Mock the Week

Mock the Week is a British topical satirical celebrity panel show, that was created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson, who also co-created the comedy game show Whose Line Is It Anyway?. Performers deliver mostly prepared answers on different subjects under the guise of an improvised gameshow.[3][4] It is made by independent production company Angst Productions,[5] and made its debut on BBC Two on 5 June 2005, with the show's theme song being "News of the World" by The Jam.[6] The show has featured a variety of different stand-up performers, some being part of the show for several series as a permanent fixture, with host Dara Ó Briain and comedian Hugh Dennis having appeared in every episode since its debut. Old episodes currently air on Dave, which is frequently mentioned on the show.

Mock the Week
GenreComedy panel game
Created byDan Patterson
Mark Leveson
Presented byDara Ó Briain
Opening theme"News of the World" by The Jam
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series18
No. of episodes200 (as of 13 December 2019) (list of episodes)
Producer(s)Dan Patterson
Mark Leveson
Ewan Phillips
Ruth Wallace
Production location(s)BBC Television Centre
(series 1–11, 17–[1])
The London Studios[2]
(series 12–16)
Editor(s)Mykola Pawluk
Running time29 minutes
Production company(s)Angst Productions
Original networkBBC Two
Picture format576i (16:9 SDTV) (2005–12)
1080i (HDTV)[2] (2013–present)
Audio formatStereo
Original release5 June 2005 (2005-06-05) 
Related showsMock the Week Looks Back At...
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Russell Howard's Good News
Fast and Loose
External links


The general format of the show involves the host subjecting the panel, which consist of two teams of three performers (referred to as panellists), to a series of rounds in which they either answer questions on various news topics from the previous week of news, often with them giving improvised comedic answers, or performing comedic challenges based on a subject(s) provided to them (e.g. Healthcare). News topics range from major international news stories to regional news items from within Britain, with the show sometimes including photos and quotes related to the news articles used on the show. All episodes are approximately 30 minutes long, with each series featuring at least one compilation episode containing the best moments of a series, rounds that were not broadcast, and outtakes that occurred during filming. While most games are done around a large desk, to the left of it in the studio is the Performance Area, a large stage area with a large TV screen that is normally used for stand-up and improvisation challenges, primarily Scenes We'd Like To See. In addition, a smaller stage next to the desk is used and referred to as the Press Pit, often used in the round Between the Lines.

Although the show has the format of a game and 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, with the actual points won never stated by the host; current host Dara Ó Briain always ends the round by stating that he has given "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." Along with the scoring system, neither team has, in effect, a team captain (Hugh Dennis is sometimes referred to as such in publicity material), with such a distinction never being made on the programme itself.

Permanent panellists

Throughout the show's history, Mock The Week has consistently had at least one permanent comedian/stand-up performers within its panel who appears regularly within every episode; up until the fifteenth series, the programme regularly featured two permanent members in its panel, and in some series the show featured a third permanent member. While there have been a total of six performers who have performed regularly on the show as a permanent panellist, only Hugh Dennis has appeared regularly in every episode since its debut (with the exception of a special episode of the programme that was broadcast as part of David Walliams' 24 Hour Panel People).[7] The other five performers to have been regular, permanent members on the show include:

  • Frankie Boyle – Series 1 to Series 7. His departure from the show, revealed on 2 October 2009, was due to focusing on "other television commitments".[8][9]
  • Rory Bremner – Series 1 to Series 2.
  • Andy Parsons – Series 3 to Series 14. His departure from the programme was announced on 19 October 2015.[10]
  • Russell Howard – Series 4 to Series 9 (first half).
  • Chris Addison – Series 10 (latter half) to Series 12 (first half). His departure from the show was due to his involvement in a project being filmed in the United States.[11]

Guest panellists

Along with at least one or two permanent members, the panel often consists of guest performers, some of whom have had frequent appearances on the show. The following have appeared multiple times on the show as a guest panellist (up to 6 December 2019, not including the 2011 Comic Relief special):[12]

a. ^ Appearances made before becoming a regular panellist.
b. ^ Also made an appearance in the Comic Relief 24 Hour Panel People special.


As part of the general format of the show, performers take part in a mixture of quiz-styled games (often described as "rounds"), in which they answer with comedic responses or made-up, on the spot answers, perform stand-up comedy, and partake in improvisational games. Games that feature are either regularly used, occasionally used, or were retired after a while.

