Pay TV show of the week: Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Monday, UKTV, 9.05pm
IT ALMOST beggars beliefs that it has taken until season 24 for this chaotic and hilarious British music quiz show to make it on to Australian screens. Then again, you wouldn't imagine that the ABC would have been too keen to show it in recent years, given that Never Mind the Buzzcocks provided inspiration and the basic format for Spicks and Specks.
But while Spicks and Specks and Never Mind the Buzzcocks share some essential similarities, they're a fair way apart in tone. The humour on Never Mind the Buzzcocks is often coarse and sarcastic, and the language is surprisingly salty - there's even the odd F-bomb.
Adding to the anarchic feel is the fact that this season the show doesn't have a permanent host: this week it's comedian Catherine Tate; hosts in coming episodes will include Tim Minchin, Terry Wogan and Juliette Lewis. Stability, for want of a better word, is provided by the two team captains, Noel Fielding (The Mighty Boosh) and comedian Phill Jupitus (who has been with the show since it began in 1996).
The conversation can go anywhere and usually does. Tonight, the derailing begins at the very start in the ''Do You Really Want to Hurt Me'' segment, which involves questions about musicians' injuries. The head-scratching about why Leona Lewis had to delay the recording of her second album - was it a) being headbutted by a horse; b) having both her arms broken by an angry swan; or c) hurting her back running away from an angry kestrel - is thrown off track when celebrity drug trafficker Howard Marks announces that horses can't recognise themselves in mirrors.
Marks, who is on Fielding's team alongside Tulisa Contostavlos (formerly of hip-hop combo N-Dubz), is at it again moments later, asserting that dogs can smell spiders.
Things are slightly less barmy on the other team, where Jupitus is joined by actor Katy Wix and singer-songwriter Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy), but it's clear that everyone involved is enjoying taking the mickey out of themselves and each other, and generally having a blast.
Another fun segment is the ''Intros Round'', in which team members have to use their voices as instruments in a cappella renditions of the intros of songs in the hope that their teammate will guess it. Then there's the ''Identity Parade'', in which the teams have to pick faded pop stars out of a line-up - tonight's are Fairground Attraction drummer Roy Dodds and reggae singer Tippa Irie. It's a pity, though, that once identified they just smile and walk off. Why can't they do a song together, like the guests on RocKwiz?
Buzzcocks is great fun, and if you like tonight's episode make sure you don't miss next week's, featuring hyperactive Irish pop poppets Jedward and hosted by the splendidly sarcastic and deadpan Jack Dee.