If you’re between your mid-20s and, say, 40, the big, era-defining pop cultural question is: ‘Where were you when Preston from The Ordinary Boys stormed off Never Mind The Buzzcocks?’ Simon Amstell had relentlessly mocked the pop star’s then-wife Chantell’s autobiography, and so the honourable husband swished off the set in his sequinned cardy.
It was with great joy, then, that this week we found out that Buzzcocks is coming back. Thank God! This was the only show that took the piss out of fame without holding back: Mark Lamarr was brilliant as the acerbic, sarcastic host throughout the ’90s and early ’00s, before the needling, naughty Amstell took over the reins in 2008. Who can forget the Identity Parade round, where contestants would be faced with a line-up of similar-looking people and asked: which one was once a pop star? Now the next generation gets to guess which member of S Club Juniors is stood up there, or which one is Shane Ward.
The Buzzcocks crew made huge names hum intros to songs, talked about musicians’ criminal convictions and salacious rumours and had you pulling your hair out trying to remember the next line of a song in the final round. They’re games you’d play with your mates in the car, but instead you’re watching your pop heroes taking part in a local pub quiz whilst getting the shit ripped out of them, and being asked things their PR forbids you to in 2020. It’s perfect television.
The British television-viewing audience, you see, loves a bit of spice. There’s a reason that, in the battle of the chat shows, Graham Norton eventually surged in popularity over Jonathan Ross. It’s not because one is a better interviewer, or funnier, or more clever than the other, but because Graham Norton isn’t afraid to bring celebrities down to Earth when they start waffling on about ‘fate’ bringing them to a role.
Jonathan Ross is lovely, but he tells every guest on his show that their new film, book, play – or crayon drawing they stuck on the fridge – is the best thing he’s ever seen. We see through it. We switch off. We want our celebrities to laugh at themselves. That’s why the best British panel shows take the rich, famous and powerful down.
Have I Got News For You does it with politicians, and is currently on its 57th series. Shooting Stars did it with confusion and silliness, but Never Mind The Buzzcocks did it cleverly, rivalled only by Popworld. The common denominator being, of course, Simon Amstell.
Naturally, the big question everyone is asking is: who will be the next host? Who’s funny, clever, and sharp enough to host this much-needed comeback? Comedians Lolly Adefope, Joe Lycett, Frankie Boyle (can you imagine), Olga Koch and Tom Allen, amongst others, would all do a sterling job. Or why don’t they go down the musician route? Hear me out. James Blunt. Have you seen his Twitter feed? He’d be amazing sat at the helm, laying in to absolutely anyone who took themselves too seriously. Final suggestion: Preston from The Ordinary Boys. Why not go full circle?
In a time where celebrities thought they could make us muggles feel better about a global pandemic by singing ‘Imagine’ to us, this show has never been more needed. Let’s get ourselves in the mood again then, by reminding ourselves of some of the best Buzzcocks moments (minus Preston, who is forever in our hearts).
Lee Ryan Breathe Easy
Former Blue band member Lee Ryan, the one who looked like a premiership footballer with a BooHoo deal, came on the show to try and reframe himself as an actor. Every time he tried to speak, Amstell blared the high pitched chorus from his solo hit ‘Breathe Easy’. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
Donny Tourette says he can ‘dick on the Sex Pistols’
Amstell can’t help himself when someone like Donny Tourette, the lead singer from a naff punk band in the mid-noughties, came on, barely managed to drag his ego through the studio door, and then thought he could come up against the host multiple times. I don’t know what he was on, and I’d be more worried for him if this was just who he is. But Amstell playing a clip from his ‘rockumentary’ is so cringy it hurts.
Huey from the Fun Lovin’ Criminals throws a strop
He had a go at Rizzle Kicks! He was annoyed at having to sing the next line to his own songs! He smashed a mug!
Mark Lamarr has a bust-up with Pete Burns
This is just beautiful.
Just Mark Lamarr in general TBH
Watch this compilation and marvel at slightly low-budget TV and Lamarr’s enviously sharp tongue at some of the biggest names in show business. Let’s get silly and make celebrities laugh at themselves again. And maybe give them plastic mugs this time, just in case.