Have I Got News For You’s Ian Hislop: William Shatner was my favourite guest host

"He had no idea who we were or what was happening in Britain, and he was brilliant: very sharp and very self-aware"

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What do you wake up to?

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The Today programme because I want to listen rather that watch. I do a lot of shouting.

What can’t you miss?

Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews is a terrific subject, beautifully told. I’m just amazed to find that much well-written prose on telly and that he’s all over the world.

Guilty pleasure?

Homeland: I wish they’d hurry up and show the third series. I also really liked The White Queen, although everyone said it was terrible. I do enjoy historical fiction; sadly most people objected to the fact that there was lot of fiction and not much history.

What makes you blush?

Some of the programmes I made when I was younger. I watch them and think, “oh blimey”. Unfortunately they’re immortalised on YouTube.

What brings a tear to your eye?

Jeremy Paxman’s beard. And there are certain films that always get me – mostly black and white films: Dambusters, In Which We Serve, Brief Encounter.

What makes you laugh?

Harry and Paul, That Mitchell and Webb Look, Armstrong and Miller, Not Going Out, and Live at the Apollo when it’s on – which is most of the time on Dave.

Who were your favourite TV stars or shows when you were a child?

Sadly they’ve all been arrested… No, I lived abroad a lot when I was young so we tended to get random American or Australian imports ten years late – like I Love Lucy.

Who was your first crush?

When I was at prep school, we were allowed to watch Top of the Pops; I think it was an attempt to keep us heterosexual. Pan’s People was a huge favourite, especially Babs, the blonde dancer. I met her once and told her that I was very grateful to her.

When did you first pick up Radio Times?

I’ve always been a reader. We got it at home and as a child I remember thinking: “Why is there television in here? It’s called the Radio Times. Very odd!”

If you were a BBC controller…

I really enjoyed The Hollow Crown so I’d like to see them do the rest of the Shakespeare histories.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

It’s better not to meet your heroes.

Ever been starstruck?

I met Mick Jagger once. He said: “I’ve seen you on TV”, which I thought was a very bizarre thing. He told me he used to sell copies of Private Eye at art school. I was quite starstruck then.

Do you still get mistaken for 80s pop singer Jimmy Somerville?

Whenever Reverend Richard Coles comes on Have I Got News For You, they always make me sit next to him because he used to be in the Communards, too.

Who was your favourite guest host on HIGNFY?

William Shatner. He had no idea who we were or what was happening in Britain, and he was brilliant: very sharp and very self-aware.

Who’s made you cringe?

There are very few people I’ve felt sorry for. We’ve had real car crashes, but often they’re great fun because one can have a go. I enjoyed Alastair Campbell and John Prescott.

Has anyone refused to host the show?

We haven’t had Tony Blair, but I don’t know what he charges; it might be beyond the budget.


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Have I Got News For You starts tonight at 9:00pm, BBC1