia about the Royal Family, or after he explains the meaning of the term "Machiavellian" to Rob Beckett.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": During a round of "Unlikely Things For a Continuity Announcer to Say":
    Hugh: Next up on Channel 4, Skins. [pretends to crack up] "Foreskins".
  • Helium Speech:
    • When the subject is "Things You Wouldn't Hear On A Science Documentary":
      Hugh: My favorite element is helium. (in a squeaky voice) I can't speak highly enough of it.
    • Naturally invoked/discussed in a round where they talked about a potential future helium shortage, and Hugh suddenly started speaking in a squeaky, high-pitched voice.
      Hugh: (in a squeaky voice) It's a finite resource, and it's needed for MRI scanners.
      Dara: -and whatnot, yes. It's being used up on fripperies like balloons, and squeaky voices.
      Hugh: (in a squeaky voice) Yeah, although I'm doing this one without it.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Dara and Ed, in both the show and real life.
    Andy: (during the 'Private Browsing' one) You boys have got a shared past that we can only imagine about.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Usually Once a Season, as part of the Clip Show.
  • Historical Longevity Joke:
    • Bruce Forsyth used to be the regular subject of these - until his passing in 2017 made it a lot less funny. (For context, he's been on tv since the 1950s.)
    • On an episode during the 2020 US presidential election, Ed Gamble opined that Joe Biden would be the better president to deal with the COVID crisis because of his previous experience with pandemics: having lived through typhoid and whatever killed the dinosaurs.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Happened to Josh Widdicombe in Series 13 after making a quip about Dara's baldness when Dara complained about an over-exposed anti-dandruff shampoo advert that played during the 2014 World Cup coverage. Unfortunately for Josh, he hadn't quite taken into account how this might backfire on him:
    Josh: Well, some of us, Dara, are still worrying about dandruff.
    [The crowd groans]
    Dara: ... It's an unusual put-down, isn't it? Because on the one hand, zing, I'm bald, but yet on the other you don't come out of it like a prince, it must be said.
    Josh: I'm not gonna lie to you; I didn't think it through.
  • Hollywood Tourette's: If Tourette's Syndrome is mentioned during "Scenes We'd Like to See", the panelist who mentioned it will often swear as a punchline.
    [Things You Wouldn't Hear on a Breakfast Show]
    Frankie: Welcome to Radio Tourettes, you shit monkeys!

    [Commercials That Never Made It to Air]
    Darren Harriott: The new Frosties cereal for people with Tourettes' Syndrome. Theeeyyyy'rrreee...grandma's a bitch!!
  • Ho Yay: Invoked:
    [The answer in the "If This is the Answer..." round is 2035]
    Stewart Francis: Is it 'when will Dara O'Briain succumb to my...advances'?

    [Another "If This is the Answer..." round reads "4 years"]
    Hugh: (To Dara, blubbering) Is it... how long have I wanted to tell you... that I love you?
    Ed: (Smacking Hugh on the arm) BACK OFF!

    [Another "If This is the Answer..." round reads "307 years"]
    Ed: Dara. If loving you was illegal, how long would they have to sentence me for?
    Dara: Really creepy.

    [Another "If This is the Answer" round reads "20 minutes"]
    Gary Delaney: Is it, when a man says he's going to make love "all night long", what does he really mean?
    Josh Widdicombe: Oh, let it go! It was one time, Gary!
    • Bad Things To Say On A First Date.
      Russell: Whoa... how pissed was I when I asked you out?!
      Andy: Not as pissed as I was when I said "yes"!
    • Ed Gamble and Nish Kumar unintentionally invoked this in the publicity photo for series 16 episode 2. They have since intentionally ran with the joke for each subsequent appearance.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Greg Davies is over half a metre taller than Lucy Porter. When both guest-starred together, they cuddled at the Spinning News round.
    Dara: That is just against nature.
    • They also had a joint entry for "Unlikely Lines from a Fantasy Film", with Davies hugging her and saying "This will never work, Frodo."
  • Hulk Speak: Milton, during "Things You Wouldn't Hear in a School Assembly."
    Ofsted man, he come. He say school not good!
  • Hurricane of Puns: As much a target of the players' humor as used by them. While discussing a Viagra fraud case in which the perpetrators had been arrested, Russell Howard noted he'd seen it on the news and that the anchors started riffing on it:
    Russell: Did you happen to see the News 24 reaction? It was fantastic — cause it came, like, "News just in — " and they found out about the Viagra tabs, and it was brilliant because they were doing little puns! They were genuinely kinda goin' — "I bet that's a hard case, heh." "I think they'll get a stiff sentence." And then you could genuinely see — they obviously got a word in their ear and they went, [disappointed, head drooping] "Yeah, okay..."
  • Hypocritical Humour: Frequently lampshaded, such as when Chris notes how can they seriously mock Ed Milliband for being too geeky?
    Chris: This isn't the pot calling the kettle black; this is a kettle calling another kettle a kettle.
  • I Call Him "Mister Happy": In a blooper reel, Russell tells us that Hugh refers to his as "Mister Dennis", which then becomes a Running Gag.
    Hugh: be perfectly honest, I think Mister Dennis has straightened himself.
    • Lampshaded by Ed Byrne in a "Spinning the News" round discussing parenting:
      "The thing we've been careful about though is that even though I have two boys, I didn't name either of them after me 'cause I didn't want to have that "big Ed, little Ed" thing. Because when you call one of your sons "little Ed", it just sounds too much like you're talking about your cock."
  • I Love the Dead: "Unlikely Lines From a TV Detective Show":
    Frankie: So what can we tell from these bite marks on the breasts? We can tell that I shouldn't be left alone with a body.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Ed Byrne during “Things That Would Change the Mood at a Dinner Party”
    Ed: Are you sure this is pork? Because my crackling has a tattoo.note 
    • Implied by Ed again when they redo the subject.
    Ed: And after dessert, I thought we’d hunt the deadly game of all - man!
  • In a World…: Parodied by Ed Gamble during a round of "Unlikely Film Trailers", complete with Don LaFontaine impression:
    Ed: In a land where nothing costs more than a pound... it's Poundland.
    Ed: In a world where they only sell PCs... it's PC World.
  • Inconvenient Summons: Prince Charles receives one in one skit. From ham.
    Farmer: Ooh, now ye see sir, it 'as magical properties that 'am. Yeah, you eat that, it transports you to a different part of the space-time continuum.
    (*cut to Prince Charles looking confused, on a boat in the Thames*)
    Prince Charles: Fuck me!
  • Incredibly Lame Fun:
    • Instead of Grand Theft Auto V, Ed Byrne was playing Farming Simulator 2013. Apparently, he found it quite engaging.
    • Received a Call-Back in season 16 when Ed was strangely enthralled by the process of clearing an incredulous fat blockage found in the sewers, before revealing that he'd done just that with his own house's drainage.
      "Just the clearing of that was far more satisfying than the process of doing all those shits."
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Discussed (but obviously averted) in Series 15 Episode 5, after Dara coughs halfway through a question. He immediately remarks "I hope I don't die!"
  • Informed Flaw: After a newspaper article claimed that Dara has a GIANT head, the guys began to riff on this, claiming Dara's head is so massive, it can curve space and that the logo is actually a small planet that got pulled into orbit around him.
    Dara: I don't regard myself as having a large head! I have no trouble buying hats! I have no problem getting into jumpers!
  • Inherently Funny Words:
  • Innocent Innuendo:
    Chris: Man with massive cock... seeks woman with large hen to discuss poultry farming.
  • Insult Backfire: Icelandic comedian Ari Eldjarn recites a football match between his country and England wherein the England crowd started cheering "You're just a shit shop in London!" They ended up losing the match 2-1 and the manager resigned as a result.
  • Irony:
    • In one of Dara's early series monologues when discussing immigration:
      Dara: Let's just take a moment to enjoy the irony of an Irish man making jokes about the immigrant workforce in England.
    • In the final episode, Hugh notes that despite being having been cancelled (in large part, it was alleged, because BBC higher-ups wanted to appease the Conservatives given how frequently they were targets on the show), given the precarious nature of Liz Truss's government it was entirely possible that the show would still somehow manage to last longer than her term as Prime Minister. In fact, she had indeed announced her resignation the very day before the episode aired (though the episode was recorded some days prior, and her successor wasn't appointed until the week after).
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: When talking about Theresa May, Kerry Godliman mentions May's adviser Nick Timothy and claims that women don't have Two First Names. Dara brings up the obvious counterexample: Theresa May.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Hilariously, it's Frankie of all people wonders how on earth did a political discussion end up with Hugh talking about something completely different while Russell tells Dara that "No one bites my balls!"

  • Joke and Receive:
    • Between Dara and Josh in one episode:
      Dara: What did the Queen invent with a dachshund and a corgi?
      Josh Widdicombe: The dorgi!
      Dara: That's absolutely right.
      Josh: Really?! I was joking!
    • In the 2016 Christmas episode:
      Dara: What might you expect to eat at Christmas in Japan?... A bucket of...
