Paul Merton has slammed Ann Widdecombe for her "arrogant" second appearance on 'Have I Got News For You' in 2007.

Paul Merton

Paul Merton

The 60-year-old comedian - who has appeared on the show as a team captain since 1990 - has claimed the former Conservative politician's successful first episode as host in 2006 had gone to her head by the time she returned the following year.

He told the Radio Times magazine: "She's telling the producer what jokes will and won't work. She turned to me at one point and said, 'Come on, be amusing; that's what you're paid for'. Even as I say it, it sends a shiver through my heart. It's like, the arrogance of the woman, you know? Suddenly, she thought she was Victoria Wood."

Paul described it as his "worst experience" on the programme, and suggested the way her first appearance was edited may have given Ann, 70, a bit of an ego boost.

He added: "Now, there's a thing in ­showbusiness. The first time you do something, you're going to be a bit rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights but adrenaline gets you through. Then the programme is edited and her friends see it and say, 'Oh, you were very good on that.' "

Meanwhile, his rival team captain Ian Hislop, 57, named Neil Kinnock as his least favourite host - because the recording lasted three hours for the former Labour leader's appearance - and dished the dirt on other politicians' reactions.

He said: "John Prescott was very unhappy after the show. And Alastair Campbell was furious, because I'd managed to get the words 'weapons of mass destruction' into every answer."