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YMMV / Have I Got News for You

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  • Archive Panic: As of 2023, 65 series have been made, most of which have not been put out on DVD.
  • Awesome Music: Enjoy the beautiful brass-loaded chaos of the late "Big George" Webley's long-running theme of the show. Here's a newer recording of it, too.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Angus Deayton. There are those who think the Deayton years are untouchable and superior in quality, whereas there are some who think the guest-hosted years allowed for more variety and gave the show a much needed shot in the arm.
    • Godfrey Bloom falls into this territory to an extent owing to his politically incorrect views. He's either funny in a Crosses the Line Twice, ridiculously outdated, So Bad, It's Good kind of way, or he was horribly unfunny and should never have been on the show.
    • Janet Street-Porter fell into this initially, although with every appearance she makes she slides further into scrappy territory. On the one hand, she makes quite funny comments. On the other hand, she keeps targeting people who either cannot defend themselves (such as the poor sod who had a small penis and tried having sex with her) or are in trouble for things that she has done, such as Richard Bacon's stories getting in the tabloids.
    • Gyles Brandreth. Is he funny in the sense of being slightly bumbling and rather self-deprecating, or does he talk far too much and not give anyone else the chance to? His appearance in the Autumn 2013 series really highlights this, with evidence for both.
    • While Jeremy Clarkson was initially a popular host, if obnoxious at points, the news that the BBC are considering letting him return as host in the future, after his assaulting a producer on Top Gear, has split the base. On the one hand, some feel that he shouldn't be barred from the BBC altogether, whereas on the other hand some feel it sends the wrong message and implies he can easily get around (his version of) Top Gear supposedly ending. As it stands, Clarkson dropped out of Series 49's lineup but returned for the autumn/winter series in 2015.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Paul's fantasy of him skipping through a field with Ian during an Odd One Out in Series 19. He said that in hindsight, it opened the floodgates to more of thesenote .
    • The line of can-can dancers that cross the set after Angus assures the audience that crossing to BBC 1 won't change the show.
    • In the same vein, Angus reads out a complaint that the humour on the show is too clever, followed by an undercranked The Benny Hill Show-style moment where all the contestants chase a woman in a sexy nurse's outfit across the set.
  • Broken Base: The Spring 2020 series, which was filmed from the participants' homes over video conferencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, broke the base into those who thought it didn't work at all and they shouldn't have bothered, and those who thought it worked as well as it could in the circumstances. However, it is generally agreed to have improved as the series went on as they got to grips with the format.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • Some of the Margaret Thatcher jokes may come across this way, given her death and the fact that so many were made only a matter of days after she died. They're in poor taste, but arguably funnier because of that.
    • At one point, Alexander Armstrong discusses a party he ended up at where people such as Tony Blair were present, which caues Ian to snark "well, that cleaned it up". He follows this up asking whether certain people such as Harold Shipman (a real life Deadly Doctor and Serial Killer) or Jimmy Savile (now a known child abuser) livened it up with entertainment such as karaoke.
    • A few of the "jokes" made about Max Clifford in Series 47, if you find that stuff funny.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Ian's cat Colin made one appearance during the lockdown season, yet proved to be a major talking point, much to Paul's annoyance.
  • Fan Nickname: Episode six of series twenty-three is known as, by everybody, the "Angus Deayton Scandal Episode" (a CD release of highlights from the show referred to it as "The Angus Show"). Episode two of series twenty-four is known as, by a lot of the core fandom, "Angus' goodbye", or some variation.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Norwegian adaptation of this this show, titled Nytt På Nytt has consistently been Norway's most popular TV show for several years.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In the commentary track on the 2002 "Very Best Of" complication DVD of the first twelve years of the show, Merton and Hislop acknowledge all the jokes that couldn't be made now, particularly the ones about Princess Diana in the years before her tragic death.
    • The 1995 episode where Hislop mercilessly picks on guest Paula Yates was viewed less favourably after she went into a downward spiral following Michael Hutchence's suicide in 1997, eventually dying of a drug overdose in 2000. In interviews however, Hislop insists that Paula Yates was not a "no-hoper" and capable of defending herself, otherwise he would not have gone on the attack.
    • In S11E02, the panel cracked jokes about Princess Di observing a heart operation:
    Ian: It's a bit ghoulish, isn't it? You wonder what Diana's going to do next. Road accidents? "Let me through, I'm the Princess of Wales!"
