9 December 2007 | benjamin_lappin
The Undisputed King Of Quiz Shows
Many thought the departure of Angus Deayton would herald the end of this hugely successful British politics come comedy quiz show, yet as this compilation shows, that view is far from the truth. Volume II continues where Volume I left off as each week the shows creators wrangle in a guest presenter to host the show whereby the teams discuss the weeks events in a highly entertaining manner. Although some hosts may choose not to returns, it's most likely down to a severe evisceration by the shows two remaining main-stayers and team captains, Ian Hislop and Paul Merton.
Following the now infamous prostitute/drug scandal which all but spelt the end of Angus Deaytons television career, barring the odd irreverent ITV award ceremony for something severely pointless and drab like 'The Annual Pigeon Racing Awards', the show stumbled on for a couple of episodes with Angus still presiding. The trouble was his now infamous events continually hampered the comedic element of the show, for when either Hislop, Merton or indeed Deayton himself tried to embarrass one of the guests they could simply respond with quips such as "what was I on at the time" or "still not as bad as...". Merton, Hislop and indeed the HIGNFY team decided it was imperative to the shows survival, Merton says as much in an interview on 'Parkinson', that Deayton needed to be sacked.
Many claim that the lack of a long term successor hampers the show, and to be frank there is an element of truth in one week having a successful guest such as Alistair McGowen, only to suffer from the ineptitude of the mad dwarf that is Ann Widdecombe. However, this claim can only be attributed, in my mind, to more recent episodes as Volume II runs through four mashed together forty minute long episodes from varying series and presenters and shows why this show has continued for so damned long. Paul Merton's electrifyingly sharp surrealist wit can only ever be matched by Ian Hislops seemingly cynical but deeply and scathingly accurate analysis of modern day politics in the world. Not only does it have some hilarious moments from the shows two captains but there are some outstandingly classic moments from varying guests from Ross Nobles 'dwarves riding on squirrels' segment straight through to Paul Merton publicly destroying the man who would make an Oompa Loompa look pale, Robert Kilroy-Silk.
The show and this compilation rifle through varying political hot spots such as discussing Iraq, lampooning the Royal Family, showing President George W Bush in all his glory, Blairs legacy, The Tories inability to find a leader, The Lib Dems inability to put two votes together, Browns hunting down the Premiership and vicious badger attacks. All in all this is hilarious compilation which would show the random by-passer what Have I Got News For You is all about, but in essence is for the avid fan whose nine o'clock evenings on a Friday feel all the more empty when the show disappears for half a year. As with volume I, the gem lies on the second disk in yet another fully automated feature length outing from part time politician eternal comedian Boris Johnson, who bumbles beautifully through yet another haphazard recording. Not only has he become an icon in British politics (icon?), but gives the show that warm quaint British tinge which reminds us all of days when a third of the world was red.
This is comedy that the BBC cannot ruin, because it isn't scripted. It isn't a tedious sketch show which receives all the plaudits yet seemingly induces none of the laughs, and nor is it a worn down sit-com. This is entertainment at its most brash, satirical, witty and intelligent, and if this is news to you then you haven't yet lived.