Mock the Week is a British topical celebrity panel game hosted by Dara Ó Briain. The game is influenced by improvised topical stand-up comedy, with several rounds requiring players to deliver answers on unexpected subjects on the spur of the moment.
The show is hosted by Dara Ó Briain and on the panel are two teams of three. The current panel consists ofHugh Dennis and two guest panelists seated on Ó Briain's right, and Andy Parsons and two guest panelists on his left. For the first seven series, Dennis was joined by Frankie Boyle, and from the second half of series 10 through the first half of series 12 he was joined by Chris Addison. The other team originally included Rory Bremner for the first two series; Parsons was made a permanent panelist after Bremner left, and was joined byRussell Howard the following series onward. Hugh Dennis remains the only team member to appear in every episode (except the special episode that was part of David Walliams' 24 Hour Panel People). Howard was absent for some of series 9 as he was concentrating on other projects.
On 2 October 2009, the BBC announced that Frankie Boyle would not be returning to the show "due to other television commitments", having been absent for the final recording of series 7. After missing the latter portion of series 9 and first half of series 10, Russell Howard also officially left the show. Chris Addison then joined as a regular, taking the seat previously occupied by Boyle on Hugh's team. Following the end of series 12, it was announced that Addison would not be returning for series 13, due to his involvement in a project being filmed in the United States. No formal statement was issued regarding his possible involvement in the next series.
To viewers' left of Dennis's team is the Press Pit, which is a large desk where they sometimes play a round called Between the Lines. Next to this is the much wider Performance Area which has aLARGE TV screen, normally used for stand-up and improvisation challenges such as Dating Videos and Scenes We'd Like To See.
Although Hugh Dennis is in effect a team captain (and is sometimes referred to as such in publicity material), such a distinction is never made on the programme itself. For the first two series Rory Bremner was considered to be the other team captain; however he left the show after series 2 and was replaced by a different guest panelist each week (although Andy Parsons was made a permanent panellist). In effect, Dennis's opposition do not have a team captain.
Although each episode has a winning and losing team, the entire show exists mainly to provide starting points for improvised comedy routines rather than to function as a serious competition. Specific scores are never referred to, and it has been stated by Dara comically that the scoring system is in fact "a load of bollocks". Indeed, after each round, the number of points awarded to a team is never stated; instead Dara just gives "the points" to the team he judges should receive them. In episode 11 of season 6, Dara admitted that winners of each round and point allocation was not based on anything specific, and viewers should "stop e-mailing in."
This round is played by all panelists. In this round, a photo of someone famous in the news is given, along with the initial letters of a newspaper headline. The panelists have to eventually guess what the headline is, though they initially come in with comic suggestions until Dara prompts someone to give the correct answer.
Guests such as Michael McIntyre have admitted they often struggled to come up with a headline that fits and gets a laugh (In one episode, Michael's best effort was "Brown Orders Tree Explosion") Furthermore, as was evidenced on the "Too Hot For TV" DVD releases, a hefty percentage of headlines pitched (mainly by Frankie Boyle) were not suitable for broadcast.
In recent episodes, this round has been replaced by "Picture Of The Week", in which the panelists merely have to make a joke about the image itself, rather than fit it to the initials of a headline.
This game takes place in the Performance Area. In the first series all six players took part, but from the second series onwards, only between two and four players take part. On the screen is a Random News Generator with several topics on it. A topic is picked at random, and one of the players has to perform a stand-up comedy piece about the topic it has landed on.
Until series 3, Dara would judge whether the audience had laughed enough at the routine, and decide whether or not the person was allowed to sit down. The first team to have all their players back in their seats would win. If one player from each team was left standing, sudden death would come into effect. A random topic was picked and both players had to talk about it. The team of whoever got the biggest laugh would win. Since series three, this has been removed, and the biggest laugh now decides the winner.
In series 7, the game was played differently with one panelist from Hugh's team (Frankie Boyle in the first episode (as Gina Yashere no longer performs stand-up) and the guest panelist in the episodes following this) and the entire opposing team playing the game with the exceptions of episodes 11 and 12 where only three people played (as David Mitchell doesn't perform stand-up comedy). Series 8 used four players again, with the exception of episode 4.
In series 9, only three panelists performed in this round (usually the three guests). This was joked about by Dara in episode 3, when the title of the round wasIf Only Three People Do This Round, We Can All Mock Off Early.
In Series 11, only two panelists (usually guests) performed in this round. This is to allow for greater screen time for those guests, to help promote them more as stand-up artists.
This round is played by everyone. A choice of six categories is given to one of the guests, covering topics such as sport, health, home affairs, world news, the environment, and politics. Once they have chosen a topic, an answer is revealed and all players have to guess what the question was, the panelist who chose the category goes first at 'guessing' the question. This alternates being the first round with "Headlines", and similarly to that round they begin by thinking of comical questions before concluding with the real answer.
This is the final round in the show and takes place in the Performance Area. All players participate in this round. The screen presents an unlikely scenario, for example "Things the Queen didn't say in her Christmas speech" or "Unlikely lines from the final Harry Potter book" as well as "Things you didn't hear at theOlympics", and the players must say things that are unlikely to happen. Players participate by taking turns walking to the microphone and making suggestions.
