Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Have I Got News For You

Friday, 14 October 2011

  Just to let you know that I’m on it tonight (9pm, BBC One - extended version this Sunday at 10.25pm, BBC One), on Ian’s team, with Jo Brand hosting and Graham Linehan as Paul’s guest. I’ve just got back from the recording (note, I’m posting this late on Thursday, not 9am on Friday. I didn’t get home at dawn. Even Ian Hislop doesn’t drink that much).

  Where was I? Oh yes, just got back from the recording and it seemed to go fine. I said lots of things, anyway - some funny, some not - so I’m in the hands of the editors now. But whatever I was like, I think it will be an enjoyable show because the others were brilliant. I spent most of it laughing. Jo Brand was just incredibly good in the host’s role; one of her jokes made me laugh so much that I was literally in tears, and suspect I may spend the closing minutes of the show with eye makeup running down my face. In the mirror afterwards, I looked like I’d been in a fight.

  I hope they leave that joke in. It’s a very English sort of double-entendre: as innocent as could be on the surface, but Jo made it sound utterly filthy.

  Hope you enjoy the programme if you watch, and that I don’t disgrace myself too much. And I’m sorry to bump the post below this down the list: if you’d like free tickets to my Radio 4 comedy show Heresy, they are still available, via the links in the previous blog post.

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Victoria's Biggest Fan at 7:57 am on October 14th, 2011

I am genuinely gutted that I can’t watch it as it airs tonight, I have to watch it on iplayer :( I suspect it will be hilarious and when I watch tomorrow I shall be tweeting incessantly

psychofant at 3:36 pm on October 14th, 2011

victoria, have you ever been asked to sit in “dictionary corner” on COUNTDOWN? it’s something you would be very good at, or are you not keen on the show?

simon at 8:27 pm on October 14th, 2011

the show was excellent as ever and you came across awesome as ever… you fitted in real well…

brian t at 8:37 pm on October 14th, 2011

I’m guessing it was the Mivvi line, then? 8)

fiona at 8:42 pm on October 14th, 2011

I don’t have a clue who you are but just watched the show and googled in case you were a comedian i was unaware of - you were great!  also got some rather biting political points in, which is always a good thing. Very amusing! 

Jonathan at 9:25 pm on October 14th, 2011

Hi Vicky

I refrained from watching the show tonight because it seems stupid to me to have HIGABMNFY on the next day - I’ll rather wait to watch the full edit without it turning into a game of spot the difference.

The thing is they’ve started doing this with other shows as well, and it’s worrying to think they think this is a good idea.

Just another example of how the quality and integrity of things become secondary when a failing profit goal needs to be achieved at all costs.

On a positive note, I’m glad to hear you’re on there this week.

Colm at 9:37 pm on October 14th, 2011

Well done tonight, you were great (as always).
How long until you’re asked to be a guest host?

The Tim at 11:44 pm on October 14th, 2011

Another great intelligent performance – you really should be on QI one day. Well said about Liam Fox. As I’m not a connoisseur of confectionary I’m not sure what the mivvie was that Jo talked about opening – but it’s obviously something I can easily look up.

I, too, wince at mis’placed apostrophes – must be the public school in me.

Bill Green at 1:51 am on October 15th, 2011

I didn’t see the show yet, I’ll probably just watch the extended edition. Graham Linehan was good on this week’s Museum of Curiosity, so I thoroughly recommend people look it up on iPlayer.

Stealer Computers at 10:47 am on October 15th, 2011

Well done:)
The opening cat footage had me in stitches.
I would expect nothing less than “filthy” from Jo.
Keep up the good work.

Alaa Ali at 12:20 pm on October 15th, 2011

Your joke about the cartoon of Mohammed really shocked me, not only because it was offensive and unfunny, but also because I completely believe that you are too smart to say such a nonsense.

Adrian Lyons at 2:16 pm on October 15th, 2011

I’ve never visited this site before. I just wanted to find a way to let VC know that the comments she made in the broadcast edition of HIGNFY re Liam Fox were both spot on and the best analysis of the story I have heard on the media. It was a shame that Ian Hislop had to cut across these very sensible remarks.

