Spotlight On: Alternative News Programmes

I know, I know, and I agree; The News is The News, is a serious thing, and should only be learned by watching The News.

Then again, if enough people want them and watch them and get them made and renewed, who am I to argue? Here are my top three – okay, the three I watch – in no particular order – though it’s sort of most favourite to least favourite/seen the most to seen the least.


Russell Howard is a young British stand up comedian with a lazy eye, a brother that provides a lot of material and an ability to combine comedy – making a fun show –  with the news – reminding you that it is the news and it should be a bit serious.

After an opening general bit, the show is divided into subject segments; medicine, health, education, politics, and so on.   Then he has a special guest – until series 9, this was a mystery guest and Russell had to work out who it was based on the special set they entered on and their answers to his questions, which I assume was changed for time – and at the end It’s Not All Doom and Gloom, a heartwarming story that makes you reach for the tissues (it does me, anyway.)

If you don’t mind a focus on quirky stories and his British accent – and probably British humour, but as a Brit I might be immune to recognizing it – then this could be the show for you.

Series 10 is due to start later this year, on BBC Two.  For those outside the UK, there’s a Youtube channel the episodes are uploaded to.


Also British and also a comedian, you might know John Oliver better as Professor Ian Duncan from Community.

Again, there is a general part and then different segments, but rather than by topic they can be episode-specific (Technical Difficulties That Create Awkward Silences) or the more regular titles such as How Is This Still a Thing? (Daylight Saving Time).

There are two halves to each episode; the first half is the general segments, and then there is a main, more serious story.  You may have heard that on the episode on 5 April he actually travelled all the way to Russia for an interview with Edward Snowden.  The next week was about the IRS and involves a love song.  Another was about the Scottish referendum complete with a reference to Love, Actually asking it not to leave.

You might think you want to check what the main story is before watching it, but personally I find that even if it’s a subject (I think) I couldn’t care less about, John still makes it informative and/or entertaining.  Try the end of the IRS one for an example.

Season 2 is currently airing, Sundays on HBO.


Even if you’re not on Twitter, I’m sure you at least have an email and you know that @ means “at”, and what time do you think @Midnight is on? … that’s right, midnight!

Hosted by Chris Hardwick – this is the first I’ve heard of him, but you may know him as a stand up or for the Nerdist podcast – this is a Comedy Central show that combines the news – usually pop culture, similarly to The Soup – with comedy and even a game show.

The general part is a quick Rapid Refresh of the latest stories to kick things off, and then instead of segments there are different games, like Hashtag Wars.  Three guest comedians compete to make the wittiest remarks until The Funniest Person in the World for the Next Twenty-Three and a Half Hours (or weekend) is picked.

@Midnight is currently airing on Comedy Central, Monday to Thursday.


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