Yesterday saw the return of live audience shows to Britain's long-running satirical BBC TV panel show Have I Got News For You, filmed at Hammersmith's Riverside Studios. An audience of around thirty were allowed in the studio, with a similar number watching via the cinema screen next door (they got beer). Private Eye editor Ian Hislop made a comparison to being able to attend a funeral, but all seemed receptive to having a live, present, if socially distanced audience rather than relying on Zoom. Joining team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton were guest-host Richard Ayoade, and guest-panelists Baronness Warsi and Richard Osman.
Issues regarding Dominic Cummings were a favourite – Richard Osman's comment about him coming back in the news as comparable to watching a baddie return in season 3 when you'd forgotten about it, gave Warsi an excuse to roll out her comparison to him Game Of Thrones' Littlefinger. But she refused to take Hislop and Ayoade's bait about the performance of the Conservative government over the pandemic, stating that she wasn't there to defend the Tories (which might have been news to the BBC), that as a party they had "gone for a wander off to the right", but she had been brought up properly and didn't want to attack anyone. Osman asked if she hadn't been properly brought up, would she be "rinsing him" and she replied "yeah". Warsi also rated Matt Hancock's niceness as eight out of ten, which led to a running joke through the recording, with everything getting marked eight out of ten. Hislop subsequent triple-pun an "eight out of ten fat cats" line about business bosses deserved the applause it got. But his pretty-accurate definition of drill music, which was worth the licence fee right there.
There was some also confusion about when the new Panorama investigation into the Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana was or wasn't being broadcast, having to talk in the past, present or future tenses, as the show was recorded the day before transmission, But Ian Hislop made one of the more nuanced analysis over Diana and the culpability of Bashir, reminding us that at the time, Diana had, without attribution, already written the book of her life with Andrew Morton, that was going to do a TV interview with someone anyway, and that she had writers prepare lines such as "there were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded" – she didn't write those herself. Bashir's actions, basically, pushed him to the top of the queue.
In other royal matters, Richard Osman revealed that his co-host on Pointless, Xander Armstrong, being invited to the Palace to perform a private royal version of Pointless for the Queen – but only told Osman, the co-creator of the show, about it afterwards…
Have I Got News For You is scheduled at 9pm tonight on BBC One, just before This Time With Alan Partridge. What of this will be transmitted, of course, is up in the air. Around two-and-a-half hours were filmed, of which the show will edit a thirty-minute cut tonight and a forty-five-minute cut the following week.