Steph McGovern: Have I Got News For You host speaks out as format divides BBC viewers

Steph McGovern returned to host Have I Got New For You yesterday, as it launched its 59th series from the stars’ homes. The ex BBC Breakfast regular defended the programme, as it attempted something different due to coronavirus social-distancing rules.

I think it‘s great that they tried something different to keep it on air

Steph McGovern

The hugely-popular BBC quiz show was back on screens despite the stars being unable to shoot in the studio, and it certainly split opinion.

Due to the current coronavirus lockdown, team captains Paul Merton and Ian Hislop, and the presenter, 37, filmed individually from rooms in their houses.

They were joined by Miles Jupp and journalist Helen Lewis, and only their heads could be seen over a still of the famous set.

It was the first time HIGNFY had tried anything like that and it certainly sparked a response.


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However, today Steph said it was great bosses “tried something different to keep it on air”.

The mother-of-one spoke out in view of her 396,000 followers, as she quipped about her new base.

“Am in my kitchen,” she started. “Or as I like to call it now, Television Centre.”

“Thanks for messages abt HIGNFY. It’s been going 30yrs with same format so I think it’s great that @HatTrickProd @electric_robin tried something different to keep it on air.”

Steph signed off by adding: “It was weird but so is life at the mo.”(sic)

HIGNFY was soon trending on the micro-blogging site as it aired, with many remarking on the usual edition.

One user remarked: “Oh my God. Socially distanced #HIGNFY. This is one of the most surreal things I’ve seen so far.”

“This is going to be bl**dy weird when the repeats come on Dave in 5 years time… #HIGNFY,” another echoed.


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Some loved it despite the limitations. “Can’t remember the last time I laughed so much watching #HIGNFY. Surreal & funny watch,” a tweet stated.

One fan wrote: “This is the most surreal episode of Have I Got News For You I’ve ever watched (and I’ve watched it for decades!). Odd without the studio audience but as topical and on point as ever! #HIGNFY.”

But others criticised the offering: “You’ll struggle to watch anything more excruciatingly awful in your lifetime than tonight’s #HIGNFY.”

Piers Morgan agreed: “My village mates’ ZOOM session earlier this evening was a lot funnier than this. #HIGNFY.”


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Steph is well-versed in hosting TV from her living room, after bringing the launch of her self-titled show forward.

The star left BBC Breakfast last year, welcomed a daughter before confirming she had landed her own programme.

And she hosted The Steph Show for the first time on Monday, with it going out live, with very few issues.

Have I Got News For You returns Friday at 8.30pm on BBC One.

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