Never Mind the Buzzcocks

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

British Panel Game based around pop music, named after the Pop Punk band Buzzcocks and the album Never Mind The Bollocks Here's The Sex Pistols. The most recent lineup consists of a different guest host each week, with Phill Jupitus and Noel Fielding as captains of the two teams of three. The two other members of each team are whatever musicians, comedians or other recognisable faces the producers can secure at the time -- there has been Lampshade Hanging about the poor quality of the guests on numerous occasions. On one notable occasion, Ordinary Boys frontman Samuel Preston got so snotty at this lampshade hanging, he stormed off halfway through the episode -- this, of course, just made the mockery more intensive (and he was replaced by someone from the audience who looked similar).

The show debuted in 1996. Mark Lamarr was the original host, and after his departure there were a series of temporary hosts, including Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs and Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear before Simon Amstell took over until 2009. Previous team captains were Sean Hughes (Series 1-10) and Bill Bailey (Series 11-21), each time taking the opposing side to Phill Jupitus.

The format was exported to VH-1 for American viewers.

Tropes used in Never Mind the Buzzcocks include:

  • Actor Shipping: Noel and Paloma Faith, in-show, largely for both being Cloudcuckoolanders.
  • Author Appeal: Mark Lamarr is a big fan of reggae; when Jimmy Cliff was on the show he kept awarding his team points for "just having Jimmy Cliff in".
  • Bait and Switch: A regular feature of the presenters' jokes. Probably the best one was in a Christmas special when Mark began the show by doing the usual spiel about not forgetting that Christmas is really about one remarkable man, before adding that, unfortunately, they couldn't get that man, Noddy Holder, as a panellist.
  • Berserk Button: Don't talk to Mark Lamarr about Chris Moyles. Or Noel Fielding about Coldplay.
    • And don't insult Michael Jackson in front of David Gest.
    • Phill tends to get keyed up whenever the person in the lineup is very famous and he doesn't want to make any jokes at their expense.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Whereas Mark Lamarr tended to make jokes at the expense of his least-favourite artists, frequently concocting mock evil schemes to get them killed, Simon Amstell spends much more time chatting to his guests of the week. Which in effect means that he spends much more time mocking them personally than Mark ever did (and much less time mocking the team captains, which Mark used to love doing.)
  • Big Eater: Phill Jupitus, at least according to Mark's intro jokes.

Mark: Phill cooked Christmas dinner for eight, but before he could eat it, some people turned up...

  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Sean rattled off an Irish Gaelic phrase ("Thanks very much for the toilet, please.") in one episode as a Batman Gambit to pick one of the Nolan Sisters out of a lineup (she being the only one who understood it and couldn't keep a straight face).
    • Bill Bailey speaking French while discussing The Kooks' criminal record.
  • Bishonen: Well, considering the show's gone on for about fifteen years and always features at least one pop star, this was only to be expected. Current captain Noel Fielding is a notable example, however.
    • Brian Molko deserves a special mention for being the only male guest to appear that would have made a more attractive woman than Fielding.
  • The Board Game: Only one round from the TV show survived in the board game adaptation.
  • Briefer Than They Think: As presenter, Simon Amstell lasted four series compared to Mark's seventeen. This hasn't stopped his tenure being just as popular.
  • British Accents: Mark occasionally talks in an exaggerated "yokel" form of his native Swindon accent, as does Bill with his West Country speech.
  • Butt Monkey: Dappy.
    • And Jedward.
    • Tony Hadley, both when he's present and not. Most of the jokes are about him supposedly being homeless after being bankrupted by the breakup of Spandau Ballet.
    • Bill Bailey under Mark Lamarr's tenure, being called everything from 'a beast-man' and 'a Klingon nonce' to 'something found in a jar in Arthur C. Clarke's basement'.
    • Donny Tourette. Not that he noticed.
  • Camp Gay: John Barrowman very much embraced this role during his appearence.

Simon: John will not be able to help you with this question, because tonight he is playing the part of a stereotype.

