A love letter to Would I Lie To You? on its thirteenth birthday

Would I Lie To You? is a rare entity in today’s oversaturated panel show market – it manages to entertain without being callous, and can genuinely be enjoyed by the whole family. Now in its thirteenth season, WILTY is still as funny as ever. If you’re not familiar with the show, its premise is simple: contestants must tell either a true or false story and the opposing team must sort the fact from the fiction. At the core of WILTY’s success is the comic chemistry between team captains Mitchell and Mack, a relationship built around class difference. Mitchell is the school prefect, interrogating Mack with a no-holds-barred approach. Mack is the working class boy who uses his quick wit to get himself out of trouble, often aiming barbs at Mitchell’s supposedly mega-posh upbringing. The two fill their roles perfectly. Added to this is host Rob Brydon, who keeps the show moving swiftly and plays brilliantly off of both team leaders. If you want to know the secret of WILTY’s longevity, look no further than its three stars. The trio even sought to monetise their razor-sharp banter by going on a joint tour earlier this year: Brydon, Mack and Mitchell – Town to Town.

What’s also great about the show’s format is that it allows its guests to shine: there have been no shortage of iconic stories over the years. Take, for instance, Kevin Bridges’ far-fetched yarn about accidentally buying a horse while on holiday in Bulgaria, or Rhod Gilbert’s clam that he once paid for some tapas with a Nissan Micra. Comedian Bob Mortimer steals any episode he appears in, each time dusting off another preposterous anecdote from his seemingly endless collection. Put yourself in Mitchell and Mack’s shoes for a moment and try to guess which of the following claims made by Mortimer are true:

“The police once ordered me to leave town because I was frightening the locals.”

“As a teenager, I used to terrorise my neighbourhood with a game I invented called “Theft and Shrubbery”.”

“For the past 15 years, I have performed my own dentistry.”

Ready for the answer? It’s all of them. The golden rule of WILTY is, if something seems like a lie, it’s almost definitely true.

So far, the show’s thirteenth season has lived up to its high standards. The highlight up to this point has been episode two where Mitchell was joined by his wife, Victoria Coren Mitchell of Only Connect fame. Mack hopes that Mitchell’s confession to moving Victoria’s bookmarks when she gets on his nerves is true: “I want his life to fall apart, this would be such fun!”. Mitchell’s reply perfectly sums up the pair’s relationship over the past thirteen years: “Even though, Lee, you have said on television you want my marriage to fall apart, I still find you an adequate colleague.” With quips like that, here’s to thirteen more.

Image Credit: BBC Productions