Victoria Coren at 5:26 pm on October 15th, 2011

A.A: Yes, some people do seem to have been offended by that remark, which I’m sorry to hear, although I do struggle to see exactly why. We were asked to fill in a blank in the sentence “Be careful with that————-, madam, it might cause offence” - if you cast around quickly in your mind to think of a topical thing that’s caused offence, you arrive quite quickly at “cartoon of Mohammed”. It’s just a reference to a big news story that people remember.

  I get slightly lost in the twists and turns and ironies of people being offended at a reference to people being offended - and let’s not thrash out arguments here because I think everyone can see both sides anyway.

  All I’d say is, I agree that it wasn’t the world’s funniest joke (but, you know, I’m not a comedian and you nervously say whatever comes into your head in that stressful environment; in this case, a news story that everyone remembers, which I personally think is fine to refer to). But I thought my first attempt to fill in that blank was a lot funnier (though didn’t make the edit): “that fence post.” I was quite proud of that.

The Tim at 5:57 pm on October 15th, 2011

Well said, Miss Coren. Don’t be so hard on yourself - it made me smile, the fence post would have made me laugh out loud - let’s hope it makes it to the Sunday edition. If it had come later you could have said ‘Opened Mivvi’.

Sian at 6:18 pm on October 15th, 2011

I thought the show was really good (it was bound to be, what with you and Linehan both on it!) although I did get slightly distracted thinking ‘I wonder where she buys her clothes?’ because that colour purple was gorgeous!

Fingers D at 6:48 pm on October 15th, 2011

I don’t feel offended but I know I’ll never look at a Strawberry Mivvy in the same way again.
Perhaps Lyons Maid should sign up Jo for their next advertising campaign - they’ve already got the strapline…

Jamie at 7:50 pm on October 15th, 2011

Holy crap I swear Victoria gets more f***able every day.

Brains and beauty.  Just stunning.

Geordie at 10:41 pm on October 15th, 2011

I watched the programme and thought you were great. As for the mivvi joke, it was very funny and i can quite understand how it made you laugh so much. I look forward to seeing you on Would I Lie to You next week. 

Dan Howard at 10:42 pm on October 15th, 2011

You are the most attractively intelligent lady I’ve ever seen on TV.

I love HIGNFY when you’re on…

...and I’m not making it up… :D

Austin James at 11:22 pm on October 15th, 2011

Can’t believe you’ve had so many comments from people who haven’t seen the show yet but have promised to comment when they have seen it! Re: A A’s offence.The truly one great thing about this country is its track record in great satirical and topical programmes like HIGNFY, Not the 9 o’clock News, Spitting Image etc. Many other countries in the world you would run the risk of A) Jail B) Torture in said Jail C) persecution D) Jail E) a lengthy court case F) a fatwa. A A should get over themselves and don’t watch HIGNFY, you know what it’s about, and remember we are lucky to be living in one of the liberal (don’t forget the Conservatives) countries in the world. Good show by the way.

Robert at 9:26 am on October 16th, 2011

Good luck quitting smoking. 

"E"Gary at 1:29 pm on October 16th, 2011

Well I guess I may be in the minority but I thought the cartoon joke was funny on more than one level.  I found myself laughing because I knew people would probably miss the point and be offended.  Surely any person who comments that they are offended because you are commenting on what other people have done which gave offence are therefore being intrinsically offensive themselves because they are now also commenting on the original offence by proxy?

I guess you need a mind as warped as mine to appreciate that complexity of amusement in the seconds after hearing the comment.

