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
On The Apprentice, “serious” left the room many moons ago and yet still we watch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from David Ayer's 'Fury'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift performs at the 2014 iHeart Radio Music Festival
music review
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Arts and Entertainment
Miranda Hart has called time on her award-winning BBC sitcom, Miranda
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Boy George performing with Culture Club at Heaven

musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing
books

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

music
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

art
Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

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.

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker