Opinion: Clarkson on Have I Got News For You – A Guaranteed Hit?


Breaking News 9/4 - Jeremy Clarkson is no longer going to be guest hosting Have I Got News For You on April 24. Quoted on the BBC website Jimmy Mulville, managing director of show producers Hat Trick Productions, said: ""On reflection, Jeremy Clarkson has decided not to host Have I Got News For You. We fully expect him to resume his hosting duties later in the year."



So like a married couple who can’t quite permanently split up Jeremy Clarkson and the BBC are getting back together for a one night stand. It has been confirmed that Clarkson will be the guest host of Have I Got News For You in two weeks on April 24. 

This was a booking made before the Top Gear fracas so the BBC is not capitalising on Clarkson’s new denim-clad renegade status. It will hardly make up for the loss anyway. As has been well documented, the BBC is going to take a bit of a financial hit – no pun intended – if a Clarksonless Top Gear is not a success in the future.

But at the same time the BBC, and in particular production company of HIGNFY Hat Trick, must be thinking to themselves that at least they are going to get some good ratings for the satire warhorse. In fact it would not surprise me if this edition got the biggest coverage since 2002 when regular host Angus Deayton appeared having just been splashed all over the tabloids.

It will be one of those famously eagerly awaited shows. Will Clarkson land the first punch(line) or will it be down to Hislop or Merton, who in 2002 famously undid his top to reveal the Deayton News of the World cover printed on his T-shirt? Attack may be the best form of defence, but if Clarkson is going to kick off I presume he will do it verbally rather than with fisticuffs.

Which just goes to show that there is no such thing as totally bad publicity. Likewise this week it was announced that Alistair McGowan is to play Jimmy Savile in a stage play. Cue controversial think-pieces about whether this should go ahead. I expect there will be calls for the play to close before it has even opened. But I imagine it will open regardless. And I imagine the kerfuffle will do the ticket sales no end of good.


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