Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Have I Got News

Friday, 6 May 2011

Just a tip-off that I’m on Have I Got News For You tonight (9pm BBC One). I’m on Ian’s team again, Ross Noble is on Paul’s team and the host is Alexander Armstrong. We recorded it last night and it seemed to go well. I never really know until I see the finished version on TV (obviously they always record panel shows for longer than they need and edit it down) but it was a big news week and the regulars were on good form - and Ross Noble was hilarious, lots of great riffs from him.

Also, the audience were lovely and warm. Not literally, the studio was freezing. But they were very nice to me. It’s interesting, the first time I did that show I said a few things that I thought were funny but people didn’t really laugh. I thought perhaps I’m just not cut out for this sort of thing. But I have a new theory: that when you’re a new face on panel shows (especially if you’re not a comedian, and MOST especially if you’re female) the audience just feels a bit nervous for you. That must be particularly true on a big cultural-staple show like HIGNFY. They love and trust the regulars, and have favourite occasional panellists, but - quite understandably - worry for new people that they aren’t going to fit in with the family, or just won’t say anything funny or won’t know anything.

Can’t blame them for thinking that, Lord knows it’s what I’m thinking as the cab arrives and I travel nervously towards what feels like certain doom. But last night the audience felt more relaxed when I came on, maybe because they know I’ve done the show before and it wasn’t a total disaster so they weren’t so nervous on my behalf? I was still nervous as hell myself, obviously. As the minutes ticked down before the start, I paced and smoked outside the studio, obsessively playing with my teacup necklace for comfort, like a child’s blanket, terrified I’d fall over on the way in, forget the royal wedding happened, or be shown a photo of Bin Laden and mistake him for the health secretary.

But it all seemed fine! I don’t THINK I said anything spectacularly embarrassing, I said a few things that people laughed at (in the right way…), and in the end I really enjoyed the recording. I hope you do too, if you watch it. And thanks to anyone who was in the live audience last night for being kind and welcoming.



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Bill G at 4:14 pm on May 6th, 2011

Sweet. Will look forward to it with renewed pleasure knowing that you were worried. Not so pleased that you smoke though, but don’t change - we love you just as you are. x

palladian at 5:35 pm on May 6th, 2011

Really looking forward to the show. You were fine last time, I have a good feeling about this one too.

TonyB at 8:18 pm on May 6th, 2011

A fine (gorgeous) lady on fine form yet again

Rob F at 8:35 pm on May 6th, 2011

Well done tonight. Hopefully not damning with faint praise, but you came across as being far more relaxed and comfortable than I’ve seen you on some other shows (not including OC and poker shows where you’re always great). I guess it’s the same as anything else, practice makes perfect. Particularly liked the stern look after someone had slighted your new best friend Michael Winner.

brian t at 8:39 pm on May 6th, 2011

I like the “swatches” line, imagining Obama’s response: “Let me be clear: Chartreuse is not an option.”

The Tim at 8:47 pm on May 6th, 2011

You’re getting better every time you appear - I’m sure you’ll get invited back. Hope you enjoy your meal with Michael Loser.

Come on, you can tell us who you think the injunction was against - we promise it won’t go any further than this thread. (I’m assured they do have an internet connection at Holloway.)

Nigel at 8:47 pm on May 6th, 2011

you were great. intellect and wit combined with sex appeal

palladian at 8:47 pm on May 6th, 2011

You were very good. “Is this human resources…” “I love lunch…” Excellent. You didn’t make the mistake of some guests of trying to say something all the time, but what you said was a cracker. “Could you repeat that only make it a bit more patronising..” Marvellous. Armstrong looked duly stunned and silenced.

A good show all round, though demonstrating the dilemma of topical comedy when the story is essentially grim. Royal Wedding - perfect for the HIGNFY treatment. Far less so the right and proper killing of one of the world’s most heinous terrorists.

I’m now waiting for the extended ‘Bit More News…’ - you and Armstrong crossing swords over *The Dress*, bet there is more to come.

jim carr at 8:48 pm on May 6th, 2011

victoria, your suggestion that you were being patronised with the question about the dress would have carried more weight if you had not turned down the opportunity to play in a poker tournament to watch someone else’s wedding on tv! Apart from that you more than held your own, with the boys as usual hogging the mike.