      Nish: Fried chicken?
      Dara: Fried chicken!
      Nish: Is it fried chicken?
      Dara: It's fried chicken.
  • Jump Scare: An unintentional one happens in series 14 when one of the overhead lightbulbs break.
  • Just a Stupid Accent: Mocked by Hugh in the segment "Lines You Wouldn't Hear In a War Film":
    (with a German accent) Why are we speaking English?
  • Kavorka Man: Angela Barnes outright claimed to be "a slag" one time. And then she settled down, after which...
    He's out-of-my-league good-looking, I'll tell you how I know for a fact he's out-of-my-league good-looking - every time I've introduced him to a friend, the minute he leaves the room she'll turn to me and go "how the hell did you do that?" Charming, innit? What are his friends saying to him? "You all right?"
  • Kick the Dog: Bordering on a literal interpretation when Scenes We'd Like to See does "Unlikely Things to Hear at the Vet":
    Ed Byrne: I don't think there's any point to spaying a dog this ugly. No one is ever going to (drowned by audience laughter)
  • Know When to Fold 'Em
    [In the Headliners round, the letters are G.A.E.C. and accompany a picture of Michael Gove and some schoolchildren]
    Greg Davies: Is it "Grindr adventure ends catastrophically"?
    Dara [once the audience and panel have recovered]: ...Okay, let's just have the correct answer, because frankly, nothing's going to top that.
  • Lady Drunk: Zoe Lyons, who constantly has a mild slur to her words.
    "I realized I had a problem when, not too long ago, I turned to a friend of mine and said, 'This is a very nice breakfast wine.'"
  • Lame Pun Reaction: The panelists often give this reaction to their own puns. Ed Byrne in particular is a serial offender, as can be seen below:
    Ed: I've got a bad one. Bad one. Whilst at college I did experiment with marijuana. I did it in snow, I did it in sleet, but I did not... in hail! [silly dance]

    Ed: Enjoy your animal-shaped biscuits. Do not eat if seal is broken. [grins punching the air]

    Chris: The Bronze Age was the third best age in history. [jumps up, clicks heels together grinning]

    Milton: [The Queen] is saying "I don't know where I am," and [the Indian Chief] is saying "It's okay: I am Sat-Navajo!" [drops head]

    Ed: Stephen Spielberg's Circumcision: The Director's Cut. [silly fist pump]
    Ed: Welcome to The Best of Test Match Special. (pretends to strike a match) That one works! [does silly fist pump again]

    Seann Walsh: (crying) Daddy, I just finished watching The Snowman, and at the end, the ginger kid survived! [raises arms in victory]

    Chris: And now a trip around Dara O'Briain's head in Hair Hunters. [curtsies to audience]
    Ed: I like to plant my herbs in alphabetical order. People say to me, "How do you find the time?" I say, it's there, next to the sage! [claps, jumps, and poses]
    • Gary Delaney cracks up at the end of some of his puns as if he's aware of just how lame they are.
    • The common reaction to a Milton Jones pun that Crosses the Line Twice is to perform a Head Desk.
      Milton: "I once rolled up a newspaper to hit a Black Widow; next thing I knew I wasn't allowed near Winnie Mandela."
    • In series 18 episode 5, when the performers are making jokes about how Donald Trump misspelled the Prince of Wales as the Prince of Whales in a tweet:
      Maisie Adam: Easy mistake, he shouldn't be publicly shamed for it. Shamu-ed, sorry.
      Tiff Stevenson: It wasn't on porpoise!
      Dara: No, no, no. I will accept Shamu, I'm rejecting porpoise.
    • In series 19 episode 7 when the subject is "Unlikely Things to Hear on a Property Show", Hugh makes this joke: "John has always wanted to convert a lighthouse, but the project has been on and off for years." Ed Byrne responds with shouting: "Get out, get out!"
  • Lampshade Hanging: Each of the performers is quite aware of the others' style of humor, so when Frankie Boyle ragged on Dara for teasing that a British swimmer raising money for cancer should have planted a flag on the North Pole's continental shelf, people were surprised and asked him how it felt to take the moral high ground.
    Frankie: "It's all so bright up here."
    • It didn't last two minutes, as the topic led into the joke quoted in Black Comedy.
      Frankie: "It's so dark and cold down here, Dara. I can just see the edges of your faces."
    • One Scenes We'd Like to See round was "The Very Worst Person to be President of the United States." One of Andy's responses:
      Andy: This round is much easier if you can do impressions.
    • "Unlikely Small Ads" in Scenes We'd Like to See:
      Hugh: Wanted: New subject for Scenes We'd Like to See.
  • Large Ham: Ed Byrne.
    (The topic is "Unlikely Things to Hear on Daytime TV)
    Ed: Hello, and welcome to Let's Decorate the SHIT Out of This House! This week, we're decorating the SHIT out of a three-bed semi in Orpington! SO let's DO IT! Let's Decorate the SHIT out of This House!
    • And then:
      Ed: Hello, and welcome to Let's Cook the SHIT Out of Some Dinner!
    • And finally:
      Ed: Hello, and welcome to I'm Gonna Sell These Antiques If It FUCKING Kills Me!
  • Left The Back Ground Music On: According to one Clip Show, they had to re-shoot one intro when the camera caught Dara dancing to the Real Song Theme Tune.
  • Lightbulb Joke:
    • From "Unlikely Things To Hear In A Sci-Fi Movie" segment.
      Ed Byrne: How many Klingon's does it take to screw in a lightbulb? - 10. One to change it and the other 9 to chastise him for performing such a menial task when he's a member of a proud warrior race.
    • From an 'If This Is the Answer, What Is the Question' segment.
      The Answer: 1.
      Milton Jones: Is it, "In the majority of cases, how many people does it actually take to change a lightbulb?"
  • Literal-Minded: Milton Jones, frequently.
    On Peter Mandelson: "It's weird to think that he's Nelson Mandela's son."
    On William Hague: "I've been reading up on William Hague, and he has to compete with Rotterdam as a port."
    On Vladimir Putin: "I actually prefer the word chamberpot to poo-tin."
  • Logical Fallacies:
    Chris: I share a bed with a woman, does that make me a lesbian?
  • Low Count Gag:
    Hugh: Nick Clegg has demanded a recount. Here we go. (beat) One. Happy now?
  • Male Gaze:
    The answer is '40 years'
    Frankie: "Is it 'for how long would I follow Beyoncé willingly up an impossibly long staircase'?"
  • Manchild:
    • Russell Howard leads the charge:
    (the "answer" is "one million per cent")
    Russell: Is it how much happier would I be if I saw a duck moonwalking?
    • Some of the new guys too - Rob Beckett would be the biggest offender.
    ("Spinning the News" lands on the subject "Growing Up")
    Rob: I've done some growing up recently. Got married. (audience cheers) My mate's gotten married too - one time he said to me "We should do a Come Dine With Me." I'm like no mate, I don't wanna cook more... If we all go on a reality show, it should be like Total Wipeout.
  • Manipulative Editing: A common complaint from those who've attended recordings is that the televised edit is heavily biased in favour of the regulars, meaning that a guest can appear very quiet as much more of their contributions were left on the cutting room floor. This has arguably lessened in recent series since the guests have slowly begun to outnumber the regulars, and by Series 15 there were five guest panellists and only one regular (Hugh).
  • Manly Gay: Most rugby players, according to Frankie.
    All pretense has been abandoned, as both teams take to the field naked, covered in lubricant, to the sound of pounding techno!
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Hugh Dennis during the Newsreel round.
  • Medium Awareness: When the show was broadcast the week of England's final World Cup group match, which determined whether or not they'd go through to the knockout stage, the show was filmed on Tuesday, the match played on Wednesday and the show broadcast on Thursday, Dara expressing worry about the resulting "time paradox".
    • At some point the guys realised that any random mentions of Christmas would wind up in the Christmas Episode Clip Show. Cue lots of excessive season's greetings midseason.
    • Often, they'll reference the fact that the audience is probably watching reruns on Dave sometime in the future. Usually, it's accompanied by one of the panelists speaking directly to the people watching in the future.
  • Meta Guy: Parodied by Miles Jupp in a "Picture of the Week" round where, after a few suggestions of what the people in the photo might be saying, he always said, "Perhaps they're not speaking at all".
  • Mr. Fanservice: Russell Howard. In the post-Russell era, Chris Addison.
    • Ed Byrne too.
  • Mister Seahorse:
    Hugh: "Well, there's good news—you've had a baby; the bad news is, it's blown your cock off!"
  • Mondegreen Gag: Guest player Adam is relating a story about his late gran mistaking the Christmas carol "Deck The Halls" to be "Dick The Horse". As Adam's uncle apparently improvised the first line of "Dick The Horse"; later, after she's passed on, Granddad had her tombstone engraved with a horse.
    • Milton also did one during an "Unlikely things to hear in court" session:
      Milton: (singing) "Rock-a-bye baby on the tree top..." (speaking)"...oh, 'alibi'!"
