Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Have I Got News For You

Friday, 24 October 2014

  Tonight at 9pm on BBC One, I’m hosting Have I Got News For You, which is not something I’ve done before. The guests are Katherine Ryan (on Ian’s team) and Janet Street-Porter (with Paul).

  It’s a first for me as host, but also a first for the show to have three women on screen; a majority, noch. I wasn’t sure whether to remark on that at all (we certainly didn’t mention it on the programme) because this episode shouldn’t be “representative” of anything, or mean anything beyond itself. It’s either funny or it isn’t, entertaining or it isn’t, and that has no bearing on whether having three women on a panel show is a “good or bad idea”.

  But, having recently written an Observer column in which I said what a shame it was that “at least one woman per show” was so often interpreted by producers as “one woman per show”, and mentioned my personal experience that audiences seem more relaxed when there are two female guests rather than one, I obviously felt a very particular hope that THREE AT ONCE would find themselves in a good show. Let’s not be naive: if it was a disaster, of course some people would say “Too many women” or Positive discrimination too far.”

  It’s hard for me to judge from the inside of the programme, but I feel the recording went well last night. Paul and Janet make for a really good team; there’s a great chemistry there, with Janet’s strong and opinionated approach providing balance and ballast without interrupting the flow of Paul’s more sublime moments of pure comedy. Ian was sharp, smart and witty as ever and Katherine Ryan had some really terrific, confident jokes; I think the audience was shy of her at first (as they usually are with newer, especially female, performers) but were totally won round and roaring with laughter from a few minutes in. The show dealt with some very edgy stories, including Oscar Pistorius’s sentence and the questions over Ched Evans’ career, but I hope these were handled with intelligence and nuance. Obviously, Paul and Ian have been doing that job brilliantly for 24 years (!!!) with all manner of guests from huge stars to tubs of lard, but it’s possible that even they at some level felt more confident discussing those sensitive stories in such mixed company.

  Plus, in that chair in the middle, I managed to read the autocue without stammering and sum up the points correctly. It was a really good fun evening, and something I was proud to be part of. I hope you enjoy it if you watch.

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Olivia at 1:29 pm on October 24th, 2014

I really cannot wait to see it. I’ve been wanting to see you host ever since you first appeared on the show and I could not be more pleased that it’s with two female guests, especially Katherine Ryan who I’m a huge fan of. Well done in advance for being a wonderful host.

Charles at 2:12 pm on October 24th, 2014

I just know you are going to be great.
Let’s hope it will be the first of many.

James at 8:32 pm on October 24th, 2014

Super episode, and it did seem more relaxed, less competitive, than usual. Great job hosting, too.

Andy Brook at 8:55 pm on October 24th, 2014

That was the first funny edition of this series, and it didn’t come a week too soon for HIGNFY. Katherine bided her time, but then got away with things that a man probably wouldn’t have; Paul took the mickey out of Janet’s habit of namedropping in a gentle, but funny way, and you had some great gags. You could all have got away with being a little closer to the bone, but that will wait for another time.

Samantha at 9:23 pm on October 24th, 2014

What a treat; you on the telly two weeks in a row! [In addition, of course, to the enduringly brilliant Only Connect].

I enjoyed your QI appearance, and appreciated the argument you had with Mr Fry - so few guests challenge him.

HIGNFY was one of the best episodes I’ve seen of the show; it was lovely and warm and chatty, without anyone being left out or spoken over. I’m pleased to say that Mr M has serious competition for the spot of my favourite HIGNFY host now!

Bryan at 9:38 pm on October 24th, 2014

One of the funniest episodes for ages. Katherine Ryan is brilliant and the show definitely had a great zing about it. Guest presenter deserves credit too, cheeky smile, nodding wink and some cracking gags

Ray at 10:38 pm on October 24th, 2014

What a superb episode, I thought your comedic delivery and timing were spot on and everyone joined in with an equally strong contribution.

Hopefully you will be given the same opportunity in future series and I’m already looking forward to watching the extended show on Monday.

You did miss another first for the show though - David and yourself must be the only married couple to host the show (individually - I think the Hamiltons may have done it together).

Colin Knight at 10:42 pm on October 24th, 2014

The best HIGNFY for a long time. Your quirky humour is a perfect match for the show. Would like to see you host it permanently, as well as OC.

Mike Procter at 6:13 am on October 25th, 2014

It was the best HIGNFY in ages, and you’re so right about ‘at least one women’ needing a much broader interpretation. Last night’s episode proved that more women makes for a better show. And I hope it won’t be long before you’re in the chair again.

KonradO at 6:10 pm on October 25th, 2014

Hi Victoria. I definitely believe you bring a special ingredient to HIGFNY whenever you appear on the show as a panellist and now as the guest host. I thought your hosting of the show was superb. How did it feel to be the host’s chair? Ian’s and Paul’s team mates Katherine Ryan and Janet Street-Porter were brilliant. There was a good balance of biting humour, and wonderful observations. It was a nice touch to include two good news stories. Great show.

