) broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and the "classic radio" station BBC 7. Born in 1972, it was something of a continuation of the
). The main difference was that, as a panel game, they didn't need to write any scripts.
The chairman was Humphrey Lyttelton, a jazz trumpeter (the thinking being that improvisational comedy owed a lot to jazz), who created the persona of a curmudgeonly
who would rather be doing something else.
else. The regular panelists for most of the show's history were Barry Cryer, Willie Rushton, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden (the third Goodie, Bill Oddie, was in the first two series). After Rushton's death in 1996, the fourth panelist became a rotating position
. Because of the show's pedigree, and the fact that the regulars have the final say in who the guests are, being asked to appear on the show is seen as an honour (and many have turned down the opportunity for fear they might ruin it).
Other people on the show include Colin Sell, the long-suffering pianist, and Samantha, the entirely fictional scorer, about whom many
are made. On one occasion, Colin Sell's stand-in as duty pianist was veteran jokester musician
. Humph introduced him as 'a man whose royalty payments on "I'm The Urban Spaceman" have just run out', to which Innes responded with several bars of the Death March from
views it as entirely irrelevant. In one 1997 episode, Humph commented, "It's just occurred to me Samantha hasn't given us the score. Since 1981." It would be impossible to determine who won most of the games anyway, given that many of them don't make any sense, and the "Complete Quotes" round has the warning "points will be deducted for a correct answer".
, but some have a surreality bordering on nonsensical. These include "Celebrity
" (in which the panel has to guess what a celebrity does for a living), versions of board games and other quizzes (where the joke is that we need to see what's going on to understand it), and, of course the Great Game, Mornington Crescent (a game of complex and subtle rules which,
, sounds like people shouting out tube stations at random) and its boardgame cousin Boardo! (complete with rattling dice and clicking counters).
There are also some musical rounds in the show. While the most popular musical game in the early years was the "Blues" (where each team has to create one on the spot), the three most popular throughout most of the show's run are "One Song to the Tune of Another" (which is
), "Pick-Up Song" (where each of the team members have to sing along to a song which is muted half way through and still be in time with the lyrics when the sound is turned back up) and "Swanee-Kazoo" (where each team has to play a given song with a swanee whistle and a kazoo). There's usually a
at the expense of guest Jeremy Hardy whenever he's on the show as he's a hilariously terrible singer (which has extended to jokes about said singing even
and somehow managed to force most of the games into the storyline. This was followed a couple of years later with
The future of the show was in doubt following Lyttelton's death in 2008, although Series 51 was aired in mid-2009 with
each. The show returned to its regular schedule with Dee chairing every episode later that year. Although it has not been definitively stated that he is the full-time replacement, Dee has chaired every series since.
The chairman gives one line setting up a rhyme to a panellist. The panellist then continues the story in rhyming verse, until the chairman buzzes, at which point the poem passes to the next panellist, who does the same until an "artistic conclusion" is reached. Tim notoriously hated
this round...which, of course, often led to him starting it off. Not played nowadays.
The Bad-Tempered Clavier
The teams attempt to sing a song while Colin Sell accompanies them. Colin eventually begins changing the tempo, playing wrong notes, and playing different songs altogether. The chairman often mentions that points are deducted for players attempting to sing with their hands over their ears. Not played nowadays.
One team gives a subject for a blues to the other team. The other team then improvise a blues, with each panellist taking alternate lines. They inevitably start with "I woke up this mornin'". (Occasionally, Humph would specifically mention penalizing a team for starting a blues with that sentence, which inevitably resulted in "I rose from my bed as dawn began" or some other synonym.) Variations included 'Calypso' (always starting with "I [thing related to the topic] the other day") and 'Madrigal'. Used to be one of the most reccurring rounds, but is now rarely played.
Call My Bluff
The chairman gives the teams a word to define. The panellists then define the word, each giving different punning definitions. The chairman picks the one he thinks is true, we hear the sound of paper unfolding as the answers are revealed, and the game ends. Not played nowadays.
The teams take a clean song and make it absolutely filthy by strategic censoring. Still pops up occasionally, but definitely not as common as it used to be.
Also known as Quote Misquote
and Complete Quotes
. The chairman reads the beginning of a quote, and one of the panellist finishes it in a humorous fashion. Quotes are generally taken from all manner of things — songs, poems, interviews, classics, opening lines, and so forth. Still frequently played.
The teams construct a sentence, taking one word each, with the goal being not to complete the sentence. If the chairman judges that a full stop has been reached, he'll honk his horn (ever since Jack took over, this has been replaced by a gong). Occasionally, each panellist gets a word that they'll have to "seamlessly intergrate" into the story. Common ploys involve forming the sentence "and yet strangely" to force a player to describe something multiple times, or someone — frequently Tim — saying "comma" to buy time. On at least one occasion, Humph made it even harder by adding an extra rule, that all the words had to start with the same letter.
Nowadays, this is rarely played, being replaced with Letter Writing, which plays along the same principles with two major additions. One — instead of assembling a sentence, the teams are "writing letters" between one famous personality to another. The other team then composes a reply. Two — as you may have figured out, this is played in teams of two rather than both the teams saying words. This simplifies stalling, and someone — frequently Graeme — will often say "and" to force their teammate to come up with as many adjectives as they can. This version is still played frequently.
The teams are given characters and sound effects, and then improvise a play from a given genre. Sometimes, the players are given free rein — other times, the chairman indicates scene changes or mentions which sound effects will have to be included beforehand. Very likely to go off the rails, and sound effects given to the panellists are pretty much guaranteed to pop up after the game's finished. One of the newer rounds, and played about once a series.
The panellists combine the names of films to make puns. Really, that's it. Puns can be literal (such as Half A Sixpence
, The Dirty Dozen
and The Exorcist
being combined to make Half A Dozen Eggs
). The meaning of the title can be used rather than the words. (Such as 'Allo 'Allo!
and Farewell My Lovely
combining to make A Short, Meaningless Relationship
. Or Lord of the Flies
and Flash Gordon
combining to make Would You Mind Accompanying Me To The Station
?) Then there are the truly magnificient
puns, such as Barry combining Superman
, Kellys Heroes
, The French Connection
, Al Capone
, Fantastic Voyage
, Man With the X-Ray Eyes
, The Princess and the Pea
, Nightmare Alley
and The Duchess and the Dustman
to make Superkellyfrenchaltasticexpeaalleyduchess
. Used to be very popular, but the last time it popped up was in 1995.
The chairman gives a profession for a film club, book club, or song book, and the panellists make puns based on the profession, changing around the titles of films/books/songs in order to fit this particular profession. (Such as the bakers' film club — Bun Hur
, Citizen Cake
and The Last Temptation Of Crust
.) Graeme invariably
makes a pun on Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
. Still played often, usually as the closing game of the show.
One panellist says some good news, the other some bad news related to the good news, and so on. ("Good news: I've got a new jacuzzi." "Bad news: It wasn't a jacuzzi when I got in..." "Good news: Jamie Lee Curtis
was in it with me." "Bad news: But not for long.") Used to be quite popular, but has not been played since 1993.
The chairman says a famous historical event, and invites the players to come up with headlines. This round typically plays on the different viewpoints of different newspapers — running gags include the Sport
, with its focus on supernatural events and sightings of Elvis, the Daily Mail
, with its obsession with house prices, the Evening Standard
, with its concentration on London-centric news, and the Independent
with its no-nonsense, fact-stating reports. Inevitably
, Graeme will do a "The Guardian
corrections and clarifications" joke, which poke fun at the Guardian
's reputation for bad spelling by replacing a misspelled headline with an equally misspelled headline. (E.g. "Yesterday's headline 'bishops tickle Darwin's monkey theory' should have read 'bishops tackle
Darwin's donkey, Terry'.") The last time it showed up was in 2008.
