|Have I Got News for You|
|Also known as|
|Genre||Comedy panel game|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||65|
|No. of episodes||581 (as of 16 June 2023[update]) (list of episodes)|
|Production company||Hat Trick Productions|
|Original release||28 September 1990 –|
Have I Got News for You (HIGNFY) is a British television panel show, produced by Hat Trick Productions for the BBC, which premiered on 28 September 1990. The programme focuses on two teams, one always captained by Ian Hislop and one by Paul Merton, each plus a guest panelist, answering questions on various news stories on the week prior to an episode's broadcast. However, the programme's format focuses more on the topical discussions on the subject of the news stories related to questions, and the satirical humour derived from these by the teams. This style of presentation had a profound impact on panel shows in British TV comedy, making it one of the genre's key standard-bearers.
The programme aired on BBC Two for its first ten years, before moving to BBC One in 2000 for later series. In 2003, extended episodes, with additional content, titled Have I Got a Little Bit More News for You, later simply Have I Got a Bit More News for You began broadcasting the following Saturdays on BBC Two, later moved to Mondays on BBC One and returned to BBC Two in 2021. Subsequent repeats are named Have I Got Old News for You or Have I Got a Bit More Old News for You.
Until 2002, Have I Got News for You was hosted by Angus Deayton, who was sacked following reports in national newspapers of several scandals about his private life. Since then, the programme has been hosted by a different celebrity each week; many of them add their own comedy.
The programme gained recognition for its performance on British television and comedy, receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 British Comedy Awards and the 2016 BAFTA Television Award for Comedy and Comedy Entertainment Programme.
Have I Got News for You was initially conceived as a pilot for the BBC called John Lloyd's Newsround. The BBC had commissioned Hat Trick Productions to make a television show which was like a more topical version of Hat Trick's Whose Line Is It Anyway? (developed by Mock the Week creators Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson), but it was decided that the show would follow a template more in keeping with Radio 4's The News Quiz. Hat Trick hired a producer with a track record in radio comedy, John Lloyd, and filmed a pilot with a title which aped long-running Children's BBC programme John Craven's Newsround.
After filming the pilot, John Lloyd decided not to proceed as chairman, and the job fell to comedian Angus Deayton, after try-outs with future News Quiz host Sandi Toksvig and a pre-fame Chris Evans in the main role. The team captains, Private Eye editor Ian Hislop and comedian Paul Merton, returned from the pilot.
Since its first broadcast in October 1990, the BBC has commissioned two series each year, the number of episodes being divided between the Spring series, broadcast from April to June, and the Autumn series, shown from October to December. The Autumn series takes a week's break to make room for the Children in Need special. For the first ten years of its existence, the programme was shown on BBC Two. Hislop has been the longest-serving member of the three on the programme since its premiere. He has not missed a single episode. Merton took a break during the 11th series in 1996, saying he had become "very tired" of the show and thought it had become "stuck in a rut". In his absence, his role was assigned to celebrity guests, with Merton himself returning as a guest on Hislop's team. Merton returned for the following series as team captain, deeming that his absence had given the programme the "shot in the arm" it needed and that it had been "better ever since".[note 1]
By 2000, the BBC made a decision to relocate its late evening news bulletin from nine o'clock to ten o'clock, after ITV moved their long-running ten o'clock bulletin to eleven o'clock. The resulting move caused a gap in its schedule that needed filling; Have I Got News for You was moved to BBC One and given access to a broader audience in October that year. In 2002, Deayton was caught using illegal drugs and soliciting sex with a prostitute – a fact that he was ridiculed for on the programme, after it became headlines – putting his private life under scrutiny by news media outlets. Further scandal effectively forced the BBC to terminate Deayton's contract with them two episodes into the programme's 24th series.
At short notice, Merton hosted the first episode after Deayton's departure, with a series of guest hosts appearing for the remainder of the series, including Anne Robinson, Boris Johnson, and Jeremy Clarkson. Despite an initial search for a permanent successor to Deayton, having a different guest host each week proved successful, with average audience figures increasing from 6 million to 7 million, leading to it becoming a permanent feature in the programme's format in June 2003.
