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Never Mind the Buzzcocks is a comedy panel game show with a pop and rock music theme, currently without a permanent presenter, but starring Phill Jupitus and from 2009 Noel Fielding as team captains. The show is produced by Talkback Thames for the BBC, and is usually aired on BBC Two. The title plays on the names of the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks album, and the band Buzzcocks.

The show is noted and known for its dry, sarcastic humour and scathing, provocative attacks on the music industry. It has also had some controversial guests throughout its 13-year run.


The show has been running since 1996. From its inception until December 2005, it was presented by Mark Lamarr (who also produced the show, from 2004 through to his departure). Other guest hosts include Huey Morgan, Jeremy Clarkson, and Ricky Wilson. Simon Amstell started hosting in October 2006. Regular team captains include Phill Jupitus, Sean Hughes (until May 2002), Bill Bailey (September 2002 – February 2008), and also the guest captains (October 2008 – January 2009). Bill Bailey had appeared as a guest in series 4 on Phill Jupitus's team and series 5 on Sean Hughes's team. Phill Jupitus is the only performer to have appeared in every episode of NMTB since its inception.

At the end of 2005, it was announced that Mark Lamarr was to take a break from the show after 150 episodes, to concentrate on other projects. The series that aired in spring 2006 was hosted by guest presenters, before being permanently handed over to Amstell, who had appeared twice as a panellist (series 13, episode 8 and Series 16, Episode 11), and once as a guest presenter (series 18, episode 2). The first time Amstell appeared as a panellist under Lamarr's tenure, coincidentally Lamarr jokingly accused him of "stealing his act".

Following series 20 (Amstell's second as regular host), a highlights show was broadcast, presented by Alan Yentob as a parody of his own arts series Imagine. The highlights programme was sub-titled Imagine… A Mildly Amusing Panel Show.

Series 20 of Never Mind the Buzzcocks concluded on 7 March 2007. The show began its 21st series on 15 November 2007 with Simon Amstell as host and Phill Jupitus and Bill Bailey as team captains, although Noel Fielding temporarily replaced Bill Bailey for three episodes of series 21. Series 21 concluded on 14 February 2008.

As of January 2008, classic episodes are airing on VH1 and TMF, and episodes from more recent years are shown on Dave.

On 18 September 2008 the BBC announced that Bill Bailey would be leaving the series to concentrate on other commitments after 11 series on the show. While Simon Amstell and Phill Jupitus returned for the show's 22nd series, Bailey was replaced by a series of guest captains, including comedians Bob Mortimer, Jack Dee, Frank Skinner, Stephen Fry, James Corden, Mark Watson, Russell Brand, musician Mark Ronson and television presenters Dermot O'Leary and Davina McCall.

On 25 April 2009, host Simon Amstell announced via his internet mailing list that he will not be hosting another series of Never Mind the Buzzcocks because of his desire to concentrate on his live tours and performances instead.The new series, which began October 1st, sees Noel Fielding as a new permanent captain, while guest hosts include Alex James, Dermot O'Leary, Jack Whitehall, Rhod Gilbert, David Walliams, Frank Skinner, James Corden, Mark Watson and Martin Freeman.


The show usually consists of four rounds. The first round has changed multiple times over the course of the show. It now usually consists of the teams being asked a question concerning a unique fact about a musical artist or artists, such as "Why did Girls Aloud have to once cancel a show?" or "What have we pixelated in this still from a music video?" Sometimes the teams are given options to pick from and other times they have no help.[[Image:nmtb.jpg|thumb|right|Publicity shot for Never Mind the Buzzcocks, episode aired on 13 March 2005Front row: Phill Jupitus (team captain), Mark Lamarr (presenter) and Bill Bailey (team captain)Back row: Emma Griffiths, Magne Furuholmen (a-ha), Terri Walker and Richard Fairbrass (Right Said Fred)]]The second round is the Intros Round, wherein two members of a team are asked to convey the introduction of a song a cappella (but using vocal sounds for instruments rather than words) for their fellow team mate to guess. During the Christmas specials, the teams are often given instruments with which to play, though they are usually inappropriate or toy instruments.

