Have We Got A Scandal For You
The audience at last night's recording of topical news quiz Have I Got News For You were stunned at revelations made by team captain Paul Merton during the show concerning an affair with his opposing team captain, Ian Hislop. Hislop, who is married with two children, has admitted that this is true.
While jokes based on homosexuality or implied homosexuality have been a part of the show from the very beginning (an early episode shows Merton implying that he and his guest had consorted in the dressing room beforehand), it is the first time that either of the men have spoken openly about this affair.
Neither of the pair was available for comment immediately after the show. A spokesman for Hat Trick Productions stated that this revelation would not affect the show, though an anonymous source has added that it is highly likely that action will be taken, as was the case in 2002 with former presenter Angus Deayton, if this affair becomes the sole topic of conversation and detracts from current events.
The episode will be aired tonight at 9:30pm on BBC1.
TV's Merton And Hislop Come Out Of The Closet
"Yes, we've been shagging for the past five years," the notoriously deadpan Paul Merton said last night when filming Have I Got News For You.
This statement referred to Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, also a regular on the programme. Initially the audience believed that Merton was joking, but further discussion revealed that this was actually his way of "outing" both himself and Hislop.
Guest presenter Alexander Armstrong has stated that he "wasn't all that surprised" by the revelations.
It is unclear whether the BBC will include these revelations when the episode is aired or whether they will be edited out before broadcast.
Merton Having ______ With Hislop
Tonight's episode of Have I Got News For You featured Paul Merton and Ian Hislop admitting that they were having an affair. And for once, they weren't joking.
According to Merton, the affair began five years ago, thus placing it just before his marriage to Sarah Parkinson (now deceased). Hislop's wife has refused to comment on the situation but it is understood that she was aware of the affair prior to these on-air revelations.
While Hat Trick have stated that what the panellists do in their personal lives is their own business, viewers will remember that a similar statement was issued in 2002 after the then-presenter, Angus Deayton, was revealed to have slept with a prostitute and taken cocaine. Deayton was fired when persistent rumours about his personal life made his position as presenter of a satirical news quiz untenable.
Various gay rights groups have already offered their support and one spokesperson has said that "it would be utterly outrageous if they lost their jobs over this".
The HIGNFY Scandal – And Why We Should Have Seen It Coming
While newspapers around the country have expressed surprise at the recent revelations that those certain two team captains have been having an affair for a number of years, this journalist would like to express a rather different sentiment – it's about time.
Surely viewers of the show were not so oblivious to have picked up on the obvious hints prior to this latest episode? The programme is notorious for its fascination with homosexuality and has referenced it on average at least once per episode since it began airing in 1990. Jokes about Peter Mandelson and homosexual behaviour in college (particularly Oxford, which Hislop attended) have been especially prevalent.
The gag in a 1999 episode which featured a shot of Hislop and Merton running in slow-motion through a field should have tipped off viewers to the fact that their sniping was not entirely of a platonic nature. Perhaps even more obvious was an episode in 2000 in which Merton accused Hislop of being "a big poufy boy". Rather than deny these allegations, Hislop said, "Yes, it's true, I'm gay."
The question I put to the shocked viewers is: why are we all so surprised? Is it perhaps, because, we are so used to homosexuality being good fodder for jokes that we forget that gay people actually do exist?
Deayton Speaks About Merton/Hislop Affair
"Yes, I knew about it," Angus Deayton, former presenter of Have I Got News For You, answered when asked to comment on the recent revelations concerning an affair between team captains Ian Hislop and Paul Merton.
Deayton left the show in disgrace following scandals about his own personal life in 2002, though he has stated that he hopes the producers will realise that "there is no comparison between the two" and believes "it would be a shame" for this news to interfere with their positions on the show.
Recent Revelations Fail To Have Impact On Show's Content
The episode of Have I Got News For You shown on BBC1 last night, the first since last week's confession concerning the Merton/Hislop affair, was remarkably uneventful. While the episode contained numerous references to homosexuality – including a recurring joke about buggery – viewers have described this episode as "just like all the others, really". As one member of the audience put it, "The only difference is that now we know they're shagging. The jokes are still the same, but we're paying a bit more attention to them now, that's all."