Between 1990 and its spring season in 2018, the programme was recorded at The London Studios, the former home of London Weekend Television; it briefly was recorded at BBC Television Centre for a 2001 Election special, the Friday after the elections were completed. Since the 2018 autumn series, recording is conducted at Elstree Studios, although the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom in 2020 impacted production of series during that time. The spring series saw Hislop, Merton, and the celebrities for each episode filming episodes virtually from their own homes, against a superimposed CGI recreation of the studio. In contrast, the 2020 autumn, 2021 spring, and 2021 autumn series were filmed at Riverside Studios in London under safety measures to prevent the spread of infection, which included socially distancing panellists and host with screens while on set. Initially audience numbers were reduced – half those attending each recording being allowed in the studio, and the other half watching the recording in the studio's cinema – but upon the British government implementing a second lockdown, all remaining episodes in the series were recorded with a virtual audience.
Episodes are usually set to around 30 minutes in length, and are edited from the footage taken from a longer recording session the day before an episode is broadcast. The time frame given is used to allow the programme to retain the topical elements that an episode will feature, while allowing for any potentially defamatory material to be cut by the BBC's team of lawyers to avoid legal issues. The focus on each episode is on four panellists – the show's two regulars, and two guests – split between two teams, answering questions related to topical items in the news that occurred within the previous week, but the format often forgoes this aspect and the scoring system in favour of the panellists' witty exchanges, jokes, and satirical discussions on the question's relevant news item.
Each episode consists of a general format that is largely unchanged since the programme first premiered. All begin with an introduction by the host, who gives out a set of satirical, fictional comedic news stories that are often accompanied with a video clip from news programmes or general public recordings to provide the joke, followed by introductions of the episode's guest panellists. After this, the episode focuses on four rounds that generally follow the same arrangement:
After the rounds are completed, the host then gives out the scores, denoting which team is the winner. If time permits, the episode may feature a bonus round called the "Caption Competition", in which panellists are given a single or two pictures to make amusing captions to. The episode always concludes with the host making an additional set of satirical, fictional comedic news stories, accompanied by a picture to provide the joke; in rare cases, a video clip is used.
A repeat with a running time of 40 minutes, titled Have I Got a Bit More News for You, is often aired on the weekend, and features additional content cut from the original episode, and can often include scenes and outtakes made during the show before the opening credits or after the ending credits.
Main article: List of Have I Got News for You presenters
The format of Have I Got News for You is derived from the comedy that can be generated by each guest that participates in the programme, whether as a panellist or as a host. Although the show features a variety of comedians, it has also included politicians, television personalities, actors and news media personalities, several of whom have appeared more than once. As of 16 October 2020, Alexander Armstrong had appeared most often, mainly as guest host and also as a panellist, while Andy Hamilton had appeared most often as a guest panellist.
On rare occasions the programme has had a participant cancel or otherwise be unable to appear. Production staff try to find a replacement, but this is often challenging at short notice. For an episode in 1993, nobody could find a suitable replacement for Roy Hattersley (then an MP, having recently stepped down as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party) after he pulled out at the last minute; he had cancelled on two prior occasions. He was replaced by a tub of lard. The programme's host compared Hattersley to the tub of lard, claiming that "they possessed the same qualities and were liable to give similar performances".
Accounts vary as to how much panellists are paid to appear on the show. Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Parliamentary register of interests showed him earning £1500 for a claimed four hours' work, while Nick Clegg was paid £15,000 to host an episode.
Main article: List of Have I Got News for You episodes
Throughout its broadcast history, Have I Got News for You has drawn considerable criticism from guests, politicians and viewers about its content, sometimes ending in court.
The series has seen many releases on VHS and DVD, mainly consisting of straight-to-video compilations from other seasons. They were all released by Hat Trick through Video Collection International/2Entertain, under license from the BBC.
During the late 1990s, the website haveigotnewsforyou.com, run in association with Freeserve, featured interactive versions of the show's games, including the missing words round and the caption competition, offering prizes.
Have I Got News for You started broadcasting a video podcast, The Inevitable Internet Spin-off, on 13 April 2007. It was initially planned to run for six series, from series 33 to 38, taking it to the end of 2009.
From the beginning of Series 37, a new internet feature, Have I Got News for You, News... for You, was introduced. A short programme featuring typical opening and closing sequences (without the presence of a live audience) as well as other short sketches, it has so far been presented by Alexander Armstrong, and run fortnightly, bridging the gap between series 37 and 38.
On 1 October 2009, the last "webisode" episode was made available via both the BBC iPlayer and YouTube.
Shows based on the Have I Got News for You format are broadcast in other countries: