Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me...I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue

Here is my recap of episode two, broadcast November 23, 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 here to ensure that each of our panel will hold their own, please welcome our talented scorer, the delightful Samantha.”

Game One: Uxbridge English Dictionary – which, for those who don’t know, consists of the panelists coming up with punning new definitions for words. An example from this show: “Parental. You never actually own the fruit.”

Game Two: Pick Up Song
Jack explained this better than I ever will: “You should each sing along with your record teams, until Samantha turns the volume down. If, when the music returns, you’re within a cheesy quaver of the disc I’ll be awarding points, and points mean the directions on a magnetic compass. What do points mean?” Audience: “PRIZES!”
There you go! The audience also participates (for want of a better word) in Rob’s rendition of Don’t Stop Me Now.

Game Three: Sound Charades – complete with Lionel Blair reference, laser display board, and Hamish and Dougal describing Never Mind The Buzzcocks

Game Four: Mornington Crescent
The show’s signature game, complete with Jack looking up the rules in the original Mornington Crescent rule book, which he has to walk off stage to find. Mrs. Trellis seems to think she’s writing to the President Of The United States.

Game Five: Swanee Kazoo
Colin, according to Jack, is worshipped at the piano – every time he comes on stage people say “Oh God, Colin Sell.”

Game Six: Parliamentary Songbook

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.”

That's episode two! Now, I got a comment on last week's post that began "ISIHAC sounds a bit like WWDTM" - referring, for those who aren't up on radio panel games, to NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. I adore both shows, but never would have thought of them as being comparable to each other. Wouldn't The News Quiz be a better pick for the British equivalent of WWDTM?

Then I thought about it. Certainly, you'd never hear Jack Dee (or whoever the permanent host ends up being) ask Barry Cryer to identify a quote from that week's news - that's The News Quiz's territory. At the same time, however, you wouldn't hear Sandi Toksvig (the host of The News Quiz since 2006) read an incomplete silly poem - even a topical one - as that would be too ISIHAC. WWDTM, naturally, does both those things, and also has the phone-in element (which neither British show possesses.) If we look at the other recurring segments of WWDTM and try to match them up with British radio, Not My Job makes me think of The Museum Of Curiosity, while I suppose Bluff The Listener comes closest to The Unbelievable Truth!

So which one is it? Well, let me make one more important point - none of the four British shows mentioned above (ISIHAC, The News Quiz, The Museum Of Curiosity, and The Unbelievable Truth) are on every week for the whole year. The way BBC Radio 4 works, a show is in rotation with two or three others in its time slot, with each show running for a couple weeks before another one comes on to take its place. WWDTM, on the other hand, is on every week for the whole year, so perhaps it is necessary to take a little of each of these shows? BBC Radio 4 currently has three game show slots...which is about the number of game shows that are on public radio in maybe we all win in the end?

I'll discuss another angle of this issue - whether ISIHAC, WWDTM, or any of these other shows would work as an exported format - next week.

See you then,


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