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Never Mind the Buzzcocks

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Title: Never Mind the Buzzcocks  
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Never Mind the Buzzcocks

Never Mind the Buzzcocks
Also known as Buzzcocks
Genre Comedy panel game
Presented by Mark Lamarr (Series 1–17)
Simon Amstell (Series 19–22)
Rhod Gilbert (Series 28)
Guest presenters (Series 18, 23–27)
Starring Phill Jupitus
Sean Hughes (Series 1–10)
Bill Bailey (Series 11–21)
Noel Fielding (Series 21, 23–28)
Guest captains (Series 22)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 28
No. of episodes 269 (list of episodes)
Location(s) BBC Television Centre (1996–2012)
Riverside Studios (2013)
Elstree Studios (2014–15)
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Talkback (1996–2005, 2012–15)
Talkback Thames (2006–12)
Distributor FremantleMedia
Original channel BBC Two
Original release 12 November 1996 (1996-11-12) – 15 January 2015 (2015-01-15)
External links

Never Mind the Buzzcocks is a British comedy panel game show with a pop music theme which aired between 1996 and 2015.[1] It first starred Phill Jupitus and Sean Hughes as team captains, with Hughes being replaced by Bill Bailey from the eleventh season, and Bailey replaced by Noel Fielding from season 21 onward. The show was produced by Talkback for the BBC, and was 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 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.

The show was noted and known for its dry, sarcastic humour and scathing, provocative attacks on other people and objects. It has also had some controversial guests throughout its 18-year run. The show gained further notoriety as Simon Amstell became the host and became known for humorously mocking guests on the show and reading from their autobiographies.

On 26 May 2015, it was announced that the BBC had decided to cancel the show after 18 years. The BBC decided not to recommission the show to “create space for new entertainment formats..".[1][2]


  • History 1
    • Rounds 1.1
  • Cast 2
    • Walk-offs and non-airings 2.1
  • International versions and similar shows 3
  • Merchandise 4
  • Transmissions 5
    • Original series 5.1
    • Specials 5.2
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The show ran from 1996 until 2015. From its inception until December 2005, it was presented by Mark Lamarr (who also produced the show, from 2004 through to his departure). Simon Amstell started hosting in October 2006. Regular team captains include Phill Jupitus, Sean Hughes (until May 2002), Bill Bailey (September 2002 – February 2008), Noel Fielding (October 2009 – December 2014), and also the guest captains (October 2008 – January 2009). Bill Bailey had appeared as a guest in series 4 on Phill Jupitus's team and series 5 on Sean Hughes's team.

At the end of 2005, it was announced that Mark Lamarr was to take a break from the show after 150 episodes, to concentrate on other projects. The series that aired in early 2006 was hosted by guest presenters, before being permanently handed over to Simon Amstell, who had appeared twice as a panellist (series 13, episode 8 and series 16, episode 11), and once as a guest presenter (series 18, episode 2). The first time Amstell appeared as a panellist under Lamarr's tenure, coincidentally, Lamarr jokingly accused him of "stealing his act".

Following series 20 (Amstell's second as regular host), a highlights show was broadcast, presented by Alan Yentob as a parody of his own arts series Imagine. The highlights programme was sub-titled Imagine… A Mildly Amusing Panel Show. Since then, every series has included a compilation highlights show, usually including some mockumentary-style "behind the scenes" footage.

Series 20 of Never Mind the Buzzcocks concluded on 7 March 2007. The show began its 21st series on 15 November 2007[3] with Simon Amstell as host and Phill Jupitus and Bill Bailey as team captains, although Noel Fielding temporarily replaced Bill Bailey for three episodes of series 21.[4] Series 21 concluded on 14 February 2008.

On 18 September 2008, the BBC announced that Bill Bailey would be leaving the series to concentrate on other commitments after 11 series. While Simon Amstell and Phill Jupitus returned for the show's 22nd series, Bailey was replaced by a series of guest captains, including comedians Bob Mortimer, Jack Dee, Frank Skinner, Stephen Fry, James Corden, Mark Watson, Russell Brand, producer Mark Ronson, and television presenters Dermot O'Leary and Davina McCall.

