It’s a battle royal between the 50s throwback and the curly-haired upstart, but which of them has been the best presenter of Never Mind The Buzzcocks – Mark Lamarr or Simon Amstell? We pit the presenters against each other. You decide.
The case for Mark Lamarr
Mark Lamarr was there from the very start when Never Mind the Buzzcock's first hit our screens in 1996 (yes it was that long ago), and his lacquered quiff, sardonic wit and love of obscure reggae stood out a mile in the days of baggy Britpop. If only for his long-standing loyalty (nine long years of undeniable loyalty) Mark’s surely already well in the lead in the race for best presenter - how could anyone even argue that a Johnny-come lately like Amstell is in contention?
Mark’s razor-sharp wit invented Amstell, gone were the days of taking boy bands seriously, of treating pop poppets as equals, or heaven forbid stars, of even treating z-list celebs like they actually mattered. Not only could he make your average pop star feel the size of Jimmy Crankie’s boxers, but he also genuinely loved music and was a bona fide encyclopaedia of anyone worth knowing about. Any host awarding points for being Jimmy Cliff is alright by us.
He made 150 episodes over 17 series before declaring it was time for a break (a very long break as he didn't actually come back), never lost his cool or his funnies and fought the good fights against egos, bubblegum nonsense and Chris Moyles above and beyond the call of duty. Sure Amstell’s witty but he’s a pup compared to Lamarr’s top dog status - quiffed, well-heeled and not a man to trifle with - there’s only one man worthy of the Buzzcocks chair and it’s Mark Lamarr. Nuff said.
The Case for Simon Amstell
When Mark bowed out we’d have been forgiven for thinking Buzzcocks’ best days were over, and at best it would continue like The Doors’ world tour minus Jim Morrison, or something. Luckily curly-haired Simon Amstell had graduated from T4’s Popworld just in time to fill Mark’s great big chair, and having appeared as both a guest (during Lamarr's tenure) and guest host (when Lamarr took a break), was more than a little prepared for all the banter, barking and absolute madness when he took the reigns permanently.
Pop music is a young man’s game - Mark may have done his time but it was the equivalent of the creepy uncle still dressed as a Teddy Boy at a wedding by the end of his run. You don’t see pop stars looking cool past their 20s so it’s only right this cutting edge music show have a similarly trendy presenter - most of the guests were in nappies when Mark was going to his first gigs. And it’s not like Amstell is some Skins-lite style-over-substance merchant, he’s got just as many quips and is just as sharp a wit as Lamarr. In fact, if we didn’t know better, we’d swear he was his unholy baby boy (in some weird parallel universe, obviously).
Sure he didn’t last as long as Mark leaving after three years, but can anyone really say The Sex Pistols were less important than U2 just because they were gone in a flash? Only a serial pleb, and probably a serial pleb in wraparound sunglasses and a hat at that. Simon was the face of wit for the mp3 generation, bringing the show bang up to date, reminding us not all young people are hooded stab-fans and showing that sometimes put downs hurt the most when delivered by a man in a fashion tie.