Back when British panel games used to fill the Christmas video shelves with ‘specially filmed extended episodes’ to try and tempt you from your cash, the only show that made a rip-roaring success of it for my money was Never Mind The Buzzcocks (with its 1998 release, Never Rewind The Buzzcocks). In the intervening period, there’s not been a single DVD release for the show, and that’s been a real pity. Fortunately, The Best Of Never Mind The Buzzcocks has arrived to plug the gap.
The DVD covers the last three years of the show, which you can comfortably describe as ‘the Simon Amstell era’. I used to enjoy the show when Mark Lamarr was hosting it, but Amstell here is quite outstanding. Happy to puncture the egos of any celebrity who dares to venture onto the show – his prodding at Preston may have made the headlines, but it was his comments to the likes of Vanessa Feltz that had us spitting out our drink with laughter – Amstell is quite brilliant.
The DVD, basically, splits into three main features that each take a year of the show. The best is actually presented as an Alan Yentob documentary, but it’s in here that the material is given more space to work. The other two features tend to edit things together a bit quicker, and a little bit to the detriment of the material. But when it all gels, it’s simply sparkling. Bill Bailey is a man of comedy genius utterly unleashed here, Phill Jupitus’ belly laughs could crack us up from ten paces, and when everything else calms down, Amstell’s blisteringly quick wit means that there’s never a laugh too far away.
Buzzcocks is a brilliant and not fully appreciated panel show, and the 90 minutes of best-of material demonstrates that perfectly. Eminently rewatchable and frequently gut-bustingly funny, we can’t help but feel that the show is missing Simon Amstell an awful lot.
There’s one extra feature on the disc, which is where Amstell and Jupitus commentate over some more clips from the show. Again, any inclusion of more material is very welcome, but this didn’t work quite so well for us. We’d have happily taken an extra half hour of lightly-edited material. It’s still funny, but the main feature material does set a very high standard.
These grumbles aside, The Best Of Never Mind The Buzzcocks is one of the funniest discs on the market this side of Christmas, and leaves us wishing for a further release that digs back into the decade-plus collection of material from the show that’s sitting in the BBC archives. For now, this will do very nicely, indeed, thank you.
The Feature:The Disc:
The Best Of Never Mind The Buzzcocks is out now.