Mock the Week

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Mock the Week
White 3D writing over globe reads "Mock the Week"
GenreComedy panel game
Created byDan Patterson
Mark Leveson
Presented byDara Ó Briain
Opening theme"News of the World" by The Jam
ComposerBruce Foxton
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series21
No. of episodes245 (list of episodes)
ProducersDan Patterson
Mark Leveson
Ewan Phillips
Ruth Wallace
Production locationsBBC Television Centre
(series 1–11, 17–21[1])
The London Studios[2]
(series 12–16)
EditorMykola Pawluk
Running time29 minutes
Production companyAngst Productions
Original release
NetworkBBC Two
Release5 June 2005 (2005-06-05) –
4 November 2022 (2022-11-04)
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Have I Got News for You
Russell Howard's Good News
Fast and Loose

Mock the Week is a topical satirical celebrity panel show, created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson. It was produced by Angst Productions for BBC Two,[3] and was broadcast from 5 June 2005 to 4 November 2022.[4] Presented by Dara Ó Briain, he and Hugh Dennis appeared in every episode, with a variety of other stand-up comedians being regular or guest panellists during the show's history.

The format of the programme saw six comedians divided into two teams and performing on a faux game show, in which the quiz aspect of answering questions relating to major and regional news items, all taken from the week before each episode's filming, is sidelined to focus on satirical, topical discussions on news items, stand-up routines, and the use of improvisational comedy.[5][6] Every series also included a compilation episode featuring notable scenes, out-takes and additional footage cut out after filming, with repeats of episodes being frequently shown on the channel Dave, with high viewing figures.


Both Dara Ó Briain and Hugh Dennis were regular members of the cast on Mock the Week

Mock the Week focused on six panellists, all comedians, split into two teams, in which they compete over four rounds, presided over by host Dara Ó Briain. Although the programme maintained a quiz aspect to the format, which featured questions on news items taken from those made during the week before an episode's filming, it was largely sidelined completely with a focus on comedy derived from topical, satirical discussions on the subject of each question, as well as from rounds featuring either stand-up routines by certain panellists, or improvisation comedy. Unlike Have I Got News for You, a similar topical, satirical programme that maintains a similar format but without the stand-up routines and improvisational comedy, Mock the Week's format did not use team captains or maintain a proper scoring system – teams generally win a round depending on who Dara, the host, deemed won it, including the episode.

Each episode was edited to feature about four rounds from those filmed and edited by production staff, to fit a 30-minute timeslot. Some content not used was often retained for use in a compilation episode, which also included outtakes and highlights from the series. Although the first two series featured a multitude of different rounds for use, most of these were later abolished, leaving the programme to primarily use the following rounds in each episode:

  • Picture of the Week: An image round in which panellists are shown a photograph from a news item and must identify the related story from it. The round usually focuses on panellists giving comedic answers that are deliberately wrong or mock the subject(s) of the image. The in-joke is Hugh Dennis finally saying the obvious answer, such as "That is Boris Johnson". The round generally does not conclude then, as both the host and panellists will usually enter topical, satirical discussion on the news item, including any additional questions given by the host.
  • Wheel of News: A stand-up challenge in which a handful of panellists must perform a stand-up routine, with each basing it on a subject determined by a "Random Topic Generator" (e.g. Education). The host often introduces the round with a title that is a comical reference to a recent event. The round initially featured most of the panellists appearing in the episode, but was gradually reduced to two panellists to provide more time for their routines.
  • If This is the Answer, What is the Question?: A round in which panellists are given the answer to a question on a topic and attempt to reveal what the question is, related to a current news story. The round usually involves panellists giving comedic questions that the answer could be connected to, and continues until the host prompts one member to give the correct question. The round generally does not conclude when this happens, as both the host and panellists will usually enter topical, satirical discussion on the news item, including any additional questions given by the host.
  • Scenes We'd Like to See: An improvisation round, operating similar to "Scenes from a Hat" from Whose Line Is It Anyway?, in which panellists are given two topics and must provide comedic suggestions and ideas for each one, with the host buzzing each panellist after they give an idea in order to let another come forward with their suggestion. An example of a topic for comedic suggestions could be "Commercials That Never Made it to Air".