    • Made even worse by the fact that Dermot Morgan, who died of a heart attack, was on Ian's team that week.
    • This clip from S32E04, in which Ross Noble jokes about Jimmy Savile chasing terrified athletes, while demanding "a bit of hows-your-father" (sex). Pretty funny at the time, but after the revelations about Savile's numerous sexual assualts, this turned very, very dark... yet still pretty funny.
    • A 1992 episode featuring Harry Enfield and John Diamond discussed an episode of Jim'll Fix It where a seven year-old boy took part in a strip show. That's uncomfortable enough, but the jokes about him eerily became accurate.
    Angus: Yes, it's an appaling slander on the moral rectitude of Sir James Savile, whose interest in children has always been completely above board.
    • Episode S17E07, when Jimmy Savile appeared on the show. A number of offhand jokes and comments made by him are pretty disturbing in hindsight. When asked about being a wrestler, he quips "I'm feared in every girls' school in this country". Given many of the sex abuse accusations stemmed from his visits to girls schools, this becomes far, far more sinister.
      • This was only compounded by him joking about doing "anyone he could get his hands on" while living in his caravan, when this was exactly what he has been accused of doing to underaged schoolgirls. S44E01 lampshades this, when they played this very clip and the audience cringed at the line.
      • This particular episode featuring Graham Linehan as a guest also inadvertently became this, in light of his career being derailed by his adoption of transphobic beliefs and subsequent involvement in the Kiwifarms debacle.
      • Another disturbing and meta example was a hoax transcript made in 1999 brought up in the same episode purporting to be the record of some unsettlingly angry outtakes where Paul Merton furiously accuses Savile of child abuse, raping children in his caravan, and intimidating them to stay quiet. At the time it was pretty much nothing but a distasteful joke, but now each one of these charges has been pretty much confirmed it has become far more disturbing.
    • Some of the older jokes about Max Clifford are less funny to some, since Clifford was convicted of child abuse in 2014.
    • Also in 2014, Rolf Harris was convicted of child abuse, making his appearance as a guest host considerably less funny - not least because the episode contains references to virtually everything he's known for (from a "Cartoon Club" based round to leading the audience in a rendition of "Two Little Boys") and is a reminder of how much cultural history a serial sexual predator was part of.
    • In a 2015 episode, Jon Richardson joked about Alex Salmond offering to show people his "SNPenis". In 2018, Salmond resigned from the SNP following allegations of sexual misconduct, and was charged with multiple counts of sexual assault the following year (although, in fairness, he was found not guilty). And then in 2020, the SNP’s Finance Secretary, Derek Mackay, resigned after it was revealed that he’d sent inappropriate messages to a 16-year-old boy.
    • During the 2008 U.S. presidential race, Frank Skinner speculated about what would happen if Barack Obama's grandmother died the day before the election. She died two days before the election.
    • In Jerry Springer's episode, he goes off on a tangent about buying a pig from a county fair auction, lamenting the fact that she will likely outlive him: "Bella could live 25 years. I'm not gonna live 25 years. Bella is now in my will!" Given that Springer was "only" 64 in December 2008, his absolute certainty that he wouldn't live to be 89 was quite funny at the time, but now seems at the very least eerily prophetic after his death at the age of 79.
    • Not in the same league as the above examples, but every time Paul needles Angus, it's quite clear in hindsight that he wasn't kidding, even though the audience laughs when he does it.
  • Hidden Depths: When Conservative MP Teddy Taylor appeared on the show in 1994, he did so apparently unaware it was a satirical look at the week's news and instead seemed to think it was a forum for serious political debate (simiar to Question Time). As a result he would often start delivering long speeches devoid of jokes while completely oblivious to the fact Paul Merton was miming hanging himself behind him. However during the show Taylor surprised everyone by mentioning he was a fan of Bob Marley, and as a result the following week he received an invitation to present prizes at the British Reggae Awards (he accepted).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The joke about Iain and Duncan Smith being identical twins running a political party got even more amusing when that actually happened in Poland — the Polish twins became President and Prime Minister. (And now a Harsher in Hindsight now that one of those twins was the highest-profile casualty of the 2010 Polish plane crash.)
    • The running gag about Angus shagging Merton's wife Caroline after Angus was reported to have paid a Caroline Martin (Paul Merton's legal surname) for sex.