Rebecca Anderson at 8:57 pm on May 6th, 2011

I was there last night, you were fantastic - I thoroughly enjoyed the whole show.  Have watched it this evening and disappointed that they left out some of your comments.

Keith MS at 8:58 pm on May 6th, 2011

I did enjoy it. I didn’t know who you were before tonight but now I do. Never looked up anyone before but a few of your witty yet biting comments compelled me so. It’s a strong boys-club (not unusual) so your swift and efficient exposure of the rampant sexism and superiority made the episode easy to watch. I love the show but am frequently squirming at the superior white male dominance. Thank you.

andy at 9:18 pm on May 6th, 2011

i thought you were a very good panelist good luck in your poker hope 2 play on your table 1 day as long as i win

Pedro at 9:26 pm on May 6th, 2011

Thought you were really funny on HIGNFY, you should go on more often.

Rob King at 9:52 pm on May 6th, 2011

Vicky, HIGNFY was brilliant, I loved your interaction with the rest of the panel. Your comment to the patronisation was genius.
I liked the Teacup necklace, was it custom made?

Anthony at 10:04 pm on May 6th, 2011

Have you thought of putting up a profile on JD?

thereverend at 10:28 pm on May 6th, 2011

you might be ten years older than me but I so would…

Sam Searle at 12:06 am on May 7th, 2011

Nothing to worry about, you were great, giving as good as you got.  Loved the comment to Alexander about a little more patronising

Tony F at 1:08 am on May 7th, 2011

Hi Victoria

My favourite bit was when Ross Noble joked about Cameron’s “had to let my trousers out” comment.

Cleverly, the editors chose to focus on the camera that caught your reaction: your eyes were a-goggle, you seemed outraged by what Ross was saying, Ian was looking at you, embarrassed on your behalf…

Classic! So I’m not convinced you found Mr Noble that hilarious!

On iPlayer, I had to wind back and watch that again. Really funny.

That said, you did well. I’ve never seen you nefore, but you did a good job. The guest role is a poisoned chalice.

Forgotten at 2:19 am on May 7th, 2011

Yes, we’re all supposed to be chatting about dresses at a royal wedding, and the death of bogeyman Osama bin Goldstein.

Meanwhile, the agenda of our psychotic masters carries on as usual, or “progress” as it’s called: the plunder of relatively independent nations by “peacekeepers”, the corrupt corporate welfare, banking fraud, the carbon con, the draconian legislation and intrusive surveillance (for “freedom”), treacherous international treaties… just business as usual.

Not funny, but it is true (and most unlikely to be found on the BBC).

David R at 4:16 am on May 7th, 2011

Vicky, what can I say about your appearance, but: You came; You sat; You talked; They laughed; They left; They ate; They went to bed. I think it was your best performance yet.

I would agree with you about the audience reaction to guests. I think they also take into account what Ian Hislop and Paul Merton think of the guests too. For example, an Ian Hislop scowl at a guest is like the Emperor’s yawn in Amadeus:- One scowl, and the guest might be invited back once, but not again. Two scowls…

Parveen at 7:24 am on May 7th, 2011

You were amazing on the show.  I also didn’t know who you were before the programme so had to look you up. Any woman who can hold her own on the programme is worth knowing about!

Pamela at 8:35 am on May 7th, 2011

Always a delight to see you on t.v, Victoria.  D and I miss “Only Connect” (something intelligent in a wilderness of pap). 

I thought Ross thingy hogged the show and you didn’t get much of a look in - but then, few women do on HIGNFY, I find. 

Glad to read you’re still smoking.  I thought you might have given up as your voice sounded different. 

Will Watson at 9:42 am on May 7th, 2011

After seeing you on it last time I was looking forward to seeing you again - you’re quite different to a lot of the regular crop of panellists.  If you were nervous it certainly didn’t come across!  Is there any reasoning as to who goes on Ian’s team and who goes on Paul’s?