Just A Minim
The chairman gives one of the panellists a song which they must sing without hesitation, repetition or deviation
. (The songs are always picked to make this as ridiculously difficult as possible, such as Old Macdonald Had A Farm
or It's Not Unusual
.) Other panellists may challenge at any time if they detect hesitation, repetition or deviation, and if the chairman judges that their challenge is correct, they take over from the point where the previous singer left off. Takes its inspiration, rather obviously, from Just a Minute
— Jack has taken to chairing the game using a caricature of Nicholas Parsons' energetic, enthusiastic speaking style. Still played occasionally, often as a substitute to Swanee-Kazoo.
The entire audience get a song displayed on the laser display board, and have to hum it. The panellists attempt to guess what it is. In the live tours, each member of the audience gets their own kazoo for this round. Rarely played, but still pops up occasionally.
The chairman gives the name of a TV series (or film, or book) to one of the panellists, and asks them to "finish it off as quickly as you can". The panellists typically do this with implications of violence, swearing, sex, puns, or other unbroadcastable material. (Such as Call My Bluff
: "And your word is...(ting)
...oh my god!") Not played nowadays.
One of the most long-running games. The chairman announces a ball for a certain profession, and the panellists come up with names that are puns on this profession. (Frequently taking the format of "Will you welcome, please, Mr. and Mrs. X, and their son/daughter, Y...") The Mad Scientists' Ball, for example, would have "Mr. and Mrs. Tube, and their daughter, Tess Tube" and "Mr. and Mrs. Tomicbomb, and their daughter, Anna". Graeme, if stuck for ideas, will make a "Gordon Bennett" note
-based joke, such as "Mr. and Mrs. Bennettnotanotherflamingpartypoliticalbroadcast, and their son, Gordon". Was played in the first ever episode, and is still played occasionally as the closing game of the show, as a substitute for Film Club
The chairman supplies the first line of a limerick, and the four panellists improvise a line each to complete it. The order of who said what line was always moved, and there would always be four limericks, so that all panellists got the ending line once. Panellists would usually be applauded for avoiding obvious obscenities. Not played nowadays.
Also known as Wuthering Hillocks
. The panellists name movies, songs, books and so on that didn't quite work, always puns on some existing work. (Tales of the Expected
, Deaf In Venice
, Shakespeare In Hove
, et cetera.) Last popped up in 2005.
Mornington CrescentThe Great Game. Any attempt to explain the rules would be redundant and patronizing
, but it is worth mentioning that the teams frequently play with special rules or regional variations (such as scrundling being disallowed, or a penalty introduced for leapfrogging). This has led some expert players to dismiss them as amateurs for not playing by the original rules — the teams have responded to this by saying that they find the intricacies of the variations to be of greater priority than a puritan attitude. Nevertheless, they have complied occasionally by playing the original game. As such a tradition could never die, it is still played nowadays....Well, alright, it's an absolute load of wahooney consisting of the teams naming random stations on the London Underground and arguing vividly about made-up rules. That doesn't stop the fans from playing it themselves, though.
Name That Barcode
The chairman reads a barcode aloud (such as "thick white, thick black, thin white, thin white, thin black, thick white") and the panellists give humorous suggestions as to what it can be. Only played once.
Name That Motorway
The panellists hear the sound of a motorway, and guess which one it is. Other variations include Name That Novellist (where the panellists hear a few seconds of somebody typing on a typewriter), Name Those Roadworks, Name That Pause and the most extreme of all — Name That Silence.
Notes And Queries
The chairman asks a question to one of the panellists. They suggest a possible answer, the chairman gives the real answer, and so on. Usually, after everyone's had a go, the rest of the questions are free-for-all, where anyone may give their answer. Sometimes played under the name Household Hints
One Song To The Tune Of AnotherThis can be a bit complicated,
so listen carefully...a song is like a cat. The music is the cat itself, and the lyrics are the cat's food, nourishing the cat and making it stronger. The cat, or music, will eventually get hungry again, and be filled with new food, or words. And there you have it — One Song To The Tune Of Another. But I know what you're thinking — what about lovesick cats?
We've all heard alley cats crooning an object of their affection, and what noise could possibly be worse than some lovesick mongrel yowling behind the dustbins? ...
At the piano, Colin Sell!
