Longtime panellist on Have I Got News For You (HIGNFY) Ian Hislop was asked if the show had provided too much of a platform for Boris Johnson – and gave a characteristically forthright answer.
He was asked by Sky News’ Adam Boulton about the politician’s numerous appearances on the comic panel show.
“A lot of people say … it’s all the fault of HIGNFY that we’ve now got Boris on the brink of becoming prime minister,” said Boulton.
Hislop said that instead, he blames the people of London, who voted for him to be mayor twice.
“They seem to have launched his career,” he said, going on to name other HIGNFY guests who hadn’t subsequently had a shot at the premiership.
“We’ve had on Germaine Greer, she doesn’t appear to be prime minister, she was on more often than him. Ken Livingstone – for some reason he’s not prime minister, he was on much more than Boris. I mean, quite a lot of Tory MPs too seem to have failed to become prime minister. Heidi Allen, I mean I thought she’d become prime minister immediately.”
Boulton put the argument that the platform, with Johnson’s humour, “was enough to charm people”.
“You can’t just not have people on television in the hope that maybe other people should be more popular,” reasoned Hislop. “You have to deal with Boris. You can’t just say ‘well anyone who’s charming and can get a laugh out of a room shouldn’t be on because people are too stupid to see through them’.”
Asked if that was a vote for Johnson, he said: “Oh God. You’ve got to be kidding.”
He added that he had given Johnson a grilling on his first appearance, in 1998, for over three minutes on the show over his phone call with Darius Guppy, when he had agreed to supply the address of a journalist so Guppy could have him beaten up.
In the segment, Hislop said: “It’s a terribly funny transcript which I have a copy of. And which I repeat in my magazine whenever humanly possible. Usually when you’ve made some right-wing speech about law and order.”
“I’m way out of my depth here, I’ve been totally stitched up,” said Johnson. “I want it on the record that I’ve walked straight into a massive elephant trap.”
Hislop has already made his feelings clear in a segment of the show that could not be broadcast during the recent private prosecution against Johnson for alleged public misconduct.
WATCH: Have I Got News For You shares the footage it couldn’t air during Boris Johnson misconduct caseHislop compared the trial for alleged public misconduct to asking the Pope if he is a Catholic, and added: “I would like [Johnson] to have a fair trial, with a desirable result of him being in prison forever.”