If there’s one phrase that sums up Greg Davies’ time internet hosting By no means Thoughts the Buzzcocks, it’s “chaos”. He employs it so many instances throughout our chat, it could possibly be an interview consuming recreation. The BBC pop panel present ran from 1996 to 2015, and he says Sky’s upcoming reboot retains the unique’s anarchic, piss-taking spirit.
“I enjoy the chaos (DRINK!) and chaotic side of what we’ve produced,” says the comic, over Zoom, keeping off a post-wedding hangover in his London house. “What I love is that musicians are not arriving with their slick PR machines – they can’t hide behind a way that they’ve previously presented themselves. Mercifully, all the guests we’ve had on were great – so natural and fun and I hope they relish getting to show a different side of themselves.”
(L-R: Daisy Could Cooper, Jamali Maddix, host Greg Davies, Noel Fielding. CREDIT: Sky
All through its 28 seasons, Buzzcocks was chargeable for unfiltered water-cooler moments galore. There was the time Amy Winehouse dismissed working with Mom’s Day favorite Katie Melua, declaring she’d “rather have cat AIDS”; or when Kelly Rowland tossed a glass of water over then-host Simon Amstell with a cry of “may the power of Christ compel you!” – solely to be met together with his lightning quick comeback: “But I’m a Jew!” There was ‘Superstar’-singer Jamelia’s glad revenge of seeing an ex-lover who’d bought a kiss-and-tell on her within the Identification Parade (the place visitors had to select a pale pop star from a line up), Fun Lovin’ Criminal Huey Morgan having a meltdown and smashing his mug in frustration at Rizzle Kicks and, most infamously, Ordinary Boy Preston strolling out in 2007 when Amstell learn out passages from his then-spouse and Movie star Huge Brother winner Chantelle Houghton’s autobiography, earlier than workforce captain Invoice Bailey fished a doppelgänger from the viewers to take his place.
Davies, best-known now for his stint on The Inbetweeners and as Taskmaster’s titular chief, was an enormous fan of the present all through its 20-year run. “Even though things are hectically busy for me at the moment, it was a no-brainer when the call came through asking me to do it,” he says. “I mean, let’s not pretend we’re a chin-stroking muso show, but what other show allows musicians to come on and cut loose in the way we do?”
“At its core it’s the same Buzzcocks”
In some ways, the eight-episode-plus-Christmas-special return hews scrupulously near the basic format. The notorious ‘Intros Round’ (the place groups carry out the intros of songs), ‘Identity Parade’ and ‘Next Line Round’ (the place groups need to guess the following lyric of a tune) are all again, albeit with new tweaks. For instance, reasonably than simply figuring out who the pop star of yesteryear is within the Identification Parade, celebrities will see a well known band and need to establish the imposter. “We’re bringing back a show that we all love, so messing with it would be counterproductive,” says Davies. “It would be silly for us to reinvent the wheel, so although there are an abundance of ridiculous new rounds – one of which is so childish, it makes me clap my hands every time – at its core it’s the same Buzzcocks.”
Performing as goth-bridge from the earlier sequence is Noel Fielding (“He continues to weave his magic that he’s done in previous incarnations,” praises Davies), who’s joined on workforce captain duties by This Country’s Daisy Could Cooper. “She’s an absolute storm of a woman – who makes me corpse all the time,” beams Davies. Comic Jamali Maddix acts as common weekly panellist, switching groups every episode. “He’s like a comedy owl,” says Davies. “He’ll sit there thinking quietly for a minute and then say something that absolutely decimates the place.”
Staff captain Daisy Could Cooper. CREDIT: Sky
A mix of heritage musicians and rising expertise may also be flexing their comedy muscle tissues on the present, together with Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall and Yungblud. “The excitement for me as host is that I get to meet up-and-coming musicians I didn’t particularly know the work of like Aitch the rapper, but then there’s nostalgic moments for me like having Shaun Ryder and Bez on, where – as a huge Happy Mondays fan – I was transported right back to the ‘90s.” Additionally, the panellists have been inviting him to their gigs. “They’re probably being polite and think I won’t turn up,” he laughs. “But why shouldn’t a 53-year-old, 6′ 8″ man go and see Little Mix?”
Nevertheless, in an avowedly deferential movie star tradition the place fan armies could be mobilised, are hair-trigger PRs not hovering round prepared to drag the plug? Not so, says Davies. “I didn’t experience any musicians trying to manage their image – and if they did, they didn’t do a very good job of it!”
“Daisy May Cooper is an absolute storm of a woman”
Additionally serving to oil the gears within the ‘90s and early 2000s was copious quantities of alcohol being funnelled into these By no means Thoughts the Buzzocks mugs. As H from Steps as soon as memorably informed NME of his expertise on the present: “They ply you with drink in a mug which is why I ended up calling Dido a cunt.”
“I don’t know if it was ever a policy to get people hammered before the show – you’ll have to ask previous producers,” laughs Davies. “But I know it wasn’t water in those mugs in this series, I can tell you that! And quite a few musicians were very, very far from sober!”
Returning workforce captain Noel Fielding. CREDIT: Sky
When Buzzcocks appeared in 1996, its preliminary host was Mark Lamarr, who stayed with the present for 17 sequence, and in comparison with different staid, prefect-like exhibits on the time, it felt just like the impudent snotty child smoking behind the bike-shed. It entered one other Imperial Part when Simon Amstell took over in 2006 and was cruel with visitors like Towers of London’s Donny Tourette, whose punk picture he tore to shreds. After 4 years, Noel Fielding mentioned that Amstell’s “cruel jibes” made visitors reluctant to look, whereas Phill Jupitus almost threw within the towel as a result of he felt “people were being booked to have the piss taken out of them.” After experimenting with visitor hosts – together with Davies himself for one episode in 2011 – ultimate sequence host Rhod Gilbert was given the everlasting chair position in 2014, and his gentle surrealism couldn’t compete with the caustic comedy cage-fighting of the Lamarr and Amstell years. Davies’ presenting model is, once more, completely different – Taskmaster followers will know him because the messianic throne-perching ring-master – so was he apprehensive about escaping the shadow of his predecessors?