The third round is usually the Identity Parade, though this has occasionally been replaced by a few other alternative rounds. The audience is shown a video of an old musician, and the teams have to pick the correct person from a line-up of five people. The audience and people at home are the only ones to see the video, making it harder for the contestants.

The final round is called Next Lines, in which the host will speak a line of a song and the team must name the next line of the song. Often the songs chosen will be ones mentioned in earlier rounds and ones recorded by panel members. In the latter case, guests often prove incapable of reciting the lyrics to their own songs; for example, Romeo Stodart of The Magic Numbers failed entirely to recognise a line from a song which, it emerged, was "the B-side from our first single".

For the Christmas Eve 2006 Bumper Edition, the Next Lines round was omitted in order that the teams, plus a guest band and members of that show's Identity Parade, performed a particular song (chosen, in a short skit, by a dreidel). Phill's team, with the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, performed Rachel Stevens' "Some Girls", and Bill's, with the Bollywood Pandits (a Bollywood Bhangra band), performed the Rednex's "Cotton Eye Joe".

In the first series of 2005, Mark Lamarr introduced a new segment after the end of the quiz proper, wherein Lamarr tells the audience punchlines which weren't used during the show. Often these have included incongruous references to fingerless gloves.

In most of the episodes in the Spring 2006 series, there was an intro or outro sketch where Phill, Bill and Athelston Williams (a frequent member of the lineup in the Identity Parade round) played in a pub band called "Fat, Gifted and Black" (a play on Young, Gifted and Black), or "Athelston, Lake and Palmer" (a play on Emerson, Lake & Palmer). The guest presenter would usually be the lead singer for this segment (e.g. Lauren Laverne and Ricky Wilson).

Episode list

Until series 18 the show, Buzzcocks was chaired by Mark Lamarr. Until series 10, the team captains were Phill Jupitus and Sean Hughes. After series 10, Hughes departed and was replaced by Bill Bailey. Lamarr left after series 17, and series 18 was chaired by a series of guest hosts. One of these, satirical comedian and former Popworld presenter Simon Amstell, took over as presenter from series 19.

Amstell sent an email to his fans on 24/04/2009 stating 'I am Simon Amstell. Here is some news, should you be interested in this sort of thing. I will not be hosting another series of the fun pop quiz, ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’. When I first took on the role of hosting ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’, my only hope was to bring joy and laughter to the world and if I was lucky, put an end to war, disease and poverty. Now that I have achieved that, I plan to concentrate on my live work.'

At the beginning of series 21, Bill Bailey was unable to attend filming, so Noel Fielding provided cover for three episodes starting 22 November. Bill Bailey officially left the show after series 21 to pursue other commitments. His role as team captain was filled by several 'guest captains' for series 22 and permanently filled by Noel Fielding for series 23.

Controversial guests

There have been some controversial guests throughout the history of Never Mind The Buzzcocks:
  • In episode 2 of series 3, Lemmy of Motörhead walked off the show near the end of the episode, purportedly after he realised that Mark Lamarr and most of the other panellists' jokes were making fun of him, although by this time the show had finished the main recording and only retakes were being shot.
  • In episode 3 of series 20, The Ordinary Boys' lead singer Samuel Preston walked off the show after Simon Amstell read extracts from the autobiography of Preston's then-wife, Chantelle Houghton. He was replaced by audience member Ed Seymour, picked out by Bill Bailey (on the grounds that he was of the closest physical resemblance that could be found), and credited as "special guest". Bill's instructions to Seymour were "look surly and every time [Amstell] mentions Chantelle say 'that's out of order'". Coincidentally, Preston had been sitting in the same seat as Lemmy, leading it to be called the "ejector seat" by Phill in the next episode. In an August 2009 interview Preston admitted that he regretted walking off the show and said that he would return to the programme if asked, saying "I'm struggling to think why I would have acted so weird."
  • Russell Brand recorded an appearance as guest captain for series 22, but due to the Andrew Sachs prank call scandal surrounding him, and his suspension — and then resignation — from the BBC, the episode has been postponed.

