'Making TV during Covid is like being a hostage' | Noel Fielding on the return of Never Mind The Buzzcocks © Sky UK Ltd

'Making TV during Covid is like being a hostage'

Noel Fielding on the return of Never Mind The Buzzcocks

As Never Mind The Buzzcocks is rebooted for Sky, returning team captain Noel Fielding reflects on how it – and he – has changed over the years.

What did you think when you heard that they were bringing the show back and wanted you to return as a team captain?

Well, usually I’d be like, ‘Never go backwards. Never go back,’ but I did it for five years and I became really good friends with Phill Jupitus. I love Phill, and we just got on really, really well. So I was half thinking, ‘Should I do this without him?’ I knew he wasn’t doing it. He’s gone back to art school, he’s in Scotland now living his best life.

But the reason I said yes is because I’m such a big fan of Greg Davies and Daisy May Cooper. They’re two of my favourite comedians, they’re two people that really make me laugh. So, I just thought, ‘Well, I know this show and I can’t not do it if those two are doing it, because they’re so good.’

I did Taskmaster, and literally I laughed all the way through it. Greg was cracking me up all the time. I just thought, ‘This is going to be really good. It’s a deadly combination.’

Did you feel any nerves at all sitting back in the captain’s seat?

Not really, but I had to slightly reposition myself mentally, because I suppose when I did it originally, I was much younger. I still feel like I’m 32, even though I’m not. I’m looking forward to the John Cooper Clarke years, where you’re still dressing ridiculously, you’ve got your ski suit on, and your crazy boots, and people go, ‘Oh yeah, it’s him.’

John Cooper Clarke is my hero, he’s still rock and roll, he manages to pull it off. And I saw him on Antiques Road Trip, and I just thought, ‘Well, if you can make Antiques Road Trip cool, that is the coolest thing ever.’

You must miss the social element of the show then?

Yeah, I would love if there was a bit more of a social aspect to it, because I feel like bonding-wise, it’s great if you can all go out and get smashed occasionally, because it just helps.

But I just feel lucky that we can still do television, because of the pandemic, not everyone can do the job they were doing.

You’re up against Daisy, how competitive does it get between  you?

Well, I’ve realised I’m getting thrashed, which is killing me! I think Daisy has a really weird knowledge of Britney type pop music, that I don’t have.

That’s slightly my weak point, is that I’m not big on that kind of pop stuff. I know it, but I just don’t know as much of it.

Daisy seems to know every lyric to every pop act. She knows Bieber lyrics, and stuff like that, which I’m hopeless at. I know Bieber exists, but I know it’s not for me! I think Daisy, so far, has been quite lucky with the guests. She’s had Lauren Laverne, who’s just like an encyclopaedia of music.

But I’ve never been that bothered about winning. I’m always trying to be funny, instead of giving the right answer, or I just have a laugh with my team.

Jamali Maddix floats between both teams, what’s it like having him on the show?

Jamali’s amazing, actually. I’d seen his stand-up and I thought he was really good, but he’s been brilliant on this. He’s quite a good counterpoint to Greg, because he’s coming from such a different angle, of youth, because Greg is always playing the old man card! Jamali is the person that’s going, ‘Right Greg, this is what’s cool. This is what’s happening’, but Greg’s like, ‘I’ve got no fucking clue,’ which is hilarious.

Some people might say that the music scene is not as wild now as it was back in the day. What do you think to that?

I think it’s different. I think that there have been a few guests on who are definitely rock and roll, but in a different way to what was classified as rock and roll, I suppose,. What was quite funny is, there’s a rapper called Aitch, and I don’t know how young he is. He’s very young, 21, 22 maybe. And he was saying that his guilty pleasure was Razorlight, and I was laughing, ‘I used to knock around with Razorlight, wow, my generation are being described as a sort of guilty pleasure!’ It was cracking me up.

The kids are always doing something different, and as you get older, you think, ‘Oh, it’s not as good as my generation,’ but, it probably is, it’s just different. I’m sure I used to say that to my mum and dad. They were very rock and roll, so it was very hard to out-rock and roll my parents. They used to go to see David Bowie, and Led Zeppelin. When I was growing up, the only way I could really rebel was by listening to Adam Ant, and stuff like Duran Duran, which they thought was just pop stuff, because they were the real deal rock and roll.

What’s the vibe of the show this time around?

Well, I feel like because Greg’s in control, it’s a little bit out of control to begin with, and I feel like Daisy’s energy is quite mad as well. And then I’m quite weird! The young pop stars that are coming on, and rappers are going, ‘I was a bit nervous, I thought I was going to get torn to pieces, but actually I really enjoyed that.’

The great thing about Buzzcocks is it’s a place where you can see your favourite bands, or singers, or rappers, or whatever, and you can get to know what they’re like. There are not many programmes where that happens any more. 

I feel like we’re giving them space to shine a bit as well. I feel like Greg’s really warm and giggly, but he’s also so funny. Daisy’s a sort of wild card, and I’m quite surreal. And Jamali’s got a whole different thing going on, so I feel like we’re coming at it from loads of different angles.

I feel like the vibe is quite mad tea party. It’s nice, it’s a little bit out of control. I feel like if there were fewer restrictions because of the pandemic, we’d probably be all rolling about together,   where Daisy would be jumping on you, and Greg would be rolling about. I feel like it would be quite a tactile show. One of my big memories of doing Buzzcocks before was being chased around the set by Lorraine Kelly.

I feel like another series would just descend into absolute carnage, definitely. It’s just TV gold, right there.

What have the guests been like?

There’s been some great guests. Obviously, we had Bez and Shaun Ryder, which was fantastic, they’re such a brilliant double-act and such funny characters. There’s been a lot of stuff that we’ve been laughing at, that I’m not sure will make the show. Daisy said to me she really hopes there’s just an extra episode of bloopers and outtakes.

One of the games looks at pre-show rituals, do you have one?

It’s quite difficult now because you’re not allowed to come out of your dressing room until the last minute, so it is like a hostage situation. Then, you do the show, you get bundled into the taxi, and you’re gone. It’s a bit like a dream, it’s like you’ve been kidnapped, and then put in front of a TV audience, done some stuff, shown off for a bit, and then you’re back in the car. You go, ‘Did that happen?’

Apparently, Daisy revealed her obsession with ghosts during filming?

Daisy’s the weirdest person I’ve ever met… She’s so hilarious. I think her cleaner, who came to the show, is a medium as well. You couldn’t really write that, could you?  And, oh my God, she literally loves dancing. She’s always out of her chair, busting moves. I think she’d probably win Strictly if she was ever invited on it. She should definitely do it!

• Never Mind The Buzzcocks returns to Sky Max at 9pm next Tuesday, September 21.

Published: 14 Sep 2021

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