|Angus Deayton (1990–2002)|
Paul Merton (Most Series)
Have I Got News for You is a more risque version of Radio 4's The News Quiz.
Two teams, each consisting of one of the team captains and one guest, compete in four rounds, whose formats have changed all the time.
Round 1: Film RoundEdit
Silent video clips, usually from news reports, are played to the teams. Two points are awarded for correctly identifying the story – but as the round covers the major stories of the week, the quiz aspect is downplayed here in favour of discussion and banter. The host will still ask questions to highlight details of a story, but no further points are awarded for the answers.
- Sometimes, the clips used have been specially chosen from particular sources, such as in the 2008 Christmas special, which used clips from Christmas specials of various other TV programmes to provide the clues. The 1993 'Thatcher special' presented a slight variation called Who Dares Loses?, where the teams had to identify who in the clip 'lost'.
- On rare occasions, sound is added to the clip, such as a "ker-ching" in the montage that depicted the 2009 MPs' expenses scandal or the Blue Peter theme tune in the week that presenter Richard Bacon had been caught taking drugs.
- The only occasion that the video clip element of this round has been deviated from was during series 37, when one of the clips was audio only with no pictures. The question was about the Hum, which none of the panel could hear anyway.
- Early series featured two similar games later in the show; the "Connections Round", with the panel identifying the individuals and the story that linked them, and the "Archive Round", featuring pre-1990 news footage in a 'what happened next?' format. Both were dropped as the more popular rounds began to use up more time.
This was originally the "Tabloid Headlines Round", in which the panelists identified and commented on the more flippant stories of the week from sufficiently pun-filled tabloid headlines.
- Another of the original rounds later dropped was the similar "Mini-Headlines Round", where the panel had to identify a story from the four words used in the original tabloid report as effective chapter headings.
- In 2004, the headlines were filtered out and replaced with a picture game. An image is slowly revealed to the teams, the object being for one to buzz in before the other and guess how the resulting person or object is relevant to the week's news. Originally this took the form of the "Picture-Spin Quiz". Regular variants since have included the "Jigsaw of News" and the Christmas-themed "Giblets of News", while others have featured wieldy props for the host, such as the "Wheel of News", the "One-Armed Bandit of News" and the "Strengthometer of News". A few versions have been more specific to that week's guest host; e.g. Dominic West, star of American cop drama The Wire, had the "Squad Car of News".
- Occasionally the round was themed around one topic. In these instances, it usually becomes a more straightforward Q&A 'fingers-on-buzzers' round.
- Another slight variation is a spoof of an existing quiz/gameshow, often done when pertinent to the current guests. For example; a mock Mastermind game when Magnus Magnusson appeared or the infamous "Play Your Iraqi Cards Right" from Bruce Forsyth's first time as host, which took the format of the presenter's former game show, as well as referencing a special deck of cards produced by the Americans for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Round 3: The Odd One Out RoundEdit
Four personalities, characters and/or objects are presented to a team, whereupon they must identify the interloper, and the topical, amusing or ridiculously obscure link between the other three. In one episode, Merton's "Odd One Out" selection consisted of 16 images and in another, the round comprised four photos of Michael Howard. On another occasion the four choices were Hislop, Merton and both guests, Germaine Greer and Charles Kennedy. The four pictures used were the live remote feeds from the studio cameras. (This technique was also used in an episode hosted by Ronnie Corbett, when the comedian featured as one of the choices.) One week, after it had been revealed that a group of celebrities had taken out press injunctions, the round consisted of four blanked out images, with the host, Rhod Gilbert, explaining that they were unable to reveal who exactly was the odd one out, or the reason.
- A short-lived variant was another take on the aforementioned "Connections Round", with images of three people given, the teams working out what linked them.
- When Bruce Forsyth was host, this round was replaced by "Conveyer Belt Connections", a reference to the final round of The Generation Game. One of the belts consisted of people and objects whose resulting connection was that they had all been the Odd One Out in previous editions of the show. This included the disparate grouping together of raw sewage, The Hay Wain, Tinky Winky and Osama bin Laden.
Final Round: The Missing Words RoundEdit
Newspaper headlines are displayed, with choice words blanked out. The panellists then suggest what these could be. Since 1994, a regular feature of this round is that some of the banners are taken from that week's choice of obscure "guest publication". Over the years, these have included Goat World, Arthritis News, International Car Park Design, "The Caravan Times" and Diarrhoea Digest. Examples of Missing Words are "I'll take Edward up the _____", "Church may be forced to sell _____" and "PM sucked into _____".
Paul Merton is known for his work in comedy often considered for mature audiences. Among these are his appearances on Whose Line is it Anyway? and providing the voice of Doctor Dogg in Rex the Runt (Aardman Animation's only attempt at a situation comedy).