  • Mundane Solution: On the case of former Russian spies suddenly getting poisoned in the UK:
    Hugh: [The Russian poisoners] didn't realize that we have a functioning border force, police force, security service, and NHS. And if they'd just waited till after Brexit...
  • Mundane Utility: Unlikely Lines in Doctor Who:
    Andy: Let's go forward in time by an hour. Then we get a quid off the pizza.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: "Bad Things to Say on a First Date"
  • My Dad Can Beat Up Your Dad: Mentioned by Frankie when he talks about gay adoption:
    I'd have loved to have had a gay dad. You know how in the playgrounds it's always 'my dad will batter your dad', or 'my dad will outrun your dad'? 'Hey! My dad will shag your dad!... And your dad will enjoy it!'
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: "What the Queen didn't say in her Christmas speech":
    Frankie: It's been good to spend some time with my family. And Harry.
  • Mythology Gag: The most obvious one would be Scenes We'd Like To See, which started out as Scenes From A Hat on Whose Line, expanded from a one-act-per-suggestion affair to eight or ten, allowing them to milk a mere two suggestions for an entire stretch.
    • You'd be forgiven for thinking there were two Jimmy Savilles in the UK, considering Hugh's wildly different take from Steve Frost's.
  • Naked People Are Funny:
    "Unlikely Things to Hear in Court"
    Zoe: It appears we have a hung jury. Thank you, gentlemen, you can put your trousers back on now.
  • Navel-Deep Neckline: A male example: Chris Addison doesn't seem to know how the top four buttons on any of his shirts work.
  • Never Heard That One Before: Greg Davies has a brief rant on the tedious jokes he gets from everyone because of his height.note 
    Greg: "How's the weather up there?" It's freezing! There's a massive climate change in this amount of space here, you TOOTHLESS BUFFOON.
  • No Fourth Wall: Dara often takes a moment to consider what the subjects of their jokes would think of them. For example, after Frankie mused on Rebecca Adlington's love life, Dara imagined her arriving back from the Olympics (where she won two gold medals in swimming, one in world record time) going "Ooh, I haven't seen Mock The Week in four weeks! I wonder who they're tearing into—oh. Oh."
  • No Indoor Voice: Andy Parsons. Frankie Boyle and Hugh Dennis (and on occasion, Russell Howard) have also done this.
  • Non-Answer: One season 7 episode has Dara criticising David Cameron on this.
    "They asked 'What do you plan to do about X?' and he answered 'I'll tell you what I won't do. I'll tell you what I WON'T DO...' "
  • No Sympathy: Dara is usually at the receiving end of it. Most hilariously, the Konnie Huq and the big head incident.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
    [Lines You Wouldn't Hear In A Sci-Fi Movie]
    James Acaster: You've got to imagine this in a Scottish accent, right? "This is our Independence Day!"
  • Not So Above It All: Dara. A lot of the cut material which airs in compilations/DVD extras shows him vainly trying to steer the panel away from an offensive joke and then giving up and riffing on it himself.
    • Perhaps one of the funniest examples is the David Blunkett incident. Dara tries valiantly to get the panel to not make jokes about Blunkett involving his blindness as per the producers' orders. Naturally, they don't comply. Finally, after many good laughs are had, Dara gives in and makes a joke of his own.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Discussed during the discussion on alternative fuels, where Andy mentions the stories about trying to make cars run on waste (the answer for “If This is the Answer, What is the Question?” that day was “Cheese, Wine and Rubbish”), and suggests that they could make cars that run on one’s own excrement, before predicting this would make for something interesting at the roadside:
    “Are you urinating in public?” “No, I’m just filling up me tank!”
  • No, You: When Scenes We'd Like to See does railway announcements:
    James: And now, an announcement for those who insist on sitting the way the train is moving because sitting backwards feels weird - YOU'RE weird.
  • N-Word Privileges: Discussed with Romesh Ranganathan, who pointed out that while he was on the panel any racial humour would sink or swim depending on whether he visibly laughed along with it.
    Gary Delaney: You really have the power of life and death.
    Romesh: I could end any of you.
  • Official Couple: It's the last genre of show you'd expect to have one, but John Robins and Sara Pascoe really were together when they recorded an episode together in series 15 - barely a minute after this is revealed, Hugh and Ed Gamble start acting like they already were.
  • Oh Wait, This Is My Grocery List: "Rejected Lines from Movies":
    Frankie: Milk, bread, Rich Tea biscuits...are you sure this is this the right list, Mr. Schindler?
  • Old-Fashioned Fruit Stomping: During a round of Scene We'd Like to See, the topic is "Things You Wouldn't Hear on a Cookery Show":
    Milton Jones: So today I'm going to be making banana wine and I'm going to be pressing the skins with my bare feet. [yelps as he falls down]
  • Old Shame: Miles Jupp occasionally treats his breakthrough role on kids' show Balamory in this way.
    [Things You Wouldn't Hear In A Kids' Show]
    Miles: Well, Miss Hoolie, I wonder if I'll regret taking this job in 14 years' time.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Dara once brought up the fact a newspaper article about people with bigger heads are unlikely to get Alzheimer's which the paper decided to depict with a picture of his head. The group take it in turns to mercilessly riff on the subject of "Dara's Big Head" for nearly five minutes, with Chris noting that when Dara revealed a weakness in front of a bunch of comedians, honestly, what did he think would happen? Jokes have been made about Dara's head ever since.
    • Dara also never forgot that Ed Byrne wasn't picked on the episode of the British version of Blind Date in which he participated.
  • One-Steve Limit: To date, we've had Ed Byrne and Ed Gamble, Andy Parsons and Andi Osho, and even Russell Howard and Russell Kane.
    (The answer is 500,000)
    Russell Kane: I know what it is, it's the number of Russells working in British comedy.
    • One time they deliberately bring on Ed Byrne and Ed Gamble, and then put them against each other for "Spinning the News":
    Dara: At the end of that round, the points go to... Ed! (both men act all triumphant)
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Hugh, relatively, if only because he tends to give out the proper answers once enough jokes have been told.
    • Dara as well. Watch his desperate attempts to keep the rest of the panel (mostly Frankie) in line during the game where the producers don't want them to make any jokes about Blunkett being blind.
      "It's like being in charge of a special school on a day out."
    • Andy is relatively sane, giving the answers as well.
  • Oral Fixation: Chris Addison and pens.
  • Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?: "Unlikely Lines From A Thriller"
    Andy: "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?" she purred. Yes, it is a gun in my pocket. And I've just shot my cock off.
  • Ouija Board: One of the "Unlikely Lines From A Horror Movie" suggestions imagines an unorthodox attempt at it.
    Ed Gamble: The ghosts are trying to say something to us. 'Old Kent Road.' 'Community Chest.' 'Go to Jail.' Sorry, I didn’t have time to get a Ouija board.Explanation 
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Subverted on at least one occasion, when Eamonn Holmes had threatened legal action against the BBC over jokes made about his weight and the show immediately turned it into a running gag.
  • Overly-Long Gag:
    • During a round of "If This is the Answer, What is the Question?", when given the answer "63 years", Milton asked "Is it, how long can I keep this up?" and started clapping like a seal. He kept this up for about 20-30 seconds, with the audience laughing for the entire duration until Milton finally asked Dara to press the buzzer so he could stop.
    • "Spinning the News" in season 16 episode 8. Tom Allen's bit is mostly what he calls "a teacher having a nervous breakdown before our very eyes", by having to go through one lesson after another while trying to keep what he claims is "3 to 5 million kids" under control. It's easily the only thing in that episode longer than Ellie's legs.
    • Another one from Milton in a round of "If This is the Answer, What is the Question?"; the answer is "49 years". Milton responds "What's the world record for staying under a desk that I'm gonna break now" and dives under the desk. Dara has to spend quite some time trying to coax him back out.
  • Pet the Dog: When a question came up after Andy Murray lost to Roger Federer, Dara quickly let the panelists know that Andy Murray was in the audience. The audience stood up and clapped, as did Dara and the panelists, and the jokes were notably less stinging than usual. At the end of the episode, Dara declared Andy Murray as the winner.
    • When Andy Murray went to a second taping, though, he was confronted with "Unlikely Things for Andy Murray to Think."
    • For his third appearance, however (which was when he recently won Wimbledon in 2016), they've been actually very kind—with him even joining in for the banter even while in the audience with his wife. In fact, the series has tended to be good-natured towards him since 2014, especially since he's a well-established fan of the show.
  • Piano Drop: They did a "FAMOUS LAST WORDS" segment where this came up.
  • Place Worse Than Death: Bracknell, Swindon, Croydon, Middlesbrough, Tyne, Ewtree...
    • Typically the entire country of Scotland gets this treatment. More often than not, it's Frankie taking shots at it.
      Frankie Boyle: On your right, you'll see a woman being burnt at the stake! And, on your left, Dundee Town Hall.
  • The Points Mean Nothing: In fact, they only seem to be mentioned at all to keep up the pretense that it's a quiz show. Don't expect to ever hear how many points a team has.
    • One memorable example was an episode in Series 2 where Dara awarded the points to a team that had not participated in the round at all.