  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Mark Ronson's complete lack of comic timing during his episode as guest host.
    • During Tim Westwood's turn as guest host, Phill pointed out that his bizarre speaking rhythm made it hard for people to tell when he'd said the punchline.
  • Captain Obvious: In a discussion about John Paul II:

Phill: But the Pope's a good man.
Mark: ...Yeah, he is.
Sean: He's a holy man!
Mark: Yes Sean, we know that, he's the Pope.

  • Catch Phrase: Mark introduced the first few series with "Hello and welcome to Never Mind The Buzzcocks, the pop quiz that says..." followed by a pun based on a line from a song. Later, it was "Hello, and welcome to Never Mind The Buzzcocks, a..." followed by a alliterative phrase like "rumbuctious ransack through the rainforest of rock". By series 10, it was "Hello, and welcome to Never Mind The Buzzcocks, the comedy equivalent of..." followed by something painful, or in one case, "landfill".
    • Series 9 featured a different catchphrase in each episode, including "I'll be the judge of that, cheeky chops", "Phill, that's rich coming from you", and most famously "I can't work under these bloody conditions!", complete with throwing papers.
    • When furious at a guest (or someone in the ID Parade Lineup) he would occasionally yell "YOU'VE MADE A MOCKERY OF THIS SHOW!"
  • Christmas Episode: Several. Whether he is present as a panellist or not, expect jokes and references to Noddy Holder of Slade supposedly being the Anthropomorphic Personification of Christmas because, well, it's Noddy Holder, y'know?
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Bill, of course.
    • There was once a guest who was such a big Cloudcuckoolander herself that she managed to make Bill roll his eyes and say "yeah", which made Mark laugh at the prospect. His other guest then tried to keep up with the rest of the team by crying "Fishcakes! What's that all about?!"
    • Lauren Laverne came across as this on her appearence, first insisting that David Bowie was violently pursued by Avon ladies and then, when trying to figure out some indecipherable lyrics, came out with 'He's relating bananas to rock bands... from the seventies. It's just a thought...'
    • Rick Wakeman of Yes, especially when he and Bill Bailey do a live Intros round. In wizard outfits.
    • Bill Oddie. From his bizarre insistance that Shakira was "sacrificing a kitten" to his attempts to sing "I Just Wanna Make Love To You" in the next lines round. Heavily lampshaded in the closing titles which were, as Stewart Lee had suggested "a series of slow fades, suggesting the passage of time", which made Oddie look utterly mental.
    • Bernard Cribbins on the Doctor Who episode.
      • "I like prawns, they're nice."
    • Diana Vickers fell into this halfway through her episode during the "Next Lines" rounds. It's as if her brain black-ed out mid-sentence!

Lee Mack: Youtube, Facebook, Myspace, IM. What does "im" mean, at the end?
Diana: I, M! "im!" --Wha?

      • She also somehow skipped a beat during "Intros" round. It's gotta be with her being too "Northern," even being given attention by Lee Mack.
    • Stacey Solomon was gleefully loopy during her episode. Offering her suggestion as to how a box of baubles and tinsel might have caused Wyclef Jean to break his hand:

Stacey: Maybe Christmas fell on him...

      • Even Phil had to comment on the "secondary weird" being inflicted on her by co-panelists Noel and Tony Law during the episode.
  • Comically Missing the Point: One episode had Noel pointing out one of his favourite Jedward quotes on the reality show X-Factor.

Jedward: *imitated by Noel* We really wanted to be Ghostbusters but we weren't brave enough.
Noel: Like that was the biggest barrier.

  • Cool Loser: Simon, all over. Case in point (Skip to 6:40 for hard evidence).
  • Country Mouse: Occasional jokes about Mark Lamarr being one due to his origins in Swindon, complete with Mark "slipping into his natural accent" (an exaggerated rural yokel accent).
  • C Word Privileges: Anthea Turner chastised Simon for using the C-word, on the grounds that he can't say it because he doesn't have one.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much everyone, but mostly Simon Amstell.
    • No. Sorry, but you can't be a Deadpan Snarker when you're wearing a bunny suit.
    • He's not really deadpan anyway. He'll always smile gleefully as he destroys your ego.
    • Mark Lamarr, however, was practically an embodiment of a deadpan snarker, and his comedy was heavily based on this.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: In the early-Noughties series, Mark Lamarr had a Running Gag of doing this deliberately with his faint-praise "compliments" for a group that had just been mentioned.

