The good, the bad and Ricky Gervais

When it comes to hosting awards ceremonies, it's sink or swim.

Ricky Gervais presenting at the Golden Globes in 2012
Here's Ricky He's back to host the Globes for a fourth time. Image Picture by Paul Drinkwater/NBC via Getty Images

Hollywood’s 2016 awards season is cranking into gear, and this year’s Golden Globes and Oscars will see Ricky Gervais and Chris Rock do the honours.

Both men have proven to be dab hands at bringing some edge to otherwise pompous, back-slapping ceremonies in honour of the already rich and famous. 

But helming an awards show isn’t an easy task; for every Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, there are excruciating attempts like Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox’s disastrous BRIT Awards stint, and Anne Hathaway’s disastrous bid to prove she’s in any way entertaining at the Oscars.

We take a look at the best and worst award show hosts of recent years.


The Best of Hosts


Ricky Gervais

A three-time Globes host, Gervais will return in 2016 and bring with him the kind of machine-gun barbs that rattled the all-too-comfy auditorium in years past.

Just one example of The Office creator’s bruising insults?

“I hope I haven’t offended anyone. It’s not my fault,” he said as he pointed to a glass of beer during the Globes in 2010. “I like a drink as much as the next man. Unless the next man is Mel Gibson.”


Chris Rock

Another host returning for 2016, Rock’s 2005 stint was a master class in overstepping the line and quickly reeling himself back in.

“Welcome to the 77th and last Academy Awards,” he said in his opening monologue.

Rock’s jibes didn’t go down too well with Jude Law, who sacked his agent after the host insinuated that the Brit actor was only a back-up choice if Tom Cruise wasn’t available.


Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

Polished Fey and Poehler know how to deliver.

The US comediennes go way back as Saturday Night Live castmates, and their stellar work on sitcoms 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation made them natural choices to host the Golden Globes after the controversial Gervais years.

Still, they weren’t afraid to take aim. On Anne Hathaway’s performance in Les Miserables, Fey observed: “I have not seen someone so totally alone and abandoned like that since you were on stage with James Franco at the Oscars.”


Jonathan Ross

Under the stewardship of Stephen Fry, the BAFTAs have become just a little bit safe. Ross was never afraid to ruffle a few feathers, and he also brought some movie buff credibility as the host of the BBC’s Film show.

However, the controversy surrounding ‘Sachsgate’ in 2009 led to his axing from the Beeb, and subsequently a far less interesting BAFTAs show.


Jon Stewart

The ex-Daily Show frontman experienced a rocky first outing as Oscars host in 2006. He turned the ship around two years later thanks to his brilliant handling of a freshly-resolved writer’s strike that left the industry in turmoil.

Vanity Fair cancelled their Oscars party in honour of writers on the breadline – a fact Stewart hilariously lambasted as they’d never invite lowly screenwriters to the event in the first place.


 The Worst of Hosts


Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox

The original disastrous duo. It’s unfathomable to think of a BRITs presenting partnership more bizarre than the Fleetwood Mac co-founder and the model-turned-pop star.

Both were caught in headlights as autocues malfunctioned, pre-recorded messages failed to materialise and scripted lines got mixed up. Not that many of us associated Fox with an ability to read.


David Letterman

The sharp-tongued Late Night host’s sardonic wit went down like a lead balloon when he hosted the Oscars in1995. Ratings were low, critics were savage, and it’s an ordeal that haunts Letterman to this day.
Letterman later joked: “Looking back, I had no idea that thing was being televised.”


Anne Hathaway and James Franco

83rd Annual Academy Awards - Show
I'm really entertaining Anne has her doubters, including James... Image Picture by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

This odd pairing took place for the Oscars in 2011 in a bid to bring in a younger audience. Hathaway’s preppy (and irksome) enthusiasm didn’t mesh with Franco’s low key approach and you’d find more chemistry in a seminary.

On accusations he was stoned during the telecast, Franco responded: “I think the Tasmanian Devil would look stoned standing next to Anne Hathaway.”


The Osbournes

At the height of their reality TV fame, rock’s first family oversaw a shambolic BRIT Awards in 2008. Their ill-fated attempt included Sharon ranting “you’re a pissed bastard” at Vic Reeves as he struggled to make his way through the autocue.

ITV later admitted they’d received multiple complaints about the Osbournes. That was the end of the family’s joint career as awards hosts. Bad hosts? Yes. Entertaining? Absolutely. Bring them back.


James Corden

Hosting the BRIT Awards for four consecutive years between 2011 and 2014, Corden never managed to slip into the easy-going groove he’s displayed on his late night US talk show. The most painful moment of his tenure came when he awkwardly barged into Adele’s acceptance speech to tee up a Blur performance.

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