      "Impossible to declare a winner in that round, because the two of you are on the same team, so I'm going to give the points to this team!"
    • Another one where Dara stated that he didn't base the points on who was funniest, it was all random and told the viewers to stop writing in complaining.
    • In an episode shortly after the 2010 World Cup, Dara let a stuffed-toy version of Paul the Psychic Octopus declare the winning team.
    • In a 2012 episode, Andy Murray (who'd been defeated in the Wimbledon Men's Singles final earlier that week) was declared the winner, as he was sitting in the audience. He was declared the winner again in a 2016 episode, after winning his second Wimbledon title, and even given a small trophy.
  • Police Brutality Gambit: The following Milton Jones joke currently provides the page quote.
    Milton: So, er, if you're being interrogated by the police and they're recording the interview, make sure every so often you go— [claps his hands together] "Ow!"
  • Precision F-Strike:
    Fred MacAulay: Fuckin'... BOOOOOOOO!
    • Andy Parsons' use of "shit" for a punchline Once an Episode.
    • From one of the "Unlikely Small Ads" prompts:
    Ed Byrne: Free to good home: fucking printer.
  • Psycho Party Member: Milton Jones is the comedian equivalent.
  • Pungeon Master: Stewart Francis (see Ensemble Dark Horse on the YMMV page) has adopted this as his personal style — and pulls it off flawlessly. Milton Jones has a similar schtick, as does Gary Delaney. Greg Davies is very adept at this during 'Scenes We'd Like to See', although it isn't his only style.
    Milton: I always wonder what my father would have thought of me going into comedy; he was a master kebab chef, buried with all his equipment... probably turning in his grave.
  • Punny Name: Parodied in "Lines You'd Never Hear In A James Bond Film":
    Hugh: I hope you're not going to be one of those Russian agents whose name is just a cheap sexual pun, Miss Suckmeoff!
    Katherine Ryan: Hey, it's me, Pussy. Pussy Nomore? Yeah, I'm post-op now. Yeah, things are fine.
    Andy: So, she's smuggling diamonds, Bond, and your job is to find out how. Just go to the hotel reception, and ask for Fanny Vajazzle.
  • Purple Prose: Lampshaded by Andy in "Commercials That Never Made It To Air".
    Andy: Have you been injured in an accident that wasn't your fault? Of course you have because that is the definition of an accident.
  • Put on a Bus: Russell Howard and Chris Addison both missed the autumn halves of their last series due to filming commitments elsewhere (Russell because of Russell Howard's Good News, Chris because of a sitcom role), with the stated intention to return the following year. However, they did not do so and were quietly confirmed to have permanently left the show sometime later.
  • The Quisling: One child sent in a drawing of the studio being attacked by Daleks, with Frankie on the Daleks' side!
    Frankie: I'm not the King of the Daleks... I'm their creator.
  • Racial Face Blindness: Nish Kumar and Romesh Ranganathan supposedly being the same person. Alternatively, Nish being a poor man's Romesh.
  • Radio Voice: Parodied for "Worst Things To Hear Over A Tannoy Announcement"
    Andy: [pinching nose] If anyone has found a Vicks inhaler...
  • Real Dreams are Weirder: Invoked by Milton, when the subject is "Unlikely Things to Hear on a History Documentary":
    Martin Luther King had a dream... about being naked and riding a camel made of ice cream, but we don't hear much about that dream, do we?
  • Really 700 Years Old: Most of their jokes about former Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell, and later Bruce Forsyth. For example, this gem from "Unlikely Things to Hear in a Science Documentary":
    Rob Beckett: Today, we're going to take you back to the Jurassic Period, when only dinosaurs and Bruce Forsyth roamed the Earth.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Frankie Boyle, frequently.
    Frankie: You can get Princess Diana Sat-Navs now, but all it says is "Put your foot down, I think we can lose them".
    [everyone groans, amused and/or appalled]
    Frankie [grudgingly]: That joke can go either way, if I'm honest.
    • And, on another occasion:
    • As noted on the page, for Frankie it's not "Refuge" so much as "Home".
      Dara: There's a line in the sand, right? — and you can't even see the line in the sand! You're actually out of the sand into... tropical tundra regions or something.
    • It's so prevalent that, when Russell Kane guested in a post-Boyle episode and made a... fairly audacious joke, Dara's only reaction was "...that's the chair Frankie sat in, isn't it?"
  • Replacement Scrappy: In-Universe, episode 4 of series 16 where Milton Jones, who on every previous appearance sat on Hugh's left, appeared on the other team instead and levelled an accusation at the seat's current occupant, Nish Kumar.
    Milton: Also, Nish, you're sitting in my seat, so you'd better have some weird stuff. (Beat) 'Cause I'm stuck here with the travel presenters.note 
  • Retool: As with many other series, the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic forced changes to the studio, with glass screens placed between individual presenters and most of the audience communicating virtually.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Glenn Moore can do this like a boss.
    "Coming up now on BBC2, you can use the red button to choose your daytime show; it's either a travel documentary about alcoholic narcoleptic rabbis on holiday, or a current affairs and arts programme. It's 'You Snooze You Lose Booze Cruise for Jews' or 'News and Reviews'. You choose."
    "Wait, so you're trying to tell me the mounted policemen at the home end of Liverpool stadium fired a bullet that just about grazed Liverpool's manager - you're trying to tell me the top cop on clip-clops clipped Klopp?"
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Tom Allen combined this with Entertainingly Wrong when the panellists were discussing the scene from Love Actually where Hugh Grant as the Prime Minister is knocking on doors looking for Martine McCutcheon's character, wrongly assuming that as soon as he finds her he flashes cue cards at her. While such a cue-card-flashing scene does take place in Love Actually, the actual actors in that scene were Keira Knightley and a pre-Walking-Dead Andrew Lincoln, which was pointed out to Tom.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: By its very nature.
  • The Roast: The show basically turns into this whenever Andy Murray shows up. When he won Wimbledon for the second time, one of the rounds was them making jokes at his expense.
  • Robo Speak: Parodied by Hugh, "Things You Wouldn't Hear Your Sat-Nav Say":
    In Three Hundred Miles you will realise this gimmicky voice was a bad idea.
  • Roses Are Red: Whenever "Unlikely Greeting Cards" appears for "Scenes We'd Like To See", there is inevitably a cavalcade of these:
    Hugh: Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    I'm locked up in Broadmoor
    Just thinking of you.
    • "Unlikely Things To Read In a Valentine's Day Card"
      Andy: Roses are red
      Violets are blue
      I've got something nasty
      And now so do you.
      Holly Walsh: Roses are red
      Poppies are red
      The grass is all red
      Jack Whitehall:To my darling wife –
      Roses are red,
      Violets are blue,
      Valentines Day is consumerist rubbish,
      Don’t you have some ironing to do?
    • "Unlikely Letters to TV Channels''
      Chris: Dear Hallmark:
      Roses are red,
      Violets are blue.
      Your cards are shit,
      And your channel is, too.
    • And from Season 14:
      Hugh: Roses are red,
      Violets are blue,
      Sorry you're dead,
      What can you do?
      Miles Jupp: Roses are red,
      Violets are red,
      The greenhouse is red,
      I think I'm bleeding to death.
      Andy: Roses are red,
      Violets are blue,
      When you go down on me,
      Please don't chew.
  • Rule of Three:
    • "Bad Things to Say at the Opening of the New Wembley Stadium"
      Frankie: And who knows, maybe here one day and with the right linesman, England can cheat their way to another World Cup victory.
      Andy: And maybe one day, with the right bunch of hooligans from Scotland, these goalposts can get thrashed all over again.
      Frankie: [It cost] 100 million pounds to demolish Wembley; if you'd had your last game against Scotland, we'd have done it for nothing.
    • During a round of "Unlikely Exam Questions", James Acaster tries three times to get out the same joke but corpses every time.
      James: Which of these is a quote by Winston Churchill? a) "We will fight them on the beaches", b) "God damn, I love these peaches", c)... [cracks up laughing and gets buzzed off]
    • Ed Byrne has famously regaled the audience with his idea of three shows from the "Let's X The Shit Out Of Y" network in one "Scenes We'd Like to See". In another one, he plays the host of three episodes of the new "Cooking After You've Come Home Pissed".
  • Running Gag:
    • Dara is well known for breaking into an impression and speaking from the topical person or character's point of view (accuracy of impression optional).
    • Hugh Dennis — "Are you paying too much for your car insurance?", "... sponsored by PowerGen", "What is your PIN number?", "Have you been injured at work?", Sir Jimmy Savile saying Showaddywaddy... (which was forced into retirement after Savile's death and the revelation that he was a pedophile). Most of these were retired after 2008, although the "PIN number" one survived until 2011, and "car insurance" made a one-off return in the same year. From more modern seasons "...Fuck off."
    • Others have lampshaded some of Dennis' gags, such as when Frankie said in a "Scenes We'd Like To See" segment titled "What You Didn't Hear At Live Earth" stating "Live Earth, sponsored by PowerGen." On one occasion, when Frankie made a "Showaddywaddy" joke, Hugh pretended to be offended.
