BBC One quiz show Have I Got News For You (HIGNFY) returns to celebrate its 50th series tonight. As if that wasn’t enough, the show also celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.
Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson is set to host the first episode, alongside long-standing team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton.
Here are some of the best HIGNFY moments over the years:
1. Angus Deayton slayed
Angus’s cocaine and prostitute scandal made good fodder for the team captains who didn’t hold back, ridiculing him throughout this infamous episode in 2002.
The former host set the tone for the masterclass in humiliation with his opening line, declaring: “Good evening and welcome to HIGNFY, where this week’s loser is presenting it.”
Ian and Paul whipped out copies of the News of the World, which reported that Deayton had sex with a prostitute and on one occasion took cocaine in a hotel. At one stage, Paul also unveiled a T-shirt featuring the front page of the newspaper, to the presenter’s evident embarrassment.
After being shown footage of Ulrika Jonsson at the beginning of the show, Ian said: “Is there anything else going on in this country apart from Z-list celebrities having sex with each other?”
Poor Angus had a sheepish look on his face from the first excruciating minute until the last. But he bore it all with a stiff upper lip.
2. Brian Blessed bellows
The much-loved actor stole the show with his appearance in April 2013. Brian bellowed “Gordon’s alive” in reference to former prime minister Gordon Brown, burped on TV, and gave one of the liveliest performances the BBC One series has ever seen.
3. Boris Johnson jokes
Before he was London’s Mayor, Boris was a regular on the satirical series. He didn’t get off lightly as the panel mocked him at every turn, but on one occasion he shamelessly plugged his 2006 book, Have I Got Views For You, at every turn.
Paul read out extracts of the book, saying at one point: “I wish I was making this up,” while Ian quipped to him early on in the show: “You’re not aware of anything.”
The show is often credited with boosting Boris’ popularity, and his appearance also earned him a Bafta nomination in 2008.
4. Piers Morgan friction
The former Daily Mirror editor did himself no favours when he appeared on the show in 1996 as he repeatedly took digs at team captain Ian. Both men made their mutual dislike clear and at one point, Angus asked if they wanted to go outside.
When Piers was fired from the Daily Mirror after the paper published hoax photos in 2002, the news clip of his sacking was shown a couple of times on HIGNFY. Five years later, Ian chose Piers as one of his pet hates on BBC One series Room 101.
5. Roy Hattersley no-show
After Labour MP Roy Hattersley failed to turn up for the third time in 1993, the show got its own back. He was replaced with a tub of lard, something “imbued with much the same qualities and liable to give a similar performance”, according to the producers.
Paul won that show with the Rt. Hon Tub of Lard MP alongside him.
6. Bruce Forsyth’s comeback
In 2003 Sir Bruce Forsyth was trading on past TV glories until he agreed to host the satirical show and the gag-filled episode transformed his career. The producers steered the show around his long career, with all the regular rounds having a Forsyth theme.
The pick of the bunch had to be Play Your Iraqi Cards Right, a riff on Sir Bruce’s popular ITV game show Play Your Cards Right. “Higher or lower?” cried Brucie. “I don’t think this programme can get much lower,” joked team captain Ian.
Sir Bruce has called it one of the best experiences of his career. A year later, he was back on top as the host of Strictly Come Dancing.
7. Salman Rushdie’s humour
Renowned writer Salman Rushdie appeared on the show in 1994 and made several jokes relating to the fatwa placed on his head by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran, in 1989.
Talking about some unpopular moves instigated by former cricketer Ray Illingworth, then chairman of the England selectors, the author said: “He’s banned God’s chaplain from the dressing room. He should be sentenced to death!” Cue laughter from the audience.
8. Ann Widdecombe v Jimmy Carr
Ann Widdecombe has vowed never to go on HIGNFY again because of comedian Jimmy Carr. She hosted back in 2007 and firmly batted away most of his jibes. After removing her glasses at one point, he said: “Oooh. Take off your glasses – you’re beautiful!” as everyone laughed.
But the former Conservative MP didn’t see the funny side: “His idea of wit is a barrage of filth and the sort of humour most men grow out of in their teens.
“The edit got rid of much of it but there’s no amount of money for which I would go through those two recording hours again. At one stage I nearly walked out.”
9. Jeremy Clarkson loses it
Team captain Hislop and the ex-Top Gear star playfully sparred over events in the news in 2008.
Jezza was host at the time and pointed to the autocue following another ribbing from team captain Ian: “Do you think I wrote those?” he asked. The response was swift: “Just like when I read your column. I think ‘God, I wonder who did this!’”
As everyone chuckled, Clarkson threw his pen, but Hislop was left bleeding from a cut to his face. “We had to stop recording,” the star later recalled. “He refused to believe it was blood. He said it was red biro and then apologised to me afterwards.”
Have I Got News For You returns to BBC One tonight.