TV panel shows - I'm sorry they haven't a clue

The same few hackneyed comedians keep cropping up on TV panel shows. Fiona Sturges doesn't see the funny side

Last week, I found myself watching the BBC1 panel game Would I Lie To You? for the first time.

If you're not familiar with it – and if that's the case I implore you not to waste your time – it is essentially a modern-day Call My Bluff hosted by Rob Brydon and captained by Lee Mack and David Mitchell. It has a series of comics of varying levels of fame considering the veracity of such stories as Miranda Hart's claim that her best friend at school was a little man made from a piece of toast.

It wasn't just the banality of the show that annoyed me, though admittedly my search for the remote control got increasing frantic as Clive Anderson embarked on an unfunny tale about how his wallet was once stolen by a walrus, to the forced hilarity of all around him. No, my main gripe was that the same old gaggle of comics had made their way on to my screen uninvited. Again.

Now I've got nothing against comedians. On rare occasions they even make my face twitch into something approximating a smile. But right now there seems to be a particular cast of comedians and comic actors who, not content with appearing in their own programmes, have become a fixture on a raft of increasingly indistinguishable panel shows, many of which have inexplicably inched their way into the prime-time slots.

Take David Mitchell. Cult kudos was never going to be enough for this self-consciously preppy actor and comedian best known for Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look. Now he is such a regular fixture on QI, Mock the Week, Have I Got News For You, Best of Worst and Would I Lie To You?, as well as hosting The Bubble and Radio 4's The Unbelievable Truth, that you assume he must be giving the cash-strapped BBC some sort of two-for-the-price-of-one discount. Either that or it's his life's ambition to be the new Robert Robinson.

Then there's Rob Brydon, a man who showed considerable talent as the tragically cuckolded mini-cab driver in Marion & Geoff and later shone as Gavin and Stacey's Uncle Bryn. Now he's everywhere, presenting Would I Lie to You?, doing his straight-faced, quasi-naive shtick on QI and Have I Got News For You, and even masterminding the BBC3 show Annually Retentive, a painfully knowing drama about – get this! – an insecure, washed-up comic who gets a job as a quiz-show host.

Similarly persistent panel-show contestants include Clive Anderson, Sean Lock, Dara O'Briain, Jimmy Carr, Ronni Ancona and Lee Mack, all of whom will never knowingly turn down a television appearance even if it means recycling the same gags across multiple programmes. The ubiquity of panel games, and their guests, means that for the viewer every day is like Groundhog Day with the same tired old faces appearing on the same tired old formats.

And if their existence on terrestrial channels isn't bad enough, did you know that on a Tuesday night you can switch over to Dave, the so-called "home of witty banter", and watch back-to-back episodes of QI, Mock the Week, Would I Lie To You? and Have I Got News for You. This means that, should you get lucky, you could be in the company of David Mitchell's nasal-voiced sarcasm for a full two-and-a-half hours.

Of course, some of these BBC shows – and they are, by and large, made by the BBC – are better than others and I would fight to the death to keep Have I Got News For You and QI on our screens until the end of time. The rest, however, are cheaply made, badly written and horribly dated programmes that should never have got past the first round of commissioning meetings. And as for their guest stars, in the name of all that is holy, isn't it time to take a holiday?

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence