OTB Crashes ‘Mock The Week’s Birthday Party..
2005 doesn’t seem all that long ago, but as Dara O’Briain pointed out at last night’s recording of Mock the Week, back when the show was starting out “people must have just opened their bedroom windows and shouted “LOL!”
The Beeb’s comedy swipe at the week’s headlines is now in its eleventh season and celebrated its 100th episode last night; a truly impressive feat and a testament to the show’s enduring appeal. And it’s fair to say the show is popular, hell, it’s almost too popular, as demonstrated by an irate Irish woman outside Television Centre last night, squabbling with audience researchers and bemoaning her lack of admittance on account of the audience being over-capacity.
Part of the show’s success rests on the striking simplicity of its format. Developed by Dan Paterson and Mark Leveson and also the brainchildren of cult improv show Whose Line is it Anyway?, six comedians plus host Dara O’Brian mull over headline acronyms, dub news footage, exchange banter and then partake in what is, for many, the best part of the show; ‘Scenes We’d Like To See’. Last night’s “Unlikely things to hear at Wimbledon” presented itself as an out and out assault on “Englishness” and the strawberries-and-cream-loving middle-class.
The talent of the comics is key to Mock the Week’s success. Many fans felt they’d lost something irreplaceable when Frankie Boyle departed in 2009, but based on last night’s, (or tomorrow’s episode for those at home) they needn’t have worried as the laughs barely let up for the entirety of the recording, so much so that far from being told to applaud, we found ourselves being told to keep the racket down!
Co-creator Leveson agrees that one of the secrets to the show’s success is “Not only the talent of the comedians but also the way each comic brings something different”. Andy Parsons likes to pick up on, and make jokes out of news and anecdotes referenced earlier in the show that the audience may have forgotten for example.
While the set’s blue and red colour scheme may be looking a little dated, there is nothing jaded about the content of Mock the Week. It remains a show of immense popularity, being the most oversubscribed for audiences of any on the BBC. One hundred episodes down and here is a show at the very top of its game, here’s to another hundred..