Adam at 6:32 pm on October 25th, 2014

Thought you were awesome.

John Carr at 8:48 am on October 26th, 2014

HIGNFY had been getting weaker and weaker over the years and this episode marked a new low point.

Dave at 9:34 pm on October 26th, 2014

You did great. It was a good show.

The Tim at 12:09 am on October 28th, 2014

Just watched the extended version - even better with the extra 15 minutes.

Chris DavidT at 12:20 am on October 28th, 2014

Quite brilliant. If they could name brillcreem after a girl it would be you. Ooppsss sounds a bit intellectual porno.  Tidy like.

jim carr at 10:43 am on October 28th, 2014

Victoria, enjoyed the show,but how tiresome that you even had to discuss wether Mike Reids rubbish calypso was racist or not. If he had sung a song in a french accent,or a regional British accent,nobody would have noticed or commented. However Political Correctness,and the Luvvies opposition to UKIP,dictated a ritual chorus of disapproval. I dont think you thought it was racist,and you might have applied some editorial scissors to the item,assuming they would have allowed you to.

Fed Up at 2:38 pm on October 29th, 2014

Comments linking to articles discussing the BBC’s moronic anti-UKIP bias appear to be censored.

Phil at 7:05 am on October 30th, 2014

I suppose it could be an entirely sensible rule against posting web links in general. But we UKIP supporters should not allow ourselves to be blinded by rational thought.

Victoria Coren M at 12:25 pm on October 30th, 2014

Just to say - there are no specific rules against posting web links here, ALL posts/comments on this blog are subject to moderation on a case by case basis, usually with a guiding view of “nothing obscene or excessively annoying”; sometimes just the whim of the moderator. But I’ve checked and there haven’t been any posts with links to “articles discussing the BBC’s moronic anti-UKIP bias”, which doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that would be edited here anyway, so FedUp must be talking about a different site.

Laura at 12:55 am on October 31st, 2014

Congratulations Victoria! I really enjoyed the show and you were the perfect host, right on the money. I hope we will be seeing much more of you in the middle seat. I thought Katherine Ryan was great too - she really suits panel shows and I’m glad she seems to be embracing the chance to appear on so many male dominated shows, as, indeed, are you. I’ve just casually googled “HIGNFY majority women” to see if I was correct in thinking this was the first time with a majority of women on the panel and what was being said about it. I thought it quite fitting that this blog entry was the first search result!

Kylie at 10:21 pm on October 31st, 2014

So refreshing to see three women on a panel show. I was worried in case you messed-up but I thought it one of the best HIGNFY shows in a long time. The episode makes a good argument that having more than one lone woman on a panel show makes for a more comfortable show with better dynamics. I think it’s also a great way of introducing new female faces to an audience. In female company female comedians have the time and reduced pressure to shine and make their mark. Well done whoever devised this episode.

Fed Up at 11:30 pm on October 31st, 2014

It was this site.

I think Breitbart is blacklisted.

Fed Up at 12:47 pm on November 1st, 2014

I’m too fed up to write much, but I should probably add to what I’m saying.

The unthinking crassness reminds me of when the Tea Party movement in America first started making waves. The “comedy” response on programmes like the “Daily Show” to concerns about the disregard of the American Constitution and concepts such as inalienable rights—was tea bagging jokes… and people laughed!

How pathetic… and tragic.

Cameron at 3:56 pm on November 4th, 2014

Hi Victoria. Watched both editions and thought you were fab as usual. Love the glasses!

PAULA NIXON at 10:04 am on November 5th, 2014

I thoroughly enjoyed the programme for its humour and incisive,insightful comments.You did a great job,as always,combining knowledge and humour with professionalism and femininity.

Clive at 1:04 pm on November 10th, 2014

Never mind that, what about the TV programme about the house full of spiders?

Did you really let them all out at the end, Vicky, or just flush them down the bath?

Entomologist at 4:04 pm on November 11th, 2014

Clive - surely this is a bad attempt at “humour”.  Are you honestly comparing Mrs Mitchell with Professor Alice Roberts?  Or, have you genuinely mistaken one for the other?  I suggest when next paying close attention to detail on TV, it will be the Specsavers advert! 


D Gerrard

Francois at 10:22 pm on November 11th, 2014

Really excellent show, I dont think I can remember a better one.

What is that person above, blathering on about?

Clive at 2:16 pm on November 19th, 2014

It wasn’t a “bad” attempt at humour, it was a pretty good one…

Now I can’t be the only one who thought it.

Francois at 10:53 pm on November 24th, 2014

Clive it was a dire ‘attempt’ at humour.

Phil at 1:09 am on July 28th, 2015

I think you’re beautiful and obviously smart… as a poker player. Respect girl !!!

Victoria Coren

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