Panel Show Whores

A harmless couple of hours watching a few panel shows used to be a guilty pleasure. That was until the same familiar faces started appearing in every single one cashing cheques their mouths cannot cash.
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A harmless couple of hours watching a few panel shows used to be a guilty pleasure. That was until the same familiar faces started appearing in every single one cashing cheques their mouths cannot cash.

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My name’s Stephen and my guilty pleasure is watching lots and lots of panel shows. There, I’ve said it.

On a night in I can happily spend an entire evening eschewing a tribute to Motown on BBC4 and a thought-provoking documentary on a previously undiscovered African tribe and simply wallow in endless repeats of them, trawling the channel hinterlands for decade old episodes of Have I Got News For You or Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Honestly, would I lie to you?

In a complicated world they offer a chance to stultify tired brain cells for half an hour at a time with mild, pre-scripted merriment. They’re harmless fluff. Parlour games for those who can’t be arsed standing in front of their family trying to mime out Where Eagles Dare.

Recently though my simple enjoyment has been somewhat sullied by the same familiar faces popping up on every single format. A slight irk has mutated into an intense teeth-gnashing irritation as bookers schedule their guests from the same tiny well of talent. I assume these select few all share the same agent who owns incriminating photographs from various network office parties. Whatever the reason they’re polluting my screen. I reluctantly tolerate these one-trick ponies for thirty minutes as they slightly ruin the frivolous pleasure of 8 Out Of Ten Cats. Then I turn over for QI and there they are again, sporting the same smug grins – cashing cheques that their mouths can’t cash – only this time wearing a different shirt.

Worst of all the annoyance takes me out of the fun bubble and reminds me that I’m stuck in on a Friday night. The bastards. Here are the five worst repeat offenders.

Gina Yashere

Has this woman ever – even accidentally – uttered anything remotely witty, clever or original? With her voice like David Bellamy in need of a Strepsil and the amazed eyes of a competition winner Yashere is under the misguided assumption that saying something loud automatically equates to comedy. A waste of a seat in Mock The Week she is, quite bluntly, as funny as an x-ray shadow.

Someone really should inform him that it’s 2011 or, failing that, invent him a time-machine so he can travel back to music hall days.

David Walliams

Walliams is a decent comedy actor but a natural comic he is not. In an attempt to disguise this up he phones in the same antiquated routine of batting his eyelashes at the male host under the bizarre assumption that the notion that he may be gay is somehow amusing or of note. Someone really should inform him that it’s 2011 or, failing that, invent him a time-machine so he can travel back to music hall days. ‘Ooo I’m feeling all queer today madam.’

Russell Kane

This is an entirely personal gripe. A while back I was the loser in a messy love triangle and unfortunately Kane shares the same soft southern lispy tones of the victor. He even looks like him. Whenever his happy mug appears I am propelled back to a time when I sent begging texts to one and threats of hospitalisation to the other. Not something you want to dwell on when you’re sipping your cocoa in your jammies.

Micky Flanagan

Possibly the most cockney man on the planet this one-man Chas and Dave has finally broke through with a top-notch stand-up act this year. Hopefully this will mean he does less of these shows because his habit of directing his ‘answers’ to the audience instead of the host – to absolutely guarantee laughter as they now feel under obligation to - is annoying as hell.

Sarah Millican

Caroline Aherne on Prozac. Millican is a likable lass who has carved out a distinctive persona mostly revolving around her being a bit sad and lonely and her love of cakes. She is however horribly over-exposed. Currently so ubiquitous that I half-expect her to be sitting on the toilet when I dash for a quick piss during the ads saying ‘Eee I love Jaffa Cakes me’. Her agent needs to learn the value in saying no once in a while.

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