      • A particularly-specific one originated from Newsreel when Hugh's "portrayal" of Prince Charles as an addled senile takes an interesting direction when Charles starts sampling some cheese. Future "portrayals" of Charles would involve random mentions of cheese for no reason. This goes on so much that in the opening for Series 12 and 13, one of the mock newspapers included the headline "CHARLES INVENTS CHEESE POWERED PHONE."
      • In the series that began in June 2011, Hugh weekly riffs on the same joke that the name of Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, sounds like a German person saying "step-ladder". Brought back briefly four years later when Blatter was in the news again after resigning as FIFA president.
      • "Dara Ó Briain: we work, so he doesn't have to."
      The backstory on this gag was a response to Andy Parsons and Chris Addison in a "Commercials That Never Made It To Air" Scenes We'd Like To See riff that started when Addison suggested "Do you have dry, lifeless hair? Don't Worry. Andy Parsons will buy it off you." Parsons' response: "How much did you say you earned for those Direct Line car insurance adverts? Well, people deserve to hear about this: HONK! HONK! HONK! HONK!" In turn, this comes from the American "Scrubbing Bubbles" Bathroom Cleaner slogan.
    • Frankie Boyle — Kerry Katona's fertility and apparent penchant for cheap fatty food, Scottish savagery or primitivism, Fern Britton's weight problems and Adrian Chiles' physical appearance. This last one was Running Gagged when Frankie was unable to make the recording of the last episode of Series 7, with Russell suggesting that Chiles "had finally got him".
    • The Agony Aunt themed Scenes We'd Like to See segments tend to have panelists talking as if their letters were mailed to an agony aunt named Deirdre (presumably the Agony Aunt from The Sun newspaper).
    • Russell Howard — "Tatty-Bo-Jangles" as a euphemism for breasts.
      • By proxy, there's the other players' tendency to take the mike out of the stand for Wheel O' News after Russell does.
    • Chris Addison — Pretending he doesn't recognise the people in the picture during "Headline News" and just naming two people with the initials of the headline. He's also done a few effeminate male versions of film/TV characters, like Dirty Harry and someone in charge of dismantling a bomb.
    • Everybody, but mostly Hugh and Frankie — chlamydia and HIV. (This was retired after 2008.)
    • Andy Parsons picks on Britain's most (in)famous paedophile, Gary Glitter, every chance he gets in "Scenes We'd Like to See".
      • "Bad Things For a Teacher to Say":
        Hello, I'm Mister Glitter.
      • "Unlikely Lines From TV Shows" Outtake:
        Hello, and welcome to Baby Ballroom with me, Gary Glitter.
      • "Unlikely Things To Hear on a TV Talent Show":
        I know you said you were a Gary Glitter tribute act, but we weren't expecting you to do that!
      • He proves he'll pick on Glitter at any time outside of "Scenes We'd Like to See" too while talking about how people loved Michael Jackson's music so much they were willing to forget he himself was accused of being a paedophile... there's a lesson there, isn't there, for Gary Glitter. Write better songs!
      • Even Hugh Dennis did so in "Unlikely Lines from a Newsreader":
      Sir Gary Glitter received his honor at [Buckingham] Palace this morning.
    • Many episodes have running gags that everyone gets in on that last the length of the episode but don't carry over (for example, "nuts on the road" and "the racist door"). Some do carry over for a bit, like Andy Parsons's "Dyslexic Weekly", which involves interpreting the abbreviation in Headline News as a typo.
      • The most (in)famous was "anal lube", which everyone kept bringing back knowing full well it would never make the broadcast.
    • And they've even managed to start taking the piss out of them.
      (Scenes We'd Like To See: "Things You Wouldn't Hear A Radio Announcer Say")
      Frankie: "In that episode of The Hugh Dennis Story. Hugh Dennis was played by Bruce Willis, Steve Punt was played by Hugh Dennis, and the band was Showaddywaddy."
      Hugh: (in mock anger) You...
    • Long-running news stories like the Chilean miners, the Gulf of Mexico oil leak, Josef Fritzl and his family, Abu Hamza's hook-hand, and even the John Darwin canoe scam tend to become these.
    • Eamonn Holmes's weight became the subject of a running gag recently after he threatened the BBC with legal action because The Impressions Show had made fun of his weight.
    • "... through the medium of dance!"
    • Micky Flanagan's accents.
    • Somebody gets a big laugh on 'Scenes we like to see' and keeps on laughing. Andy goes up and just stands there before walking off.
      • Though once, Frankie's famous "What the Queen Didn't Say in Her Christmas Message" joke claiming that her vajayjay was now haunted because she was old and was in bad health, Hugh was just standing there before walking off.
    • Australian comedian Adam Hills loves taking potshots at England's sports teams.
      (Scenes We'd Like To See: "Things A Sports Commentator Would Never Say")
      Adam: "And England have won The Ashes."note 
      Crowd: "BOOOOOOOOOOO!"
      • This one was thrown back in his face when Adam mentioned countries inventing things but no longer being good at them, citing England's invention of rugby and cricket as an example. The crowd started booing but Chris immediately snapped back by asking him who had won the last two (the 2013 series hadn't been played yet) Ashes.
    • The show being re-run on Dave.
      ("Unlikely Things To Hear At A Party Conference")
      Andy: My name's Dave, like the TV channel. And I repeat the same old shit over and over again.
      (Scenes We'd Like To See: "Bad Things To Say In A Job Interview")
      Andy: What do I see myself doing in five years' time? Exactly the same, only on Dave! (Wild applause from the audience)
      ("Things You Won't Hear In A Science Documentary")
      Hugh: The light from this new, distant planet takes so long to get here, we're seeing things that happened years ago, and that is why scientists have named it "Dave."
      ("If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question?" Answer: 60,000)
      Andy: How many times will this clip be repeated on Dave?
      ("Unlikely Things To Hear At A Party Conference")
      {"Unlikely Letters to TV Channels")
      Holly Walsh: Dear Dave, you repeat Mock the Week so many times, I'm sure I've seen Holly Walsh make this joke before.
      Ed Byrne: Dear History Channel, I really liked your documentary about what panel shows were like 15 years ag- oh, no, wait, I'm watching Dave.
      Chris Addison: Dear Dave, have you seen Phil? Yours, Bob.
      (two jokes later)
      Chris Addison: Dear Dave ja vu, have you seen Phil ja vu? Yours, Bob ja vu. note 
      • These jokes are even funnier if you actually are watching the show on Dave.
    • Dara's apparent resemblance to an unfortunately phallic sausage costume worn by a town mayor. A few episodes later, this was followed up by Dara's apparent resemblance to the Megabus man, which led to Chris Addison pointing out that Dara looks like a "penis sausage in a yellow hat". The "Megabus man" is now almost as frequently thrown as Dara's look-a-like as much as Gru in recent seasons.
      • His resemblance to things alone is something of a running gag, though it started with the aforementioned incident, but taken up to eleven when presented with news about the missing link.
        Ed Byrne: I would find it very hard to believe that the production staff had not done a photograph of that and made it look like you.
    • The fictional drama "Monsoon Poultry Hospital", even mocking up the DVD case with Dara as one of the nurses.
    • If Stewart Francis is on an episode, chances are he'll rag on Dara repeatedly.
    • Ireland's low medal count being mocked every four years come Olympics time. Andy did it in 2008 and Stewart Francis (going hand-in-hand with his usual digs at Dara) did it in 2012. The joke (Ireland winning gold in "Things you didn't hear at the Olympics") was slightly more relevant in 2008 since Ireland did win a gold at the 2012 Olympics.
      Dara: One thing that I got tired of was the Canadian National Anthem.
    • Richard Hammond's accident.
    • In Series 13 Episode 5, Gary Delaney mistakenly calls the Princess of Monaco "Princess Monaco of Kent" (confusing her with Princess Michael of Kent), which everyone else runs with for the rest of the show.
    • Private Browsing, Dara's favourite member of the Army Corps.
    • If a joke sinks spectacularly, Hugh (or sometimes Dara or another panelist) will excuse it as "satire".
    • Similarly, if a discussion has descended into something completely off-topic or just verbally abusing the person they're talking about, Hugh or Dara will point out that it's not satire at all.
    • An older running joke involves bananas each panellist is given to eat during the recording.
    • In Series 14 Episode 9, during "Unlikely Lines to Hear in a Kids' Film", Hugh Dennis made a running gag out of saying, "Bad news, [character]! [Lion character from the same work] has just been shot by an American dentist!" By the third time he did it, all he had to say was "Edmund! Lucy! Bad news!" and the audience already burst out laughing.
      • The same episode also made a running gag out of David Cameron's alleged illicit relations with a dead pig, with the contestants bringing it up at literally every opportunity (including the aforementioned "Scenes We'd Like To See" round, which started with two such jokes in a row).
        Dara: Just when you thought we'd dropped the subject... just when you thought we'd moved on, it sucks you back in!
