When good TV goes bad: how Have I Got News for You shot itself in the foot

Hislop, Merton and Deayton made a formidable trio – but the bond was broken when the captains turned on their host. The show hasn’t been the same since

The panel show is a strange beast. Get it wrong and you have some of the hokiest TV imaginable: all telegraphed setups and flatlining payoffs. Get it right and you have the kind of concrete slab foundation upon which broadcasting legends are built. For just over a decade, Have I Got News for You got it very right. Launching just as the wheels came off Margaret Thatcher’s premiership in September 1990, it made an immediate impact with its sparky wit and inventive format. Team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton dished out scabrous and surreal quips on the news of the week or at their hapless guests. Holding it all together was chairman Angus Deayton, whose suave but deadly one-liners made him the don of smartarse sophistication,
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