Have I Got News for You

Last updated

Have I Got News for You
Have I Got News For You titlescreen.jpg
Also known asHIGNFY
Have I Got a Little Bit More News for You
Have I Got a Bit More News for You
Have I Got Old News for You
Have I Got a Bit More Old News for You
Genre Comedy panel game
Created by Harry Thompson
Presented by Angus Deayton (1990–2002)
Guest presenters (2002–)
Starring Ian Hislop
Paul Merton
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series61
No. of episodes535 (as of 12 April 2021) (list of episodes)
Production locations The London Studios (1990–2017)
Elstree Studios (2018–2019)
Riverside Studios (2020–)
Running time29 minutes
42 minutes (extended)
Production company Hat Trick Productions
Original network BBC Two (1990–2000)
BBC One (2000–)
Picture format 576i 4:3 (1990–1999)
576i 16:9 (1999–2010)
1080i 16:9 (2011–)
Audio format Stereo (1990)

Dolby Surround (1991-2002)

Dolby Digital (2003-)
Original release28 September 1990 (1990-09-28) 
External links

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, loosely based on the BBC Radio 4 show The News Quiz ,[ citation needed ] focuses on four panellists divided into two teams – captained by Ian Hislop and Paul Merton – 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. As a result, the 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 future series. In 2003, extended episodes titled Have I Got a Little Bit More News for You and later simply Have I Got a Bit More News for You featuring additional content began broadcasting the following Saturday on BBC Two, later moved to Monday 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, until his sacking following several scandals about his private life in national newspapers. Since then, the programme has been hosted by various celebrities, many of them adding 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 [2] and the 2016 BAFTA Television Award for Comedy and Comedy Entertainment Programme.


The Have I Got News for You studio HIGNFY Studio 2019.jpg
The Have I Got News for You studio

Have I Got News for You was initially conceived as a pilot for the BBC called John Lloyd's Newsround. After filming the pilot, John Lloyd decided not to proceed as the chairman, and the job fell to comedian Angus Deayton, with team captains Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, [3] and comedian Paul Merton returning from the pilot. The BBC commissions two series each year, with the first airing in October 1990; the number of episodes being finalised to set amounts between the Spring series, aired from April to June, and the Autumn series, aired from October to December, with the latter taking a small hiatus for a week to allow for the broadcasting of Children in Need.

For the first ten years of its broadcast, the programme was aired on BBC Two. During this period Hislop would be the longest-serving member of the three on the programme since its premiere. He has not missed a single episode. [4] Merton took a break during the 11th series in 1996, having become "very tired" of the show and that he thought it had become "stuck in a rut". His absence led to his role being assigned to celebrity guests, with Merton himself returning as a guest on Hislop's team. Merton himself 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, effectively leading to Have I Got News for You being moved to BBC One and granted access to a broader audience in October that year. [5] In 2002, Deayton was caught using illegal drugs and soliciting sex with a prostitute – a fact that he was ridiculed for on the programme, [6] after it became headlines – putting his private life under scrutiny by news media outlets. [7] Further scandal effectively forced the BBC to terminate Deayton's contract with them two episodes into the programme's 24th series. [8]

At short notice, Merton hosted the first episode after Deayton's departure, [9] with a series of guest hosts appearing for the remainder of the series, including Anne Robinson, Boris Johnson, and Jeremy Clarkson. [10] 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, [11] leading to it becoming a permanent feature in the programme's format in June 2003. [12]

Between 1990 and its spring season in 2018, the programme was recorded at 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, [13] 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 autumn and 2021 spring 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 would be 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 by those involved 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 will always conclude with the host making an additional set of satirical, fictional comedic news stories, accompanied by a picture to provide the joke; in rare cases, an video clip may be 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. [14]


The format of Have I Got News for You is derived from the comedy that can be generated by the guests that participate in the programme, whether as a panellist or 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 has appeared most often as a guest, mainly as the host, while Andy Hamilton has 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 not easy 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 cancelled at the last minute. He was replaced by a tub of lard. The programme compared Hattersley and the tub of lard, and claimed "they possessed the same qualities and were liable to give similar performances". [15]


Criticism, controversy and litigation

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.

