Yes, a real actual fire – but sadly outside the studio and so wont be on the tonight’s broadcast of Have I Got News for You.

Arriving at around 5pm to get as close to the front of the queue as possible without setting up a tent and camping out the night before, the public rubbish bin by the queue was in the midst of a conflagration that had seemingly just been started – although the miscreant was keeping quiet about their (suspected) cigarette disposal.

The application of half my cup of coffee didn’t do much to help, but a security guard came out and it took a whole fire extinguisher to fully dampen the fire. I suspect the caffeine in my coffee might have been a factor.

However, this is not the first time a fire has tried to stop a recording.

A couple of years ago, I was in the audience for the episode with Brian Blessed. Incidentally, what you saw on TV is but a tiny fraction of how hysterically funny the recording actually was.

Sitting in the side wings, second row back, and towards the end of the 1st round of the quiz, I could smell a burning smell – looking down, next to the seating was a strip of lighting and the lady in front of me was resting her handbag on the lights. The burning smell being the coloured gel plastic being pushed onto the hot lamp and smouldering.

Fortunately, removing the handbag enabled the embryonic fire to burn itself out and apart from a strong whiff of burnt plastic, all seemed safe – which is just as well, as I was getting some serious heart palpitations at the thought of having to stand up in the middle of the recording and a call for a fire extinguisher.

What was already one of the most memorable shows of recent years almost became even more memorable!

Back to last night.

Watching Have I Got News for You, while generally good can have the occasional off episode. The off-shows seem to be on the rare occasions when they lack a serious panellist, and last night it was three comedians plus the two regulars.

The lack of a serious person on the panel being in part due to the last minute decision of a rather polarizing MP, Nadine Dorries to refuse to show up after claiming to have suddenly remembered that she was hosting a dinner party that evening. I don’t know about you, but I doubt I would forget that I am hosting a dinner party when pondering what to do one evening.

I did actually double-book in the panic of the crashing ticket booking website and they kindly changed the date of my tickets – but I can’t see myself forgetting a dinner party that very evening!

Despite its slightly undeserved reputation for picking on guests, the editors do tend to be rather sympathetic, but I would have to say they will be earning their pay today as the recording was not particularly good. In part as the host, John Bishop had issues with the autocue, but also the lack of a serious commentator meant that most of the jokes veered towards popular culture, which is not my strong point at all.

My understanding of popular culture can, at times, make Ian Hislop look knowledgeable.

Maybe it’s karma at work – having been in the recordings for some of the best hosts ever, I now have to be in some indifferent recordings as pay back.

That said, it was still a reasonably entertaining 2 and a half hours of entertainment, and the tickets are free, so I shouldn’t be too churlish.


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One comment
  1. Simon says:

    FWIW, lighting gel doesn’t actually burn – that would be a fairly obvious design flaw 🙂 It would have smouldered, produced a little nasty smoke, and been a right bugger to scrape off the stuff that it had adhered to… but it does happen every so often.

    The lady’s handbag, on the other hand…

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