Mock the Week

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Mock the Week
White 3D writing over globe reads "Mock the Week"
Genre Comedy
Created by Dan Patterson
Mark Leveson
Presented by Dara Ó Briain
Opening theme "News of the World" by The Jam
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 15
No. of episodes 154 (as of 14 July 2016) (list of episodes)
Producer(s) Dan Patterson
Mark Leveson
Ewan Phillips
Ruth Wallace
Location(s) BBC Television Centre
(series 1–11)
The London Studios[1]
(series 12–present)
Running time 29 minutes
Production company(s) Angst Productions
Original network BBC Two
Picture format 576i (16:9 SDTV) (2005–12)
1080i (HDTV)[1] (2013–present)
Audio format Stereo
Original release 5 June 2005 (2005-06-05) – present
Related shows Mock the Week Looks Back At...
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Russell Howard's Good News
Fast and Loose
External links

Mock the Week is a British topical celebrity panel game hosted by Dara Ó Briain. The game is influenced by improvised topical stand-up comedy, with several rounds requiring players to deliver answers on unexpected subjects on the spur of the moment.[citation needed]

It is made by independent production company Angst Productions and made its debut on BBC Two on 5 June 2005. It was created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson, the same people responsible for the comedy game show Whose Line Is It Anyway?[2] The show's theme song is "News of the World" by The Jam.[3]

Old episodes currently air on Dave, a fact that is frequently mentioned on the show. Episodes attracted 3.5 million viewers in 2007.[4]


The show is hosted by Dara Ó Briain and on the panel are two teams of three. The current panel consists of Hugh Dennis and two guest panelists seated on Ó Briain's right, and three guest panelists on his left. For the first seven series, Dennis was joined by Frankie Boyle, and from the second half of series 10 through the first half of series 12, he was joined by Chris Addison. The other team originally included Rory Bremner for the first two series; Parsons was made a permanent panelist after Bremner left, and was joined by Russell Howard for the following series, staying until 2010. Hugh Dennis remains the only team member to appear in every episode (except the special episode that was part of David Walliams' 24 Hour Panel People).[5] Howard was absent for some of series 9 as he was concentrating on other projects.

On 2 October 2009, the BBC announced that Frankie Boyle would not be returning to the show "due to other television commitments", having been absent for the final recording of series 7.[6][7] After missing the latter portion of series 9 and first half of series 10, Russell Howard also officially left the show. Chris Addison then joined as a regular, taking the seat previously occupied by Boyle on Hugh's team.[8] Following the end of series 12, it was announced that Addison would not be returning for series 13, due to his involvement in a project being filmed in the United States.[9] No formal statement was issued regarding his possible involvement in the next series. In October 2015 it was announced that Andy Parsons had left the show after twelve series as a regular.[10]

To viewers' left of Dennis's team is the Press Pit, which is a large desk where they sometimes play a round called Between the Lines. Next to this is the much wider Performance Area which has a large TV screen, normally used for stand-up and improvisation challenges such as Dating Videos and Scenes We'd Like To See.

Although Hugh Dennis is in effect a team captain (and is sometimes referred to as such in publicity material), such a distinction is never made on the programme itself. For the first two series Rory Bremner was considered to be the other team captain; however, he left the show after series 2 and was replaced by a different guest panelist each week (although Andy Parsons was a permanent panelist for series 3 to 11). In effect, Dennis's opposition do not have a team captain.

Although each episode has a winning and losing team, the entire show exists mainly to provide starting points for improvised comedy routines rather than to function as a serious competition. Specific scores are never referred to, and it has been stated by Dara comically that the scoring system is in fact "a load of bollocks". Indeed, after each round, the number of points awarded to a team is never stated; instead Dara just gives "the points" to the team he judges should receive them. In episode 11 of season 6, Dara admitted that winners of each round and point allocation was not based on anything specific, and viewers should "stop e-mailing in."


Regular rounds[edit]

The following games feature in all episodes of Mock the Week:


This round is played by all panelists. In this round, a photo of someone famous in the news is given, along with the initial letters of a newspaper headline. The panelists have to eventually guess what the headline is, though they initially come in with comic suggestions until Dara prompts someone to give the correct answer.

Guests such as Michael McIntyre have admitted they often struggled to come up with a headline that fits and gets a laugh (In one episode, Michael's best effort was "Brown Orders Tree Explosion") Furthermore, as was evidenced on the "Too Hot For TV" DVD releases, a hefty percentage of headlines pitched (mainly by Frankie Boyle) were not suitable for broadcast.

In recent episodes, this round has been replaced by "Picture Of The Week", in which the panelists merely have to make a joke about the image itself, rather than fit it to the initials of a headline.

Wheel of News[edit]

This game takes place in the Performance Area. In the first series all six players took part, but from the second series onwards, only between two and four players take part. On the screen is a Random News Generator with several topics on it. A topic is picked at random, and one of the players has to perform a stand-up comedy piece about the topic it has landed on.

