Brian Blessed on Have I Got News For You

Simon offers a quick salute to quite possibly the funniest television programme of the year to date...

Have I Got News For You, much though I’m a fan of the show, rarely really falls within the remit of this site. Granted, hosts such as Bill Bailey have allowed us to sneak the odd word in, but last weekend’s episode was simply not going to get away without a mention.

Whatever genius came up with the idea of letting Brian Blessed host an episode needs a hefty pat on the back and a firm handshake to boot. From his opening screaming of “Gordon’s alive”, the man was pretty much single-handedly responsible for the funniest episode of the show in some time. Granted, it was even less about the news than usual, but it was very, very funny.

Highlights? A Blessed In Disguise runs it close, where the great Brian dressed up as news stories for the week (including a giant squirrel!). His roaring out of newspaper headlines was quite brilliant too, but it was the man’s sheer madness that won through. “What are you like when you’re drunk?” questioned Paul Merton around half way through, pretty much echoing the thoughts of many who were watching at the time.

If you found the extended episode on Saturday night, you also got a lot more swearing at the autocue, a fabulous anecdote about his trip up Mount Everest, and loads more shouting and table banging. And the post-credits bit was brilliant too.

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This was, thanks primarily to one man, the funniest piece of television I’ve had the joy of watching in a long, long time. And that’s from someone who doesn’t subscribe to some of the moaning that surrounds Have I Got News For You. It’s still a strong programme, still consistently throws up good episodes, but will have to go a long way to beat the day that the production team invited Brian Blessed in the host’s chair.

It’s on the BBC iPlayer service as this article is being posted, and is easily the must-watch TV show of the week.