Never Mind The Buzzcocks is a long-running panel game based on contemporary music. It focuses on the world of rock and pop music - and aims to blow apart the recording industry's delusions of grandeur. How effective it is at this goal is sometimes called into question.
A History of the Show
The show started in 1996, with Mark Lamarr as host and Phill Jupitus and Sean Hughes as the team captains. However, nearing 20 years later only Jupitus remains from the original line-up. Lamarr, who had previous experience of panel games (having started work as a regular on Shooting Stars in 1995), left the show in 2005. Following his departure a selection of guest hosts were used, before eventually comedian Simon Amstell - who had become notable for his irreverent interviews on cult C4 show Popworld - was selected as the permanent replacement in 2006.
Hughes had already left, in 2002, and had been replaced by Bill Bailey ever since. During Series 21 in 2007, Bailey had prior touring commitments for a number of dates and so was replaced by Noel Fielding for three episodes. However, he then left the show permanently and so the 22nd series used a number of guest team captains. In 2009 Noel Fielding was unveiled as Bailey's permanent replacement, but a minor scandal in which he was revealed to have been a frequent user of Class A drugs caused the appointment to be revoked. Once the fury surrounding the incident had calmed, Fielding was indeed installed as a regular captain for the next series, the show's 23rd run.
In what was widely seen as a huge blow to the show, at the end of the 22nd series Simon Amstell announced he was leaving too. Unable to decide on a suitable replacement, producers opted to revisit the old guest host route again. Claudia Winkleman, Jack Whitehall, Frank Skinner, James Corden and Mark Watson were amongst the many who fronted the show during this period.
However, fast forward to 2021 and the format returned, now on Sky, and with a new-look set. Greg Davies took over as host, with Fielding facing off against new team captain Daisy May Cooper. Jamali Maddix was also present, as a regular panellist.
During its life, Never Mind The Buzzcocks has faced a number of controversies. Notably, lead singer of indie rock band The Ordinary Boys, Samuel Preston, stormed off stage half-way through a recording after host Simon Amstell kept reading out unintentionally humorous extracts from Preston's then-wife's autobiography, and commenting that most of the songs on his band's album were not written by him.
There were four rounds in the original BBC incarnation of Never Mind The Buzzcocks. The first round changes from episode to episode and usually involves the panel having to guess something to do with a singer or a band. Examples of challenges include:
- Sorry No Refunds: The panel have to guess why a singer or a band cancelled a gig.
- Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?: The panel have to guess how a singer injured themselves.
- Woop-Woop! That's the Sound of Da Police!: The panel have to guess how a singer got involved in crime.
- Do You Know Who I Am?: The panel have to say what bizarre backstage requests a particular band have made at their gigs.
- Mama Said 'Knock You Out': The panel are shown two bands, and have to guess what feud they have been involved in.
- What Have We Pixellated?: A music video is show with a mystery object pixellated; it is the panellists job to identify what it is.
A refresh of the Buzzcocks format for 2011's Series 25 saw props now involved in this opening round.
The second rounds is the Intros Round, in which the team captain and one of the panellists (normally the musical guest) perform the intro to a song, without using words and (normally) without musical instruments either. The third member of the team must try to recognise and name the song and artist that they are emulating.
The third round is usually the Identity Parade, where the panel have to identify an obscure musical artist from a line-up of five people. On a number of occasions one of the extras has proven particularly humourous and reappeared at a later date, even though they look nothing like the other members of the later episode's parade. Examples include expressionless black man Athelston Williams and psychotic looking comedian Phil Zimmerman.
Sometimes this round is replaced by other rounds featuring look-alikes. One is Biggie to Smalls, in which the panel have to arrange four different musicians in a certain order, for example based on the number of qualifications each has, or the number of children they have. Other rounds have included What Person Goes With What Thing? in which there are four musicians and four different things connected to them, all with a common theme (for example, previous jobs). The team are challenged to correctly connect the star to their 'thing'. There is also Hello, Is It Me You're Looking For?, in which the panel have to try and find the odd one out from four musicians.
The final round is Next Lines, in which the host reads out a line from a famous song and the panel have to attempt to recall what the next line is. One recurring feature is that at least one of the lyrics comes from the musical guest's own album... and more often than not we get to see them fail to recognise their own work.
For Sky's 2021 revival of the series, many of the rounds returned - notably the much-loved intros and identity parade games - but with slightly less formatted regularity, and more variation between episodes.