Telly for Anglophiles | Mock the Week
Mock the Week is a British topical celebrity panel game hosted by Dara Ó Briain that launched in 2005. 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.
It is made by independent production company Angst Productions and made its debut on BBC Two on 5 June 2005. Episodes regularly attract 3.5 million viewers.Old episodes currently air on Dave, a fact that is frequently mentioned on the show.
It was created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson, the same people responsible for the comedy game show Whose Line Is It Anyway? The show’s theme music is “News of the World” by The Jam.
The show is hosted by Dara Ó Briain and on the panel are two teams of three. The current panel consists of Hugh Dennis, Chris Addison and a guest panellist seated on Ó Briain’s right, and Andy Parsons and two guest panellists on his left. For the first seven series Dennis was joined by Frankie Boyle, while the other team originally consisted of Rory Bremner in the first two series; when Bremner left Parsons was made a permanent panellist, and was joined by Russell Howard the following series. Hugh Dennis has been the only team member to appear in every episode (except the special episode that was part of David Walliams’ 24 Hour Panel People). 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”. 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.
Next to Dennis’s team is the Press Pit, which is a large desk where they play a round called Between the Lines. Next to this is the Performance Area which is a much wider area with a large TV monitor, 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 made a permanent panellist). In effect, Dennis’ 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.”