Stop all the buzzers, cut off the telephone, prevent the dog from guessing intros with a juicy bone, silence the guest popstars and the boybands long done – because Never Mind the Buzzcocks is dead and gone.
Even as I write this, it strikes me that I’ll probably never see another intros round or identity parade , and it makes me genuinely sad in a way I rarely am with cancellations. No other panel shows have the sense of anarchic fun and invention that Buzzcocks has – and now it’s gone for good, cancelled to make room for “new entertainment formats” according to a BBC spokesman.
This seems to me like a bizarre decision for a show at the top of its game. Buzzcocks is probably the most unique of all the BBC’s plethora of panel shows, bringing some much-needed variety into the derided format as well as the sort of guests who you’d never normally get to see in that kind of environment.
It was a show that’s often courted controversy (with one or two guests walking out over comments by second host Simon Amstell) and sailed close to the wind with its humour but that’s part of its appeal, a spark of mischief that separates it from the more predictable confines of other, similar series.
Basically, Buzzcocks is one-of-a-kind in a world where most panel shows really aren’t. Why does a show like Mock the Week – basically an inferior version of Have I Got News for You – get to carry on while Buzzcocks gets the chop? There’s nothing else quite like Buzzcocks on TV, and I seriously doubt any “new formats” could fill its particular, long-evolved niche.
But what really gets me about this decision is the show just seemed to be getting a new lease of life after a long run of guest presenters. Rhod Gilbert had only hosted for one series alongside series mainstay Phill Jupitus (who has appeared since the very first episode) and Noel Fielding, and in my opinion he was really taking the show in a more consistent and fun direction which I fully expected to see develop more over the coming years. Now we’ll never get to see what it might have become.
Of course, Never Mind the Buzzcocks varied a lot over 18 years from original host Mark Lamarr via Simon Amstell and plenty of guest presenters to Rhod Gilbert, and not every episode has been a winner. There have been highs and lows, gags and one-off rounds that fell flat and guests who were boring as sin.
But when it worked, my God it worked well – like a band where every player knew just the right notes to hit. I’m really going to miss it.