Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Room 101

Thursday, 10 January 2013


  Tomorrow night, I’m going to be on Room 101 (BBC One, not sure what time, though it’s on the “news” page of this site, if I only knew how to have two windows open at once). It’s funny, you spend your life being constantly irritated by almost everything. So, when Room 101 come along and ask if you’d like to have a rant, you bite their arm off. Then, a week or so before the recording when they ask for a shortlist, your mind goes blank. Suddenly, the world seems sunny and perfect. Can’t think of anything but kittens and rainbows.

  Don’t worry, I dredged up a couple. But now the recording’s over, of course, it all comes flooding back. How could I have forgotten how annoying I find bad losers, beer culture, massages, passwords that don’t mean anything, squirrels, sand, shorts, watch adverts, films on either side of the news, the news, people who put the receipt in your hand at the supermarket underneath the change I DON’T WANT THE RECEIPT STOP TRYING TO WEIGH IT DOWN SO I CAN’T GET RID OF IT, “hold up” stockings, people who cheer at the poker table, people who use French phrases in normal conversation, glitchy internet, hair products, wind chimes, being allergic to grapefruit, umbrellas, cheap tissues…

  ... I’ll pause there. On the programme, I opted for a couple of things to do with tea and nudity. Which are, after all, my main preoccupations.

  Fellow guests are Phil Tufnell and Terry Wogan, and the host is my old mate Frank Skinner. (In the real, Orwellian Room 101, of course, you don’t have to compete with anyone to get your pet hates into the room - and you don’t want them in there anyway. It’s your personal hell; if you don’t like the thing, it’ll just bloody be there.)

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AndytheDealer at 10:48 pm on January 10th, 2013

What have the French done to upset you?

Maggie H at 11:19 pm on January 10th, 2013

Don’t worry about being allergic to grapefruit - it’s horrible. You could be allergic to something to nice, like chocolate or strawberries. Just be glad you’re not allergic to strawberries instead.

Claudia at 10:44 am on January 11th, 2013

Hold strg while clicking the link or strg + t to open a new tab ;)

Chris at 10:55 am on January 11th, 2013

Sadly, my Room 101 is the “new improved” Room 101.

The old format allowed for a quirky but interesting chat with one person, and for me was must-watch TV.

Seems I was in a minority, as they decided to change it and turned it into a panel game. As if we didn’t have enough of them already.

harry meadows at 11:36 am on January 11th, 2013

This comment is completely off topic, but I felt that it was important enough to eschew relevance.

In the Jim Davidson article published in the Guardian, the accompanying picture of Jim Davidson shows him doing what looks like an impressive, if sinister, magic trick, where he has made a child’s clothing appear out of nowhere. But where is the child (and what is it wearing!)?

thestooshie at 2:17 pm on January 11th, 2013

Yes, grapefruit is FOUL. You’re missing precisely nothing.

You’ve also just reminded me of how much I HATE people giving me the receipt under the change. As someone who does not keep their receipts, this phenomenon must be eradicated.

thestooshie at 2:27 pm on January 11th, 2013

Oh, and welcome back to your blog and all of that!

Clive at 6:57 pm on January 11th, 2013

Kittens and rainbows! They’re my pet hates. Bah!

I think they made Room 101 a panel thing to stop someone just boring on for 30 minutes; the old format got quite threadbare. There is a real potential problem, you can have someone sounding like a long-winded cabbie, or perpetual moaner, you have to be quite charismatic, quite energised to pull it off.

One of my faves of the old format was Terry Christian, surprisingly, he came across very well. Dissed Scrappy Doo before it was well known to do so.

Donald at 9:09 pm on January 11th, 2013

Fun programme. Agreed with you 100% on the tea business.

The Tim at 9:24 pm on January 11th, 2013

@AndytheDealer - Au contraire, I think it’s really pretentious to use French expressions. Chaqu’un a son gout, as they say in England.

David at 9:25 pm on January 11th, 2013

I think you were robbed. Most certainly on the tea and fenestration fronts. As much as Terry is a ‘national treasure’, I’m not sure the kowtowing was justified on this occasion. I demand a steward’s enquiry.

saydonktodonks at 1:25 am on January 12th, 2013

kowtowing, that’s what i hate !
thanks for the new word David !

Chris at 2:26 am on January 12th, 2013

@Clive - I’d rather be bored by the occasional dull guest, while being entertained by the majority; than see the format reduced to the inane vanilla pap it has become.

Steve at 9:02 am on January 12th, 2013

You should have won - you totally nailed changing rooms and tea!

