Mock the Week

Mock the Week is a British topical satirical celebrity panel show, created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson – the co-producers of Whose Line Is It Anyway? – produced by Angst Productions for BBC Two,[3] and premiered on 5 June 2005. The programme is presented by Dara Ó Briain and features regular appearances by comedian Hugh Dennis, as well as guest appearances by a variety of stand-up comedians, some of whom had regular appearances across several series.

Mock the Week
GenreComedy panel game
Created byDan Patterson
Mark Leveson
Presented byDara Ó Briain
Opening theme"News of the World" by The Jam
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series20
No. of episodes220 (as of 17 June 2021) (list of episodes)
ProducersDan Patterson
Mark Leveson
Ewan Phillips
Ruth Wallace
Production locationsBBC Television Centre
(series 1–11, 17–[1])
The London Studios[2]
(series 12–16)
EditorMykola Pawluk
Running time29 minutes
Production companyAngst Productions
Original networkBBC Two
Picture format576i (16:9 SDTV) (2005–12)
1080i (HDTV)[2] (2013–present)
Audio formatStereo
Original release5 June 2005 (2005-06-05) 
Related showsMock the Week Looks Back At...
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Russell Howard's Good News
Fast and Loose
External links

The format of the programme sees six comedians divided into two teams and performing on a faux gameshow, in which the quiz aspect of answering questions relating to major and regional news items, all taken from the week prior to each episode's filming, is sidelined to focus on satirical, topical discussions on news items, stand-up routines, and the use of improvisational comedy.[4][5] Every series also includes a compilation episode featuring notable scenes, outtakes, and additional footage cut out after filming, with re-runs of episodes being frequently shown on the channel Dave.


Both Dara Ó Briain and Hugh Dennis have been regular members of the cast on Mock the Week

Mock the Week focuses on six panellists – all being a comedian or a stand-up comedian – split into two teams, in which they compete over four rounds, presided over by host Dara Ó Briain. Although the programme maintains a quiz aspect to the format, which features questions on news items taken from those made during the week before an episode's filming, it is largely sidelined completely with a focus on comedy derived from topical, satirical discussions on the subject of each question, as well as from rounds featuring either stand-up routines by certain panellists, or improvisation comedy. Unlike Have I Got News for You, a similar topical, satirical programme that maintains a similar format but without the stand-up routines and improvisational comedy, Mock the Week's format does not use team captains or maintain a proper scoring system – teams generally win a round depending on who the host deems won it, including the episode.

Each episode is edited to feature about four rounds from those filmed and edited by production staff, to fit a 30-minute timeslot. Some content not used is often retained for use in a compilation episode, which also includes outtakes and highlights from the series. Although the first two series featured a multitude of different rounds for use, most of these were later abolished, leaving the programme to primarily use the following rounds in each episode:

  • Picture of the Week: An image round in which panellists are shown a photograph from a news item and must identify the related story from it. The round usually focuses on panellists giving comedic answers that are deliberately wrong or mock the subject(s) of the image. The in-joke is Hugh Dennis finally saying the obvious answer, such as "That is Boris Johnson". The round generally does not conclude then, as both the host and panellists will usually enter topical, satirical discussion on the news item, including any additional questions given by the host.
  • Wheel of News: A stand-up challenge in which a handful of panellists must perform a stand-up routine, with each basing it on a subject determined by a "Random Topic Generator" (e.g. Education). The host often introduces the round with a title that is a comical reference to a recent event. The round initially featured most of the panellists appearing in the episode, but was gradually reduced to two panellists to provide more time for their routines.
  • "If this is the answer, what is the question?": A round in which panellists are given the answer to a question on a topic and attempt to reveal what the question is, which is related to a news story. The round usually involves panellists given comedic questions that the answer could be connected to, and continues until the host prompts one member to give the correct question. The round generally does not conclude when this happens, as both the host and panellists will usually enter topical, satirical discussion on the news item, including any additional questions given by the host.
  • "Scenes we'd like to see": An improvisation round, operating similar to "Scenes from a Hat" of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, in which panellists are given two topics and must provide comedic suggestions and ideas for each one, with the host buzzing each panellist after they given an idea in order to let another come forward with their suggestion. An example of a topic for comedic suggestions could be "Commercials that never made it to air".

On occasion the programme includes an additional round, which has mainly been shown during a compilation or special episode of the programme:

  • "Newsreel": An improvisation round, similar to the game of "Film Dub" from Whose Line Is It Anyway?, in which a panellist – primarily Hugh Dennis – is shown a piece of news footage with no sound, and must provide either a comedic commentary track, or vocal track of the people involved.
  • "Between the lines": An improvisation round involving two panellists. One performs as a notable figure (e.g. a politician) conducting a press conference, while another acts as a "translator", comically stating what they "really" mean to say. For example, panellist A might be performing as the Prime Minister and say "We are making certain that schools are well provided with school meals", to which panellist B might comically translate it as "We made a deal for cheap soup and biscuits from the Russians".