Or, in other words, one song is sung to the tune of another.
It was the first game ever played on Clue, and is still played every other episode.
Panellists take a bland piece of prose (recipes, scripts, extracts from scouting manuals) and turn it into an operatic duet. Played well into the eighties, but not around anymore.
One team suffers from a delusion or complaint, but don't know what it is. The delusion is broadcast to the audience and the other team via the laser display board, and the team with the delusion have to ask the other team questions. The other team has to respond in a manner appropriate to the first team's delusion, until the first team manage to guess what it is. This has a variation in the Doctors
game, which is basically vice versa — the team with the problem know what their problem is, and the other team pose as doctors trying to diagnose them. The team with the problem answer in a manner appropriate to their problem. This version is still sometimes played.
One episode featured another variation, Scandals
, where one team played the part of two people invited onto a chat show to discuss a recent scandal they were involved in. The other team, playing the part of the hosts, were aware of the scandal, and the first team had to guess what scandal they'd been implicated in.
Samantha spins some discs on the chairman's gramophone, which a chosen panellist should sing along to. The music then drops out, but the singer continues singing, and if, when the music returns, he's within a midge's semi-quaver from the original, he'll be awarded points (allegedly
). And points mean prizes, what do points mean?PRIZES!
...Yes. The prizes are always some pun, such as the one for "the pet-lover who doesn't want their exotic pet to get lost — this stamped, addressed antelope". Or just silly. ("This week's prize is for the animal lover who wants to keep warm in bed. It's this hot water buffalo.") Still played nearly every other episode.
The laser display board shows the title of a work for the audience and one team. The team then performs a small, improvised sketch, typically using a contrived pun or other wordplay. Nowadays, Barry and Graeme make all their sketches about two eccentric Scotsmen, Hamish and Dougal, setting up jokes and puns for each other seamlessly. Still played nowadays.
Stars In Their Ears
Also known as The Singer And The Song
. Panellists sing songs in the style of a famous personality, drawing on accent imitation and impersonations for the humor. Still played occasionally.
The panellists say one word each, with the goal being not to provoke laughter from the audience. (The chairman often mentions how they've been training a lot for this.) If anyone elicits even the slightest titter from the audience, they're eliminated, and the game goes on until only one remains. Inherently Funny Words
make this round harder than it sounds. (A variation had the panellists saying punchlines to jokes instead of just words.) Still occasionally played.
One team lists things beginning with a letter randomly chosen by the chairman, with the pretense of packing these things in a suitcase. The other team may challenge if they believe the object wouldn't fit in a suitcase or wouldn't be suitable on holiday. If the chairman upholds the challenge, they take over listing things with a randomly selected letter of their own. Not played nowadays.
The teams play a song using a swanee whistle and a kazoo. (Tim and Graeme always play the swanee whistles, whereas Barry and Tim's guest always play the kazoos — although when Sandi Toksvig stood in for Graeme, Barry had a one-off go at the swanee whistle.) The humor comes from the naturally silly sound of these two instruments (usually described by the chairman as "the cheeky rasp of the kazoo and the smooth ululation of the swanee whistle"). Still played about every second episode.
Uxbridge English Dictionary
Formerly known as New Definitions
, and renamed after a book containing the best definitions. The panellists say a word, then give a definition of the word, usually by breaking it down into smaller words or making a pun on an already-existing word. (Such as "Impolite: note
To set fire to a pixie.") Barry will occasionally say a word and define it as how Sean Connery
would pronounce something. ("Pastiche: note
What Shean Connery eatsh in Cornwall.") Basically, Hurricane of Puns
at its maximum. Still played.
Word for Word
The word disassociation game
. One team exchange a random series of words with no connection whatsoever. The other team may challenge if they spot a connection, and if the chairman agrees with the challenge, they take over. Words with a direct
connection are usually ignored in favor of words with a roundabout, absurd connection
. ("Kangaroo." "Hop." "(buzz)
A kangaroo might go to a dance...which, in America, is known as a hop.") Barry has made a habit
out of buzzing in on any two words and claiming they were a sixties rock band. Still played.