Wenslydale at 10:17 am on May 7th, 2011

I have always been a big fan of HIGNFY my favoutite missing words round being “??????? for wind powered schools”. You held your own against the white male dominated panel & it is Ross Nobel’s job to come up with quirky one liners. Your strength at word play was very good & you did not need to pull out a deck of cards to gain the respect of fellow panelists. I presume you are in the repeat & Victoria Cohen is a typo.Our local airport has been criticised in the media for charging people airside £1 to go for a smoke in an outside area. Little do they know I would gladly pay £10. Happy days.
  Oh in case I forget, the missing word “beans for wind powered schools”.

Will at 11:05 am on May 7th, 2011

You did fine. Funny. Although I am biased - always had a soft spot for women who could play poker :) Just tell me you don’t play monkey flushes or I’ll never add a comment again…lol

Steve Brown at 2:35 pm on May 7th, 2011

Can I PLEASE buy you lunch? Go on . . you LOVE lunch.


Joe Green at 4:45 pm on May 7th, 2011

Victoria, you were brilliant!  I particularly liked your disaproval of Paul merton’s disrespectable reference to the Queen, and your comment on Michael Winner’s taking you out to lunch and you liked lunch!  Superb!

Reading that you succeeded in having something published at age 14, and as “Royal Mail” issued stamps on 8th Sept 1987 “Victorian Britain” I would be so very very grateful and appreciative if you would be so extraordinarily kind to sign this for me if I send to you with prepaid envelope.  Even if not I still think you are fabulous!

Every best wish, and hoping to see you “on air” again,

Joe (Green)  from Goring-on-Thames, RG8

Ian at 7:24 pm on May 7th, 2011

I’d rather like to see Victoria take the hot seat in HIGNYY. I’m sure she’d be good at it; she exudes a certain quality that would surely sparkle in the role of Host. Additionally she’d make a welcome change to the endless parade of Toffs that seem to dominate the role.

Adam Field at 8:30 pm on May 7th, 2011

According to Sky’s TV Guide you’ve changed your name to Victoria Cohen lol

Bill at 8:52 pm on May 7th, 2011

Victoria, i have just watched you on tv and i think you are lovely, you have a beautiful smile, and do not put up with any crap from the men.

Ken Clark at 8:59 pm on May 7th, 2011

Personally I thought you were going to go apeshit and that they had cut the show at that point to let you calm down.  I had visions of you throwing yourself across the room at Noble and Armstrong.  Got to watch it again.

Martyn at 9:11 pm on May 7th, 2011

Just watched this episode and i enjoyed every minute it. Look forward to your appearance!

OurGloriousLeader at 9:12 pm on May 7th, 2011

‘Sorry, could you say that again but be a little bit more patronising?’

:D Scathing! Excellent stuff. And we all love lunch!

Victoria Coren at 9:24 pm on May 7th, 2011

Hi Will. I’m sure the production company gives thought to who’d be best on each team. Ross Noble is usually with Paul, isn’t he? I think they work very well together, sort of inspiring each other’s flights of fancy. And I’m very happy to be with Ian. I’m a big admirer of his.

  Joe - I couldn’t possibly sign antique stamps! It would feel like vandalism! But thank you for asking, it’s a nice thought.

The Tim at 10:02 pm on May 7th, 2011

It’s great they included so many more of VC’s jokes in the extended version!

Ken, I’d really like to have seen Victoria cross - I imagine she’s really sexy when she’s angry. (Perhaps we’ll just have to wind her up on this site sometime to see.)

Ian, I think VC’s talents would be wasted in the hot seat - having to tell jokes other people made up rather than utilising her natural wit.

Andy at 11:02 pm on May 7th, 2011

Call me dull if you like, but I much prefer your considered, emotionally inteligent ponderings in the Sunday collumn as opposed to the vacuous, air-head banter needed for panel shows. Please don’t dumb-down to fit in with the popular kids, some of us love you as you are…

Elsa at 11:41 pm on May 7th, 2011

Just been discussing your appearance with some girl friends on Twitter after watching the extended version, we thought you were consistently hilarious and loved your challenges to the blatant sexism throughout the show. Keep on trucking :D

John Powell at 12:00 am on May 8th, 2011

As a life-long fan of your father, I held high hopes for you and, frankly, have never been disappointed - he’d be proud! Carrying on his legacy of challenging the establishment with wit and charm is no easy feat - but you’re doing it! Your honesty as a smoker (like me) also does you credit in these PC days. Way to go Victoria.

