A bit of a change of format for this post in that rather than me ranting or extolling a show, I am instead more interested in whether or not Have I Got News For You should move on to a permanent host and who that should be. Following Rhod Gilbert’s successful commandeering of Never Mind The Buzzcocks it seems a legitimate conversation to have, especially as HIGNFY seems to be relying on an ever smaller pool of reliable guest hosts.

So first things first, yes I do think HIGNFY should have a permanent host. Beyond the argument I have made out above about there being just a handful of people who genuinely do a good job at it, there is also the fact that shows like this to me always benefit from a consistent style. Yes, it was a bizarre joy to watch Ann Widdicombe suck the joy out of a room, and the odd novelty host like Tom Baker created a fun edge to it, but there seems so few surprises left to throw up that it makes sense to drop the guest host and allow someone to bed in. So let’s look at some candidates.

First, there’s Alexander Armstrong. An obvious choice as the most frequent guest host, he delivers the set pieces well and handles the more spontaneous moments well. However, I do feel he struggles with the more fractious guests (e.g John Prescott), and his daytime TV hosting has dulled the edge of his wit. Still, reliability is never to be under-rated.

A slightly more controversial choice would be Jeremy Clarkson. Yes, the man is a total arse and more divisive than marmite, but he can hold his own and would relish the more difficult moments the show naturally throws up. His biggest barrier is not actually his recent behaviour, for which I actually think in this era of insincere apologies he is genuinely sorry for, but his connections to the Chipping Norton set, which may make landing punches on (err… I mean, making jokes about) Tories and the Murdoch press rather tricky.

Jo Brand could well be a popular choice. She has the barbed edge of humour required to lift the programme, but also knows where the lines are enough to stop it getting mired in unnecessary controversy. She is also one of the few hosts who handle both scripted and unscripted moments. Also, without wanting to sound like Milli Tant, she would break up the blokey-ness. Brand is also one of the more respected hosts by Merton and Hislop. The problem? Well I can’t see an obvious one, although some might consider her connections to Labour to well-known.

The final contender I wish to present is Victoria Coren Mitchell. Like Brand, she handles the script well, whilst also having quick enough wits to brilliantly ad-lib. Her most recent appearance saw her handle Prescott, always belligerent whenever challenged, beautifully. Mitchell exposed the folly of his arguments whilst keeping the tone light. Again, she seems respected by Hislop and Merton, and unlike some of the other potential hosts doesn’t have obvious political ties. She is my personal choice. One problem – her schedule is perhaps the busiest of the four people I have discussed, so there is a question of whether she can commit to the role.

So, what do you think? Is there an obvious contender I have missed? Or does one of the four above tick your box? Let me know!

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