Video exclusives

Four VHS videos were released, two containing specially made editions of the programme:

Home media

The Very Best of Have I Got News for You (2002), a compilation of highlights from the first 12 years of the show, from the beginning up until the episode made after Deayton hit the tabloids. The running time is just over three hours, and there are several hours of extras, including, among other things, running commentary of the whole presentation by Merton and Hislop. Also featured is a clip of Terry Wogan on Room 101 , nominating the programme as one of his pet hates. In addition, interviews with political figures (taken from the Channel 4 Politics Awards) reveal their opinions on the series.

Have I Got News for You: The Best of the Guest Presenters (2003), which, as well as including the normal half-hour cut of Boris Johnson's first guest-hosting, also included a bonus disc, "The Full Boris", which showed a far longer cut of the same episode (lasting slightly under 60 minutes). [26] Slightly longer versions of the shows featuring Martin Clunes, William Hague and Bruce Forsyth as chairman were also included, as well as a compilation of clips taken from other editions from the first two series with guest hosts (with only the episode hosted by Liza Tarbuck not represented). There are also several small extra features, including a discussion between Paul Merton and Boris Johnson regarding Johnson's appearance as presenter, filmed during his appearance as the celebrity guest on the Merton-hosted Room 101 .

Have I Got News for You: The Best of the Guest Presenters Vol. 2 (2005), which is nearer in content to the first "Best of" DVD compilation than its direct predecessor. It contains four 45-minute compilations of the Autumn 2003, Spring 2004, Autumn 2004 and Spring 2005 series, rather than complete episodes; although it does again contain a bonus disc with an uncut version of Boris Johnson's second stint as presenter. This episode lasts about 80 minutes. "The A to Z of HIGNFY" is also included on the second disc. Each letter is used to stand for a different term or name often associated with the show, each highlighted by various example clips – except for the "problem letters" of X, Y and Z, which just lead into a selection of random outtakes. This feature also includes some behind-the-scenes content, with Marcus Brigstocke guiding the viewer around the studio and backstage, on a recording night.

Internet spin-offs

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, with prizes up for grabs.

Have I Got News for You started broadcasting a video podcast, The Inevitable Internet Spin-off, on 13 April 2007. [14] It was initially planned to run for six series, from series 33 to 38, taking it to the end of 2009. Referred to as "webisodes", episodes are available via both the BBC iPlayer and YouTube.

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. [27]

Other shows based on the Have I Got News for You format

Similar shows based on the Have I Got News for You format exist in other countries:

See also


  1. The Very Best of Have I Got News for You (2002): DVD commentary
  2. Hat Trick Productions: VHS VC6587.

Related Research Articles

<i>Im Sorry I Havent a Clue</i> BBC radio comedy panel game

I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue is a BBC radio comedy panel game. Billed as "the antidote to panel games", it consists of two teams of two comedians "given silly things to do" by a chairman. The show was launched in April 1972 as a parody of radio and TV panel games, and has been broadcast since on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, with repeats aired on BBC Radio 4 Extra and, in the 1980s and 1990s, on BBC Radio 2. The 50th series was broadcast in November and December 2007.

Angus Deayton English television presenter, actor, writer, comedian

Gordon Angus Deayton is an English actor, writer, musician, comedian, and broadcaster. He was the original presenter of the satirical panel game Have I Got News for You and the host of British panel show Would I Lie to You? from 2007 to 2008, and a regular cast member of the David Renwick sitcom One Foot in the Grave from 1990 until 2000. He also played George Windsor in the final three series of Waterloo Road.

Paul Merton English comedian

Paul James Martin, known under the stage name Paul Merton, is an English writer, actor, comedian and radio and television presenter.

John Lloyd (producer)

John Hardress Wilfred Lloyd is an English television and radio comedy producer and writer. His television work includes Not the Nine O'Clock News, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Spitting Image, Blackadder and QI. He is currently the presenter of BBC Radio 4's The Museum of Curiosity.