Will at 8:01 am on May 8th, 2011

I think you’re right. Ian’s side of the room tends to be the topical and sensible. Paul’s is a mixture of the surreal and the sublime. But you didn’t tell me how you feel about monkey flushes…and don’t even start me on joker poker. I will get on my

simon at 8:45 am on May 8th, 2011

I saw the show last night (and before) ,you were brilliant, sharp and funny AND beautiful too !

Niels at 9:44 am on May 8th, 2011

Hi Victoria
I do think you are very clever and very funny and it must be very tough being oppossite Mr Noble, who is one of the few comedians who can get me rolling on the floor.
I am in South Africa so I have to watch on YouTube but luckily you can get the extended version. 
But that isn’t important right now. 
Was it my imagination or was Alexander Armstrong getting your nose out of joint?

Cheers and thanks for the laughs this week


Stephen at 10:01 am on May 8th, 2011

God I love watching you on telly, Victoria. You looked amazing as always. Everything you said was hilarious. Hope you kick lots of poker ass in Madrid.

Mike at 10:26 am on May 8th, 2011

Did not know you were going to be on the show and so unfortunately missed some of it.  You were brilliant and seemed a lot more relaxed than before.  So don’t worry about a thing when you are asked back on the show again, and then you can survive without the ciggies.


Konrad O at 12:22 pm on May 8th, 2011

I watched HIGNFY on BBC iPlayer and thought you were really good - you delivered some sharp observations and comments. Hope the HIGNFY team invite you to appear on the programme more often.

Chris Barnett at 1:46 pm on May 8th, 2011

I thought I’d inform you even though you might not be interested that on the iPlayer they’ve referred to you as Victoria Cohen. I thought it was funny…

jackie harding at 3:43 pm on May 8th, 2011

In the ‘70’s,I worked for an art dealer in St.James’s. One of our customers was your new best friend, Michael Winner. I was petrified of him. He was utterly obnoxious. I wanted to scarper each time he came through the door, but I couldn’t because every one else had beaten me to it. Perhaps he has mellowed…...x

Chris at 7:45 pm on May 8th, 2011

I thought you were fine on HIGNFY and made some smart and funny comments. You appeared to look a little stern a couple of times as the camera moved to you after some of Ross Noble’s jokes but that might just be down to the editing. It’s difficult being a guest especially if the other guest is a comedian but I thought you comfortably held your own.
I would like to see you host the programme!

Martin at 9:19 pm on May 8th, 2011

Never posted here before and not entirely sure of the rubric. It seems presumptuous to expect a celebrity to respond to my arbitrary curiosities but out of interest—Victoria: apropos some comments above, how sexist did you feel anyone was being? Your ‘patronising’ retort was wonderfully executed but I had assumed you were being whimsical. It was an affectionate assumption. Whimsy’s almost as good as lunch.

Victoria Coren at 9:29 pm on May 8th, 2011

Hi Martin. Not at all, I’m glad you asked; quite a few people on Twitter seemed to think I was seriously offended on the show (their tweets ranging from curiosity as to why I was “so upset”, to damning messages saying I was humourless, dour, all wrong for the programme etc.)

Fortunately that was a minority and most people got the tone fine. I play poker, I’ve spent a year infiltrating the sex industry, I don’t get offended very easily! I love HIGNFY, and like/admire everyone who was on it that night.

  YES I noted (with amusement) that they must have planned to ask the lady guest on the show what she thought of the dress - hilarious, typical boys, what do I know about dresses? I barely own anything that isn’t from Karen Millen - and YES I raised a quizzical eyebrow at some jokes that I wouldn’t have made myself - but I didn’t think any of it was shocking or offensive at all, I think they’re all very funny. If I make the odd squeamish face on any comedy show where people are being a bit raucous or saucy (or, arguably, sexist) it’s likely to be a comic exaggeration of anything I’m really feeling. When I’m properly offended, you’ll know about it I promise!