In series 1 and 2, Dara would judge whether the audience had laughed enough at the routine, and decide whether or not the person was allowed to sit down. The first team to have all their players back in their seats would win. If one player from each team was left standing, sudden death would come into effect. A random topic was picked and both players had to talk about it. The team of whoever got the biggest laugh would win. Since series 3, this has been removed, and the biggest laugh now decides the winner.

Since series 2, Dara has changed the name of this round each episode, sometimes as a reference to a recent event. Examples of this include Dara's Supercasino: Make-a-Joke Roulette, Four By One Joke Relay, Don't Stop 'til You Get a Laugh, Lady Gag Gag, Novak Jokeavic, Colonel Gaggafi and The Three Mocketeers as well as the NHS Revolving Door of Happiness, as a reference to a recent headline that read "NHS Revolving Door of Terror", and the name Mock You, I won't do what you tell me (mocking the lyrics of Killing in the Name).

In series 7, the game was played differently with one panelist from Hugh's team (Frankie Boyle in the first episode (as Gina Yashere no longer performs stand-up) and the guest panelist in the episodes following this) and the entire opposing team playing the game with the exceptions of episodes 11 and 12 where only three people played (as David Mitchell doesn't perform stand-up comedy). Series 8 used four players again, with the exception of episode 4.

In series 9, only three panelists performed in this round (usually the three guests). This was joked about by Dara in episode 3, when the title of the round was If Only Three People Do This Round, We Can All Mock Off Early.

In Series 11, only two panelists (usually guests) performed in this round. This is to allow for greater screen time for those guests, to help promote them more as stand-up artists.

If this is the answer, what is the question?[edit]

This round is played by everyone. A choice of six categories is given to one of the guests, covering topics such as sport, health, home affairs, world news, the environment, and politics. Once they have chosen a topic, an answer is revealed and all players have to guess what the question was, the panelist who chose the category goes first at 'guessing' the question. This alternates being the first round with "Headlines", and similarly to that round they begin by thinking of comical questions before concluding with the real answer.

Scenes we'd like to see[edit]

This is the final round in the show and takes place in the Performance Area. All players participate in this round. The screen presents an unlikely scenario, for example "Things the Queen didn't say in her Christmas speech" or "Unlikely lines from the final Harry Potter book" as well as "Things you didn't hear at the Olympics", and the players must say things that are unlikely to happen. Players participate by taking turns walking to the microphone and making suggestions. The round was inspired by the game "Scenes From A Hat" from Whose Line Is It Anyway?, also produced by Mark Leveson and Dan Patterson.

Occasional rounds[edit]

These games appear in some episodes, but not all. Usually these aren't always shown because of the language used or highly politically incorrect answers the panel members give, due to the time the show was broadcast. These outtakes were later released on DVD extras.

Between the lines[edit]

This game takes place in the Press Pit and for the first two series was played by Hugh Dennis, Rory Bremner and Frankie Boyle. In this round, Rory/Frankie impersonates someone in the news that week giving a press conference. The other player (Hugh) tells us what the person is really saying. Points are only awarded if there is at least one player from each team, in which case both teams would get equal points. In more recent series Hugh has been partnered by any other contestant, often a guest.


This round is played by two players, one from each side. In a number of cases, it has only been Hugh Dennis playing and acting out many voices, e.g. David Cameron and Boris Johnson. In this round, a piece of news footage is played with no sound. The players have to act out what each person is saying, although this usually bears no relation to what was actually occurring. The best individual performance wins.

Recently, this round was replaced with one called Royal Commentary with only Dennis playing, where he provides a commentary on a royal event, with Dara not awarding points afterwards.

What on earth[edit]

The panel are shown a picture linked to a world news event before trying to figure out what on earth was happening. So far the round has only featured as an out-take during clip shows. It also appeared on the Too Hot For TV DVD. On many occasions, Dara has joked sarcastically about its obscurity, noting that "we never fucking broadcast it".

Past rounds[edit]

These rounds have so far only been played in series 1 and 2.

Dating videos[edit]

This game took place in the Performance Area in the early series. Normally two rounds were played, with one player from each team performing in the Performance Area. The player was given the name of a famous person and had to record a lonely hearts ad in the style of that person. The other players had to try and guess who they were.

Ask the politicians[edit]

This was Mock the Week's tribute to the current affairs programme Question Time. Normally two or three players went into the studio audience whilst the others stayed in their seats. Dara acted as the host of the show, with the other players (normally the team captains and one or two other guests) playing politicians. Former team captain Rory Bremner was normally a famous Labour politician, and Hugh was normally a Conservative spokesman. The players in the audience would question the rest of the panel, and they had to answer the questions given to them in role.

Prime Minister's questions[edit]

This round was played by all the players. Dara would take the role of the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rory would play the Prime Minister and the rest of his team would be front-bench MPs. Hugh would be Leader of the Opposition, and his team would play the opposition party. Teams were given a rather trivial news story to debate, but would treat it as if it was the heavyweight issue of the day. This game usually evolved into a series of puns, with each team attempting to continue the chain (for example, while referring to farming, "I take it you're an expert in the field", "I have ploughed that furrow" etc.).

