Rob Gilroy

Never Mind Never Mind the Buzzcocks

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Yesterday I attended a funeral.

It was a sad day but, at the same time, I was struck by how well my family coped. It was still upsetting and a little distressing, especially at the crematorium – a sort of Argos of the deceased – but my family dealt with it. They were even able to joke.

There was a brief moment, stood outside the church, when I noticed that pretty much everyone in the procession was laughing. We weren’t pissing ourselves, don’t get me wrong, but we were all quietly smiling to ourselves, at different equally minor things. That makes us sound like a bunch of weirdos; hanging round a hearse laughing at inconsequential matters. It was sweeter than it sounds.

It just struck me that, even at the saddest moments, things carry on. Life doesn’t stop, complications don’t cease and our ability to make light of tragic situations only increases. And it’s with that somewhat jarring segue that I come to Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

It was announced this week that, after 28 series, Never Mind the Buzzcocks is coming to an end. Axed, cancelled, decommissioned in it’s prime. Well, sort of.

The fact is, after 28 goes round, even the best things start to show signs of decay. Hell, I’ll be 28 in September and to be honest, I’m considering calling it a day. I don’t see it as ending it all, so much as making way for a newer, younger format to take my place.

And so it is that NMTB – as we call it in the clunky acronym trade – shuffles off the televisual schedule, going where all entertainment shows go to die; Challenge TV. Taking it’s place alongside the greats such as Supermarket Sweep, Pets Win Prizes and Hole in the Wall. Dale Winton’s CV reads like the obituary page of the Grange-over-Sands TV Times.

For a show that’s been around as long, you think there’d be a bit more of an outcry. Yet we seem to have gone a whole week without anyone defiantly manning an online petition to re-instate it. As if the programme is heading out of the door, looking for some sign of protest, only to be met with sheepish glances and an audience that would rather look at their shoes, than make eye contact.

Maybe, it’s because the show had run it’s course. It’s hard to tell. It’s been through many incarnations over the years; from Mark Lamarr’s bold run before his eventual, if not inevitable breakdown, through several guest presenters – or the Doctor Who phase – then there was Simon Amstell’s arch reign of terror; before settling on Rhod Gilbert. This final choice seemed to signal yet another reinvention that helped the show find it’s feet again. Ultimately, it wasn’t to be.

Panel shows and comedy entertainment programmes in general, are an odd beast. Often they’re openly finite in their potential. Something fun and a bit different, but with a format that can only take it so far, before the repetition sets in. Don’t get me wrong; 28 series is an incredibly impressive achievement and there are other classic shows that continue to fly on in the face of fickle commissioners; but what makes NMTB the right cow to slaughter?

Who knows. But to be honest, it’s probably for the best. Sooner or later, all good things come to an end and even the ones that aren’t good do too. Naming no names Don’t Scare the Hare. While there’s a lot to argue about replacing the show with more scripted comedy, the fact is; that isn’t going to happen. BBC Two will have an entertainment remit to fill, so it makes sense that they try something new.

What that will be? Only time will tell. All we can hope is – like my family of chuckling mourners – from the passing of a once great show, comes more laughter and hope.

Failing that, it’ll be another Dale Winton vehicle.