When Frankie Boyle said he was leaving Mock the Week, everyone thought it would be the end of the show. It couldn’t continue without its controversial comedian. None of the other comedians could hold the show together. People would stop watching the show without Frankie’s acerbic brand of comedy.
Well guess what’s gone and happened. The show’s viewing figures are doing just grand, and to be honest, so are the comedians who are coming on the show. Since Frankie left the show, the comedians who have sat in the hot seat have been Patrick Kielty, Chris Addison (x5), Andrew Maxwell, Jack Whitehall (x2), Seann Walsh. All of whom have done a sterling job, with Addison clearly being quite a favourite for the producers. But that’s good, Addison is a good comic with a great satirical mind, which the show greatly benefits from.
Changes are good. They are. We might not always think so, but changes are good. Granted, when it comes to panel shows, though, changes are a mixed bag. Take two popular panel shows that both had big changes made with a change of host, Have I Got News For You and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, both have, in my opinion, opposite fortunes when it came to their change.
Have I Got News For You had to get rid of its host, Angus Deyton, after allegations of him and a hooker, they made the move to having guest hosts every week. This was met with scepticism at first, but what it did was give the show a fresh take on things every week (although some would argue that freshness is wearing thin).
Then you have Never Mind The Buzzcocks, who really did have mixed fortunes. First they had Sean Hughes leave and be replaced by Bill Bailey, which was a brilliant move, given Bailey’s musical and comedic background. Then, host, Mark Lamaar, decided to call time on his tenure on the show. To start with, they did the same as HIGNFY and had a season of guest hosts, with the ultimate decision to have Simon Amstell as a permanent host. For me, this was the start of the decline of the show, Amstell turned it into the Amstell chat show, forgetting it was a panel show. Bill Bailey then left only to be replaced with Noel Fielding, who, I feel, is no replacement (I know a lot of Boosh fans will strongly disagree).
So we have two shows whose fortunes changed when a show regular decided to leave (or was pushed), and I really do think Mock the Week fits in with the fortunes of HIGNFY. Yes, Frankie will be missed, don’t get me wrong, but he wasn’t the core of the show. Towards the end, it become almost the Frankie Boyle show with him interjecting at every possible point, and now, now other comedians will actually get the chance to make the show more than what it had become. Many fans probably forget that Rory Bremner was the original regular panellist on what is now Andy Parson’s and Russell Howard’s team, he left, and the show survived quite well.
The same has happened with Frankie’s departure.