David Dimbleby.

David Dimbleby

One Brexit positive? It may make HIGNFY watchable again

The panel show hasn't been funny since at least 2012. But the sheer stupidity and self-destructiveness of our politics may just help it rediscover its bite.

Stuart Heritage, The Guardian, 5th April 2019

Series we've lost count (it's 57, if you must ask) of the panel show begins with David Dimbleby in the host's chair. Joining Merton and Hislop, meanwhile, are the doc-maker, Stacey Dooley and the German comic Henning Wehn, who is sure to land some digs at his adopted country's omni-Brexit-shambles.

Gwilym Mumford, The Guardian, 5th April 2019

I was surprised to see the new series of Harry & Paul (Sunday, BBC Two) being aired at 10pm on a Sunday. Surely its natural home is a Friday evening, before or after Have I Got News for You? But after a moment's reflection, I appreciated what was going on. Sunday nights have become the most important ratings battlefield, with those who want something serious watching either Homeland on Channel 4 or Andrew Marr's History of the World on BBC One. Those who want cheering up with a bit of comedy head off for Downton Abbey on ITV1 - but where do they go for their laughs after that? ITV1 and BBC One head straight into the news. Channel 4 goes into comedy with the not very funny Friday Night Dinner. That leaves BBC Two.

The question is, are Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse still funny? Yes mostly, is the short answer, though their sketches are uneven. There were some old favourites included in the first episode, such as the intelligent and very posh surgeons, as well as the reactionary duffers in their gentleman's club discussing who in public life is and isn't "queer" (it was Michael Gove's turn in this one). These were unapologetic and well executed both.

But of the new material, some, such as a sketch involving two Irish-American cops in a bar, needed to be run through the typewriter again. While others, such as a black and white Strangers on a Train sketch, I felt I had seen before, Fifties parodies being their stock in trade. A sketch in which a posh racehorse trainer was talking in an unintelligible way to an Irish jockey, meanwhile, had shades of the Ted and Ralph sketches from The Fast Show. But that one can be forgiven if only because they managed to smuggle the "c" word into the stream of impenetrable verbiage in such a way that you were not sure you had really heard it. The most enjoyable of the new sketches was a subtitled parody of The Killing, which then bled into other sketches.

Their satire works best when their targets are generic and broad rather than specific. Their parodies of Question Time and Dragons' Den in this new series, for example, felt too in-jokey, like an office Christmas review in which you send up the bosses. The former would have worked just as well if the chairman wasn't supposed to be David Dimbleby.

The moronic questioner - "If the bankers, the bonuses, the bankers, the bonuses" - was spot on, however, though it didn't need David Dimbleby to spell out that he was a moron. "Man in the green jumper, do you have a clich├ęd thought for us?"

But the satire of Harry & Paul was never intended to be as sophisticated as that of Armando Iannucci, and there is room for both.

Nigel Farndale, The Telegraph, 4th November 2012

Video - Steve Coogan: Tories' 'pleb management' policy

Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that "people in public life should show good manners to the electorate and the police are part of that electorate".

The Conservative MP was speaking on Question Time in the aftermath of the accusation that Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell insulted police officers in Downing Street. Mr Mitchell has denied that he used the word "plebs" but apologised for his lack of respect.

Comedian Steve Coogan responded by suggesting that some modern Conservative MPs disguise their real thoughts and modify their language in public.

David Dimbleby, BBC News, 28th September 2012