International versions and similar shows

  • In 1998-1999 the Dutch Belgian TV Channel Canvas had one series of the pop quiz Nonkel Pop that was based on Nevermind the Buzzcocks, featuring an intros round, next lines and similar panels of contestants. The show was hosted by Bart Peeters. The name of the show, which translates as 'Uncle Pop' was a play on Nonkel Bob (Uncle Bob - real name Bob Davidse), a legendary kids' TV presenter of from the early days of Belgian television. Bart Peeters made his television debut as a kid on one of Nonkel Bob's shows.
  • In 1999 Dweezil and Ahmet Zappa hosted a short-lived one-hour music-themed game show with a somewhat different format on the USA network called Happy Hour (not to be confused with the sitcom of that name).
  • In 2002, an American version of the show on VH1 with the same title, hosted by comedian Marc Maron, lasted for a month; see the IMDb.
  • An official Dutch version, Doe Maar Normaal (which translates to "Just act normally" and is also a combination of famous Dutch bands Doe Maar and Normaal), hosted by Sander Lantinga, started in June 2007. It is broadcast by BNN. Regular panel members are comedian Arie Koomen, judoka Dennis van der Geest, actress Ricky Koole and rapper Pepijn Lanen (De Jeugd van Tegenwoordig).
  • An Australian show, Spicks and Specks, hosted by stand-up comedian Adam Hills and presented in a similar style but with different question formats has been broadcast on the ABCmarker since 2005.
  • ProSieben, a German network, aired Popclub between 2002 and 2003. Hosted by comedian Thomas Hermanns, the show's major difference from NMTB was the absence of constant team captains. Every episodes featured two teams that had to present a name and a battle cry for themselves. Additionally, at the start of each episode, each member showed the very first record they ever bought.



In 1999, BBC Worldwide published Never Mind the Buzzcocks: The Book, the CD, the Brief Intense Rush (followed by a feeling of paranoia and insecurity). The book includes famous moments from the first five series of the show, from selected Identity Parades, I Fought the Law, Word Up and Connections rounds, along with collections of Mark Lamarr's one-liners from the show. The book also features new material, including comic strips (one explaining the origin of The Human League frontman Philip Oakey's hairstyle) and "Great Moments in Rock History", in which photos of famous musical moments are altered to imply that line-up regular Athelston Williams was present. The CD features several Intros rounds from the show, in the format of a game to play at home.

Board game

In 2000, Paul Lamond Games released the Never Mind the Buzzcocks board game, licensed from the BBC and Talkback. The board game is played as follows: the players arrange themselves into two teams. They have two counters each on the board — one as a point marker along the edge of the board and the other to select the round they have to play on the roll of a dice. There are six rounds that can be played:

  • In the Style of…, where the team leader has to sing a song in the style of someone notable, e.g. "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" in the style of Mick Jagger, or "Start Me Up" in the style of Jeremy Clarkson.
  • When I Was Famous, where the team leader asks a trivia question, and the other team members have to guess the answer.
  • Intros round, the only surviving round from the TV show. Each team gets one intro per round.
  • Vital Vinyl, where the team leader asks a trivia question about a song or an album, and anyone from either team can answer.
  • Songs in One Sentence, where the team leader divides their team into two, and one section of the team has to describe a song without mentioning the song title or any lyrics in the song, and the other section has to guess what the song is.
  • Your Number's Up, where the team leader reads the category on the card to the opposite team, for example, name four songs that mention American states in their titles, for which you might answer "New York Mining Disaster, 1941" (The Bee Gees), "Hotel California" (The Eagles), "Ohio" (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), and "Sweet Home Alabama" (Lynyrd Skynyrd).

The teams earn the number of points given for the round on the card. For "In the Style of…", it is always one point for the song, and two points for the artist they are doing the song in the style of. At the end of their turn, the team moves their counter on the outer ring clockwise, by the number of points they scored.

The team that overtakes the other on the squares on the edge of the board wins the game.


A DVD with some of the unbroadcastable scenes from the Simon Amstell series' was released on the 16 November 2009.


  1. RadioTimes - TV listings
  3. BBC pulls Buzzcocks tonight, Broadcast Now
  4. [1]

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