On occasion the programme includes an additional round, which has mainly been shown during a compilation or special episode of the programme:

  • "Newsreel": An improvisation round, similar to the game of "Film Dub" from Whose Line Is It Anyway?, in which a panellist – primarily Hugh Dennis – is shown a piece of news footage with no sound, and must provide either a comedic commentary track, or vocal track of the people involved.
  • "Between the lines": An improvisation round involving two panellists. One performs as a notable figure (e.g. a politician) conducting a press conference, while another acts as a "translator", comically stating what they "really" mean to say. For example, panellist A might be performing as the Prime Minister and say "We are making certain that schools are well provided with school meals", to which panellist B (always Hugh) might comically translate it as "We made a deal for cheap soup and biscuits from the Russians".


The panellists were primarily comedians, including stand-up comedians, many of whom made multiple appearances. Hugh Dennis appeared in all episodes since the show's premiere in 2005, except for a special episode broadcast as part of David Walliams' 24 Hour Panel People.[7] Alongside Dennis and Ó Briain, others appeared as regular panellists, including Rory Bremner (Series 1 and 2), Frankie Boyle (Series 1 to 7),[8][9] Andy Parsons (Series 3 to 14),[10] Russell Howard (Series 4 to 9), Chris Addison (Series 10 to 12)[11] and Angela Barnes (Series 21).

Controversy and criticism[edit]

On several occasions, Mock the Week has been the source of complaints, due to some risqué comments made by the panellists and the show's extreme use of profanity (particularly during Frankie Boyle's tenure). In the first episode of Series 4, during a segment called "What The Queen Didn't Say in Her Christmas Message", Boyle made the comment: "I am now so old that my pussy is haunted." This led to the BBC's director general Mark Thompson being challenged about the comments on Newsnight.[12] Boyle later quipped "That was three years ago. If it wasn't haunted then it certainly is now."[13] In 2008, a larger controversy arose following another comment made by Boyle regarding swimmer Rebecca Adlington. Boyle stated that "she looks like someone who's looking at themselves in the back of a spoon".[14] The BBC ruled that the jokes were indeed "humiliating" and "risked offending the audience", while also calling Boyle "a brilliant member of the team".[15] Despite this, Adlington's agent said that simply admitting mistakes was not enough, saying: "By giving Frankie Boyle a rebuke they fail to discourage others from doing the same."[16]

After leaving the show, Boyle criticised both the show's production team and the BBC Trust. He claims that the show did not cover enough major news stories and was too restrictive on his risqué comedy act, as the producers and the BBC Trust were afraid of "frightening the horses".[17]

The lack of female guests on the programme has been the subject of complaints in the letters page of the Radio Times. Jo Brand, while criticising the male-dominated genre of comedy panel shows, said in 2009, "I don't do Mock the Week anymore and neither do some male stand-ups I know who have tried it once. We just don't like the prospect of having to bite someone's foot off before they let us say something."[18]

In 2013, former panelist Rory Bremner stated his reasons for leaving the show, saying: "I felt that there was a new and highly competitive and quite aggressive tendency there and felt uncomfortable. But I've since found out that very few people have felt comfortable doing Mock the Week." He also criticised the way comedians like Linda Smith were treated by new comedians, who "are like prize fighters".[19]



On 26 November 2007, the show's first DVD - Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV was released by Spirit Entertainment. It contains a DVD-exclusive compilation feature containing unseen footage, in addition to three extended episodes from series five, containing scenes that were considered too rude for broadcast.[20] The three extended episodes are entitled, 'Putin, Henman & Konnie Huq', 'Nuts, Pies and Nim Nim Nim' and 'Money, Sex and The Lib Dems'.