One of the most memorable 'Scenes we'd like to see' episode was one which featured popular tennis player Andy Murray as a member of the audience, Unlikely things for Andy Murray to think, in which the panelists commented his Wimbledon triumph and his personal thoughts. 'I wonder if Mum's watching, of course she is, she's always watching,' 'What I didn't get were the four Andy Murray supporters in the crowd with the letters M, U R and Y on their shirts. There’s four of them, so why did they go for the surname?' and 'Wimbledon's going all well, but I could really do with a poo' were the highlights. Other hilarious gags include:
'To my darling wife – roses are red, violets are blue, Valentines Day is consumerist rubbish, don’t you have some ironing to do?' - Unlikely things to read in a Valentine’s card.
'Poor and too lazy to cook? That’s why mums shop at Iceland.' - Ads that never got made.
'Uh, no, sorry Freddy. Your satnav must be on the blink. This is Elm Crescent.' - Unlikely lines from a horror film.
'And Samson cried: “Lord why have you given me all my strength in my hair?” And the Lord replied: “Because you’re worth it.”' - Unlikely lines from the Bible.
'Dear Mr and Mrs Johnson, .Boris is a very popular and intelligent boy who should go far, just so long as he's not put in charge of anything complex.' -Unlikely school report cards
'I am Aragorn, son of Arathorn, the heir to Isildur and part of the Fellowship of theRING... please leave a message after the tone.' - Unlikely lines from a fantasy film.
'Help yourself to Nibbles…he was our favourite hamster.' - Lines that would change the atmosphere at a dinner party.
'The case was closed in 1974 and never reopened – mainly because the police forgot the combination.' - Unlikely lines from Crimewatch.
'Welcome to the National Insincerity Awards, and can I just say what a pleasure it is to be here…' - Unlikely lines from an award ceremony.
These games appear in some episodes, but not all. Usually these aren't always shown because of the language used or highly politically incorrect answers the panel members give, due to the time the show was broadcast. These outtakes were later released on DVD extras.
This game takes place in the Press Pit and for the first two series was played by Hugh Dennis, Rory Bremner and Frankie Boyle. In this round, Rory/Frankie impersonates someone in the news that week giving a press conference. The other player (Hugh) tells us what the person is really saying. Points are only awarded if there is at least one player from each team, in which case both teams would get equal points. In more recent series Hugh has been partnered by any other contestant, often a guest.
This round is played by two players, one from each side. In a number of cases, it has only been Hugh Dennis playing and acting out many voices, e.g. David Cameron and Boris Johnson. In this round, a piece of news footage is played with no sound. The players have to act out what each person is saying, although this usually bears no relation to what was actually occurring. The best individual performance wins.
Recently, this round was replaced with one called Royal Commentary with only Dennis playing, where he provides a commentary on a royal event, with Dara not awarding points afterwards.
The panel are shown a picture linked to a world news event before trying to figure out what on earth was happening. So far the round has only featured as an out-take during clip shows. It also appeared on the Too Hot For TV DVD. On many occasions, Dara has joked sarcastically about its obscurity, noting that "we never fucking broadcast it".
This game takes place in the Performance Area. Normally two rounds are played, with one player from each team performing in the Performance Area. The player is given the name of a famous person and has to record a lonely hearts ad in the style of that person. The other players have to try and guess who they are.
This was Mock the Week's tribute to the current affairs programme Question Time. Normally two or three players went into the studio audience whilst the others stayed in their seats. Dara acted as the host of the show, with the other players (normally the team captains and one or two other guests) playing politicians. Former team captain Rory Bremner was normally a famous Labour politician, and Hugh was normally a Conservative spokesman. The players in the audience would question the rest of the panel, and they had to answer the questions given to them in role.
This round was played by all the players. Dara would take the role of the Speaker of the House of Commons, Rory would play the Prime Minister and the rest of his team would be front-bench MPs. Hugh would be Leader of the Opposition, and his team would play the opposition party. Teams were given a rather trivial news story to debate, but would treat it as if it was the heavyweight issue of the day. This game usually evolved into a series of puns, with each team attempting to continue theCHAIN (for example, while referring to farming, "I take it you're an expert in the field", "I have ploughed that furrow" etc.).
This round was played by two players, one from each side. The two players (normally Hugh and Frankie.) played famous people having a telephone conversation. During the conversation, one of them would drop a bombshell to which the other player had to react.
On several occasions, Mock the Week has been the source of complaints, due to some risqué comments made by the panellists and the shows extreme use of profanity (in particular Frankie Boyle). In one episode recorded in 2007, 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. Boyle later quipped "That was three years ago. If it wasn't haunted then it certainly is now." 
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".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".
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 any more 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."
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 the late Linda Smith were treated by new comedians, who "are like prize fighters".
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. 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. 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'.
Boxtree has published four tie-in books. The first, Mock the Week: Scenes We'd Like to See, was published in August 2008, and the second, Mock the Week: This Year's Book, was published in September 2009. A third book in paperback, Mock the Week: 1001 Scenes We'd Like to See, collected the best of the first two books, and another all-new book, Mock the Week: Next Year's Book was published in September 2010.