Mock the Week will come to an end after 17 years

“When a story pops up on Mock the Week, no-one is going, ‘How can I bend this to an agenda?’” he said in 2020. “You’re going, ‘What’s the gag? What is the joke here? Where can I find the joke?’”

The show proved controversial in the years when it featured Frankie Boyle as a regular panellist. He caused uproar by telling an off-colour joke about the Queen and making offensive remarks about the appearance of Rebecca Adlington.

Boyle left the show in 2009.

Jon Petrie, the BBC’s latest director of comedy, is said to consider panel shows to be an outdated idea.

Focus on sitcoms and comedy-dramas

In a speech in May outlining his vision for BBC comedy, Petrie said his focus was on sitcoms and comedy-dramas, citing the success of Motherland, Ghosts and The Outlaws.

The final series of Mock the Week will begin in the autumn. The BBC said: “We are really proud of the show but after 21 series we have taken the difficult decision in order to create room for new shows.”

Angst Productions, which made the show for the BBC, said it had been “occasionally controversial but always funny”.

O’Briain joked: “That’s it folks, the UK has finally run out of news. The storylines were getting crazier and crazier – global pandemics, divorce from Europe, novelty short-term prime ministers. It couldn’t go on.

“We couldn’t be more silly than the news was already.”

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