On into its remarkable 14th volume, the Radio 4 “panel game” which started in 1972 is still pulling in the jokes. I put panel game in quotes as the nominal format is little more than a placeholder for the different varieties of humour, and even if at times in this set the jokes seem a little familiar and over reliant on smut that imagination, it is well worth listening all the way through for Rob Brydon’s singing near the end.
But the real star is Jack Dee, not only for doing the role of nominal quiz show host so well but for having really filled the apparently impossibly shoes of the late Chairman Humph who seemed to define the role as quintessentially his. For Dee to succeed on having taken over (via experiments with a few others, such as Stephen Fry) is a massive tribute to his skill. His style is both his own yet honours the show’s format – he too hams up the boredom, exasperation and frustration of a chairman just as amusingly as Humph did for decades.
Thanks to that, and the continuing brilliance of the others, it’s so good that even with the humour wearing a little repetitively thin by Volume 14, it’s still far better than Volume 1 of most other shows.
If you like this, you might also be interested in John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme.
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