    • The latter half of Series 15 featured endless jokes about The Great British Bake Off moving to Channel 4 and losing most of its presenters in the process, as well as Dara and Ed Byrne being touted as potential new presenters.
    • If Germany is mentioned, there's a chance that Josh Widdicombe will argue that Germany has committed an unforgivable, historical crime - namely Frank Lampard's disallowed goal during England v. Germany in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
    • If Rob Beckett is on the panel and the answer in "If This is the Answer, What is the Question?" is a length of time, someone will inevitably suggest that it is how long it takes Rob to brush his teeth.
    • In recent series, when faced with the Picture Quiz, Hugh Dennis will increasingly often answer the question "What's happening here" with "That... is (famous person in the photo)" without any context as to what is happening in the picture or why it's related to the week's news.
    • The apparent Racial Face Blindness surrounding Nish and Romesh.
    • Ed Byrne's idea of an unlikely cooking show: "Cooking When Pissed", which proved astoundingly popular.
      • Ed apparently goes three-for-three the next season, with his idea of a nature documentary from the producers of "Let's X Out Of Y" and "Cooking When Pissed".
      "The Serengeti... home to absolutely SHITLOADS of animals!"
    • Episode 2 of Series 19 had a 'Someone's bleached the minions' gag in its second half. Hugh Dennis used the gag once more in the next episode.
    • Another one that reached across episodes was at the end of that season when Maisie Adams mentioned her upbringing in a particularly rural region that the locals only knew as "the dip" - which all the other guys started ragging on her about. It reached new heights when Angela Barnes had a genuine accident getting back on her step in "Scenes We'd Like to See", and immediately mentioned there being a dip in the floor.
    • In recent years, Dara being secretly in love with astrophysicist Brian Cox.
  • Russian Reversal: Hugh pulled a surprisingly clever one-off in "Unlikely Things to Hear in the Police Station":
    Hugh: ''Yes, yes, I know how identity parade works. That's her. That's her. That's the woman I robbed.

  • Saw a Woman in Half: "Unlikely Things to Hear on a TV Talent Show"
    Hugh: When you - when you said you were gonna saw a woman in half... I thought you were a magician.
  • Scandalgate: Hugh Dennis made a joke about this, calling a scandal about tapping the phones of celebrities "stargate" and one about a politician's husband buying pornography "masturgate."
  • Scully Box:
    • invoked One Clip Show revealed that Josh Widdicombe, that little guy who keeps getting mistaken for a Hobbit, sits on an additional cushion.
    • A later clip show for season 16 revealed that it went much further than that...
    Nish Kumar: I can't believe I'm on a butt-booster seat again... (brings it out)
    Tom Allen: Oh, I thought that was just me. (brings it out)
    Nish: (at Dara) Have you - have you just given one to the women and the minorities?!
    Rhys James: Women, minorities and children. (brings out another one)
  • Second Verse Curse: Invoked: invoked
    Hugh: And now's our chance to join in lustily with the second verse of the national anthem! (singing) On... to be serve... to... ma-ma-ma... the Queen...
  • Self-Abuse: Parodied by Hugh, when the subject is "Unlikely Things to Hear in a TV Charity Show":
    The tragedy is, this blindness is caused by ignorance. With your help, we can stop these people masturbating.
  • Self-Demonstrating Article:
    "It's been speculated that drug abuse is rife in the farming community, but it's hard to find any evidence; it's like looking for a..."
  • Self-Deprecation: Frankie Boyle, and only Frankie Boyle, continuously makes derogatory jokes about Scotland.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Imagine an American's reaction to Russell asking a crew member if he had a "fag" in school.note 
  • Serious Business:
    • Dara mentions that during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, he casually gave the score for the Ireland match on Twitter, which was also happening that night. Cue him getting a flood of angry replies:
      Dara: "Nobody cares! #Jubilee!"
    • Dara gets the bad end of this again, after deriding the technical challenge of The Great British Bake Off:
    Dara: A technical challenge is like, a 17th century strudel...
    Ed Byrne: Lemon meringue pie is not an easy technical bake. Paul Hollywood even said "I bet I'm going to cut into that, and all the lemon meringue's going to pour out..." did it? DID IT, BUGGER IT?!
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Used by Hugh Dennis before he name-drops and parodies another trope:
    Hugh: Di-tetra-methyl-chloro-benzoate. For the anameal effluence of the trichordic aorta. Does Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Shipper on Deck: Played for Laughs. The panel ships Dara/Brian Cox (much to Ed Byrne's anger).
  • Shout-Out:
    Dara: (wearing a 'wearable flag' football merchandise) I think you will find the Death Star quite operational when they get here...
  • Show Stopper: As mentioned under Running Gag, every so often someone will come up with something so hilarious during "Scenes We'd Like To See" that the next person to come up to the mic decides they simply can't top it and just walks off without saying anything. And then there was this from Milton Jones, during a round of "Things You Wouldn't Hear On A Cooking Show":
    Milton Jones: Anyone can make this. [suddenly glares at the camera] You can't, Beatrice. [beat], hang on, sorry. You can't beat rice.
    [Milton walks off looking annoyed at his "mistake", leaving the audience (and Ed Byrne) in hysterics]
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: James Acaster and Sara Pascoe tend to dig at each other so often that you'd swear they were the ones in a relationship before they brought John Robins back on.
    • Miles Jupp and Chris Addison for Dara, particularly Miles, who once managed to get in a zinger at Dara in pretty much every section of the episode.
    • Other notable nemeses are Rhys James/Ed Gamble and Romesh Ranganathan/Josh Widdicombe, although as time went by Romesh and Josh turned into something more like Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • Slash Fic: Referenced — there's apparently slash of Hugh and Frankie — and (of course) mocked. Frankie was quite offended that his pubes were described as ginger, and when Hugh raised his arms in victory after being informed of his starring role said: "I don't know why you're doing that, Hugh, because you're the receiver."
  • Slipping a Mickey: Discussed and subverted in one round of "Spinning The News". James Acaster claimed that he drank punch alone in his room as there was no danger of it getting spiked ("unless it's Fun-Time Thursday"). He then described an occasion where his friend had gone to a pub bathroom, leaving his pint unsupervised, and James had proceeded to take the pint and... walk around the room using it to propose toasts to things that his friend disagrees with.
    James: "Ugh, it tastes funny, what've you done with it?" "A-ha! You just drank to the service charge being included in the bill!"
    • When Romesh used this humor in a "Scenes We'd Like to See", the audience reacted poorly, but he recovered by exasperatedly pointing out that it was a fictional character expressing the view, not him.
  • Small Reference Pools: Often subverted. Usually, Russell Howard will bring up a speculative fiction fandom, only for everyone else to get in an opinion on it, showing they are at least slightly versed. (There are sometimes even groups of fans in the audience.) An excellent example was when he discussed being in line for the last Harry Potter novel; they asked if he dressed up as one of the characters. When he said he hadn't, they continued that he'd missed a great opportunity to show up as someone else: "I'm sorry! I am Darth Vader! I wear this to all these kinds of things!" Russell finished by noting he should have dressed as a Sith Lord, waited in line all night, and when he got to the counter said "The Da Vinci Code, please."
  • The Smurfette Principle: In comparison to other Panel Games, the show is probably the biggest offender, since all four recurring panelists (out of six) are male and the host is as well and has never featured more than one female comedian on the same panel; out of 51 guests to appear on the show, 16 have been women. Although starting with the thirteenth series, a woman has been on every show per the new BBC policies.
    • It also gets joked about in an "If This Is the Answer" round:
      [the answer is 7]
      Stewart Francis: Is it how many penises are under this desk right now?
      Chris: I — I'd hate to disappoint you...
    • It isn't until the 22 June 2017 episode (S16E03) when the panel featured two women (Angela Barnes and Kerry Godliman) on the panel, and it won't be until the 17 June 2021 episode (S20E06) when exactly half the panel is comprised of women (Angela Barnes, Evelyn Mok, and Maisie Adam).
      [during the "Scenes We'd Like to See" round under the topic "Things a Continuity Announcer Would Never Say"]
      Ed Byrne: Do not adjust your set! Yes, there really are three women on an episode of Mock the Week.
  • Sophisticated as Hell
    [Headline News round: picture of Tony and Cherie Blair with the initials 'C.T.A.L.']
    Russell: Is it "Cherie Tries Anal Lube"?
    [the panelists riff on 'anal lube' for about five minutes]
    Hugh [giving the correct answer]: Is it "Cherie: That's A Lie"?
    Dara [perfectly straight face]: The answer I was looking for was "Cherie: That's Anal Lube."
    • Dara studied mathematics and theoretical physics at university and is often the one to correct maths errors and demonstrate his knowledge during discussions about the CERN super-collider.
    • Hugh Dennis, with his posh accent, often gets these moments: (From Scenes We'd Like To See: Unlikely Personal Ads)
      Hugh: Sophisticated, erudite man with fin-de-siècle tastes... seeks woman with massive norks.
    • James Acaster seems to be following Hugh's lead here.
