Casting Couch



Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins


Team captains: Chris Moyles and Tamara Beckwith

Regular guests: Marcus Brigstocke and Kevin Day


Granada for ITV, 15 November to 18 December 1999 (6 episodes in 1 series)


Of all the subjects on which to base a celebrity comedy panel game, the world of celebrity gossip is one of the better ones to choose. And thankfully, this is also one with new wave comedy heroines Mel and Sue at the helm, so all aboard the good ship S.S. Jollity for 30 minutes of knockabout joshing at the expense of Kate Moss and Leonardo DiCaprio.

The show opens with a sweeping shot of the crane camera banging into the chandelier (sadly, the same gag nearly every week - a missed opportunity there, we think) before we're introduced to the two teams of four regulars plus two guest celebs. Unless the guest celebs are of the more gregarious nature, they tend not to feature too greatly in the proceedings. That said, they do get more of a say than in, say, It's Only TV...

The rounds are sufficiently varied to keep up the interest, but not too rigid to stifle creativity, encompassing all the gossip, extravagance, bizarre behaviour and shallowness of celebritydom. A charades round, where Mel and Sue act out a recent showbiz story using the art of mime, is particularly good.

The final round involves Mel or Sue reading out the name of a celebrity and the panel have to say the word on the card that's associated with that celeb (e.g. Chris Tarrant - Millionaire). It's a good idea, but rather too furious for the humour to shine through.

The set suffers from the usual ITV embarrassment of riches - i.e. "we've got a studio the size of a warehouse, let's fill it!" The result leads to an innovative use of coloured lighting and even a waterfall, but the over-spacious set doesn't have the bear-pit atmosphere of Have I Got News for You.

One key thing this show has over HIGNFY is Mel and Sue's excellent manic ad-libbling which, when on form, is nothing short of hilarious. So, too, is that of the well-chosen regular panellists, although this repartee does tend to silence the weekly guests, as mentioned before.

This is a solid half-hour of laughs, but as ITV tucked this away in a rather curious slot not many people saw it. Shame, as this was one of ITV's better 1999 offerings. Not that that says much.

Key moments

When Mel and Sue 'go off on one'.


"Good evening!"


Devised by Robert Popper.


Paul Hofner


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