Page last updated at 18:18 GMT, Saturday, 8 May 2010 19:18 UK

Have I got news for... former MP Lembit Opik

Lembit Opik with Paul Merton on Have I Got News for You
Lembit Opik with Paul Merton on BBC One's Have I Got News for You, the day after he was voted out of his Montgomeryshire seat

He lost his seat in the Commons only a few hours earlier, but it did not take Lembit Opik long to pop up on TV again.

The colourful Liberal Democrat was not, however, debating his party's prospects of joining a government coalition.

Instead, he was a guest on BBC One's Have I Got News for You, the day after being ousted by Montgomeryshire voters.

Inevitably, he was the butt of jokes - many of them told by himself, including a plea to speed up filming because he had an appointment at the job centre.

Mr Opik gained a reputation for appearing on such comedy shows during his 13 years as one of the Lib Dems' best known faces in Parliament.

He also had a number of celebrity partners, including the ITV weather presenter Sian Lloyd, and Gabriela Irimia, one half of the pop twins, the Cheeky Girls.

Lembit Opik hams it up on BBC One's Have I Got News for You
Can we get on with it? I've actually got an appointment at the job centre in about half an hour
Lembit Opik hams it up

In an e-mail, Ms Irimia expressed her sadness at his defeat and said perhaps Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg could explain why Mr Opik appeared to keep a low profile during the campaign.

"Because of his high media profile, Lembit is a key figure in politics. I still can't understand why the Lib Dems didn't make more use of him, especially with TV appearances," said Mr Opik's former fiancée.

Only minutes after he learned a 13% swing to the Conservatives had cut short his parliamentary career, he had vowed: "In the words of Arnie Schwarzenegger, 'I'll be back'."

'Thirteen years and four days'

And on Friday night, he was - in a TV studio, at least. He was introduced by Have I Got News for You host Jo Brand as "one of the few politicians who knows what the future holds for him… a regular slot bantering with Jeff Stelling in dictionary corner [on Channel 4 quiz show Countdown]".

When discussing whether the political uncertainty will be settled, Mr Opik said: "In some cases [his own] it has."

Another guest, comedian Jon Richardson, told him: "It's good that you're not dwelling on it though."

Mr Opik replied: "I'm completely over it."

Team captain Ian Hislop asked him: "After 19 years, is it?"

Mr Opik said: "Thirteen years and four days, roughly. I'm not counting but…"

To which the other team captain Paul Merton pointed out: "Somebody was."

'A winner'

The laughter flowed, with the 45-year-old former Welsh Lib Dem leader joking: "Can we get on with it? I've actually got an appointment at the job centre in about half an hour."

But Merton responded: "They phoned earlier, they cancelled."

He was told by Hislop that his defeat was the most important event of the election because it was funny.

Mr Opik said: "The great thing about losing my seat is that I can actually take a fee for this now instead of taking this kind of abuse for nothing."

When his team emerged victorious, Merton asked the now former MP, to audience hilarity: "How's it feel to be a winner?"



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