Forming, storming, norming, performing at HIGNFY

Forming, storming, norming, performing at HIGNFY

By Greig Burnside

Green Light had a great night out recently, attending the filming of Have I Got News For You. With filming taking a lot longer than the half hour programme we watch on a weekend would suggest, it was interesting to note how much the HIGNFY panel, featuring Frankie Boyle (presenter) Paul Merton, Ian Hislop, Cariad Lloyd & Gyles Brandreth and the process that they went through over two and a half hours, followed Tuckman’s five stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, performing & finally mourning. Even more interesting was seeing how certain individuals displayed behaviours similar to the ones we see so often in the respondents coming along to our group discussions.


For Cariad – it was her first or second time on the show and she was extremely nervous to begin with, overcompensating by trying just a little too hard to be funny. Despite her jokes not quite hitting the mark, as an audience we laughed encouragingly to bolster her confidence and ensure she felt comfortable and happy to express her opinions and deliver more gags later on in the show.

By contrast the old, seasoned pro Paul Merton looked bored, saying little and giving the impression of someone who was simply going through the motions or worse wishing he was elsewhere, much like the dreaded repeat respondent, which thanks to the excellent recruitment provided by Saros Research we encounter very rarely in our group discussions.


At this stage in the recording Paul came to life a little bit ostensibly to assert his top dog credentials and we witnessed a little bit of joshing between Frankie and Paul. Frankie gave Paul the spotlight letting him speak, and delivering some amusing gags but always asserted his control, essentially playing the role of moderator perfectly.

Once this was out the way we thought things might calm down a little, however, Gyles Brandreth put paid to that. Gyles had been pretty quiet up until then, but apropos of nothing launched into a long-winded, rambling uninterrupted, uninterruptable ten minute diatribe about something – to be honest we had all switched off to the point I’m not sure what it was. He fitted perfectly the dominant / weirdo archetype I’m sure every moderator dreads. And incidentally how come this type of respondent always comes out of nowhere during a group discussion when you least expect it.

Anyway observing Ian throughout this period it was clear he would be the perfect respondent in a group discussion. Countering Paul, indulging Gyles and responding to and building on the Cariad’s comments.


With the roles within the group falling into place, the group came together nicely and it was at this stage that as an audience member it felt as if the show was starting to take off. Interestingly this is where most of the footage we saw in the 30 minutes edit came from reinforcing Tuckman’s hypothesis that this is where the hard work and the best insights are most likely to come from.

Everyone relaxed, the jokes came thick and fast, the audience laughs were genuine not forced.


As an audience member this stage couldn’t come quickly enough – a few glasses of wine prior to the performance, no loo breaks and uncomfy seats meant we were feeling a little bit antsy. The ritual of the captions round, the theme tune and a round of enthusiastic applause and we were out the door, almost as fast as that respondent who hasn’t put enough change in the parking meter!

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