Regular rounds

The following games feature in all episodes of Mock the Week:

  • Wheel of News: The game is a stand-up challenge in the Performance Area, in which a number of performers (often the guests) are tasked with doing stand-up comedy based on a subject that the "Wheel" of the Random News Generator lands on (e.g. Education). While in the first series, all six performers took part, between Series 2 and 8 this was reduced to four performers, then to three between Series 9 and 10, before being reduced to the current setup of just two guest performers doing the game since Series 11; this arrangement was aimed at allowing for greater screen time for those guests, in order to help promote them more as stand-up artists. Since Series 2, host Dara would often introduce the round with a name that sometimes referenced a recent event, with examples including Dara's Supercasino: Make-a-Joke Roulette, Four By One Joke Relay, and Don't Stop 'til You Get a Laugh, among others. Furthermore, the winner of the game between Series 1 and 2, was determined by a system in which Dara judged whether the audience had laughed enough at the routine, and decided whether or not the performer was allowed to sit down, with the first team to have all their performers back in their seats winning the game. If one player from each team was left standing, sudden death would come into effect, in which a random topic was picked and both players had to talk about it. From Series 3, this was changed to far simpler system of Dara simply deeming the team who got the biggest laugh to be the winner.
  • If this is the answer, what is the question?: A simple quiz-styled round for all performers to play, in which one of the guests is given six categories to choose from, covering topics such as sport, health, home affairs, world news, the environment, and politics, and are then given the answer related to the topic and asked to guess what the question is. Often the guesses by the panellists are of comical questions, which sometimes are not even on the topic its related to, with the host eventually calling time on their guesses by requesting the actual question. The round is not over after the answer is given, as the host and panellists often conduct discussions in relation to the question and the topic, most for comedy, and are sometimes asked further questions by the host on news articles that may not have relevance to it. The round often was played before the final round, but recently is often played as the first round of the episode.
  • Scenes we'd like to see: The final round of each episode, with all performers playing this in the Performance Area. Each team is assigned to either side of the stage and are given two unlikely scenarios stated out on the TV screen, with any performer who steps onto the stage having to walk up to the microphone provided, and needing to say their suggestion of something is unlikely to happen based on the given scenario, with the host buzzing them off when they are done. Examples of scenarios used on the show include "Things the Queen didn't say in her Christmas speech", "Unlikely lines from the final Harry Potter book", and "Things you didn't hear at the Olympics", among others, with some subjects repeated in later series. The round was inspired by the game "Scenes From A Hat" from Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
  • Picture Of The Week: Panellists are shown an image and makes jokes about it, with the image connected to a news story that happened on the week of the episode's broadcast. The round replaced "Headliners" as one of the regular games of the show.

Occasional rounds

These games occasionally appear in some episodes, but not all, with those not used either featured as part of a series' compilation episode or released as part of a DVD extra(s). The reason these may not appear and be cut from an episode is either because of the language used or the highly politically incorrect answers the panel members give, at the time that the show was broadcast:

  • Between the lines: This round takes place in the Press Pit, with one performer impersonating someone in the news who is giving a press conference (often a politician), with another translating their words to detail what they are "really" saying. For much of its use, Hugh Dennis is the one stating what is "really" being said, while in the first two series, the impersonation was done by Rory Bremner and Frankie Boyle, with more recent series seeing Hugh partnered with a guest performer.
  • Newsreel: This round sees a performer shown a piece of news footage played with no sound, and acting out what each person is saying, although usually bearing no relation to what is actually occurring in the footage. Throughout its uses, Hugh Dennis has often been the only one tasked to play this game, with the round later renamed as "Royal Commentary" in which he provides commentary on a royal event. The round is similar in style to the game of "Film Dub" from Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
  • What on earth: This round sees the panel shown a picture linked to a world news event, and trying to figure out what on earth is happening within it. So far, the round has only featured as an out-take during clip shows, and has also appeared on the Too Hot For TV DVD.

Past rounds

These rounds were originally used in the show before being dropped (most were used in Series 1 and 2), or replaced:

  • Dating videos: Two performers, one from each team, is given the name of a famous person and tasked with acting as them in the Performance Area and pretending to record a lonely hearts ad in the style of that person. The other players are tasked with guessing who they are.
  • Ask the politicians: In the style of current affairs programme Question Time, two or three performers take seats in the audience and give out questions to the rest of the panel, each of whom answers in the style of a politician; often one acted as a spokesperson for Labour and another acted for the Conservatives, while Dara performed as the host of the "show".
  • Prime Minister's questions: One team played as the British Prime Minister and their front-bench MPs, while the other team played as the Leader of the Opposition and their front bench MPs, with the host taking on the role of the Speaker of the House of Commons. Both teams are given a rather trivial news story to debate, but would treat it as if it was the heavyweight issue of the day, with the game usually evolving into a series of puns that saw each team attempting to continue the chain (for example, while referring to farming, "I take it you're an expert in the field", "I have ploughed that furrow" etc.).
  • Bombshell phone calls: Two performers, one from each side, each play as a famous person having a telephone conversation with each other, in which one of them would drop a bombshell during the conversation, with the other having to give out their reaction to it.
  • Headliners: Played by all panellists, and often used to begin the show, both sides are shown a photo of someone famous in the news. They are then given the initial letters of a newspaper headline connected to the photo and asked to guess what the headline is, with guesses often being comedic suggestions before one of the panellist gives the correct answer, after Dara prompts them for it. Guests, such as Michael McIntyre, have admitted they often struggled to come up with a headline that fits and gets a laugh as a result (In one episode, Michael's best effort was "Brown Orders Tree Explosion"), while furthermore, as was evidenced on the "Too Hot For TV" DVD releases, a hefty percentage of headlines pitched (mainly by Frankie Boyle) were not suitable for broadcast. The round was later replaced by "Picture Of The Week".

Controversy and criticism

On several occasions, Mock the Week has been the source of complaints, due to some risqué comments made by the panellists and the show's extreme use of profanity (in particular Frankie Boyle). In one episode recorded in 2007, during a segment called "What The Queen Didn't Say in Her Christmas Message", Boyle made the comment: "I am now so old that my pussy is haunted." This led to the BBC's director general Mark Thompson being challenged about the comments on Newsnight.[13] Boyle later quipped "That was three years ago. If it wasn't haunted then it certainly is now."[14]

In 2008, a larger controversy arose following another comment made by Boyle regarding swimmer Rebecca Adlington. Boyle stated that "she looks like someone who's looking at themselves in the back of a spoon".[15] Since leaving the show, Boyle has criticised both the show's production team and the BBC Trust. He claims that the show did not cover enough major news stories and was too restrictive on his risqué comedy act, as the producers and the BBC Trust were afraid of "frightening the horses".[16] The lack of female guests on the programme has been the subject of complaints in the letters page of the Radio Times. Jo Brand, while criticising the male-dominated genre of comedy panel shows, said in 2009, "I don't do Mock the Week any more and neither do some male stand-ups I know who have tried it once. We just don’t like the prospect of having to bite someone’s foot off before they let us say something."[17] In 2013, former panelist Rory Bremner stated his reasons for leaving the show, saying: "I felt that there was a new and highly competitive and quite aggressive tendency there and felt uncomfortable. But I've since found out that very few people have felt comfortable doing Mock the Week." He also criticised the way comedians like Linda Smith were treated by new comedians, who "are like prize fighters".[18]

Official merchandise

A DVD, Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV was released on 26 November 2007. It contains almost three hours of material, including three extended episodes from series five, containing scenes that were considered too rude for broadcast.[19] The three extended episodes are titled, 'Putin, Henman & Konnie Huq', 'Nuts, Pies and Nim Nim Nim' and 'Money, Sex and The Lib Dems'. Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV 2 was released on 9 November 2009. Again, the DVD contains the main 'Too Hot For TV' feature with a compilation of unseen footage, plus three extended episodes from the series archives titled, 'The Anal Lube Show', 'The Leg Show' and 'The Hedgehog Show'. The extended episodes have a total of more than 40 minutes of unseen material.[20] Audio CD versions of both DVDs are available. Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV 3 was released on 8 November 2010. Like the previous two, this DVD features an hour-long smut reel and three extended episodes titled 'The Elves and Testicles Show', 'The Prisons and Other Dodgy Stuff Show', and 'The Johnny Blowjob and Bird Flu Show'.[21]

Boxtree published seven original tie-in books between 2008 and 2014, plus one which compiled the best of the first two books.

Mock the Week: Scenes We'd Like to See (August 2008)
Mock the Week: This Year's Book (September 2009)
Mock the Week: 1001 Jokes (January 2010, collected the best of the first two books, later published in paperback as Mock the Week: 1001 Scenes We'd Like to See)
Mock the Week: Next Year's Book (September 2010)
Mock The Week's Funniest Book Of All Time (2011)
Mock The Week's Only Book You'll Ever Need (2012)
Mock The Week's Ultimate Panic-Buy! (2013)
Mock The Week's Brand Spanking New Scenes We'd Like To See (2014). [22]


Original series

SeriesStart dateEnd dateEpisodes
15 June 20053 July 20055
220 January 200624 February 20066
314 September 200619 October 20066
411 January 20078 February 20075
512 July 200720 September 200711
610 July 200818 September 200811
79 July 200924 September 200911
821 January 201018 February 20105
917 June 20107 October 201010
109 June 201113 October 201111
1114 June 201211 October 201211
1213 June 20133 October 201311
1312 June 20149 October 201411
1411 June 20158 October 201511
159 June 20167 October 201611
168 June 20176 October 201711
177 June 20185 October 201811
1823 May 20196 December 201911