In any case may I just say that was a beautiful top you were wearing for the recording.

ian white at 10:04 pm on October 16th, 2011

Just watched the repeat of HIGNFY. Loved it! And you were as deliciously sexy and absolutely brilliant as ever. (Both my girlfriend and I think so!). Much love Ianx

Michael Love at 10:36 pm on October 16th, 2011

Well, I enjoyed your comments. Just seen the re-run tonight, and I gotta say, nice fresh outlook and comedy on the show. Course, I am a man, and I do think you are a lovely looking woman, but hey, that’s the hetrosexual in me :)

catnip at 10:49 pm on October 16th, 2011

Always admired you from afar in your various appearances. I just watched the Sunday repeat of Have I got News for You and you were hysterical. You don’t live in Catford do you? Even if you don’t, spot on timing and very funny. Tell your Mum cat ownership does not necessarily point to a lifetime of spinsterhood with ever increasing cat population. In your case I very much doubt that will happen. Keep up the good work.

magicarpet at 10:59 pm on October 16th, 2011

Victoria, it pains me to say this,= but until I watched the extended version of HIGNFY tonight, purely by chance, I had no idea who you were, but was immediately impressed when I heard you share my irritation with the apostrophe thing…  I became somewhat smitten by you, I must say, as a fantastic show progressed & was driven by curiosity to do the whole google search thing when the programme ended.

  In short, my cat & I have just agreed that you must stay in our spare room (if you wish) next time you are up here in Auld Reekie..& we`d both like to buy you a coffee in the local Starbucks at the Tron. Am now off to buy your book, cos methinks twill be a worthwhile read..Take care. M.

Ken Singtone at 11:39 pm on October 16th, 2011

I am delighted to read about your plans to quit smoking.  I wish you well. 
Just in case it helps,  here is some potential motivation.

1) Here’s an assertion which you might like to prove wrong:  “women are less successful at quitting smoking than men”.  (The only evidence I have for this is that your brother Giles seems to have been more successful than you in this respect, and I know of three men and one woman who have quit smoking.)

2) If you can resist until then, then I will launch a rocket in memory of your late father on the anniversary of his death (a purely private gesture, although you would be welcome to attend).

[ ]

Mistri Moggy at 11:56 pm on October 16th, 2011

I wonder why they decided to use a photo of me (@MistriMoggy) on the wheel for the cat or fox game.
And I also think that you would make an excellent guest host.

Bill Green at 12:32 am on October 17th, 2011

I’m not sure which I found funnier, the “offensive cartoon” joke, or the fact somebody is claiming to have found it desperately offensive.

Magicarpet (who I rather wish had missed the last two letters off their name, but that’s just the gamer in me.) needs to watch BBC4 at 20:30 on Monday.

guy batty at 10:59 am on October 17th, 2011

2 words, pure quality! thank you

Scott Tracy at 12:48 pm on October 17th, 2011

I hope you have been flattered by all these people who say they’ve never heard of you.
What was interesting was that the panel and the audience accepted the cartoon of Mohammed as a joke to follow on from, but your comments about Liam Fox and the MOD were met with an awkward silence – even Ian Hislop seemed to take a step back and then quickly move on.  Well done for daring to speak such heresy.  I just hope the MOD don’t put a fatwa on you because I’ve heard they’re seriously tooled up. 
Back to the cartoon of Mohammed and I would say fair enough, but what has been done to the image of Strawberry Mivvis is shameful.  Another cherished image of my childhood gone – next someone’ll be having a go at my Thunderbird 1.

RW at 1:37 pm on October 17th, 2011

Hi Victoria. Saw HIGNFY and googled this blog specifically to thank you for being the only person to call them out on that awful Odd One Out round. Disability jokes? What the hell? Thank you for being at least one face on the panel reacting with something like the appropriate dismay.

RW at 1:41 pm on October 17th, 2011

Agree with AA about not being desperately keen on the Mohammad joke, though. The nuances of this sort of thing get quite complicated, but while I agree there wasn’t anything you could actually pin down as offensive, the context makes it potentially hurtful. There have been far too many lazy jibes of this type on panel shows, including HIGNFY; there is too much flipness and veiled contempt towards Islam expressed throughout the media, and that particular issue has been very much used as a stick to beat the Muslim community with - unless you’re genuinely engaging with it, and genuinely have something to say, why would you make a careless off-the-cuff remark that risks hurting people, as it’s obviously hurt AA?