<i>Never Mind the Buzzcocks</i> British comedy panel game television show

Never Mind the Buzzcocks is a British comedy panel game, themed on pop music, that aired between 1996 and 2015. The series was first hosted by Mark Lamarr, then by Simon Amstell, and later by a number of guest presenters, with Rhod Gilbert hosting the final series; it first starred Phill Jupitus and Sean Hughes as team captains, with Hughes being replaced by Bill Bailey from the eleventh series, and Bailey replaced by Noel Fielding for some of series 21 and from series 23 onward. The show was produced by Talkback for the BBC, and usually aired on BBC Two. The title plays on the names of punk rock band Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks album, and the punk band Buzzcocks.

The News Quiz is a British topical panel game broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

<i>QI</i> British comedy panel game television quiz show

QI is a British comedy panel game television quiz show created and co-produced by John Lloyd, and features permanent panellist Alan Davies. Stephen Fry was host of the show from its initial pilot, before departing after the final episode of the M series in 2016, exactly halfway through the alphabet, with frequent QI panellist Sandi Toksvig replacing him at the beginning of the N series in 2016.

<i>Room 101</i> (British TV series)

Room 101 was a BBC comedy television series based on the radio series of the same name, in which celebrities are invited to discuss their pet hates and persuade the host to consign those hates to oblivion in Room 101, a location whose name was inspired by the torture room in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four which reputedly contained "the worst thing in the world". Orwell himself named it after a meeting room in Broadcasting House where he would sit through tedious meetings. It was produced independently for the BBC by Hat Trick Productions.

Harry Thompson English novelist and biographer

Harry William Thompson was an English radio and television producer, comedy writer, novelist and biographer. He was the creator of the dark humour television series Monkey Dust, screened between 2003 and 2005.

Lee Hurst is an English comedian.

<i>Mock the Week</i> British celebrity panel show

Mock the Week is a British topical satirical celebrity panel show, created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson – the co-producers of Whose Line Is It Anyway? – produced by Angst Productions for BBC Two, and premiered on 5 June 2005. The programme is presented by Dara Ó Briain and features regular appearances by comedian Hugh Dennis, as well as guest appearances by a variety of stand-up comedians, some of whom had regular appearances across several series.

Alun Cochrane British comedian

Alun Cochrane is a Scottish comedian. He was born in Glasgow and raised in Mirfield, West Yorkshire.

Miles Jupp British comedian and actor

Miles Hugh Barrett Jupp is an English comedian and actor. He began his career as a stand-up comedian, before playing the role of the inventor Archie in the British children's television series Balamory. He has also appeared on comedy panel shows, played John Duggan in The Thick of It and Nigel in the sitcom Rev.

The Apprentice: You're Fired! is a companion discussion programme, aired alongside The Apprentice since 2006, created by Mark Burnett for the BBC. The programme, initially shown on BBC Three before moving to BBC Two since 2007, focuses on interviews between the host and panel of guests, with a prominent candidate from the latest episode of the main programme that had been broadcast, often mixing general discussion, expert opinion and interviews, with highlight clips and small sketches designed for comedic effect. The programme is currently hosted by Tom Allen since 2019; over the course of its broadcast history, it has been hosted by Adrian Chiles, Dara Ó Briain, Jack Dee, and Rhod Gilbert.

<i>Would I Lie to You?</i> (game show) Television series

Would I Lie to You? is a British comedy panel show aired on BBC One, made by Zeppotron for the BBC. It was first broadcast on 16 June 2007, starring David Mitchell and Lee Mack as team captains. The show was originally presented by Angus Deayton, and since 2009 has been hosted by Rob Brydon.

<i>Just a Minute</i>

Just a Minute is a BBC Radio 4 radio comedy panel game, chaired, with a few exceptions, by Nicholas Parsons from 1967 until 2019. For more than fifty years of the programme's run, Parsons appeared on every show, though he was occasionally a panellist rather than chairman. Just a Minute was first transmitted on Radio 4 on 22 December 1967, three months after the station's launch. The programme won a Gold Sony Radio Academy Award in 2003.

<i>7 Days</i> (New Zealand game show)

7 Days is a New Zealand comedy gameshow similar in some ways to the British program Mock the Week, hosted by Jeremy Corbett and created by thedownlowconcept. Paul Ego and Dai Henwood usually appear on each episode, along with other comedians, who form teams and answer questions about stories from the last week.

