Have I Got News For You is a panel game based on current affairs, has been running for ten years, and remains the most popular game of its kind on the television (The radio has its own version, called "The News Quiz", which is older by fifteen years).
Hosted from the start by the smooth, sarcastic, yet rather sophisticated charms of Angus Deayton, who used to act alongside Richard Wilson in "One Foot in the Grave". the game has two teams-each side has either Ian Hislop, of "Private Eye" fame and who also worked on "Spitting Image", and on the other side, the quick-witted Paul Merton, who has also appeared on radio programs such as "Just A Minute" and now has his own show called "Room 101", where guests talk about their pet hates. The two captains are accompanied by a guest. Some come back again and again, like Richard Wilson, Boris Johnson, a conservative MP who also edits a magazine and Tracy Emin, the artist who was nominated for the Turner prize for the sculpture "My Bed". The panallists have to play a series of different games to earn points. These are the usual ones:
The two teams are played a clip with no sound, and they have to guess what recent news story the clip represents.
The Odd One Out Round:
The two teams are each given four people or things, and they have to work out which is the odd one out. One example of this was when a team was given four guide dogs, and three had only attacked their owners, and the fourth was the odd one out because it had killed its owner.
Missing Words Round:
"Containing some, more or fewer from our guest publication this evening..." are the words that start this round. The guest publications are usually such things as "Egg Cup World", "Freemasons Monthly" or "Cross Stitch Crazy". The teams are given various newspaper headlines with part of them blanked out, and the teams have to fill in the blanks. This is a source of great amusement to the panallists, who usually try to put in silly answers, such as 'Invincible Ant Defeats_________' "Spiderman!" "Invincible Dec!" and so on.
The Caption Competition:The teams are given a photograph and have to come up with a caption. An example of this would be a picture of a man with a violently ginger beard, and Paul Merton says "No, I asked for a ginger beer!"
The teams often get distracted, and do not always finish the game, because they have got so wrapped up in something else. For instance, Paul Merton ended up arguing with Ian Hislop over Ian's nationality. Ian's argument was that his parents were Welsh, and a person did not have to be born in Wales to be Welsh, at which Paul replied "All right, I'll be Swedish!"
"Is your family Swedish?"
"No, but some of my furniture is."
There have also been many memorable occasions and standing jokes. One of the most recent came from when Iain Duncan Smith became leader of the Conservative Party, and the contesants began to grumble about double-barrelled names. The result of this was that Paul began to call him "Iain and Duncan Smith", and claim that they were identical twins. This utterly baffled poor Boris Johnson, who once asked, "I don't understand, what's all this about him being two people?" Later on in the same show, Boris was tested about how much he knew about Iain "And" Duncan Smith, and the first question he was asked was "What is Ian Duncan Smith's real name?" Of course, he didn't know, and when it turned out his real name was George, Paul Merton cried out "There's three of them?!"
Another show became famous when Roy Hattersley agreed to appear, but had to cancel at the last minute. Consequently Paul Merton was joined by a tub of lard which, apparently, still managed to win.
Have I Got News For You is still one of the most loved quizzes on the television, but as Angus once quipped: "And to all the viewers watching us at home, Matron will be bringing you your medication shortly."
These memories of Angus Deayton's wit are even more special now, as he was sacked after a tabloid newspaper reported that he had taken cocaine and slept with a prostitute. Poor Angus was mercilessly grilled on the subject by his the team captains the following Friday, in what has to have been one of the stickiest episodes in the show's history. When more bad press surfaced a short time later, the BBC sacked him.
This decision was met with a great deal of controversy. The programme's fans were outraged, and endless letters were written to national publications, such as the Radio Times and the national press. The show has juggled guest presenters (But not literally) ever since, with the likes of Jeremy Clarkson, Anne Robinson and Boris Johnson in Angus' shoes. However, the programme has not been the same, sparkly, blissful half-hour of madness since he left. He is still sorely missed, and will be for a long time.