“Of course, I was wary of taking on the role of host because I’m a fan of the show and those are big boots to fill,” he says. “I would say the overarching feeling now is one of chaotic silliness rather than confrontation. I don’t really do confrontation especially well. But there’s plenty of piss-taking, believe me, that comes back and forth from everybody. It was a real fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience. I didn’t have a conscious way of approaching it. I just like music, having fun and messing around – and that’s what you’ve got within the format of Never Mind the Buzzcocks.”
“Noel Fielding continues to weave his magic”
Consciously or not, we’re in a distinct movie star tradition in 2021, and the present arguably has to straddle a high-wire act. In a put up Caroline Flack local weather, it could possibly’t get away with among the crueller extra of earlier seasons (rewatching among the episodes the place visitors are goaded could be uncomfortable). On the similar time, a completely defanged Buzzcocks dangers sinking into the mud of the numerous banter cruise-control panel exhibits. “For my role as host, all I did was what I consider to be acceptable and there’s plenty of piss-taking baked into the DNA of the show, but there’s nothing consciously vindictive that comes from me, and it’s all tongue-in-cheek,” says Davies. “I’m not in the business of making people unhappy, but audiences will have to be the judge of that.”
Though it’s a TV establishment, we maybe shouldn’t be clouded by the cataracts of nostalgia. A product of Nineties Loaded laddism, Buzzcocks was usually accused of misogyny and homophobia. The TV presenter Gail Porter, for instance, whose bare picture was as soon as beamed onto the Homes of Parliament by FHM, was as soon as informed by Mark Lamarr: “If you are not going to show us your arse or slag [R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe] off, there’s no reason to be here.”
Recurring visitor Jamali Maddix. CREDIT: Sky
“I think we’re all changing,” says Davies, of whether or not the present’s tone has needed to swap. “We’re all evolving. I certainly am, and there are things that a few years ago you would deem acceptable to say or use as a vehicle for comedy and perhaps now some of those things have evolved – just as we’ve all evolved. But I loved Buzzocks for what it was and didn’t think: ‘Oh we’ve got to change the way they did things.’ My comedy is based on things I have decided it’s acceptable to say. It’s a matter of personal conscience.”
After all, if anyone can deal with the job of marshalling celebrities in varied states of ridiculousness, it’s Davies. On Taskmaster, he discovered a sleeper hit that helped individuals by lockdown with its interactive challenges. The BAFTA-winning present sees comedians trying ever-more-ludicrous duties, whether or not it’s making a watercooler second out of an precise watercooler, portray an image of a horse whereas driving an equine, or getting a ball by a basketball hoop with out utilizing their arms, like The Crystal Maze on crystal meth. “It’s testament to [creator and co-host] Alex Horne’s twisted imagination that the show doesn’t get same-y or repeat itself. And it’s so wholesome. I mean, I ruin it with my foul man act,” he laughs. ”However the premise beneath is so inclusive and reassuringly old style whereas being progressive. It’s fairly a neat trick the boy pulled off, though I’ll by no means say this to his face after all!”
“Jamali Maddix is like a comedy owl”
“It’s funny for me coming from an entertainment show like Taskmaster, where I’m a despot handed power, to Buzzocks where it’s chaos (DRINK!), and I barely felt in control in a pleasingly silly way. It was an explosive start out of the gates that continued, and I think we’ve found a bizarre alchemy.” It helps the rapport that he’s labored with Noel Fielding, Daisy Could Cooper and Jamali Maddix earlier than on Taskmaster. “As soon as they told me who the Buzzocks team captains were, I just went: Fucking great!”
At 53, he’s older than the earlier common Buzzcocks hosts (Rhod Gilbert, at 44, beforehand held that title), however he didn’t pursue comedy till his late thirties, as a substitute working as an English and Drama trainer at a complete college for 13 years. “I often refer to those teacher years as a wasted period, but I don’t think they were,” he considers. “I was far too thin-skinned to start comedy in my early twenties when a lot of my contemporaries did. I wouldn’t have been able to cope with it. My teaching years made me mentally able to callous up a bit so I could handle the cut and thrust of it. It was a difficult period of my life because I knew there was another job I wanted, and what stopped me having a go at comedy was a fear of failure. That’s not good for you and I’m pleased I eventually put my head above the parapet.”
Host Greg Davies. CREDIT: Sky
His first main position, aptly, was arsey headmaster Mr Gilbert in The Inbetweeners, however since then, he’s flourished and is at the moment on a profession white-hot-streak: Taskmaster is a smash, his 2013 sitcom Man Down is being rediscovered on streaming providers and his new BBC comedy sequence The Cleaner has kicked off too to constructive evaluations. He’s genuinely evangelical about By no means Thoughts the Buzzcocks, a present he used to observe as a trainer “through gritted teeth as it looked like the most fun job in the world.”
However the query that can be on all people’s lips is: has he had a Preston second? He shakes his head. “No. There are plenty of moments that people will be talking about – ranging from rows to hugely unprofessional conduct – but nobody got offended or threw their toys out of the pram. No-one walked off, as I recall! That’s something that happened in the moment and to try to recreate it would be folly.”
As a substitute, “we just rolled the dice, concludes Davies. “And it was….” – you guessed it – “chaos.” DRINK!
‘Never Mind The Buzzcocks’ returns September 21 at 9pm on Sky Max and NOW
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