10 July 2005The Best of Series 1
2 March 2006The Best of Series 2
26 October 2006The Best of Series 3
15 February 2007The Best of Series 4
27 September 2007The Best of Series 5
25 September 2008The Best of Series 6
23 December 2008Christmas Special
20 August 2009The Best of Series 7 (Part 1)
22 December 2009Christmas Special/The Best of Series 7 (Part 2)
25 February 2010The Best of Series 8
29 July 2010The Best of Series 9 (Part 1)
14 October 2010The Best of Series 9 (Part 2)
21 December 2010Christmas Special
5 March 201124 Hour Panel People Comic Relief Special
14 July 2011The Best of Series 10 (Part 1)
20 December 2011Christmas Special/The Best of Series 10 (Part 2)
5 July 2012100th Episode
19 July 2012The Best of Series 11 (Part 1)
27 December 2012Christmas Special/The Best of Series 11 (Part 2)
10 October 2013The Best of Series 12
31 December 2013Christmas Special
21 November 2014The Best Of Series 13
23 December 2014Christmas Special
31 December 2014New Year Eve's Special
19 October 2015The Best of Series 14
21 December 2015Christmas Special
14 October 2016The Best Of Series 15
14 December 2016Christmas Special
13 October 2017The Best Of Series 16
20 December 2017Christmas Special
12 October 2018The Best Of Series 17
21 December 2018Christmas Special
13 December 2019The Best Of Series 18
20 December 2019Christmas Special

Mock the Week Looks Back At...

#CategoryAir date
1"Health"[23]3 March 2013 (2013-03-03)
2"Animals"[24]10 March 2013 (2013-03-10)
3"Education"[25]17 March 2013 (2013-03-17)
4"Entertainment"[26]24 March 2013 (2013-03-24)
5"Law & Order"[27]31 March 2013 (2013-03-31)
6"Science & Technology"[28]7 April 2013 (2013-04-07)
7"Travel"[29]21 April 2013 (2013-04-21)
8"Britain"[30]28 April 2013 (2013-04-28)
9"Royals"[31]12 May 2013 (2013-05-12)
10"Food & Drink"[32]19 May 2013 (2013-05-19)


  1. "Mock The Week". BBC Studioworks. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  2. "Mock The Week is back in full close-up HD glory". BBC. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  3. Logan, Brian (29 October 2013). "Ross Noble mocks Mock the Week" via The Guardian.
  4. Jefferies, Mark (20 August 2013). "Mock The Week gags are pre-planned admits TV comedian Alan Davies".
  5. "The Company". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  6. "Mocking the week for a decade". BBC. 30 August 2015. Retrieved 30 August 2015.
  7. "The Show". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  8. "Mock The Week returns to BBC Two for two series deal". BBC Press Office. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  9. "Boyle leaves Mock The Week panel". BBC Scotland. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  10. "Andy Parsons quits Mock the Week". Chortle. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  11. "Chris Addison takes time off Mock The Week". Chortle. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  12. "Mock The Week — The Cast (- The Guests)". Retrieved 8 August 2008.
  13. Quinn, Ben (31 October 2008). "Complaints as comments about the Queen aired". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  14. Frankie Boyle, My Shit Life So Far, HarperCollins Publishers 2010.
  15. Singh, Anita (20 October 2009). "Mock The Week in trouble over Rebecca Adlington 'joke'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  16. "Frankie Boyle slams Mock the Week". Metro. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  17. Brand, Jo (10 June 2009). "Jo Brands panel on participation by women in panel shows". The Guardian. London.
  18. Hall, James (1 January 2013). "Rory Bremner attacks BBC's Mock the Week". London: The Telegraph. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  19. "The DVD". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  20. Mock the Week: Too Hot For TV 2 –
  21. "Mock the Week – Too Hot For TV 3". 8 November 2010 via Amazon.
  22. Richardson, Anna (21 December 2007). "Boxtree ready to mock the week". The Bookseller. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  23. "Episode 1.1 – Health". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  24. "Episode 1.2 – Animals". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  25. "Episode 1.3 – Education". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  26. "Episode 1.4 – Entertainment". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  27. "Episode 1.5 – Law & Order". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  28. "Episode 1.6 – Science & Technology". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  29. "Episode 1.7 – Travel". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  30. "Episode 1.8 – Britain". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  31. "Episode 1.9 – Royals". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  32. "Episode 1.10 – Food & Drink". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
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