Sara Pascoe

Sara Patricia Pascoe is an English comedian and writer. She has appeared on TV programmes such as 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown for Channel 4, QI for BBC and Taskmaster for the digital channel Dave.


  1. "Have I Got News For You Audience Tickets". Hat Trick Productions. Archived from the original on 2 May 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  2. "2011 Winners". The British Comedy Academy. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  3. "Ian Heslop: My 20 Years at the Eye". Independent. 2007. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  4. https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/comedy/2017-10-06/have-i-got-news-for-you-15-facts/
  5. "Have I Got News For You". IMDB. 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  6. "Deayton in the lion's den". BBC News. 24 May 2002. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  7. "Deayton 'feels a fool' over reports". BBC News. 20 May 2002. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  8. "Quiz host Deayton fired by BBC". BBC News. 30 October 2002. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  9. "Show goes on after Deayton exit". BBC News. 1 November 2002. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  10. "HIGNFY Jeremy Clarkson". BBC Press Office. BBC. 7 December 2002. Retrieved 15 March 2014.
  11. "TV quiz denies Clunes is new host". BBC News. 29 April 2003. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  12. Deans, Jason; Tryhorn, Chris (10 June 2003). "Forsyth boost for BBC news quiz". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 15 June 2014.
  13. "HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU - Free audience tickets: SRO Audiences : the tv audience company". SRO Audiences. 18 May 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  14. 1 2 "A lot more news for you : News 2007 : Chortle : The UK Comedy Guide". Chortle. 11 April 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2017.
  15. Leo McKinstry (13 September 2003). "I prefer the tub of lard". The Spectator .
  16. "Contempt of Court – 1996". Swarb.co.uk. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  17. "Ex-Tory MP loses libel action". BBC News. 21 January 1998. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  18. Robins, Jane (7 November 1998). "Have I got news about the editors at the BBC..." Independent. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  19. Wilson, Jamie (21 December 2000). "BBC eases privacy edict". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
  20. "Fry boycotts 'pathetic' quiz". BBC News. 16 April 2003. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  21. Media Monkey (28 November 2007). "Widdecombe disgusted by Carr's 'filth'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 February 2018.
  22. Self, Will (4 December 2007). "Have I got news for you: TV satire's lost its teeth". Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 October 2014.
  23. "Ray Winstone calls Scots 'tramps' on TV quiz show". The Scotsman. Johnston Press. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  24. Caroline Davies (3 April 2018). "Ian Hislop and Paul Merton under fire for female host remarks". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  25. "Have I Got News For You Heidi Allen episode pulled due to Euro elections". BBC News. 11 May 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  26. "Top 10 Have I Got News For You guest hosts: Damian Lewis to Boris Johnson". Metro. DMG Media. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  27. Parker, Robin (22 April 2009). "Have I Got News for You internet spin-off to bridge TV run". BroadcastNow. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  28. "NPR Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me". NPR. 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
  29. "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me... « Night Listeners". Nightlisteners.com. 13 May 2009. Archived from the original on 1 December 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  30. "Dit was het Nieuws stopt na dertien jaar". Trouw . 23 July 2009. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  31. "Jan Jaap van der Wal en Peter Pannekoek naast Harm Edens in Dit was het nieuws". AVROTROS. 14 November 2017. Archived from the original on 18 September 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  32. fi:Uutisvuoto
  33. "Legendaarinen Uutisvuoto tekee paluun! Nähdään jatkossa MTV3-kanavalla". MTV3. 13 September 2018. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  34. "Viga!" (in Estonian). err.ee.[ permanent dead link ]
  35. "Have I Got News For You". 20 November 2009. Retrieved 28 December 2009.
  36. ""Nytt på nytt" tilbake" (in Norwegian). NRK. 11 January 2001. Retrieved 3 November 2018.
  37. Pedersen, Pål Fredrik (25 March 2017). "Nytt på nytt kåret til tidenes underholdningsprogram". Nytt på nytt kåret til tidenes underholdningsprogram (in Norwegian). TV 2. Retrieved 3 November 2018.

Further reading