This Week With Andrew Neil: The Funniest Show On Television

The Political roundup show has, over it's 10 years on television, transformed from a serious discussion show into perhaps the funniest show on television today, and it's all down to the shambolic ravings of its host...
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The Political roundup show has, over it's 10 years on television, transformed from a serious discussion show into perhaps the funniest show on television today, and it's all down to the shambolic ravings of its host...

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Reruns on Dave and You've Been Framed aside, the show I giggle at the most is This Week on Thursday nights after Question Time. As political roundup goes, it's become weirder and weirder over its recently celebrated decade-long history, and it's all down to the shambolic ravings of its host, Andrew Neil, a man I probably wouldn't have wasted good spit on ten years ago.

Though sharp and articulate in discussion when he can be bothered, it's in his straight-to-camera links that he really comes into his own. If you've never seen it, imagine a drunken Scotsman in a pub trying to read out those TV subtitles that only come up one word at a time, then just replace the pub with a TV studio.

On the tight-fitting sofa opposite sits Michael Portillo, or for the purposes of communication, #sadmanonatrain, and squeezed in beside him, any one of a rolling stock of Labour sidekicks (currently Alan Johnson). Well, this is the BBC….

This Week blends politics with broad satire and unapologetic corniness; in other words, with entertainment. I don't want to comment on that debate as it's been over-milked already by the MP on I'm A Celebrity. Many of the guests are noticeably plucked from a handy media network, but they usually have something worthwhile to say, and the platform given to a variety of views is to the show’s credit. Janet Street Porter, for instance, spoke brilliantly in defence of pensioners' rights, for someone who, on rowdier shows than this one, can become less comprehensible with increased excitability. And they had Jamelia on, so it's not all journos and presenters, right?

All very nice. But you've still got to sit through it. Here's the thing, though. It's worth it for those nuggets of off-the-wall humour that Neil can drop at any moment.

'He swung through the corridors of power when dinosaurs ruled the earth,' was his reminder of who Michael 'Tarzan' Heseltine is when the old Tory reared his ugly head a couple of months back. That still makes me laugh now as I'm typing it. It's not just what he says, it's the way he says it. He's cheerful as chips and he couldn't give a monkey's.

And it's not all jokes at the expense of others. As he put it himself, with his trademark bonhomie, 'This Week – the show whose viewing figures are lower than a Frenchman's sperm count.'

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