The most important job on a TV panel show is the celebrity booker. But on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, it’s not just about getting the right guests, it’s also about getting the right host. This series has been the worst in my memory and the whole format has felt very tired, despite the effort Phil Jupitus and Noel Fielding seem to be trying to put into it. It’s had a mish-mash of hosts and guests and I’m sure the ratings have been bad.
I was thinking recently about Cilla Black and wondering what she was up to. So colour me surprised to see that she was hosting this week’s episode of NMTB. I knew she would be a good host and I wasn’t disappointed.
On Phil Jupitus’ team? A young hip-hop duo called Rizzle Kicks, and a female comedian called Tiffany Stevenson. No? Me neither. On Noel’s team? Holly Willoughby and the new George Dawes on Shooting Stars – an in-character comedian called Angelos Epithemiou. He’s meant to be a Greek burger van owner and is dressed a bit like a tramp with a Sainsburys shopping bag filled with comedy props like a blind man’s cane, a hedgehog mask, a horn and a thinking cap.
As I said, Cilla was on top form. She talked about getting her lallies out (legs!) and about how Frankie Howerd said that she was the only girl he knew who had two backs (and no boobs). She talked about how she went through The Beatles (not in that way) and that Ringo Starr used to look like Yasser Arafat (the reaction shots to this were great). She even sang the theme tune to ‘Surprise, Surprise’ a couple of times. And in one of the identity line ups they had the first woman to get married from Blind Date – who Cilla then revealed was now divorced.
Tiffany Stevenson was quite funny too. She made a good gag about Noel Fielding playing the stick in Dexy’s Midnight Runners:
The one on the left of Rizzle Kicks was quite funny too (the one of the right didn’t say much). Holly Willoughby tried to make lots of jokes – but they generally felt quite forced like when a teacher or boss tries to be cool. She talked about her first kiss with a pool boy when she went on holiday to Lanzarote, but then she still got the year wrong for when Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl came out (1996 – not 1997). And Angelos was very funny too – using his comedic props to great use, and was very good at the Intros round.
All in all a funny episode, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be tuning in next week. Even if it is Rhod Gilbert as host.