    • A lot of jokes about sex/drugs made to or by Angus Deayton while he was host take on a different tenor watching them now. In the commentary for the "Very Best Of" DVD, Merton and Hislop have fun pointing these out, even making jokes about things like fake snow falling on Angus ("What's all that white stuff falling on Angus?" "He just chucked away about 80 quid's worth there")
    • Countless jokes over the years about the Lib Dems never being able to get into power, when they finally managed it in 2010 (as part of a coalition government).
    • Inversion — in one episode Deayton criticised the BBC leadership, then added "and tune in next week to see this programme on its new home at 4 AM on BBC3". Quite funny now, but much funnier back then as there was no BBC3. Arguably funniest of all now that BBC3 has moved from a broadcast service to an online-only one which nobody watches.
    • In the second ever episode (broadcast in 1990), the What Happened Next round has footage of Joe Biden (in reference to the Neil Kinnock plagiarism scandal that ended his run for the 1988 election), and Deayton points out that "of course, what happened next for him was that his career came to nothing, nobody voted for him and he never achieved high office". He would later serve as Vice-President to Barack Obama from 2008-2016, and then finally become president himself in 2020 as the opponent of Donald Trump.
    • In Series 16 episode 3, after Angus has read out a "fascinating fact" about Sean Connery that was found uninteresting, Paul remarks, "I don't know where we'd be without you, Angus. BBC1, perhaps?" Angus lasted less than 2 years on the show once it moved to BBC One.
    • The show reporting that a disgruntled DLA employee had doctored Tony Blair's driving licence, changing his name to "Saddam Hussein AKA Twatface". This coming years before Blair led the war that resulted in Hussein's execution.
    • When Ian was having yet another pop at Mandelson and Alastair Campbell, Paul immediately said they were next week's hosts. Campbell did indeed play guest host... in June 2012.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: In episode five of season 42, David Mitchell reveals that he knows the price of a Ready Meal for One, prompting the audience's sympathy (much to his emarassment). He's now married to Victoria Coren.
  • Ho Yay: Played once for laughs, between Ian and Paul:
    Ian: I'm glad you didn't shave, Paul.
    Paul: Why?
    Ian: (laughs)
    Paul: Do you like me like this?
    Paul: (pulls down collar of shirt, reveals shoulder) Fancy a bit?
    • And Paul, on seeing a picture of Ian:
    Paul: I'd be happy to be kissed by him. I think he's gorgeous. ...Who is it?
    • Then, of course, there was the episode in which they planned their civil partnership...
    • In S43E08, Ross Noble gleefully suggested arch enemies Ian and Alastair Campbell have this, after they had spend the first ten minutes of the episode snarling at each other:
    Ross: I get the feeling that, at any moment, you two are going to kiss.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Angus very briefly became this when Christine Hamilton brought up his controversial private life.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • If you're a guest that has done something wrong, such as "accidentally" announcing a General Election early, or claiming quite a bit on expenses, then Ian will call you out on it. No exceptions.
    • If you're the host, everyone will take the piss to varying degrees.
    • Angus and his scandal - this was the reason he had to be let go. After his scandal it became near impossible for him to skewer the guests or people in the news as anybody who felt defensive would say that he wasn't one to talk, given what he had done. There are a number of examples of this in the episodes after the scandal and before his departure.
      • Of course there's still a chance this might have eventually been averted and the scandal die down... if more allegations hadn't surfaced just a few months after the first lot.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap:
    • Alastair Campbell's appearance on this show (where he was one of the few political contestants to stand up to Ian's mocking, and played the bagpipes) is widely regarded as one of the best guests ever, and endeared him to a lot of people who otherwise despised him.
    • Sadiq Khan MP is an odd example. His appearance on the show was generally regarded as subpar and simply boring. However, he did gain some lost approval back by donating his programme fee to charity. It's probably also a curious note that after his appearance(s), his public profile has improved enough that he eventually even got elected as Mayor of London—much like Boris Johnson, but with less of the ill will.
    • William Hague, who hosted the show twice and went from being overtly hated to somewhat tolerated. It helped that from all hosts, he was perhaps the only one to out-wit Paul Merton, of all people.
  • The Scrappy: Many, owing to the long history of the show. While unfunny guests are high in number, also owing to the long run of the show, some really take the cake. Most of the following examples are guests who are simply too eager to laugh at themselves or don't understand they're on a comedy and not a serious political programmes.