On 9 November 2009, Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV 2 was released once again by Sprit Entertainment. Again, the DVD contains the main 'Too Hot For TV' feature with a compilation of unseen footage, plus three extended episodes from the series archives titled, 'The Anal Lube Show', 'The Leg Show' and 'The Hedgehog Show'. The extended episodes have a total of more than 40 minutes of unseen material.[21] Audio CD versions of both DVDs are available.

On 8 November 2010, Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV 3 was released, once more by Spirit. Like the previous two, this DVD features an hour-long smut reel and three extended episodes titled 'The Elves and Testicles Show', 'The Prisons and Other Dodgy Stuff Show', and 'The Johnny Blowjob and Bird Flu Show'.[22]


Boxtree published seven original tie-in books between 2008 and 2014, plus one which compiled the best of the first two books.

Mock the Week: Scenes We'd Like to See (August 2008)
Mock the Week: This Year's Book (September 2009)
Mock the Week: 1001 Jokes (January 2010, collected the best of the first two books, later published in paperback as Mock the Week: 1001 Scenes We'd Like to See)
Mock the Week: Next Year's Book (September 2010)
Mock the Week's Funniest Book of All Time (2011)
Mock the Week's Only Book You'll Ever Need (2012)
Mock the Week's Ultimate Panic-Buy! (2013)
Mock the Week's Brand Spanking New Scenes We'd Like to See (2014).[23]


Original series[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 5 June 2005 3 July 2005 5
2 20 January 2006 24 February 2006 6
3 14 September 2006 19 October 2006 6
4 11 January 2007 8 February 2007 5
5 12 July 2007 20 September 2007 11
6 10 July 2008 18 September 2008 11
7 9 July 2009 24 September 2009 11
8 21 January 2010 18 February 2010 5
9 17 June 2010 7 October 2010 10
10 9 June 2011 13 October 2011 11
11 14 June 2012 11 October 2012 11
12 13 June 2013 3 October 2013 11
13 12 June 2014 9 October 2014 11
14 11 June 2015 8 October 2015 11
15 9 June 2016 7 October 2016 11
16 8 June 2017 6 October 2017 11
17 7 June 2018 5 October 2018 11
18 23 May 2019 6 December 2019 11
19 22 October 2020 4 February 2021 11
20 13 May 2021 9 December 2021 11
21 23 September 2022 21 October 2022 5


Date Entitle
10 July 2005 The Best of Series 1
2 March 2006 The Best of Series 2
26 October 2006 The Best of Series 3
15 February 2007 The Best of Series 4
27 September 2007 The Best of Series 5
25 September 2008 The Best of Series 6
23 December 2008 Christmas Special
20 August 2009 The Best of Series 7 (Part 1)
22 December 2009 Christmas Special/The Best of Series 7 (Part 2)
25 February 2010 The Best of Series 8
29 July 2010 The Best of Series 9 (Part 1)
14 October 2010 The Best of Series 9 (Part 2)
21 December 2010 Christmas Special
5 March 2011 24 Hour Panel People Comic Relief Special
14 July 2011 The Best of Series 10 (Part 1)
20 December 2011 Christmas Special/The Best of Series 10 (Part 2)
5 July 2012 100th Episode
19 July 2012 The Best of Series 11 (Part 1)
27 December 2012 Christmas Special/The Best of Series 11 (Part 2)
10 October 2013 The Best of Series 12
31 December 2013 Christmas Special
21 November 2014 The Best of Series 13
23 December 2014 Christmas Special
31 December 2014 New Year Eve's Special
19 October 2015 The Best of Series 14
21 December 2015 Christmas Special
14 October 2016 The Best of Series 15
14 December 2016 Christmas Special
13 October 2017 The Best of Series 16
20 December 2017 Christmas Special
12 October 2018 The Best of Series 17
21 December 2018 Christmas Special
13 December 2019 The Best of Series 18
20 December 2019 Christmas Special
21 December 2020 Christmas Special
31 December 2020 The Best of Series 19
16 December 2021 Christmas Special
28 December 2021 New Year Eve's Special
28 October 2022 History of Mock the Week Part 1
4 November 2022 History of Mock the Week Part 2

