Greg Dyke is back at the BBC - well, for one night only, as host of satirical quiz show Have I Got News For You.
By Lisa Carpenter
BBC News Online
Fresh from his standing ovation at the Baftas, the former BBC director general took his turn at being guest presenter of the topical news show.
With high expectations of a fun-filled night of "making it happen" and Dyke
"cutting the crap", I wasn't disappointed. He seemed nervous to start with but gained confidence after being berated by Ian Hislop about his upcoming autobiography book deal.
"Is this surreal enough for you?" Hislop remarked to the audience when the former BBC boss took his seat next to guest panellists Danny Baker and Armando Iannucci, alongside regular team captains Paul Merton and, of course, Hislop.
Dyke was back in the hot seat at the BBC
The show is about the week's news and conveniently for Dyke, this week Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to announce his U-turn over the proposed EU constitution. This was Dyke's chance to get his own back.
He started as he meant to go on as he introduced Iannucci as a "writer and comedian, who regularly uses his newspaper column to undermine Alastair Campbell - which I reckon must be worth at least one point for starters".
Iannucci is the creator, co-writer and producer/director of the BBC comedy featuring Alan Partridge, Steve Coogan's failed chat-show host. So it was no wonder that at times it felt very Partridge-esque when he and Merton shouted out possible new programme titles.
Dyke rarely wasted any chance he could to bring the banter back to his own departure from the BBC.
As part of the recording he read out an internal e-mail, about an independent review, from Shell executives, which said: "This is dynamite. Not at all what I expected, and needs to be destroyed."
Danny Baker was on Paul Merton's team
Dyke sniped: "Funny, that's exactly what I said about the Hutton report, the difference being that the Shell report was true."
While Hislop seemed obsessed with Dyke's proposed book deal with Rupert Murdoch, Danny Baker took it upon himself to regard the former BBC man as a lookalike for Mordechai Vanunu, the recently released whistleblower who served 18 years in an Israeli prison.
The show's host took everything in good humour but didn't quite give as good as he got, leaving a lot of comments from Ian Hislop hanging in the air.
He didn't even have a comeback for Armando when he asked: "Are we going to have this programme's first gay kiss?" when Dyke and Baker seemed to be getting too friendly. Dyke just looked extremely embarrassed.
But he lightened up once the cameras stopped rolling and even offered a crate of champagne to anyone who could come up with a title for his impending autobiography.
Angus Deayton was sacked from the quiz after revelations about his private life
Merton's suggestion was "Direct and General: Greg Dyke" while someone from the audience suggested something about fingers and Dykes.
Overall he got away quite lightly and wasn't dealt too many snide remarks from the panellists, although Baker thought his presenting style left a lot to be desired, as time and again he fluffed his lines.
The programme will be broadcast Friday at 9.30pm on BBC One and a crate of champagne could be on the way if I could only come up with a book title......Secret Diary of Greg Dyke aged 56 and 3/4?