After seventeen years and more than 200 episodes, the cackling and sniggering is finally over for the panel show Mock the Week. As the BBC announced yesterday: ‘The next series of Mock the Week will be the last, we are really proud of the show but after 21 series we have taken the difficult decision in order to create room for new shows.’
What could be behind this decision? Its veteran presenter, Dara Ó Briain, sought to apportion some logic to the matter. ‘The storylines were getting crazier and crazier – global pandemics, divorce from Europe, novelty short-term prime ministers,’ he said. ‘It couldn’t go on. We just couldn’t be more silly than the news was already.’
Far more honestly, and revealingly – to judge by tweets from its makers – it seems that the BBC just wanted rid of it. ‘Desperately disappointing but hopefully we will resurface again soon,’ said its creator, Dan Patterson. Angst Productions, the company behind the programme, added: ‘We’re naturally hugely disappointed that Mock the Week is coming to an end and hope that we will be able to resurface somewhere some day in the future.’ This clearly wasn’t a decision made by mutual consent.
No wonder the BBC has had enough. The show is well past its time. At its height of popularity in 2008, Mock the Week drew an audience of well over a two million viewers and regularly exceeded three million. By last year this number was hovering at a million and half.
As a long-time viewer, and erstwhile huge fan of the show who still partly enjoys repeats of older episodes on Dave, I can tell you why viewers started to switch off in the last decade.