BBC/Angst/Steve Brown

Cancelling ‘Mock the Week’ was a huge mistake

After seventeen years on the BBC, the widely cherished and consistently hilarious Mock the Week recently came to an end. Despite its success in addressing diversity criticisms and its survival through the pandemic restrictions, the satirical panel show has now been cancelled by the BBC, in order to “create room for new shows”. I know we’ve experienced a fair few outrageous political U-turns as of late, but here’s why I think this one might be more popular than the others. 

the show’s cancellation really isn’t surprising at all


Russell Howard, Michael McIntyre, and James Acaster are just a few of the success stories Mock the Week has created over the years. Presenting original takes on topical stories, the panel show was a popular platform for transforming junior stand-ups into household names. With very few shows formatted like this nowadays – allowing comics to breakthrough on national television and giving audiences exposure to an eclectic mix of comedy styles – I fear the BBC are making a mistake by cancelling the show. Glenn Moore, a regular panellist, argued in reaction to the show’s cancellation that the BBC “has a responsibility to replace [Mock the Week] with a show that would offer the same chances to emerging comics” 


Former Mock the Week fans often hark back to the early years, lamenting the loss of the ‘too hot for TV’ comedy back then, such as Frankie Boyle’s controversial and graphic style of humour. Arguing that the show lost its spark well over ten years ago, they believe the show’s cancellation really isn’t surprising at all. Sure, I enjoy watching back old clips of Boyle’s shameless jokes and dark humour, but it’d be ridiculous to say it went downhill as we entered the 2010s. What followed was greater panel diversity and a refreshing outlook of comedy, not just an overcompetitive sausage party. 


Davie was aware of the ever-increasing right-wing complaints on Twitter


Two comedians who I discovered watching the show, Gary Delaney and Angela Barnes, both debuted after the show’s tenth series. Delaney was appreciated by many for his quick-fire puns, always hysterical and often verging on the strange. Barnes’ brutally honest and charmingly unfiltered quips rarely failed to land with the audience, providing some of the best contributions to ‘Scenes We’d Like To See’. This introduced me to niche styles of comedy, which I was not exposed to before. I will continue to take interest in their comedy despite the removal of their primary outlet.  


Perhaps we are seeing one of the first major effects of the BBC Director-General’s desire to tackle left-wing bias within BBC programming. Shortly after his appointment in 2020, Tim Davie made it clear that he wanted the broadcaster to reflect all sides of the political spectrum. Davie was aware of the ever-increasing right-wing complaints on Twitter about the frequent ridiculing of Brexit (and other low-hanging anti-conservative fruit). The ridiculing of Tories on the show even led touchy Spectator columnists writing scathing reviews of the “wokeness” of post-2016 Mock the Week. 

We’ve just had a Prime Minister fail to outlast a supermarket lettuce


It’s hard to disagree that the panellists on the show have been dominated by left-leaning, liberal comedians, but maybe that’s simply because there aren’t enough decent right-wing comedians to rival them. The only right-leaning comedian that comes to mind is Geoff Norcott. Despite him providing novelty outlooks on the news, his jokes were often met with a hollow reception. 


What a year to cancel the show!  We’ve just had a Prime Minister fail to outlast a supermarket lettuce and a home secretary who dreams of sending a plane of vulnerable asylum-seekers over to Rwanda (who at the time of writing still has her job). In times of a cost-of-living crisis, growing resentment and distrust in the government, we are desperately in need of Mock the Week’s comedic release. Holding the government to account through satirical comedy, the show gave us all a bit of humorous respite from the severity of contemporary political issues. However, given the recent comedic state of government, has political comedy become redundant? Is the current political climate satire in itself? 




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