Mock the Week: BBC Two's comedy panel show to end after 17 years

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Dara Ó'Briain
Image caption,
Dara Ó'Briain: "That's it folks, the UK has finally run out of news. It couldn't go on".

BBC Two comedy panel show Mock the Week, hosted by Dara Ó'Briain, is to end after 17 years, the BBC has announced.

The satirical show, created by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson, has featured Ó'Briain and team captain Hugh Dennis since 2005.

"That's it folks, the UK has finally run out of news," Ó'Briain said. "It couldn't go on".

The final eight episodes will be broadcast in the autumn.

Ó'Briain added: "The storylines were getting crazier and crazier - global pandemics, divorce from Europe, novelty short-term prime ministers. We just couldn't be more silly than the news was already."

Patterson added the news was "desperately disappointing", and said: "Hopefully we will resurface again soon. Huge thanks to Dara and Hugh and all the wonderful performers over the years. It's been a privilege."

The panel series became a chance for rising comedians to gain exposure, catapulting a number of careers into the mainstream spotlight, including Russell Howard, who joined the programme after winning several awards for his talents, including best compere at the 2006 Chortle Awards. He was also number two in Zoo magazine's top 10 list of Britain's funniest comics 2005.

Image source, Angst Productions
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The comedy programme has featured a number of permanent panellists, including Andy Parsons, Hugh Dennis, Russell Howard and Frankie Boyle

Ó'Briain called the show "Dara and Hugh's Academy for Baby Comedians".

Michael McIntyre, Sarah Millican, Kevin Bridges, John Bishop and Rhod Gilbert are also comics who featured on the show in the early stages of their careers, and have since become household names.

However in recent years the programme has found it more tricky to find comedians willing to participate.

Jo Brand and Rory Bremner are among those who have said they wouldn't want to return to the show.

Bremner stated his reasons for leaving the show in 2013, 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."

Brand said in 2009 she "didn't like the prospect of having to bite someone's foot off before they let us say something".

Ó Briain said in 2018 that the show was ""quite intense", but it was "not what it was when it was [early panellists] Frankie [Boyle] and Russell - that really was competitive".

Image source, Angst Productions
Image caption,
The show has introduced new generations of comics to its audience

Despite its success, Mock the Week has not been without its critics, and the programme, along with its contributors, has also been the source of complaints.

Scottish comedian and writer Frankie Boyle, renowned for his dark humour, was a permanent panellist on Mock The Week for seven series.

Boyle was criticised in 2008 when complaints were received after comments he made on the show about British swimmer Rebecca Adlington's physical appearance, and another joke about the Queen.

The BBC Trust ruled the joke about Adlington was "humiliating" and "the commissioning editor in charge of the programme felt it had gone too far". It said the joke about the Queen was "not in breach" despite being in bad taste, adding: "It was well after the watershed, well signposted and within audience expectations for the show."

Adlington's agent said: "By giving Frankie Boyle a rebuke, they fail to discourage others from doing the same."

Boyle announced in 2009 he was leaving the show to concentrate on other projects, and later told The Mirror he had become "bored" of the show".

Image source, Angst Productions
Image caption,
Boyle sometimes caused controversy with his dark humour

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