The panellists are primarily comedians, including stand-up comedians, many of whom have made multiple appearances. Hugh Dennis has appeared in all episodes since the show's premiere in 2005, except for a special episode broadcast as part of David Walliams' 24 Hour Panel People.[6] Alongside Dennis and Ó Briain, others have appeared as regular panellists, including Rory Bremner (Series 1 to 2), Frankie Boyle (Series 1 to 7),[7][8] Andy Parsons (Series 3 to 14),[9] Russell Howard (Series 4 to 9), and Chris Addison (Series 10 to 12).[10]

Controversy and criticism

On several occasions, Mock the Week has been the source of complaints, due to some risqué comments made by the panellists and the show's extreme use of profanity (in particular Frankie Boyle). In the first episode of Series 4, during a segment called "What The Queen Didn't Say in Her Christmas Message", Boyle made the comment: "I am now so old that my pussy is haunted." This led to the BBC's director general Mark Thompson being challenged about the comments on Newsnight.[11] Boyle later quipped "That was three years ago. If it wasn't haunted then it certainly is now."[12] In 2008, a larger controversy arose following another comment made by Boyle regarding swimmer Rebecca Adlington. Boyle stated that "she looks like someone who's looking at themselves in the back of a spoon".[13] The BBC ruled that the jokes were indeed "humiliating" and "risked offending the audience", while also calling Boyle "a brilliant member of the team".[14] Despite this, Adlington's agent said that simply admitting mistakes was not enough, saying: "By giving Frankie Boyle a rebuke they fail to discourage others from doing the same."[15]

Since leaving the show, Boyle has criticised both the show's production team and the BBC Trust. He claims that the show did not cover enough major news stories and was too restrictive on his risqué comedy act, as the producers and the BBC Trust were afraid of "frightening the horses".[16] The lack of female guests on the programme has been the subject of complaints in the letters page of the Radio Times. Jo Brand, while criticising the male-dominated genre of comedy panel shows, said in 2009, "I don't do Mock the Week anymore and neither do some male stand-ups I know who have tried it once. We just don’t like the prospect of having to bite someone’s foot off before they let us say something."[17] In 2013, former panelist Rory Bremner stated his reasons for leaving the show, saying: "I felt that there was a new and highly competitive and quite aggressive tendency there and felt uncomfortable. But I've since found out that very few people have felt comfortable doing Mock the Week." He also criticised the way comedians like Linda Smith were treated by new comedians, who "are like prize fighters".[18]

Official merchandise

A DVD, Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV was released on 26 November 2007. It contains almost three hours of material, including three extended episodes from series five, containing scenes that were considered too rude for broadcast.[19] The three extended episodes are titled, 'Putin, Henman & Konnie Huq', 'Nuts, Pies and Nim Nim Nim' and 'Money, Sex and The Lib Dems'. Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV 2 was released on 9 November 2009. Again, the DVD contains the main 'Too Hot For TV' feature with a compilation of unseen footage, plus three extended episodes from the series archives titled, 'The Anal Lube Show', 'The Leg Show' and 'The Hedgehog Show'. The extended episodes have a total of more than 40 minutes of unseen material.[20] Audio CD versions of both DVDs are available. Mock the Week: Too Hot for TV 3 was released on 8 November 2010. Like the previous two, this DVD features an hour-long smut reel and three extended episodes titled 'The Elves and Testicles Show', 'The Prisons and Other Dodgy Stuff Show', and 'The Johnny Blowjob and Bird Flu Show'.[21]

Boxtree published seven original tie-in books between 2008 and 2014, plus one which compiled the best of the first two books.

Mock the Week: Scenes We'd Like to See (August 2008)
Mock the Week: This Year's Book (September 2009)
Mock the Week: 1001 Jokes (January 2010, collected the best of the first two books, later published in paperback as Mock the Week: 1001 Scenes We'd Like to See)
Mock the Week: Next Year's Book (September 2010)
Mock The Week's Funniest Book of All Time (2011)
Mock The Week's Only Book You'll Ever Need (2012)
Mock The Week's Ultimate Panic-Buy! (2013)
Mock The Week's Brand Spanking New Scenes We'd Like To See (2014). [22]


Original series

SeriesStart dateEnd dateEpisodes
15 June 20053 July 20055
220 January 200624 February 20066
314 September 200619 October 20066
411 January 20078 February 20075
512 July 200720 September 200711
610 July 200818 September 200811
79 July 200924 September 200911
821 January 201018 February 20105
917 June 20107 October 201010
109 June 201113 October 201111
1114 June 201211 October 201211
1213 June 20133 October 201311
1312 June 20149 October 201411
1411 June 20158 October 201511
159 June 20167 October 201611
168 June 20176 October 201711
177 June 20185 October 201811
1823 May 20196 December 201911
1922 October 20204 February 202111
2013 May 2021TBATBA


