Ian Hislop jokes that Paul Merton should be tested for coronavirus if one of the symptoms is “being a miserable bastard,” when Have I Got News For You returns to television.
The satirical show will return for a new series on Friday night, with the two team captains, host Steph McGovern and guests Miles Jupp and Helen Lewis all filming from their own homes and then beamed into a virtual studio.
Explaining the new set-up, Merton will say: “I’m currently sitting in one of the rooms in my house, staring at the television and wondering why I can’t get any other channels apart from Ian Hislop.
“So I’m a bit bothered and rather disturbed by what’s happening!”
Hislop will add: “This is a mixture of Zoom, Google Hangout and House Party, all of which I’ve been on almost constantly and I think you’ll find it works quite well. I’ve put it all through a feed through the back of… Paul. So it works a treat!”
Executive producer Richard Wilson previously told the PA news agency that it should look like the stars have appeared on the set of the show – “a bit like Princess Leia does when R2D2 plays that message – we are aiming for that effect.”
He added: “The Whitney Houston tour, except it’s about the news and there is no singing.”
During the episode the panel will watch a clip of a family from Watford singing their lockdown-themed version of a Les Miserables song, with Merton delivering the verdict: “Dreadful! Absolutely dreadful!”
Hislop replies: “I’m very worried about you Paul.
He adds: “Well they keep discovering a lot of new symptoms… one of which is that people have no taste… I mean from your shirt, it’s pretty clear…
“And now, being a really miserable bastard… I didn’t know! But I’d get yourself tested!”
Merton retorts: “You’re calling me a miserable bastard? You’re the man who’s been mentoring me for the past 30 years…!”
Have I Got News For You returns to BBC One at 9pm.