Mock the Week: Dara Ó Briain says people should ‘fight to protect the BBC’ despite cancellation

Dara Ó Briain has defended the BBC after the network cancelled Mock the Week after 17 years.

This week, it was announced that the long-running satirical panel show was coming to an end this autumn after 21 series.

While the BBC said that the show was ending “in order to create room for new shows”, many fans suggested that it was part of a marked effort to get rid of right-wing comedy on the network, following on from last year’s cancellation of The Mash Report.

Writing in The Guardian, Ó Briain addressed the public speculation about the show’s end.

“‘The reason it’s getting cancelled is because…’ Ah, let me stop you there,” he wrote. “There is no reason for people outside the show to waste any energy theorising about this.

“It has, in fact, come to an end because the BBC has less money than it used to; and to do something new, something old has to stop. This chipping away will continue, which is why people should fight to protect the BBC before it becomes a shell of what it used to be.”

Elsewhere in the piece, Ó Briain said that Mock the Week’s critics had taken the show “waaaayyyy too seriously” when accusing them of political bias.

Ó Briain on ‘Mock the Week' (BBC)
Ó Briain on ‘Mock the Week' (BBC)

“People would accuse us of whatever bias they felt they saw in BBC News, as if I used to be called into a meeting alongside Huw Edwards, the team from Bargain Hunt and Mr Tumble, so that we could be given the corporation’s stance that week,” he joked.

He did, however, agree that the show only took a negative stance on Brexit.

“But also: Brexit was a terrible idea, which has never delivered any benefits, and unlike politicians, I’m not obliged to pretend it’s not a terrible idea, and while I’m generally really dubious of trying to see collective intent in seven comedians competing for laughs, I think we got that one totally right,” Ó Briain wrote.

Following news of the show’s end, Ó Briain issued a savage retort to Andrew Neil after he appeared to say that Mock the Week “deserved” to be axed.

While there has been talk of Mock the Week finding a new home, long-time panellist Andy Parsons has said that he thinks the format should be “put to bed”.