Lamarr: "People criticised (group's song), but I quite enjoyed it. I say I enjoyed it...I tolerated it. I say I tolerated it...what I actually did was (horrible description of him torturing himself rather than having to hear the song). Having said that, I thought the B-side was quite tuneful."

  • The Ditz: Tony Wright from Terrorvision came across as this, especially in his second appearance. Notably Phill and even Mark seemed to find his inability to remember the letters of the alphabet more adorable than mockable.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Along with whatever the hell was going on with Mark's hair, the first few episodes featured four songs in the Intros round for each team.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The International Federation for the Universal Care of Rabbits.
  • Foil: Everyone for everyone else.
  • Freudian Slip

Simon: Now you've heard what the other Jew... the other Jew... the other two judges have said...

  • Foe Yay: This may have been what Donny Tourette thought was going on between him and Simon on his appearance.
  • Gag Penis: Oh, boy.

Mark: "LL Cool J likes to boast that his penis is "half a block long"; however, it's also just an eighth of an inch wide. It does, however, become very useful when he gets locked out of his car."

Simon (to Amy Winehouse): You want us just to sit here while you drink yourself to death?

Bobby: "It's Tommy Cooper! It's Frank Spencer!"
Mark: "IT'S NOT ANYONE!!!"

    • Suprisingly, Mark did a pretty good Benny Hill impression in the Series 9 premiere. In a different episode he said he learned many accents from Benny Hill.
    • Don't forget the time when Phill did impressions of practically any foreign country in the same exact voice. He even mocked it himself after Lamarr pointed it out.

Mark (To Sean): Have you been to Zimbabwe recently?
Phill: I've been to Zimbabwe, Mark. 'ELLO, I'M FROM ZIMBABWE!

    • That in mind, he's actually fairly good at impressions.
  • Missing Episode: The episode with Russell Brand as team captain was pulled on account of his involvement in the prank phone calls to Andrew Sachs row. It finally aired in early 2011.
  • Narrowed It Down to The Guy I Recognise: Meant to be the entire point of the Identity Parade, but they're usually such obscure celebrities that it doesn't work out that way. However, when it does, Phill will often explain his choice that way; e.g., "I think number 3 is Wee Willie Harris, because it's Wee Willie Harris!". Also occasionally inverted when the panel rule someone out because they recognise them as a Recurring Extra or a member of the crew.
  • Old Shame: Sean's Irish TV show, which Mark claimed they doubled the viewing figures of every time they showed a clip to everyone on both teams. Also Phill's involvement with Red Wedge (see below).
    • When Vic Reeves was on, Mark tormented him (in revenge for constantly being referred to as a "Fifties Throwback" on Shooting Stars) by repeatedly playing the opening bars of a bizarre song apparently entitled "Bo, Fantasia!" that Vic recorded in his youth.
    • Let's not forget poor Simon
  • Offer Void in Nebraska: An odd but increasingly common internet example. While vast numbers of episodes can be found on YouTube, there are some that are automatically hidden from British internet users because of copyright laws for the music specific only to the UK - despite Britain being the show's country of origin. You can still watch the episodes in other countries, like America.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Or, "punchlines we never got round to using during the show" -- which are really the last lines of anecdotes you really don't want to hear the start of, such as...
    • "The police had to coax it out with a biscuit!"
    • "It turned out that, although it wasn't Bailey's, it was Bill's!"
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: Occasionally played for laughs;

Christopher Biggins: [[[Elizabeth Taylor]]] doesn't like people like you.
Simon: What? Jews?
Simon: [to camera, mock-seriously] The BBC would like to make it clear we have no reason to suspect that Elizabeth Taylor dislikes Jews.