Sarah at 4:36 pm on October 17th, 2011

Victoria, where did you get that gorgeous purple dress (or was it a top?) you were wearing on HIGNFY?

Victoria Coren at 4:57 pm on October 17th, 2011

BOTF: thanks for your comments. Thing is, if you worry too much about how people might interpret comments, it becomes impossible to do a show like that, where you have to feel confident enough to just talk. If you second-guess too much, you fall completely silent. For me, there was nothing contemptuous in my remark at all, it honestly was my brain going “Cause offence… what has famously caused offence?” and those cartoons did.

  Had the line been “Careful with that /blank, sir…” (rather than Madam), I might have thought of Frankie Boyle and made a reference to his joke about Jordan’s son.

  I can only answer for what I mean and what’s in my heart: if offence is taken (even when it’s meant, which is certainly wasn’t!) all I can say is that I believe terribly fervently in a culture where people should be free to say pretty much anything, short of incitement to violence.

  On a lighter note: Sarah! I’m afraid I bought that dress in a casino in Las Vegas, so not available here…


magicarpet at 5:12 pm on October 17th, 2011

Forget joke contoversies & purple dresses,Victoria….just remember to check if me & my cat (yep,he really does exist..) are free to buy you a coffee next time you enter God`s country & come to Edinburgh…x.

magicarpet at 5:18 pm on October 17th, 2011

@ Bill Green..Thanks for the nod re that show on BBC FOUR…the old Sky + is handy to have when you can`t be home cos you`re out saving the world…P.S. God`s country currently being lashed by rain (for a wee change)

Sarah at 5:52 pm on October 17th, 2011

Thanks for your quick reply Victoria. Grrrr, I scoured search engines looking for that dress! Oh well….
As for the debate about ‘offensive’ remarks, you’re always (not you exclusively!) going to offend someone, somewhere so what can you do? Short of sitting in silence, absolutely nothing! Bit patronising of AA to say you’re too intelligent to say something like that. It was a spontaneous reference to a cartoon which did cause offence to some people when it was printed. Doesn’t mean you agreed with the cartoon or are anti-Muslim. But then you’re intelligent enough to know that (patronise, patronise :))

Andy at 7:54 pm on October 17th, 2011

After watching you on have I got a bit more news for you, I looked for you on the predictive version of Yahoo. You come up on the bottom of the first page when Victoria is input. When you type in C you move to top…...Victoria Coach Station was second. Fame has arrived!!!

Qudos at 8:59 pm on October 17th, 2011

Victoria, what can I say, intelligent, witty, and damn sexy.

John at 9:42 pm on October 17th, 2011

I’m not been funny Victoria, your one hot lady and I wanna take you out girl xx

AndytheDealer at 9:48 pm on October 17th, 2011

Firstly, I really hope you manage to give up smoking.

Being an ex-smoker myself I know how hard it is and I reckon it’s probably much more difficult to give up now than it’s ever been. 

I didn’t get Jo’s joke about the Mivvi. Personally I’ve always been very fond of the gooey bit inside the fruity outer coating.

simon at 10:20 pm on October 17th, 2011

Interesting that you should reply twice in defence of a joke only one commenter on here objected to.
You’re right too - it was funny-ish but not a patch on the fence gag!
Ricky Gervais hit the nail on the head; in between reminding us that being offended is not the end of the world he quite rightly reasoned that being liked by most people probably means you’re also not very exciting.

Anyway, you helped make the extended version worth waiting for.  And as someone else said here - what is it with this BBC craze of airing second-rate shows two days ahead of first-rate longer versions???
Looking forward to seeing you and D go head to head on WILTY.