Patrick Fitzsimmons at 5:52 am on May 9th, 2011

Loved the show, and you seemed every much on it for what we saw, but I have to say, you did have an air of issue about you, just under the surface, there must have been something you disliked about it.

MDW at 10:23 am on May 9th, 2011

Ross Noble was funnier than you (but that’s his job) you are I think the most smiley person to be on HIGNFY - I will admit to falling asleep for part of it but that should in no way be seen as a reflection on your performance (I’m getting on a bit and was tired)

jim carr at 2:08 pm on May 9th, 2011

victoria,when i tagged onto your blog,about a year ago,i enjoyed the content which was intelligent,opinionated,and edgy. recently you have toned down the content to a level where most of the comments posted are,bland,or embarrassingly sycophantic. i do hope you are not becoming another celebrity blancmange?

Dr Bob at 4:02 pm on May 9th, 2011

I only saw the extended repeat, but I really enjoyed it. I think you’re right that the audience appreciated you a bit more this time ‘round.

Loved your pulling up Xander for being patronising: he seemed genuinely unsure of how to react to that. Whilst I’d hesitate to describe someone like Ian Hislop as macho or sexist, I really enjoyed having a female opinion in the “what’s wrong with this dress” ‘round to stop it becoming just a succession of cheap laughs.

What is it with London Studios anyway? Can’t they afford decent heating?

The Tim at 4:26 pm on May 9th, 2011

Jim Carr, I couldn’t agree more - there’s nothing I hate more than a sycophant - you’re so right!

Shawn at 4:56 pm on May 9th, 2011

Well done on HIGNFY, you were very good on both occasions. On the BBC i Player they have got your name wrong (Victoria Cohen)! Keep up the good work.

Martin at 5:28 pm on May 9th, 2011

“Ross Noble was funnier than you”? A bit superfluously churlish, I think. Ian’s supposed to have the insightful, incisive one, and Paul the amusing loony, in both of which respective capacities I thought the panelists excelled. Jim Carr’s bitchy comment made me squirm quite Englishly, but I’ll leave Ms. Coren to defend her own honour on that score, except to say that someone famous largely for playing poker, investigating porn and hoaxing funerals can’t surely see too much financial mileage in eschewing edginess? Your argument could do with a citation or two. This said, the quotation on the homepage might surreally be improved if it advertised the “strangely winning combination of lone cowgirl, femme fatale and blancmange”. Don’t listen to ‘em, Victoria. I thought you were very good.

bear at 7:29 pm on May 9th, 2011

Where did you get that dress? I liked it so much it actually made me search for you on the web.  Thanks.

Peter MC at 10:43 pm on May 9th, 2011

Just caught the show;  Victoria you were splendid.  I totally went with your deplorage (it looks better in italics) of those rather facile jibes from IH and AA about the outfits at the Royal Wedding.  As you reminded us, we should say Bravo everyone for making the effort! (though OK, the York girls were a tad disastrous.)  HIGNFY is a great show (despite audience being too loud) and it would be great to see you in that Chair someday, but Only Connect is the best thing on TV.  You know why!  Is it set to continue..?

Across the pond at 11:55 pm on May 9th, 2011

What an incisive and well-timed performance. It was like watching a ninja surgeon at her finest. If Britain ever needed an answer to Tina Fey, Victoria is the natural reply once Jan Ravens relinquishes the post.

Victoria Coren at 7:48 am on May 10th, 2011

Jim - I don’t really know what you mean. The comments are what the comments are. If something’s rude or nasty (about anyone, doesn’t have to be me) then usually the mods don’t put it up and I never even see it, but I promise if you prefer nastiness on the internet then there are plenty of other places you can find it!

Jill - the dress is from Karen Millen, though it’s about a year old now and I don’t know if they’d still have it… I know, I know, not classy enough to buy something new for the show!

Peter - Only Connect will be back later in the year, and the dates will certainly be announced here when I have them.

