Paul Merton was absent for the eleventh series because he felt that the show had gotten into a bit of a rut and hoped things would get shaken up. The tactic succeeded, and the show has since been much more popular as a result. He also appeared in the first episode of that series as Ian Hislop's guest. He returned for the following series.
Ian Hislop sat through the 2 June 1994 recording of the show with appendicitis, having discharged himself from hospital. He had an appendectomy straight after the show.
When The Right Honourable Roy Hattersley pulled out at short notice (again) instead of finding a guest celebrity to fill in he was replaced by The Tub of Lard, which lay on the desk throughout the broadcast and was billed as "The Right Honourable Tub of Lard, MP".
In a 1994 episode, Deayton read out the following: "The BBC are cracking down on references to Ian and Kevin Maxwell, in case program-makers appear biased in their treatment of these two heartless, scheming bastards." Unfortunately, the Maxwell brothers were about to go on trial, and, 26 July 1996, the BBC and Hat Trick Productions were fined £20,000 in the High Court for Contempt of Court.
In April 2003, frequent guest panelist Stephen Fry announced that he was boycotting the show following the sacking of Angus Deayton, a decision described by Fry as "greasy, miserable, British and pathetic".
Only two episodes ever have had one team captain as opposed to the usual two. Both of these occurred during Paul Merton's absence - both Martin Clunes and Neil Morrissey appeared on the same team with neither as captain, as did John Bird and John Fortune.
In his autobiography, Paul Merton said that the worst guest presenters were Neil Kinnock, Charles Kennedy and Ann Widdecombe. The former two for their slow delivery and trouble with the autocue, while Widdecombe for being difficult to work with on her second appearance. He also named Jimmy Savile's appearance as a panellist was a lowpoint, due to his later being revealed as a paedophile and sex offender.
In November 2002, a memorable episode saw Anne Robinson as guest host. Robinson was frequently ridiculed by the majority of the panel for her work with the Daily Mirror, and also by Ian Hislop for her alleged use of Botox. She also deducted points from Paul Merton and guest panelist John Simpson after showing a clip from an earlier episode in which Merton mocked her. The show ended in the style of Robinson's well-known quiz show, The Weakest Link, in which the two finalists discuss their time on the show during the credits.
An episode due to be broadcast on Friday 10 May 2019 was pulled by the BBC at the last minute, as it would have featured Heidi Allen MP, head of the Change UK party. The BBC's publicly stated reason was that Allen's presence would have breached impartiality guidelines, since Change UK were vocally in favour of Britain remaining in the EU and Britain was shortly to take part in elections for the European Parliament. The HIGNFY team sent out a tweet protesting this; several members of the public (and Allen herself) pointed out that pro-Brexit Nigel Farage, due to stand as an MEP, had appeared on Question Time (1979) only the previous evening.