Ken Singtone at 4:07 pm on October 18th, 2011

A year ago I only knew you as the presenter of Only Connect, and “my kind of Victoria”, the blessed alternative to posh spice, discovered at last by me, presenting Balderdash & Piffle.  I remember thinking “who is this woman and why have we not seen more of her on telly before now?”.  Only since discovering your website, have I realised that your dad was that entertaining chap on Call my Bluff.  Having watched more of your TV appearances, heard you on radio, and read your book and other writings, I can now recognise his influence on you.  You have your own style, but now I can discern how his influence is woven into the very fabric of your being.  You wrote FRFP to preserve his memory.  I am one more person who remembers him today as a consequence.  One rocket or two tonight?

James at 10:08 pm on October 18th, 2011

It is high time you hosted HIGNFY ...You would be great at it.

dan at 10:51 pm on October 18th, 2011

Just watched your episode of HIGNFY…You’re really extremely pretty!

Victoria Coren at 11:28 pm on October 18th, 2011

Thanks for remembering the date, Ken, that’s kind of you. Of course I have been thinking of my father today, as every day.

Adie at 12:08 am on October 19th, 2011

The problem I have with you….

you would tear me apart!


The Tim at 11:00 am on October 19th, 2011

So then, Victoria, you are a fairly accomplished journalist, a very good (but not excessively outstanding) quiz show host and a most attractive, but not excessivlely stunning, celebrity.

magicarpet at 2:58 pm on October 19th, 2011

Oh,yes..Thanks for the massively fond memories. As a young boy trying to escape from a horrendous home life, due to my father proving that while many things can be preserved in alcohol, his behaviour wasn`t one of them, I would take refuge at my Gran`s in a wee place called North Berwick & from memory, every Friday night about 9pm I think, me & her would watch her all-time favourite programme, Call My Bluff.

Haven`t googled it, I promise, but I`ve suddenly got all these lovely thoughts about your Dad, Robert Robinson (?) & a chap called Frank (?) with a white task.. Of course, afficionados of the show might now be rolling their eyeballs upwards but hey ho..It sure made my Granny happy & thus me too. x

Raibeart at 4:51 pm on October 19th, 2011

I loved it.  You were great.

Fingers D at 11:43 am on October 20th, 2011

You are rather lovely though. I’d like to take you on an Only Connect themed date where we go to 16 different locations and you have to guess the connections. If you get it right then you win a prize and if you get it wrong then you win a prize.

John H at 6:49 pm on October 20th, 2011

Am always impressed by you on HIGNFY and elsewhere. More so this time as it seems we share abuse of the humble apostrophe.
Please join us at the Apostrophe Protection Society where I am the webmaster!

John Cocker at 9:09 pm on October 22nd, 2011

I really enjoyed watching you on HIGNFY again, but my very late comment comes from watching some of it again. I loved your expression of disbelief at Liam Fox’s comment about the Spice Girls. Sometimes you look as if you are thinking too much (something I’m guilty of) but this was such a natural reaction.

dg at 9:54 pm on October 22nd, 2011


That was the best part, for me.

You clearly said it without thinking, realised what you’d said, panicked for a moment as you wondered whether you’d done the right thing, and then finally concluded, judging by the reaction, that you had. All in the space of a split second.

Brilliant bit of face acting.

If it wasn’t real it would have won an Oscar, in my book. Mind you, I would have given Bob Hoskins the Oscar for Long Good Friday, and he wasn’t even nominated… Shows what I know…

Chris at 12:29 am on November 3rd, 2011

I’ve only just got round to watching the show. Terrible I know! Anyway I thought you were good. The “Catford” comment was spontaneous and thus all the funnier. I also liked the way you defended the female outfits despite everybody else taking the piss. Well done Victoria!

Barbara Richards at 4:38 pm on November 5th, 2011

Just read your fantastic article about John Hemming.

Have a peep at this, for further information on the nastiness of that horrible slimy double crossing old toad.

Clive at 10:49 am on January 21st, 2012

A comment by Miranda Hart in today’s i feature on women comics, about HIGNFY: “If you’re a woman on the show the audience just stares at you, because it’s a different tone of voice…” Mind you, she’s a pretty good host of the show.

You (ie Vicky) were talking in another thread about how it’s hard to get them to accept a newcomer on the first episode.

Victoria Coren

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