    • Piers Morgan is not popular for his appearance in Season 11, Episode 6. In it, he admitted to sending photographers round to the houses of people he disliked and then demanding his privacy. Stealing jokes from previous guests did him no favours, either. The segment, in spite of this, is considered one of the funniest owing to the verbal smackdown he got from other guests.
    • Louise Mensch, née Bagshawe, did not prove popular during her two appearances. In the former she simply isn't funny. In her second appearance, she rants against the Occupy movement as being largely comprised of hypocrites owing to Insane Troll Logic note . This made her the topic of an epic rant, mostly from Paul and Danny Baker.
    • David Shayler, especially as far as Paul Merton is concerned, who felt that his appearance via a satellite feed didn't work as it made it difficult to maintain 'comic timing'.
    • The public did not react well to Rachel Johnson, as she basically tried plugging her book throughout the entire show (for the record, Roger Moore did this twice as part of the scripted joke and it went down well), didn't get the joke several times, made several Incredibly Lame Puns and defended the Daily Mail. Paul and Marcus Brigstocke didn't have time for her, and even Roger Moore seemed rather pissed off on several occasions. Then there was her getting at Ian for being a member of the Church of England and seeming to think that it meant that he was wrong on everything that related to the story on women bishops in the Church of England. The subject might have been controversial, but by the time she brought up Ian being a Anglican for the third time it started to look like a bigoted attack on Ian's beliefs.
    • Robert Kilroy-Silk. The reason he'd been in the news alone (writing an article entitled "We Owe Arabs Nothing"- which got him fired from the paper he was on) had put a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths, but then he started interrupting a lot of people and being generally rude to the panel, including Paul who was on his team. This caused Paul to lose his cool and somehow combine Precision F-Strike and Cluster F-Bomb at him, basically telling him to "shut the fuck up" note , then called him out on his hypocritical policies. They did relent just a little when he mentioned he'd campaigned to remove war widows pension from income tax, but then immediately resumed with the bashing.
    • In terms of guest host Scrappies, Liza Tarbuck was deemed to be such a poor guest host that she was the only one to be left out of a Best of the Guest Hosts compilation entirely. Her appearances as a guest aren't so bad, but her hosting...
      • It was so bad, they briefly considered abandoning the use of Guest Host altogether, bringing back Angus as permanent host instead.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Some of the guest hosts are this, especially Boris Johnson and BRIAN BLESSED. Easily flustered and/or unable to read the scripted material from the autocue convincingly, and yet never anything less than hugely entertaining to watch.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • When Chris Addison derided Julia Hartley-Brewer for criticising Gordon Brown's reluctance to leave Number 10, after having derided her profession - professional journalism - throughout the entire show, Ian came to her defence:
    Ian: Threatening to leave your party in six months time and saying "I will sort out the deal" is not constitutional, that is an attempt to cling onto power, that is Mr. Barnacle doing what he does. It's no good saying "I happen to hate journalists because they're critical of this particular thing, that's just cobblers...
    Chris: (finally getting a word in) I hate journalists, full stop!
    Julia: He was very nice to me in dressing room...
    • A double example of Strawman Has a Point in the above, in fact, as most constitutional specialists consider Brown to have acted with the utmost constitutional propriety in the aftermath of the 2010 general election.
    • Then there was this highly insightful take on the Occupy London movement.
  • Unexpected Character: William Shatner and Jerry Springer as guest hosts.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: When the scandalous details of Angus Deayton's personal came out, Paul Merton and Ian Hislop had great fun alongside the public in skewering him. However, Deayton took it all with remarkably good humour and never swiped back despite how Merton and Hislop relentlessly piled on him. This resulted in public opinion swinging a little back in his favour. It's also notable that the one time Angus did swipe back at one of the guests (Christine Hamilton, the wife of a disgraced former Tory MP, who tried to call Angus out as a hypocrite for repeatedly bringing up her husband's scandal), Paul and Ian saw this as a sign the show couldn't survive with him anymore even though the studio audience reaction had clearly been on his side, approving of his At Least I Admit It attitude.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Inverted with Swampy—when the viewers voted for their least favourite guests on The Official Pirate Video, Ian and Paul seemed surprised and upset he was on the list.
  • Vindicated by History: While the guest host format has held up well, Angus Deayton' scandal doesn't seem so bad now, and some people online do say that when the show eventually ends, Deayton should be the one to host the final episode.