Eve at 11:43 am on January 12th, 2013

Absolutely brilliant - very funny, particularly the English Breakfast Tea rant…. incidentally loved the dress you were wearing. Is it rude to ask where you got it?  Have just lost four and a half stone and that is exactly the style I am aiming for.  Thanks x

Victoria Coren at 2:13 pm on January 12th, 2013

Hi Eve. I think it was from Warehouse, but I’m afraid it’s a really old dress - I’ve had it about ten years, so I doubt they still stock it..
  But congratulations on your weight loss - assuming it was a deliberate choice and you’re still a nice healthy weight now. If so, you’ll probably love the way everything looks on you anyway!

cjk at 2:43 pm on January 13th, 2013

Just watched Room 101. I don’t like the newer format and the way they’ve turned it into a gameshow. I thought you put your opinions over very well and spoke a lot of sense. I would loved to have seen you on the old format. If it had been up to me I would have put the English Breakfast tea and the barely opening windows into the room. I felt Frank Skinner gave you a harder time than the other two.

Gyan at 4:39 am on January 14th, 2013

OT: Curious if Heresy on Radio 4 is coming back for a 9th series?

Olivia A at 9:01 am on January 14th, 2013

Watched it and I thought you were hilarious and as always incredibly articulate. I would certainly have agreed and put all of the things that you suggested into Room 101. I wonder if you noticed that you were trending on twitter in the UK during the episode? It was lovely to see people who hadn’t heard of you previously enjoying watching you!

Ashley Law at 1:14 pm on January 14th, 2013

I did understand the window only opening a few degrees. You need to be in columbia to have the rite to see what only the few see. Look up a whited sky, no more Mr Blue sky.
Not all as bright as you?

Eve at 8:54 pm on January 14th, 2013

Many thanks and for kind comments. Yes, by choice x

Spud at 10:36 am on January 16th, 2013

I like the idea that you and Him Indoors are united in a hatred of wind chimes. It’s nice for couples to share a hobby.

E Kerr at 4:35 pm on January 16th, 2013

Surely, a bit of French adds a certain “je ne sais quoi” to a conversation, and just how cheap do those tissues have to be?  You mean poor quality tissues, n’est-ce-que pas?

Norman at 9:53 pm on January 17th, 2013

I did enjoy your well argued contribution to the show.

Interestingly, I DO want my receipts, but still agree with your complaint.  It makes it just as awkward for me to put the receipt somewhere safe as for you to get rid of it.  Similarly, if the change contains notes, I don’t want them buried under coins (unless it is really windy).

I sort of agree with you about the windows, although I like to have a screwdriver with me just in case, rather than complain. (I also leave things as I found them.)

I consider that umbrellas are rather too useful to go into room 101 even though they are near useless when it’s windy and I keep losing them.  They still offer outstanding opportunities for chivalry and romance.
As for hair products, it would be nice to have some hair to use them on.

John at 1:15 am on January 21st, 2013

A jokey Hitler teapot and a professed love of Wagner’s music on the one show?

Eh? wtf Frank?

Tim Weaver at 8:24 pm on January 22nd, 2013

Hi, Bit of a personal plea. I tried contacting on Twitter but it’s less generous with the amount of characters than here. It’s my friends 21st birthday and he wants to do the Otley run (Google it, its in Leeds). Decided to see if we can get any celebrities to join us. Now admittedly the likes of Chico and Dave Benson Phillips have been knocked around, so apologies for putting you in that sort of group.

It would brilliant if I could get a reply from you. A yes would suffice. We are only students but we would pay for your drinks and hotel, as long as its cheap beer and a Travel lodge.

I am afraid it is held in Leeds, but I can’t do anything about the northern people. The best I can offer is to make sure my northern friends say bath and grass properly.

Hope to hear from you soon.


Victoria Coren at 10:18 pm on January 22nd, 2013

Hi Tim. I’m afraid I always say no to anything with the word “run” in it, but I hope your friend has a happy birthday and finishes the day without getting himself in any trouble…!

J at 7:02 pm on January 24th, 2013

Even as a coffee drinker myself, I agree 100% with your comments on tea. And I think you’re right to say it’s probably largely due to American coffee chains, I think they’re trying to make tea sound “cooler”. All these fancy flavours, and they even have tea latte’s now? Even the coffee drinks aren’t just simply coffee anymore. What ever happened to going somewhere and ordering tea or coffee? Now, whichever you order, it takes longer to order it than it does for the person to make it!

Clive at 9:03 pm on January 29th, 2013

Hey Vicky, if you read Tim’s post about the fun run again, he doesn’t specifically ask for YOU to take part…

He was maybe hoping you’d ask your hubby, or one of the HIGNFY team on his behalf…

Suzy Meek Geere at 10:46 am on May 24th, 2014

I found Victoria brilliant ,funny ,and acerbic as always . The subject of the fascist teapot however ,was pretty offensive towards her, call me old fashioned, but in my opinion the mass murderer Hitler does not hold any modicum of amusement .

Victoria Coren

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