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'People used Mock the Week as a stick to beat BBC,' says Andy Parsons

We caught up with the former Mock the Week team captain in the wake of the show's cancellation.

Published: Thursday, 4th August 2022 at 5:28 pm
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Earlier this week, the BBC announced it would be cancelling Mock the Week after 17 years on air. Host Dara Ó Briain joked that the UK had "finally run out of news", before adding that the satirical show couldn't be sillier than the news already was.

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The BBC's own statement cited the decision was driven by a desire to "create room for new shows". But some fans on social media have also noted that it coincides with a time when the BBC is facing increasing challenges from the Conservative government.

"Arguably the BBC's always been under under fire from certain sections of the press. They don't like the idea of a national broadcaster, and certainly Mock the Week in the early days," comedian Andy Parsons told RadioTimes.com in the wake of the show's cancellation.

"They used to like to use it [Mock the Week] as a stick to beat the BBC with," Parsons told us. "But it's those same sections of the press, from what I've been reading in the last couple of days, that are now bemoaning the Mock the Week that was, rather than the current Mock the Week, without realising that they of course, played some role in in changing the BBC compliance."

Mock the Week
Mock the Week's Hugh Dennis and Dara Ó Briain BBC

He added: "Certainly there were some cases of Mock the Week that reached certain notoriety. And, you know, everybody looks back with rose-tinted spectacles. But obviously, things changed since since we first started."

Parsons quit the series in 2015 after a decade as one of its regular panellists.

During our exclusive chat, he said that, in the wake of the show's cancellation, there had been an outpouring of support from "people who are nostalgic for the past" on his social media.

Explaining that he wasn't privy to why exactly the show had been ditched, Parson's said: "The pandemic has changed a lot of things, there's a lot of online stuff now.

"The BBC's looking at different ways and the Mock the Week obviously changed since its inception in 2006.

"It was a political panel show and it arguably got the best comics at the time on the show," he continued. "And then gradually, over the course of a number of years, the BBC decided that actually the political comedy show was going to be Have I Got News For You and Mock the Week would be a showcase for younger comics who didn't necessarily have much grasp of politics or the news, they weren't interested in them. And therefore, inevitably, the show changed."

Ó Briain himself referred to the series as "Dara and Hugh's Academy for Baby Comedians" when he addressed its cancellation.

Despite this shift, Parsons still regards his time on the show as "a brilliant opportunity."

"Doing Mock the Week for for 10 years has given me the ability to go out on tour to all the wonderful theatres – virtually every town in this country has got some sort of theatre to be proud of. And it's lovely to be able to go out and tour and do them. And so I shall always be grateful for that opportunity," he said.

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