More TV Memories – Bognor Or Bust.

Bognor Or Bust (ITV1, 2004)

When Angus Deayton was involved in a scandal in 2002, this led to his departure as the host of Have I Got News For You after more than a decade. It was decided that “he became the news”, and he wouldn’t be able to mock people who had been caught in trouble, and I would bet that Hislop and Merton would still make “well you’re one to talk!”-type comments to this day, so he was asked to leave, and that show has never really been the same since.

In the years since, Deayton has managed to rehabilitate his TV career more than most shamed people have, going on to appear in a few sitcoms (including Nighty Night) and dramas. And when he was hoping for some more hosting work, ITV1 took a chance on him, to host a new comedy panel game about the news. Two teams of three took part.

There were two non-famous people, and they chose from a panel of four celebrities who they wanted to be on their team, usually consisting of comedians like Al Murray, or anybody else who happened to be hanging around the studio. The set design also features lots of multicoloured globes, making it look like everybody is on The Day Today.

In the first round, questions were asked about the week’s news, and it’s up to the panel if they want to give silly answers or serious ones, because there are points on offer, and as we’ll see, they are worth having. It’s around this point that Deayton starts to make topical jokes, usually whilst wearing a bright pink suit, picking up where he had left off as if nothing had happened, which was an odd sight, but he definitely still had the wit to carry this off.

The next round features various cryptic clues about news stories that have to be solved against the clock for more points. The highest-scoring team then go into the final. In this, one more news question has to be answered correctly, to win a holiday. It’s rather impossible though, and they simply have to guess, although they can confer with their celebrity teammates if they want to.

If they get it right, they win a nice holiday to somewhere like Australia. But get it wrong, and they go to Bognor, the much-maligned English seaside resort, and a randomly-selected studio audience member wins the big holiday instead (shades of Bob’s Full House here where Monkhouse would speculate about what the destination of the star prize holiday was and would often say “let’s hope it’s not Bognor!”).

Bognor Or Bust was essentially a cross between Have I Got News For You and Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush. Probably not too surprisingly, there was only one series, as this was the time when everything on ITV1 flopped (the announcer would say at the end “and Bognor Or Bust will be back next week at the slightly later time of 2:30am”. Well I exaggerate, but that’s how it was). Deayton then went off to ponder his next move.

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