10 July 2005The Best of Series 1
2 March 2006The Best of Series 2
26 October 2006The Best of Series 3
15 February 2007The Best of Series 4
27 September 2007The Best of Series 5
25 September 2008The Best of Series 6
23 December 2008Christmas Special
20 August 2009The Best of Series 7 (Part 1)
22 December 2009Christmas Special/The Best of Series 7 (Part 2)
25 February 2010The Best of Series 8
29 July 2010The Best of Series 9 (Part 1)
14 October 2010The Best of Series 9 (Part 2)
21 December 2010Christmas Special
5 March 201124 Hour Panel People Comic Relief Special
14 July 2011The Best of Series 10 (Part 1)
20 December 2011Christmas Special/The Best of Series 10 (Part 2)
5 July 2012100th Episode
19 July 2012The Best of Series 11 (Part 1)
27 December 2012Christmas Special/The Best of Series 11 (Part 2)
10 October 2013The Best of Series 12
31 December 2013Christmas Special
21 November 2014The Best of Series 13
23 December 2014Christmas Special
31 December 2014New Year Eve's Special
19 October 2015The Best of Series 14
21 December 2015Christmas Special
14 October 2016The Best of Series 15
14 December 2016Christmas Special
13 October 2017The Best of Series 16
20 December 2017Christmas Special
12 October 2018The Best of Series 17
21 December 2018Christmas Special
13 December 2019The Best of Series 18
20 December 2019Christmas Special
21 December 2020Christmas Special
31 December 2020The Best of Series 19

Mock the Week Looks Back At...

#CategoryAir date
1"Health"[23]3 March 2013 (2013-03-03)
2"Animals"[24]10 March 2013 (2013-03-10)
3"Education"[25]17 March 2013 (2013-03-17)
4"Entertainment"[26]24 March 2013 (2013-03-24)
5"Law & Order"[27]31 March 2013 (2013-03-31)
6"Science & Technology"[28]7 April 2013 (2013-04-07)
7"Travel"[29]21 April 2013 (2013-04-21)
8"Britain"[30]28 April 2013 (2013-04-28)
9"Royals"[31]12 May 2013 (2013-05-12)
10"Food & Drink"[32]19 May 2013 (2013-05-19)


  1. "Mock The Week". BBC Studioworks. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  2. "Mock The Week is back in full close-up HD glory" (Press release). BBC. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
  3. "The Company". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  4. Logan, Brian (29 October 2013). "Ross Noble mocks Mock the Week". The Guardian.
  5. Jefferies, Mark (20 August 2013). "Mock The Week gags are pre-planned admits TV comedian Alan Davies".
  6. "The Show". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  7. "Mock The Week returns to BBC Two for two series deal". BBC Press Office. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  8. "Boyle leaves Mock The Week panel". BBC Scotland. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2009.
  9. "Andy Parsons quits Mock the Week". Chortle. 19 October 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
  10. "Chris Addison takes time off Mock The Week". Chortle. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  11. Quinn, Ben (31 October 2008). "Complaints as comments about the Queen aired". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  12. Frankie Boyle, My Shit Life So Far, HarperCollins Publishers 2010.
  13. Singh, Anita (20 October 2009). "Mock The Week in trouble over Rebecca Adlington 'joke'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  14. "'Mock' rapped over swimmer jibes". BBC. 19 October 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  15. "Swimmer queries Mock show ruling". BBC. 2 November 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  16. "Frankie Boyle slams Mock the Week". Metro. 27 October 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  17. Brand, Jo (10 June 2009). "Jo Brands panel on participation by women in panel shows". The Guardian. London.
  18. Hall, James (1 January 2013). "Rory Bremner attacks BBC's Mock the Week". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  19. "The DVD". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  20. Mock the Week: Too Hot For TV 2 –
  21. "Mock the Week – Too Hot For TV 3". 8 November 2010.
  22. Richardson, Anna (21 December 2007). "Boxtree ready to mock the week". The Bookseller. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  23. "Episode 1.1 – Health". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  24. "Episode 1.2 – Animals". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  25. "Episode 1.3 – Education". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  26. "Episode 1.4 – Entertainment". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  27. "Episode 1.5 – Law & Order". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  28. "Episode 1.6 – Science & Technology". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  29. "Episode 1.7 – Travel". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  30. "Episode 1.8 – Britain". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  31. "Episode 1.9 – Royals". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.
  32. "Episode 1.10 – Food & Drink". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 February 2013.