First published on 23 Jul 2012. Updated on 24 Jul 2012.
Like a long-awaited visit from an overseas cousin, infamous music-panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks (the long-running British TV show that inspired Spicks and Specks) has finally landed in Oz.
The BBC show, which has been running for 16 years, is being shown on UKTV on Monday nights at 8.30pm. Regular team captains comedian Phill Jupitus and The Mighty Boosh star Noel Fielding head teams of different pop stars, comedians and TV personalities each week to answer music trivia.
Since 2009, following the departure of its most recent regular presenter Simon Amstell, various celebrities have hosted Buzzcocks such as Mark Ronson, Juliette Lewis and Catherine Tate. And that’s where UKTV will be catching us up, starting with series 24.
So who best to tell us all about it than the show’s stalwart Phill Jupitus, who has appeared on every show bar one since its launch in ’96. Time Out spoke to the former stand-up comedian, performance poet and one-time-Brit-nominated music video director about what Australia’s been missing all these years.
Phill, you’ve just finished touring in the UK for Monty Python’s Spamalot. Are you a man who always looks on the bright side of life?
[Laughs] Ultimately, yeah! I mean, I was 50 this year, which is a big milestone, and (because I don’t really have a career plan) I just try to have a laugh with what’s left of [my] working life.
You’ve had a fair number of jobs in your career but you’ve been a team captain on NMTB for 16 years…
The deal I’ve had with myself about Buzzcocks is: I’ll do it until I don’t enjoy it anymore – and that has yet to happen. I’ve worked with Mark Lamarr and Bill Bailey, two of my favourite comics, and [now] Noel Fielding as well. It’s a real joy to be able to go to work and muck around with people of that calibre.
The show was originally presented by Lamarr, then by guest hosts, then Amstell, and now more guest hosts… Have you ever fancied sitting in the presenter’s chair?
No! Absolutely not! I get asked that all of the time. Presenting’s not my thing. The people that come on the show are very gracious – the way they come on and let us take the piss, and get the chance to take the piss out of us as well. It’s a sort of knock about evening. But I think since Simon’s departure the show’s a bit less spiteful. Certainly, we don’t book people to attack [now].
And of all the recent guest hosts, who’s been your favourite?
It’s definitely David [O’Doherty]. David had a real laugh with it. The thing is, he was such an unusual booking for the show, because he’s not huge, but he just was really, really good fun. Also, Alex James from Blur and David Walliams [were] very, very good. But David was my favourite because he’s a mate and it was really nice to have someone you know personally in the middle chair, that was a laugh.
The show is a bit like Spicks and Specks, which aired its final show in November. Firstly, have you seen the show? And do you think fans of Specks will enjoy Buzzcocks?
I only found out last year that it existed. Having not seen it, I can say a completely unreserved yes! [Laughs] Buzzcocks has a sense of fun about it, for that type of panel show.
Over the years Buzzcocks has seen its fair amount of controversy – walkouts and upset celebrities, thanks to the show’s dry, irreverent humour and brutal comedy…
There are people that come on the show, as guests, who have never seen it. As you chat to them during the day, it becomes apparent that they don’t know what they’ve been got into. That was certainly the case when Lemmy [from Motörhead, who walked off during filming] came on – and he was actually a funny dude, it was a laugh when he came on. We were recording for like two hours, and he just got bored.
And what about Preston from the Ordinary Boys [who was replaced by an audience member during the show, after walking off]?
It was his second time on the show, the first time with Lamarr [presenting]. The first time he was absolutely fabulous. Before he came on [for the second time], he asked one little thing; that we didn’t use the book [an autobiography written by his wife at the time]. And he was told that wouldn’t happen; he was lied to. He was ambushed on our television show and I thought it was beneath us. You can take the piss, but you shouldn’t demolish them.
One of quiz rounds includes an identity parade where the panellists guess which one of the line up is a former pop star/musician. Do you ever cringe during those parts of the show?
It’s a real Marmite moment, (perhaps I should say Vegemite). People love it or they hate it. [When the guest is revealed] they say ‘now touring’ and you realise that that was the only reason they came on. It’s just the weirdest thing. I’ve got mates in bands who have been asked, and they’re like ‘no!’ But eventually we’re going to run out. Maybe that’s when the show will end, when there are no pop stars left to be in the line up.
Never Mind the Buzzcocks airs Mondays at 8.30pm on UKTV.