On 25 April 2009, Amstell announced via his internet mailing list that he would not be hosting another series of Never Mind the Buzzcocks because of his desire to concentrate on his live tours and performances instead.[5] The new series began 1 October with Noel Fielding as a new permanent captain. Guest hosts included Alex James, Dermot O'Leary, Jack Whitehall, Rhod Gilbert, David Walliams, Claudia Winkleman, Frank Skinner, Frankie Boyle, James Corden, Mark Watson, Martin Freeman and David Tennant.[6] Phill Jupitus is the only performer to have appeared in every 'standard' episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks since its inception although did not feature in the special episode filmed as part of Comic Relief's 24 Hour Panel People, and missed the recording of the episode aired 7 November 2011. On that occasion, Frankie Boyle filled in as team captain.

In 2010, guest hosts continued to present the show's 24th series, including Mark Ronson, Jack Dee, Josh Groban, Terry Wogan, Tim Minchin, Robert Webb, Tim Westwood, Catherine Tate, Frankie Boyle (hosting for the second time) and David O'Doherty, who also hosted a compilation show transmitted on 11 January 2011.[7] On 16 July 2011, the first ever live Never Mind the Buzzcocks special was hosted at Latitude. It lasted roughly two hours, was hosted by David O'Doherty, had the team captains Phil Jupitus and Noel Fielding, and featured guests Seann Walsh, Charlie Baker, Paloma Faith and Robert Milton (standing in for Seasick Steve, who was supposed to be there but never arrived).

On 9 July 2014, it was confirmed that Rhod Gilbert had been named the next permanent host beginning with series 28 in autumn 2014.[8]

Between 3 June and 22 July 2013, a special 8 part retrospective programme called What a Load of Buzzcocks was aired, with narration by Alex James. The show revisited key years and events through classic moments and clips from the show's 16-year history.[9]


The show usually consisted of four rounds. The first round has changed multiple times over the course of the show. It usually consists of the teams being asked a question concerning a unique fact about a musical artist or artists, such as "Why did Girls Aloud once have to cancel a show?" or "What have we pixelated in this still from a music video?" Sometimes the teams are given options to pick from and other times they have no help. Alternatively, the first round is 'Connections' in which the teams are asked to identify the connection between two bands or artists. Series 25 introduced sets of props for the guests to identify as being part of the answer.

The second round was the Intros Round, wherein two members of a team (the captain and usually the musical guest) are asked to convey the introduction of a song a cappella (but using vocal sounds for instruments rather than words) for their team mate to guess. During the Christmas specials, the teams are often given instruments with which to play, though they are usually inappropriate or toy instruments.

The third round was usually the Identity Parade, though this has occasionally been replaced by a few other alternative rounds. The audience is shown a video of a musician (often a member of an old band or a "one hit wonder" singer), and the teams have to pick the correct person from a line-up of five people. The audience and people at home are the only ones to see the video, making it harder for the contestants. The host will go through each member of the line-up, giving them humorous names based on either the name of the musician in question or their song.

The final round was called Next Lines, in which the host will speak a line of a song and the team must name the next line of the song. Often the songs chosen will be ones mentioned in earlier rounds and ones recorded by panel members. In the latter case, guests often prove incapable of reciting the lyrics to their own songs; for example, Romeo Stodart of The Magic Numbers failed entirely to recognise a line from a song which he joked was "like the B-side from our first single".

For the Christmas Eve 2006 Bumper Edition, the Next Lines round was omitted in order that the teams, plus a guest band and members of that show's Identity Parade, performed a particular song (chosen, in a short skit, by a dreidel). Phill's team, with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, performed Rachel Stevens' "Some Girls", and Bill's, with the Bollywood Pandits (a Bollywood Bhangra band), performed the Rednex's "Cotton Eye Joe".

