I’ve hesitated to write about this, but I was really upset by BBC1’s Have I Got News For You last night. It had been a tiring but good week, and I wanted something funny to watch before bed. I watched it on catch-up and was first of all disappointed to see an all-male panel. I thought these were things of the past, now, on these shows? I find all male panels very boring, full of droning self-congratulation, and fifty-something white male panels are the dullest of the lot.
Jo Brand was the host, which made me decide to persevere with watching. Brand is a marvellous comedian, coming more and more into her own these days, well on the way to national treasure status. Her Extra Slice show on C4 has been a lot more fun than this series of the Great British Bake Off, and I am currently re-watching her Getting On, a lovely spiky satire of the world via the microcosm of an NHS geriatric ward. It’s slow-burn humour but it’s a marvellous ensemble piece between Brand, Joanna Scanlon and Vicky Pepperdine.
Anyway, Have I Got News For You was excruciating, even with Jo Brand at the helm. At one point, she was forced to have to explain to the sniggering overgrown schoolboys just what sexual harassment is and why it is unpleasant for women. Honestly! The show was deeply, deeply unfunny, toe-curlingly awful, and made me go to bed upset and bewildered at just how badly wrong the BBC could get this. One of the panelists was even able to repeat a horrible suggestion he’d made on radio last week about pinning a distinguished female columnist down on the floor and tickling her – which is the modern equivalent, surely, of saying she just needs a good **** from a man to sort her out. This is a man I used to know well on the Telegraph and, I’m now ashamed to say, quite liked at the time. How incredibly disappointing to see what he’s turned into.
For the first time ever, I complained about the programme. If you saw it and would like to do the same, you can do so here. If you did watch it, I’d be really interested to hear your opinions on it.