      (Picture of the Week brings up a pic of Mrs. and Mr. Theresa Maynote )
      James: I don't want to state the obvious but, it's Postman Pat and Mrs. Goggins getting ready to fuck shit up.
    • In series 17, Hugh reads Danny Dyer's angry, profanity-laced rant about Brexit in a lofty, serious tone while the hymn "Jerusalem" plays in the background.
  • Spell My Name with an S: One of the standup bits has Sara Pascoe mentioning that half her messages have been unwittingly sent to a 'Sarah Pascoe', who's been acting as her 'complaints department'.
  • Spit Take:
    • Dara mocks one when Frankie claims he lost weight on the Irish version of "I'm a Celebrity" set during the potato famine.
    • Dara had to struggle to avoid this in the uncensored outtakes — thanks to a very well-timed joke from Frankie Boyle.
      Dara: "Elsewhere, what good news has been announced for pregnant women?"
      Frankie: "Well, they're gonna get 120 pounds to buy fruit and vegetables when they're pregnant — although obviously, they'll all spend it on a prostitute for their husbands so they don't have to take it up the arse from now on."
      Dara, having taken a swig of water, fights to keep it in his mouth. Eventually, he manages to down it.
      Dara: "Not while I'm having a fucking drink. Do you mind?"
  • Spooky Photographs: Easily one of Milton's darker moments, when "Picture of the Week" shows Jeremy Corbyn alongside his Labour party members.
    Milton: It was actually two sisters and their brother, but when the photo was developed, the image of their long-dead grandfather appeared beside them...
  • Stage Names: Mocked by Ed Byrne. From his comments to Dara, it seems the two rib each other with this, Ed saying that Dara's surname (pronounced "O'Bree-en") is actually the commonplace "O'Brien":
    Ed: Whatever, "Dara O'Brien".
    Ed: Oh really? Are there any Irish people in? (*chorus of assent) How many "O'Bree-ens" do you know? note 
  • Stalker with a Crush: From one "If This Is the Answer What is the Question":
    (the answer is "12 Miles")
    Tiff Stephenson: Is it "according to the restraining order, how close am I allowed near Ryan Gosling"?
  • Statuesque Stunner: Ellie Taylor stands at 5 foot 11 and still wears heels.
  • Stealth Pun: Andy Parsons gives a great one for "Unlikely Things to Hear on a TV Talent Show":
    Andy: Hello! I'm Billy Cock, and this is my partner, Brian Balls! And together we are... Billy and Brian!
    • Hugh gives another one for "Things You Wouldn't Hear at a School Assembly":
      Hugh: I'm delighted to say that over the summer holidays, Mr. Wang married Miss Kerr. (laughter) His nickname will remain the same.
      • On that very subject, Hugh gave this in another round of "Unlikely Lines To Hear on a TV Talent Show":
        Hugh: Tonight, I am going to climb this Sepp Blatter."
    • Dara gets one in during the episode where Hugh went on a massive rant about oblique French jams and how the UK can easily manufacture its own jam, which turned into a Running Gag at Hugh's expense, well before a story about the dismantling of a NASA satellite, another nail in the coffin of the world's most important space program:
    Sara: See, this is a story that's actually of personal concern to Dara...
    Dara It's my jam.
  • The Stoic: Hugh Dennis is one of the few comedians who can suppress a reaction to his colleague's jokes, as part of his deadpan persona. Even Frankie's worst jokes only make him hold his face away from the audience and look thoughtful. When a stage light suddenly exploded (in series 14 episode 6) he barely reacted to it.
  • Straight Gay: Larry Dean, with a strong Scottish brogue worthy of Frankie Boyle, was apparently surprised when he had to bring it up himself before anyone realized it.
    "The other day I had a wank in Dubai... (audience laughs) So I went up to my hotel room and opened up my laptop to watch some gay porn. (Beat) Because I'm gay." (audience finally reacts)
  • Strictly Formula: More so than Whose Line, with "Spinning The News" and "Scenes We'd Like To See" marking the middle- and end-points of the show. Subverted by "Headline News" and "If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question?", which take turns starting the show.
  • Suddenly Shouting:
    • Despite being touted as "the classy one", Hugh Dennis sometimes slips into this:
      Hugh: If Ross Kemp is giving him (Dave Milliband) advice on how to get on again after their relationship has collapsed, (surly tones) "you're in big trouble aren't you? Well, I'll tell you 'ow to do it, David, what you do is, you sleep with his missus, (audience starts laughing) you plan an armed robbery, don't forget to shoot her, remember 'Blood is thicker than water, YOU SLAG!!' "
      (Beat as audience laughs)
      Dara: Why were you never in EastEnders?
    • Hugh again when "Scenes We'd Like to See" does cooking shows.
      "This is a hot pot - THIS IS A FUCKING HOT POT!!"
    • Hugh when the subject is "Things You Wouldn't Hear on a News Programme":
      "This is the first time I have reported from the Pamplona Bull Ru— FUCKING HELL!" (runs away)
    • James Acaster on unlikely things for the continuity announcer to say:
      "If you or anyone you know are affected by the issues depicted in this programme - KEEP IT TO YOURSELF! Snitches get stitches! Brrapp brrapp brrapp!"
    • Olga Koch on "Things You Wouldn't Hear in a History Documentary”:
      "We talk a lot about Winston Churchill's achievements, but we don't talk nearly enough about - DAT ASS!!!"
    • Ed Byrne on “Unlikely Things to Hear At a Wedding or Funeral”
      “And I’d like to congratulate the bride’s mother on how well she looks tonight, although not as well as she’d look ON MY DICK!”
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Holly Walsh - who is visibly pregnant - gives this line in "Unlikely Agony Aunt Letters".
    Holly: Dear Deidre, why does semen make you fat?
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial
    • "Unlikely Small Ads"
      Mark Watson: Room to let. No one has died in it... no one.
    • "Bad Things For a By-election Candidate To Say"
      Frankie Boyle: I've been knocking on doors in this constituency for weeks and it's completely unconnected to the recent stranglings.
    • Spinning the News: Sometimes Tom Allen follows up things he says with the words "not a euphemism!"
  • Take That!: Each episode consists of the opening credits, about 27 minutes of this, and three minutes of jokes that aren't attacks on anyone or anything sprinkled throughout, then the ending credits. And considering the opening credits are mock newspaper or internet articles making fun of a large number of politicians/celebrities anyway, not even they are exempt.
    • In one season 12 episode, Hugh (the last remaining original regular) took the show to task for repeating some of the "Scenes We'd Like To See" topics.
    • Also plenty of jabs at TV station "Dave" for constantly repeating the show.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: When Scenes We'd Like To See does newscasters:
    Hugh: Tonight, the winner of the Euro Millions' largest-ever rollover jackpot has been announced. That's right - read your own fucking headlines!
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Played for laughs in the series 15 Christmas special, when Dara "kills" the rest of the panel by handing them "poisoned" coal sweets to try.
    Hugh: Personally I don't believe you would ever do it- (slumps over "dead", everyone else follows suit)
  • Tastes Like Feet: Also from the coal sweets incident above:
    Zoe Lyons: It tastes like Nana's ashes!
  • Tear Off Your Face: During a "Things You Wouldn't Hear From a Weather Forecaster" round:
    Frank Skinner: And now a warning to hay fever sufferers: don't come sneezing near me or I'll rip your face off!
  • Tempting Fate:
    • One segment had to be relegated to an outtakes special. The producers should have known better than to ask a bunch of comedians not to make jokes about David Blunkett's blindness.
    • One of the rounds in Scenes We'd Like to See was "Unlikely Things for Andy Murray to Think"... while Andy Murray was in the studio audience.
    • Series 15 episode 11 has John Robins and Sara Pascoe — who were dating in real life — appear on the panel together. Cue lots of jokes about their relationship from John and Sara themselves, as well as the rest of the panel. For instance, John was given the topic of home life during Spinning The News, which lead to James Acaster opening his routine with "speaking of the cinema, Sara Pascoe's an idiot".
  • That Came Out Wrong: Nathan Caton in one "Spinning the News":
    Nathan: My gran's been trying to get involved in my love life... Well, not TOO involved...
    • A beautiful one from Russell in an earlier season:
      Russell: "I remember school being pretty fun, I think my favorite moment in my life, EVER, we had a girl named Lydia, she was trying to make her calculator work and she was repeatedly knocking it against the desk, and after about an hour my teacher went 'LYDIA!! HOW WOULD YOU LIKE IT IF I BANGED YOU AGAINST THE DESK?!'"
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!:
    • Regarding the economic downturn in Greece, the news reportedly stated that tourists should bring additional money, whereupon one panelist points out that maybe your passport would be a more important item.
      Dara: Did you bring your identification? No, but I do have... MONEY! Makin' it rain, bitches, makin' it rain!
    • Ed Byrne gets to indulge himself in 15x10 after Dara points out that winning leadership of a party like the Labour party is the equivalent of winning the technical challenge in The Great British Bake Off, by bringing up that he actually won that title.
      "Lemon meringue pie, bitcheeees!"