In the first series of 2005, Mark Lamarr introduced a new segment after the end of the quiz proper, wherein Lamarr tells the audience out-of-context punchlines which weren't used during the show. Often these have included incongruous references to fingerless gloves.

In most of the episodes in the Spring 2006 series, there was an intro or outro sketch where Phill, Bill and Athelston Williams (a frequent member of the lineup in the Identity Parade round) played in a pub band called "Fat, Gifted and Black" (a play on Young, Gifted and Black), or "Athelston, Lake and Palmer" (a play on Emerson, Lake & Palmer). The guest presenter would usually be the lead singer for this segment (e. g. Lauren Laverne and Ricky Wilson).

A running joke of the show was for Noel or Phil to remark on passing comments as "good band names", an example of this being "The Diabetic Squirrels".


Presenter Mark Lamarr Guests Simon Amstell Guests Rhod Gilbert
Team captains Phill Jupitus
Sean Hughes Bill Bailey Guests Noel Fielding

Until series 18, Never Mind the Buzzcocks was chaired by Mark Lamarr. Until series 10, the team captains were Phill Jupitus and Sean Hughes. After series 10, Hughes departed and was replaced by Bill Bailey. Lamarr left after series 17, and series 18 was chaired by a series of guest hosts. One of these, satirical comedian and former Popworld presenter Simon Amstell, took over as presenter from series 19 to series 22. Amstell sent an email to his fans on 24 April 2009, stating "I am Simon Amstell. Here is some news, should you be interested in this sort of thing. I will not be hosting another series of the fun pop quiz, ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’. When I first took on the role of hosting ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’, my only hope was to bring joy and laughter to the world and if I was lucky, put an end to war, disease and poverty. Now that I have achieved that, I plan to concentrate on my live work." Series 23 was chaired by a series of guest hosts which continued for Series 24 because "none of the guest hosts were good enough" according to the comedic voice over on the first episode of Series 24. In July 2014, it was announced that Rhod Gilbert would be the next permanent presenter for the 28th series.[8]

At the beginning of series 21, Bill Bailey was unable to attend filming, so Noel Fielding provided cover for three episodes starting 22 November 2007.[10] Bill Bailey officially left the show after series 21 to pursue other commitments.[11] His role as team captain was filled by several 'guest captains' for series 22 and permanently filled by Noel Fielding from series 23 onward.

Walk-offs and non-airings

There have been some instances of guests walking off the show, or episodes being pulled from broadcast due to guest behaviour:

  • In episode 2 of series 3, Lemmy of Motörhead walked off the show near the end of the episode, purportedly after he realised that Mark Lamarr and most of the other panellists' jokes were making fun of him (as well as former Bucks Fizz singer Jay Aston). Lemmy's walk-off was not aired however as by this time, main recording for the show had already finished and only retakes were being shot.[12]
  • In episode 3 of series 20, The Ordinary Boys' lead singer Preston walked off the show after Simon Amstell read extracts from the autobiography of Preston's then-wife, Chantelle Houghton.[13] He was replaced by audience member Ed Seymour, picked out by Bill Bailey (on the grounds that he was of the closest physical resemblance that could be found), and credited as "special guest". Bill's instructions to Seymour were "look surly and every time [Amstell] mentions Chantelle say 'that's out of order'".[14] Coincidentally, Preston had been sitting in the same seat as Lemmy, leading it to be called the "ejector seat" by Phill in the next episode. In an August 2009 interview, Preston admitted that he regretted walking off the show and said that he would return to the programme if asked, saying "I'm struggling to think why I would have acted so weird".[15]
  • Russell Brand recorded an appearance as guest captain for series 22,[16] but due to the Andrew Sachs prank call scandal that surrounded him, and his suspension—and then resignation—from the BBC, the episode was not broadcast until 19 January 2011.[17]
  • In episode 7 of series 27, during the Next Lines round, Rizzle Kicks giving his team Fun Lovin' Criminals lyrics despite the fact that musicians who have appeared on the show in the past have regularly been given lyrics to their own songs during Next Lines to test how well they can remember them. Both Rizzle Kicks and Noel Fielding made fun of the incident shortly afterwards.