Bombshell phone calls[edit]

This round was played by two players, one from each side. The two players (normally Rory and Frankie) played famous people having a telephone conversation. During the conversation, one of them would drop a bombshell to which the other player had to react.

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 shows extreme use of profanity (in particular Frankie Boyle). In one episode recorded in 2007, 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.[11] Boyle later quipped "That was three years ago. If it wasn't haunted then it certainly is now." [12]

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".[13] Since leaving the show, Boyle has 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".[14]

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 any more 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."[15]

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 the late Linda Smith were treated by new comedians, who "are like prize fighters".[16]

Official merchandise[edit]

A DVD, Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV was released on 26 November 2007. It contains almost three hours of material, including three extended episodes from series five, containing scenes that were considered too rude for broadcast.[17] The three extended episodes are titled, 'Putin, Henman & Konnie Huq', 'Nuts, Pies and Nim Nim Nim' and 'Money, Sex and The Lib Dems'.

Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV 2 was released on 9 November 2009. 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.[18] Audio CD versions of both DVDs are available.

Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV 3 was released on 8 November 2010. 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'.[19]

Boxtree has published four tie-in books. The first, Mock the Week: Scenes We'd Like to See, was published in August 2008, and the second, Mock the Week: This Year's Book, was published in September 2009. A third book in paperback, Mock the Week: 1001 Scenes We'd Like to See, collected the best of the first two books, and another all-new book, Mock the Week: Next Year's Book was published in September 2010.[4]

Guest appearances[edit]

The following have appeared multiple times on the show as a guest (up to 21 July 2016, not including the 2011 Comic Relief special):[20]

40 appearances
32 appearances
22 appearances
17 appearances
15 appearances
12 appearances
11 appearances
10 appearances
9 appearances

a. ^ Appearances made before becoming a regular panellist.
b. ^ Made an appearance in the Comic Relief 24 Hour Panel People special, along with Doc Brown, Daniel Sloss and David Walliams.


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 6 October 2016 11


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

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

# Category Air date
1 "Health"[21] 3 March 2013 (2013-03-03)
2 "Animals"[22] 10 March 2013 (2013-03-10)
3 "Education"[23] 17 March 2013 (2013-03-17)
4 "Entertainment"[24] 24 March 2013 (2013-03-24)
5 "Law & Order"[25] 31 March 2013 (2013-03-31)
6 "Science & Technology"[26] 7 April 2013 (2013-04-07)
7 "Travel"[27] 21 April 2013 (2013-04-21)
8 "Britain"[28] 28 April 2013 (2013-04-28)
9 "Royals"[29] 12 May 2013 (2013-05-12)
10 "Food & Drink"[30] 19 May 2013 (2013-05-19)


  1. ^ a b "Mock The Week is back in full close-up HD glory". BBC. 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  2. ^ "The Company". Mock the Week. Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  3. ^ "Mocking the week for a decade". BBC. 30 August 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Richardson, Anna (2007-12-21). "Boxtree ready to mock the week". The Bookseller. Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  5. ^ "The Show". Mock the Week. Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  6. ^ "Mock The Week returns to BBC Two for two series deal". BBC Press Office. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  7. ^ "Boyle leaves Mock The Week panel". BBC Scotland. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  8. ^ "Chris Addison replaces Russell Howard on Mock The Week". British Comedy Guide. 9 August 2011. Retrieved 9 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Chris Addison takes time off Mock The Week". Chortle. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  10. ^ "Andy Parsons quits Mock the Week". Chortle. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2016. 
  11. ^ Quinn, Ben (2008-10-31). "Complaints as comments about the Queen aired". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  12. ^ Frankie Boyle, My Shit Life So Far, HarperCollins Publishers 2010.
  13. ^ Singh, Anita (2009-10-20). "Mock The Week in trouble over Rebecca Adlington 'joke'". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  14. ^ "Frankie Boyle slams Mock the Week". Metro. 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2014-11-11. 
  15. ^ Brand, Jo (10 June 2009). "Jo Brands panel on participation by women in panel shows". The Guardian (London). 
  16. ^ Hall, James (1 January 2013). "Rory Bremner attacks BBC's Mock the Week". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  17. ^ "The DVD". Mock the Week. Retrieved 2007-12-28. 
  18. ^ Mock the Week: Too Hot For TV 2 -
  19. ^ Too Hot For TV 3 DVD release
  20. ^ "Mock The Week — The Cast (- The Guests)". Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  21. ^ "Episode 1.1 - Health". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  22. ^ "Episode 1.2 - Animals". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  23. ^ "Episode 1.3 - Education". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  24. ^ "Episode 1.4 - Entertainment". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  25. ^ "Episode 1.5 - Law & Order". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  26. ^ "Episode 1.6 - Science & Technology". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  27. ^ "Episode 1.7 - Travel". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  28. ^ "Episode 1.8 - Britain". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  29. ^ "Episode 1.9 - Royals". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  30. ^ "Episode 1.10 - Food & Drink". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 

External links[edit]