  • Overly Long Gag: The spinning of the dreidel to select a song in the Series 19 Christmas Special
  • Pixellation: The round "What Have We Pixellated?" in which guests are shown a music video where an item has been pixellated and must answer the question "what have we pixellated?"
  • The Points Mean Nothing: Mocked several times.
    • On "Double Points Night" when, for each point scored, Simon would add one extra point "out of [his] own pocket".
    • In one of the Christmas episodes, all scored points went to charity.
    • Alan Davies loses his team a point by saying Robbie Williams is a nice person.
    • Jimmy Cliff got points from Mark Lamarr just for being Jimmy Cliff.
    • Mark would also refuse to give points to obnoxious guests, and help the other team win. Like when Pete Burns was a guest.

Simon: And you get four points for that! Or one. However that works.

  • Precision F-Strike: The show doesn't shy away from using profanity, but the jabs and insults are always wrapped in eloquence and metaphor; so when Bill's only comment on Loose Women is "Oh God, I hate those bitches", you know he means it.
  • Product Placement: Parodied.

Phill: Then he [one of The Bee Gees] sings "I've got a penguin on my shoes", but what we don't know, Mark, is whether it's a penguin as in the wildfowl, or as in the delicious chocolatey biscuit.
Mark: Are you being paid by them to say that?
Phill (Aside Glance): No, but it is indeed a tasty sweet treat!

  • The Quiet One: Sean Hughes. When he left the show, Mark commemorated him with a montage of 'his contributions to the show', which consisted of clips of Sean's other team members answering questions while Sean sat quietly in the background.
  • Ratings Stunt: Parodied in a series 22 episode which claimed the ratings were down, which ended in assorted contrivances such as loan sharks turning up, an explosion in the studio and an anvil falling on Phill.
  • Recurring Extra: More than one of these has been used as a Running Gag in the "Identity Parade" round; most famously Athelston Williams, the bald, totally expressionless black guy.
  • Retraux: The hundredth episode included two segments of the show set in The Edwardian Era and The Sixties (as well as one set in The Future).
  • Reverse Psychology: Guest host Lee Mack quite clearly tells the audience not to say "Batman!" on cue to a song that sounds remarkably like that theme.
  • Rouge Angles of Sutin: The new "complete the Youtube comment" round. In the first outing, one of the comments claimed that magician Dynamo must be "an alien or sutin" to the delight of all involved. It helps that Adam Buxton read all of the comments with the misspellings intact.
  • Running Gag: Noel's hatred for Coldplay, to the point that David Tennant felt the need to defend the band when he hosted.
    • A rather persistent gag regarding R'n'B star Craig David and unspeakable deeds involving small cotton-tailed mammals spanned 4 episodes in Series 22.
    • In one of Bill's early appearances, he started defending Star Trek fans, upon which Mark replied "We're not having a go at Star Trek, you fucking Klingon nonce!" When Bill reacted with shock, Mark pretended it was a nickname they'd always called him behind his back--and it went on to reappear many times when Bill became a regular.
    • In a series 24 episode, Phill gives Josh Groban, the presenter, an angry look every time the latter sings.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: More than one guest has walked off the show after getting fed up of being mocked.
    • Two. The first was Lemmy of Motörhead, but he disappeared during the retakes so it was not evident to the broadcast audience. The second time was Preston from The Ordinary Boys early into the show, prompting Phill to search the audience for a lookalike. Throughout the rest of the show after Preston walked off, the other guests would feign walking off after Simon "slighted" them. The following week, after no one walked off, Simon gave everyone lollies congratulating them for staying to the end of the show.
  • Self-Deprecation: A big portion of the show's jokes are about the poor quality of the jokes and guests.
  • Springtime for Hitler: Phill was involved with the left-wing music and comedy movement Red Wedge, which campaigned against Margaret Thatcher's re-election in 1987; a tie-in NMTB book claimed that it was single-handedly responsible for her remaining in power.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Mark towards Faye Tozer of Steps.

Lisa Scott-Lee (also of Steps): "Stop asking me to ask her out for you! She told me to tell you she was a lesbian!"
Mark: "Well...tell her I'm a lesbian too." (Aside Glance) "Nothing stops me!"

Mark: "If loving Billie's wrong, I don't want to... (quietly) go to prison."

Phil: Bring in the points, bitch.

Simon: And if you want to be a writer on this show...all you need is a crayon.