International versions and similar shows

  • In 1998–1999 the Dutch-language Belgian TV channel Canvas aired one series of the pop quiz Nonkel Pop that was based on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, featuring an intros round, next lines, and similar panels of contestants. The show was hosted by Bart Peeters. The name of the show, which translates as 'Uncle Pop' was a play on Nonkel Bob (Uncle Bob—real name Bob Davidse), a legendary children's TV presenter from the early days of Belgian television. Bart Peeters made his television debut as a child on one of Nonkel Bob's shows.
  • In 1999 Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa hosted a short-lived one-hour music-themed game show with a somewhat different format on the USA network called Happy Hour (not to be confused with the sitcom of the same name).
  • In 2002, an American version of the show on VH1 with the same title, hosted by comedian Marc Maron, lasted for a month. VH1 has since played airings of the classic episodes with Mark Lamarr.
  • An official Dutch version, Doe Maar Normaal (which translates to "Just act normally", part of the Dutch proverb "Just act normally, that'll be silly enough", and is also a combination of famous Dutch bands Doe Maar and Normaal), started in June 2007 and in 2012 reached its fifth season. It is broadcast by BNN. Regular panel members include TV presenter Dennis Weening and comedian Ruben van der Meer and it is hosted by Ruben Nicolai.
  • A popular Australian show, Spicks and Specks, hosted by stand-up comedian Adam Hills and presented in a similar style but with different question formats was broadcast on the ABC from 2005 until 2011. It is returning in 2014 with comedian Josh Earl as host. Adam Hills appeared on Never Mind the Buzzcocks in 2005.
  • Despite persistent efforts by Foxtel, particularly by Darren Chau during his tenure as the Comedy Channel Group Programming Director, the programme could not be cleared for broadcast in Australia. Finally by 2012, the programme was cleared and launched in Australia on the Foxtel platform 16 July.[18]
  • It started to broadcast on ABC2 on the 3rd October 2013.[19]
  • ProSieben, a German network, aired Popclub between 2002 and 2003. Hosted by comedian Thomas Hermanns, the show's major difference from Never Mind the Buzzcocks was the absence of constant team captains. Every episode featured two teams that had to present a name and a battle cry for themselves. Additionally, at the start of each episode, each member showed the very first record they ever bought.


In 1999, BBC Worldwide published Never Mind the Buzzcocks: The Book, the CD, the Brief Intense Rush (followed by a feeling of paranoia and insecurity). The book includes famous moments from the first five series of the show, from selected Identity Parades, I Fought the Law, Word Up and Connections rounds, along with collections of Mark Lamarr's one-liners from the show. The book also features new material, including comic strips (one explaining the origin of The Human League frontman Philip Oakey's hairstyle) and "Great Moments in Rock History", in which photos of famous musical moments are altered to imply that line-up regular Athelston Williams was present. The CD features several Intros rounds from the show, in the format of a game to play at home.

In 2000, Paul Lamond Games released the Never Mind the Buzzcocks board game, licensed from the BBC and Talkback. The board game is played as follows: the players arrange themselves into two teams. They have two counters each on the board—one as a point marker along the edge of the board and the other to select the round they have to play on the roll of a dice. There are six rounds that can be played:

  • In the Style of…, where the team leader has to sing a song in the style of someone notable, e. g. "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in the style of Mick Jagger, or "Start Me Up" in the style of Jeremy Clarkson.
  • When I Was Famous, where the team leader asks a trivia question, and the other team members have to guess the answer.
  • Intros round, the only surviving round from the TV show. Each team gets two intro per round.
  • Vital Vinyl, where the team leader asks a trivia question about a song or an album, and anyone from either team can answer.
  • Songs in One Sentence, where the team leader divides their team into two, and one section of the team has to describe a song without mentioning the song title or any lyrics in the song, and the other section has to guess what the song is. This game was played once in the first series of the TV show.
  • Your Number's Up, where the team leader reads the category on the card to the opposite team, for example, name four songs that mention American states in their titles, for which you might answer "New York Mining Disaster, 1941" (Bee Gees), "Hotel California" (Eagles), "Ohio" (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), and "Sweet Home Alabama" (Lynyrd Skynyrd).

