20 April 2008

HIGNFY Once More

I'm beginning to think I am going to have to strike "N/A" from the TV shows section of my Facebook profile. It's all iPlayer's fault, though; I went to see if the new episode of Mad Men was available online yet and while it wasn't (I was an hour too early), I did spot that a new series of Have I Got News for You had started and so of course, I had to watch episode one.

I used to watch HIGNFY every week - after Dawson's Creek finished, it was the only show I watched every week but because The Ex was a big fan too, there was always someone to remind me to watch it each week. I watched the series in autumn 2006 as my housemates all watched the show then, but since then, I've only seen about one episode, as I've either been out on a Friday night or have been at home but have forgotten about HIGNFY.

I first got into HIGNFY well over ten years ago and watched it religiously throughout my teenage years. I'm sure that I am so cynical and/or apathetic towards politics purely because the vast majority of the input into my political education was the sharp, sardonic banter of Ian Hislop and Paul Merton (I had a huge crush on the latter, many years ago, which bizarrely only ended after I discovered he wasn't gay...). The chemistry between the two of them has always been great but it was best of all when Angus Deayton still hosted the programme, rather than this prolonged period of interregnum, with one guest host after another. They're all OK - I quite like Jack Dee (this week's guest host) and his deadpan humour, for example, but it's just not the same without Angus. He was the one who held it all together and contributed so much to the show's success and while Paul's wit is still strikingly and brilliantly fast and while Ian's biting cynicism is still great, without Angus there, it all just feels rather empty. He was the face of HIGNFY - the figurehead - and while the guest hosts range from pretty good (Jack Dee, Alexander Armstrong) to the dire (Charlotte Church), HIGNFY is just another thing that will never be the same in the absence of its leader.

Still, having not seen the programme for months, I did laugh - out loud, even - quite vigorously and often. It's great to see such a quality, well-respected publication as Onion World getting some attention, even if not everyone is quite so appreciative of the missing words round as I am.

My real problem with TV, of course, is not the shows themselves but having to watch them on the terms of the networks rather than on my own. Even in my O.C. and Dawson's Creek days, I tended the watch the programmes on DVD most of the time so that I could choose when to watch each episode. iPlayer is perfect, meanwhile, as it means that amnesiac old moi doesn't have to miss out on a show she loves just because she (occasionally) has better plans for a Friday night. As I dig deeper into the annals of iPlayer, I can see that it could be dangerous - I have now spotted Waking the Dead, another show I used to like, not least because I used to really fancy Trevor Eve, for some reason. It's really no wonder that 70% (?) of the UK's internet usage is from people watching programmes on iPlayer (so The Ex says, anyway).

Who needs a TV, eh? Gossip Girl, The Tudors, Mad Men, HIGNFY, Waking the Dead... Jeez, sounds like I'm well on the way towards addiction already.

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