Dara O Briain: “the novelty of rolling news has worn off”

The Mock the Week host talks TV loves and hates

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Do you spend lots of time on the sofa watching TV?

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If I’m lucky enough to be watching on the big telly, it’s usually sport – but I don’t actually sit on the sofa, I walk around. I have a tendency to pace, especially 
if it’s a nerve-racking game.

Where do you watch most of your TV?


I’m tragically usually watching in a hotel room or on a train or a plane on my iPad. So I’ll download shows from Netflix or Amazon or BBC iPlayer before I travel.

What’s good to watch on your long journeys?

I finally watched all six seasons of Game of Thrones. I’d heard a lot of the spoilers already but luckily I thought the Red Wedding episode was at the end of series four, so it still took me by surprise when it happened in series three. For series six I was somewhere
in Thailand with Ed [Byrne, 
his Road to Mandalayco-star], and I had to turn off the iPad and quietly rock at the back of the van.

Any other recent dramas you’ve been gripped by?


I’ve watched the first four episodes of who knows how many things. We live in a golden age for TV, but you do think, “We could have got to this quicker if it was a movie.” The only reason I watched Game of Thrones was because there are only ten episodes per series.
 I wouldn’t have done it if it had been 22 episodes. That would be 132 hours of television! The Killing – did that ever end? Andrew Lincoln has signed up for another seven series of The Walking Dead. Good luck to him, but no thanks. Something like Happy Valley, that’s the perfect length.

What are your (shorter) guilty pleasures?


Do kids’ shows count? I’m quite the Adventure Time fan, and
 The Amazing World of Gumball. They’re too well made to count as a guilty pleasure, but I’m not technically meant to be watching them. I also play games on a console when I have time. I host Go 8 Bit [on Dave] so I have 
to keep across that stuff.

Do you watch your fellow comedians?


I do watch some stand-up, because Netflix is
 all stand-up specials. Fleabag was the big find. I adored that.

As the host of Mock the Week, how do you keep up with all the latest news and current affairs?

It’s one of the great freedoms to accept you are never going to keep across all of it. There is too much content and for me the novelty of rolling news has worn off.
Not to say that there aren’t times when it’s the most incredible
 and gripping thing in the world. When we did the Stargazing Live specials, with Tim Peake doing the space walk, we were told that if anything went wrong, we should immediately say: “We seem to have some difficulty here, we’re going
to hand over to our colleagues in news.” Because the presenters are trained not to speculate. Although I imagine the temptation to speculate is enormous…

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Dara and Ed’s Road to Mandalay is on Sunday at 9pm on BBC2