Mock the Week Looks Back At...[edit]

# Category Air date
1"Health"[24]3 March 2013 (2013-03-03)
2"Animals"[25]10 March 2013 (2013-03-10)
3"Education"[26]17 March 2013 (2013-03-17)
4"Entertainment"[27]24 March 2013 (2013-03-24)
5"Law & Order"[28]31 March 2013 (2013-03-31)
6"Science & Technology"[29]7 April 2013 (2013-04-07)
7"Travel"[30]21 April 2013 (2013-04-21)
8"Britain"[31]28 April 2013 (2013-04-28)
9"Royals"[32]12 May 2013 (2013-05-12)
10"Food & Drink"[33]19 May 2013 (2013-05-19)

International version[edit]

A US version is set to premiere on Amazon Freevee with Trevor Noah and Patterson as executive producers.[34]


  1. ^ "Mock The Week". BBC Studioworks. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Mock The Week is back in full close-up HD glory" (Press release). BBC. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  3. ^ "The Company". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  4. ^ Dara Ó Briain. "That's all folks! "History of Mock The Week" parts 1 and 2 will be on over the next two weeks, but there ends the most funny, energetic, sharp and silly of all the panel shows, I think. Huge thanks to all the comics, and production staff, who joined us and made it great. X". Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved 27 October 2022.
  5. ^ Logan, Brian (29 October 2013). "Ross Noble mocks Mock the Week". The Guardian.
  6. ^ Jefferies, Mark (20 August 2013). "Mock The Week gags are pre-planned admits TV comedian Alan Davies". Daily Mirror.
  7. ^ "The Show". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  8. ^ "Mock The Week returns to BBC Two for two series deal". BBC Press Office. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  9. ^ "Boyle leaves Mock The Week panel". BBC Scotland. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  10. ^ "Andy Parsons quits Mock the Week". Chortle. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Chris Addison takes time off Mock The Week". Chortle. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  12. ^ Quinn, Ben (31 October 2008). "Complaints as comments about the Queen aired". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  13. ^ Frankie Boyle, My Shit Life So Far, HarperCollins Publishers 2010.
  14. ^ Singh, Anita (20 October 2009). "Mock the Week in trouble over Rebecca Adlington 'joke'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  15. ^ "'Mock' rapped over swimmer jibes". BBC. 19 October 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  16. ^ "Swimmer queries Mock show ruling". BBC. 2 November 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  17. ^ "Frankie Boyle slams Mock the Week". Metro. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  18. ^ Brand, Jo (10 June 2009). "Women - beware panel shows!". The Guardian. London.
  19. ^ Hall, James (1 January 2013). "Rory Bremner attacks BBC's Mock the Week". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  20. ^ "The DVD". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  21. ^ Mock the Week: Too Hot For TV 2 –
  22. ^ "Mock the Week – Too Hot For TV 3". Amazon UK. 8 November 2010.
  23. ^ Richardson, Anna (21 December 2007). "Boxtree ready to mock the week". The Bookseller. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  24. ^ "Episode 1.1 – Health". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  25. ^ "Episode 1.2 – Animals". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  26. ^ "Episode 1.3 – Education". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  27. ^ "Episode 1.4 – Entertainment". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  28. ^ "Episode 1.5 – Law & Order". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  29. ^ "Episode 1.6 – Science & Technology". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  30. ^ "Episode 1.7 – Travel". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  31. ^ "Episode 1.8 – Britain". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  32. ^ "Episode 1.9 – Royals". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  33. ^ "Episode 1.10 – Food & Drink". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  34. ^ "Mock The Week USA coming to Amazon Freevee". British Comedy Guide. 2 May 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.

External links[edit]