The teams earn the number of points given for the round on the card. For "In the Style of…", it is always one point for the song, and two points for the artist they are doing the song in the style of. At the end of their turn, the team moves their counter on the outer ring clockwise, by the number of points they scored.

The team that overtakes the other on the squares on the edge of the board wins the game.

A best of DVD including some of the unbroadcastable scenes from the Simon Amstell series was released on 16 November 2009. The DVD contains 3 specials including:

  • Never Mind the Buzzcocks… Imagine a mildly amusing panel show
  • Never Mind the Buzzcocks – A Moving Tribute
  • Never Mind the Buzzcocks – Technically, the Best Series Ever

The DVD also includes best of clips and scenes which weren't broadcast with a compulsory commentary by Simon Amstell and Phill Jupitus.


Original series

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 12 November 1996 7 February 1997 9
2 15 September 1997 3 December 1997 8
3 27 February 1998 10 April 1998 7
4 11 September 1998 16 October 1998 7
5 12 February 1999 9 April 1999 8
6 10 September 1999 18 February 2000 9
7 15 September 2000 10 November 2000 9
8 26 February 2001 30 April 2001 10
9 10 September 2001 5 November 2001 9
10 7 January 2002 4 March 2002 9
11 23 September 2002 11 November 2002 8
12 13 January 2003 17 March 2003 10
13 8 September 2003 27 October 2003 8
14 5 January 2004 15 March 2004 11
15 20 September 2004 25 October 2004 6
16 2 January 2005 20 March 2005 11
17 31 October 2005 12 December 2005 7
18 13 March 2006 24 April 2006 7
19 26 October 2006 30 November 2006 6
20 31 January 2007 7 March 2007 6
21 15 November 2007 7 February 2008 11
22 2 October 2008 11 December 2008 12
23 1 October 2009 9 December 2009 11
24 21 October 2010 3 January 2011 12
25 3 October 2011 12 December 2011 11
26 24 September 2012 10 December 2012 11
27 23 September 2013 9 December 2013 11
28 29 September 2014 15 December 2014 11
     – Phill series win
     – Sean/Bill/guests/Noel series win
     – Series drawn


Date Entitle
21 February 1997 The Best of Series 1
30 December 1998 Christmas Special
29 December 1999 Christmas Special
28 December 2000 Christmas Special
30 December 2001 Christmas Special
20 May 2002 Eurovision Special
29 December 2002 Christmas Special
6 January 2003 100th Episode Special
28 December 2003 Christmas Special
20 December 2004 Christmas Special
20 December 2005 Christmas Special
31 December 2005 150th Episode Special
24 December 2006 Christmas Special
20 December 2007 Christmas Special
14 February 2008 The Best of Series 21
16 January 2009 The Best of Series 22
16 December 2009 Doctor Who Special
23 December 2009 The Best of Series 23
5 January 2011 The Best of Series 24
18 November 2011 Children in Need 2011 Special
19 December 2011 Christmas Special
29 December 2011 The Best of Series 25
23 March 2012 Sport Relief 2012 Special
17 December 2012 The Best of Series 26
22 December 2012 Christmas Special
9 December 2013 The Best of Series 27
16 December 2013 Christmas Special
22 December 2014 Christmas Special
15 January 2015 The Best of Series 28


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  16. ^ This would originally have been episode 5 but became episode 13.
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External links

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