  • This Loser Is You: Touched on every now and then.
    (the subject is Unlikely Things to Hear on Crime Watch)
    Ed Gamble: We are looking for a man who was in the Wetherspoon's last night at 3 am. There was no crime; we just want to work out what went wrong in your life.
  • Those Two Guys: Dara and Ed Byrne, who have been best friends for years.
  • Toilet Humor: When Scenes We'd Like to See does "Unlikely Things to Hear on the Radio":
    Ed Gamble: Well I had a curry last night, so I imagine it's going to be an absolute nightmare. And that's the end of the shitting forecast.
    • It also comes up when they do romance novels. Thanks, Fifty Shades of Grey.
      Ed Byrne: I want to see you shit in this bin.
      Dara: It does fulfill the criteria...
    • A surprisingly deep cut from Frankie Boyle, during an "unlikely sports commentary" prompt:
      Frankie: She's passed one! She's passed two! Paula Radcliffe is very ill indeed!
  • Token Evil Teammate: Frankie Boyle is the comedian equivalent.
  • Too Hot for TV: The DVDs are named Too Hot for TV and are largely material which The BBC considered inappropriate for TV. There are now three such DVDs, each running for about three hours.
  • Totally Radical: The Covid Briefing Rap.
    Eshaan Akbar: Wham, Bam / Thank you Van Tam, / I'm Professor Chris Whitty / And my ass won't quitty / The ladies all love me / They show me their titties / Wear a mask, please / Help the RAPs / Stay alert Britain / Now next line please!
    • Interestingly, it took him three tries before he could get it all out.
  • Two First Names:
    • Hugh Dennis, Russell Howard, Stewart Francis, Katherine Ryan...
    • Discussed in a series 16 episode. Kerry Godliman tries to say that only male politicians have two first names as a full name, citing Nick Timothy as an example. She is Instantly Proven Wrong by Dara who points out Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the UK at the time of broadcast.
  • Un Evil Laugh: Dara's got a good one.
  • Unishment: A story in Series 17 involves one of Jeremy Corbyn's closest aides Andrew Murray being banned from entering Ukraine, due to being supposedly too pro-Vladimir Putin. Hugh points out that Murray had never been to Ukraine and had no interest in going there. "It's not going to affect his life much, is it? It's like me being banned from Chessington World of Adventures. It's not really going to make a great deal of difference." Hugh then spends the rest of the episode worrying that he may have just got himself banned from Chessington World of Adventures.
  • Unsettling Gender-Reveal: "Unlikely Things to Hear from a Sports Commentator":
    Jack Whitehall: And now you join me for the men's discus final. Women's?! THAT'S NOT A WOMAN.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "A Proper Think".
    Ed: It certainly puts a new spin on your parents telling you to go to your room and have a good "think" about what you did!
    • Thanks to the news of two MPs (one male and one female) missing the UK's vote on whether to authorise a military strike on Syria because of another discussion, Andy Parsons had a perfect extract from a DVD that would never sell:
      It's the DVD you've all been waiting for! Two politicians discussing Rwanda! (winks)
  • Verbal Tic: Dara has a few, e.g. "... at this stage", "... of some description". Once you notice them you'll start hearing them all the time.
    • He also, erm, has a tendency to, eh, pause in the middle of sentences.
      • And often gives a long "ehh" after a sentence, especially a joke.
    • As well as sometimes adding, "Ah, sorry" when he thinks he's digressed from the original topic.
    • Andy Parsons has a lot of these, although there's a chance he intentionally does it as part of his act: "Didn't they/he/she/it?", beginning questions with "Is it in fact...", starting his standups with "Now!", etc.
      • Prefaces most punchlines with "and you're thinking..."
      • His habit of doing this is even lampshaded whenever Russell impersonates him.
      • Andy's voice having a tendency to go slightly higher on the second-to-last word of a sentence. Often flanderised whenever someone does an impression of him, where it becomes every other word instead.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Dara and Ed are good friends, but that doesn't stop them from making fun of each other. For instance, when Ed is upset about getting only one joke in a "Scenes We'd Like To See" setup:
    Dara: Oh, sorry, sorry, sorry!
    Ed: Oh, I got one in!
    Dara: Sorry, Ed! Ed...
    Ed: Fuck you! (audience laughs) Best man in his wedding, I was! Cunt.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Hugh's idea of Camilla Parker Bowles' voice in "Newsreel" is Nolan!Batman on five a day.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: You'll hear jokes about this any time "Scenes We'd Like to See" does "Unlikely lines from a Sports Commentator." Sometimes twice.
  • Waxing Lyrical: They can get pretty creative with this.
    Unlikely Things to Hear at a School Assembly
    Chris: Would whoever's milkshake keeps bringing all the boys to the yard please stop it!
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Unlikely Lines To Hear On A Survival Program:
    Frankie: I've just achieved my life's ambition, of climbing Everest, with no food and no equipment. NOW DO YOU LOVE ME, DADDY?! NOW DO YOU LOVE ME?!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The first game played in the first episode was a round called "Inside the Mind Of...", where the panelists had to guess what the voices in somebody's head were saying - in that episode's case, George Bush. The round was never played beyond that first episode.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?:
    • Dara attempts an English accent in one episode which generates this response from the other panellists.
    • Milton's first attempt at a Scottish accent (while imitating Andy Murray) is so bad that Dara admonishes him for it. His next attempts are... somewhat better.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole: A recurring topic on "Scenes We'd Like to See" is "Lines you wouldn't hear in a TV detective show", where this trope gets played for comedy:
    It's the TV presenter Noel Edmonds!
    Any idea why he was killed?
    ...It's the TV presenter Noel Edmonds!
  • Who's on First?: Andy Parsons talks about money, then explains who runs China:
    "China at the moment is being run by two men, the Chinese premier, a man by the name of Wen, and the Chinese president, a man by the name of Hu. I kid you not, China is currently being run by Wen and Hu. It is like an Abbott and Costello skit. Just imagine. 'Who's the Chinese premier?' 'No, Wen's the Chinese premier; Hu's the Chinese president.' 'I don't know.' 'No, Hu's the Chinese president!' 'Since when?' 'No! Wen has never been the Chinese president!' "
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things:
    • Season 15 is off to a rocktastic start when Dara passes some new plastic pound notes to everyone for specimen purposes - and barely a minute later Ed Gamble has ripped one in half.
    • Amusingly, the tail end of season 15 has another example when Dara gets to play with a Nerf Tri-Strike dart rifle, and starts shooting the other panelists - by the time they get to "Scenes We'd Like To See", the bolt handle has somehow come off in Dara's hand.note 
  • You Can See That, Right?: During the season 14 episode when Dara mentions using "Sirtaki (aka Zorba's March)" as a form of psychological warfare when negotiating a bailout:
  • You No Take Candle: Used occasionally to make digs at rural Britons.
    Frankie: Tonight we're in Norwich, let's say hello to the audience. Look, men from magic picture box go speaky-speaky!
  • Your Mom: Surprisingly common.
    • Rejected Questions from this Year's Exams
      Andy: "Your mum's a slag. Discuss."
    • Famous Last Words
    • In the Series 6 Christmas episode, Frankie impersonates "bad teenage pandas who are spoiling the park for the little baby pandas."
      Teenage Panda: "Hey, what flavour are your crisps, man?"
      Another Teenage Panda: "Your mother! They're your mother flavour!"
    • Things You Wouldn't Hear in a Science Documentary
      Chris: "The solar system is so vast that it could easily accommodate... your mum."
    • Bad Ways for Gordon Brown to Address The Nation
      Frankie: "In these troubled times between our nations, I need to reach out to [Russian president Vladmir] Putin and say 'I have shagged your mother.'"
    • In a game of "If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question?" when the answer is "5p":
      Andy: Is it simply "How much does your mum charge?"
    • In an outtake, Frankie and Andy exchanged 'Your mum' insults.
      Andy: "All I can say is: 'Your mum'."
      Frankie: "In Scotland, it's:" (flips Andy the finger) "Smell your mum."
    • In another "If This Is The Answer, What Is The Question?" game, the answer is "328 billion":
      Simon Evans: Is it — is it measured in pounds? How fat is your momma?
    • In Season 14, about a ruling that an additional 5p will be charged for shoppers who didn't bring their own bag:
      Ed Gamble: It's like an insult, isn't it, a '5p bag', I'm like "your mum's a 5p bag..."
    • In Season 16, during a round of Scenes We'd Like to See where the topic is "Things you wouldn't hear in a nature show":
      Ed Gamble: And today we will be talking about one of the largest land mammals to ever walk the earth: Your Mum.
    • Later in the same season, "Things A News Reporter Would Never Say":
      Gary Delaney: Irma has been blowing all over the city for two days now... but enough about your mum, here's the weather.
  • Your Television Hates You: Invoked when they do "Strange Things to hear from a Continuity Announcer" for Scenes We'd Like to See:
    Josh: You have just watched Game of Thrones; if you or anyone you know have been affected by the issues presented in this programme... what the fuck is wrong with your family?