Welcome to my attempt at a weekly game show blog. I'm going to start with something of a special event - week by week coverage of Series 52 of BBC Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (which started in November, but I've tracked down the episodes.)
I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (ISIHAC) is a show that nobody in America has heard of. This is a bad thing, not only because ISIHAC is a great show, but because ISIHAC is close to impossible to describe. The closest show Americans would know might be Whose Line Is It Anyway? - and beyond the very basic idea of improvisational comedy game show, they have nothing in common. I can't explore ISIHAC in detail in one blog post, but suffice to say it features such games as One Song To The Tune Of Another and Sound Charades, and that the host's introduction to these games is as funny as the game itself.
From the first episode in 1972, the show was hosted by jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton, who may have been an unlikely choice but who turned out to be fantastic in the role. Humphrey died on April 25, 2008 at age 86; after the inevitable year of consideration, it was announced that the show would continue. In June and July 2009, ISIHAC Series 51 featured guest hosts Stephen Fry, Jack Dee and Rob Brydon. Out of those three, I thought Jack did the best, and I apparently wasn't the only one: it was eventually announced that Jack would be hosting Series 52 alone. So here, without further ado, is a recap of the first episode of that series, broadcast on November 16, 2009.
Opening: “We present I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue, the antidote to panel games. At the piano is Colin Sell and your chairman is Jack Dee.”
Recorded at: Old Vic Theater, London
Panelists: On Jack’s left, Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden. On Jack’s right, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Rob Brydon.
Scorer: “And keen to keep an eye on the scores and eager to get them down for the teams, please welcome our lovely scorer, the ever-delightful Samantha.”
Game One: Questions That Have Never Been Asked (Jack: “‘Am I looking forward to this?’ is an obvious example.”) But Possibly Should Have Been.
George H.W. Bush: “Do you think I should have a vasectomy?”
Jeremy Hardy: “Why would I want a singing lesson?”
Game Two: One Song To The Tune Of Another (without a convoluted explanation, but at least there’s a joke at Colin’s expense)
Tim sings the words of I Kissed A Girl to the tune of Land Of Hope And Glory…and those are pretty much the only ones I’ve heard of.
Game Three: Historical Voicemail (King Arthur, Napoleon Bonaparte, Sir Walter Raleigh, Charles Darwin)Jack attempts to do Napoleon’s outgoing message in French…it works about as well as you’d expect.
Game Four: Incomplete Verses From Greeting Cards
Game Five: Barry and Graeme alternate words of a letter from Pope Benedict XVI to Silvio Burlesconi; Tim and Rob must alternate words of the reply.
Game Six: Pensioner’s Film Club (including, of course, Bring Me That Water Bottle Of Alfredo Garcia)
Closing: “Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Rob Brydon were being given silly things to do by Jack Dee, with Colin Sell setting some of them to music. The program consultant was Iain Pattinson, and the producer was Jon Naismith.”
There you go! A good enough start to a series. The BBC insists that Jack is not the new permanent host of the show, but frankly, I don't believe them. I suppose we'll just have to wait through new seasons of Just A Minute, The Unbelievable Truth, and The Museum Of Curiosity to find out for sure.
More ISIHAC next Thursday,