Five comedy giants who got their chance at Mock The Week

Mock The Week has been a feature on the BBC for 17 years.

Back then, the current affairs panel played an important role in giving young comedy talent a platform.

As his time on BBC Two draws to a close, we take a look at some of the greats that have emerged from the series.

– Russell Howard


Howard, 42, is well known for his television shows Russell Howard’s Good News on the BBC and The Russell Howard Hour on Sky.

But he first made a name for himself through appearances on Mock The Week, where he was a regular panelist from 2006 to 2010.

The Bath-born comedian, who previously won the award for best comic talent at the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, soon became known for his topical and observational style.

In 2009, before leaving the show to pursue other commitments, Howard said, “What I love about Mock The Week is that it’s big laughs, rather than that kind of mocking laugh…

“The great thing is that it’s current, so every time there’s a new story, we have to have a new approach to it.”

– Frankie Boyle

Teenage Cancer Trust Concerts 2015 – London

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The sour 49-year-old Scottish comedian rose to fame after joining Mock The Week as a regular speaker in 2005.

He soon became known for his controversial material, with some of his jokes, including comments about Queen and Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington, deemed offensive by viewers.

Since leaving the show in 2009, Boyle has authored five books and starred in numerous shows, including Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights in 2010 and Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, which has been running since 2017.

A vocal advocate for free speech in the arts, Boyle has since claimed that Mock The Week producers avoided certain topics for fear of “scaring the horses” and causing offense.

– Dara O’Briain

Edinburgh TV Festival 2019

(Jane Barlow/PA)

Although O’Briain had already built a reputation as a stand-up comedian and children’s TV presenter in his native Ireland, he cemented his reputation as a presenter of Mock The Week.

He made his debut as a presenter on the show’s first episode on June 5, 2005, and has since become one of the most recognizable faces in British comedy, hosting several successful television shows and sold-out tours.

In 2020, when asked in an interview with the Radio Times if he thought Mock The Week would still be on TV screens after so many years, O’Briain replied, “Oh God, no… longevity.”

– Ria Lina



A rising star in comedy, actress and stand-up Ria Lina is also known for her appearances in Mock The Week.

In November 2021, Lina, who first appeared as a guest on Mock The Week in 2020, was named as one of the Evening Standard’s hottest comedians you should be watching right now.

The comedian, who has led award-winning shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Greater Manchester Fringe, was described by critics as “like a Filipina Sarah Silverman” and “provocative and very funny”.

Since her first appearance on Mock The Week, she has appeared on shows such as Have I Got News For You, Live At The Apollo, and Just A Minute, as well as Amazon Prime Video’s Lovestruck High.

– Andy Parsons

Channel 4 Comedy Gala – London

(Ian Nicholson/PA)

Parsons, 55, was a regular panelist on Mock The Week for 11 series until he dropped out in 2015.

He began his career as one of the lead writers on the acclaimed satirical puppet show Spitting Image and as a stand-up comedian, but became a recognizable face on TV after his first appearance on Mock The Week in 2005.

Announcing his departure from the panel after 10 years, the series asked for a woman to replace him, writing, “Maybe this is an opportunity to become a regular comedian.”

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