The Tim at 9:15 am on May 10th, 2011

To be serious (as opposed to my last post) I don’t agree with Jim’s comments either – I think Victoria actually likes a good argument – it’s far more interesting than when everyone agrees with each other.

The mods should definitely remove references to anything libellous, like the super injunctions by ####### on ####### and #######, but are quite right to allow controversial comments if they help to fuel a debate.

jim carr at 9:55 am on May 10th, 2011

victoria,how someone with a 1ST in english,can read,intelligent,opinionated,and edgy, and arrive at nastiness is beyond me. i saw you on HIGNFY,you were beautiful,erudite,sparkling as usual,lovely dress,was it karen millen? will she be appearing on DR WHO without a dress?i think you should run for pope,when the sad old nazi drops off the twig,you are bound to win. you are also looking younger,i think it must be the fags!

MDW at 11:35 am on May 10th, 2011

a quick note for Martin - Ross Noble was on form and very funny on the show (the best performance by a guest in a long time imo), next time you think about commenting on one of my comments take a breath, count to 10 and then don’t.

If you wish to comment on my personal opinions you can do so on my site

VC I’m sure you did not take offence at the ‘Ross Noble was funnier than you’ comment - Ross Noble was funnier than everyone on the night

Mat at 12:38 am on May 11th, 2011

Hi Victoria

You will be delighted to learn that the BBC Iplayer has you listed as “Victoria Cohen” in the description of the latest edition of “Have I got News For You”.

jim carr at 11:45 am on May 11th, 2011

THE TIM. do please keep sending your little flatulent asides,i really enjoy them.

Philip at 3:02 pm on May 11th, 2011

Victoria, forget all this poker nonesense(!) - I read your book and by golly gosh you can write. The sections on childhood memories and more broadly on the passage of time, are very well crafted. I would love to see you move in to writing fiction and urge you to do so.

P.S I am no sycophant! To prove it, I found all the poker bits completely tedious!

The Tim at 11:45 am on May 12th, 2011

We seem to be up and running again. Jim Carr, I’ll do my best - you should have seen the one that didn’t get through the moderator…

Vicky, we’re in desparate need of a new topic!

mick at 7:47 pm on May 13th, 2011

re: Have I Got news for you
you did very well dear ;-) and I was pleased to see you can look a little bit scary when you want to. full marks.

Daniel at 9:40 pm on May 19th, 2011

“It’s like you *want* to go to jail”
  a classic

Kathy at 8:14 am on May 20th, 2011

RON FANELLI - I couldn’t blog where your article was on him July 25, 2010 for some reason I kept getting shut out and so I thought I would do so here.  You are so so wrong about him.  Whatever happened to Innocent until proven guilty like here in America?  I am his first cousin and I should know first hand about my cousin.  More than you that is for sure.  Perhaps when I go to Thailand I will stop by your office just to see who you are.

Victoria Coren at 1:09 pm on May 20th, 2011

Hi Kathy, thanks for your email. There seems to be a lot you don’t know. I have sent you a private email, so I hope you used your correct email address when posting. If not, please post again with your email address (the message won’t go up on the site - unless you want it to, of course, without your email address, so do please say either way in the message).

Nigel at 6:21 pm on May 23rd, 2011

what is the qualification for a private email or even lunch without having to resort to MW’s desperate tactics?

Victoria Coren at 6:35 pm on May 24th, 2011

Sorry Nigel… I break the rules for Winner only…

Buzz Beurling at 11:13 pm on August 27th, 2011

It’s funny I came across this. I’m in again on a lonely saturday night watching repeats of HIGNFY on Dave and there are 2 episodes with you on it!!

Seriously and this may sound sad but I care not I think you are a wonderful, intelligent, fabulous magnificent lady. And I hope that when I eventually meet my Soul mate she is something like you. My heart flutters whenever I see you!! I love your sense of humour and attitude to life and intelligence! Hopefully this makes you smile..It’s always nice to get compliments I think. Keep being fabulous Victoria! And for every jealous person who lambasts you there are many more who think you are fab :-)


Victoria Coren

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