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Ahh... Good old '...Clue'. The highlight of my Monday evening, and unfortunately, if the rest of the week is such, my week. Ditto month. While this may say something abuot the interest level of my life, I believe it may have something owed to the sublime quality humour of the show.
Clue is currently aired on Radio 4 on Mondays at 6.30, with a repeat the following sunday, at 12.30pm. It is on rotation with other comedy shows such as Just a Minute. Archive repeats to be found on BBC7, at irregular times.
History The show was broadcast on the Tuesday 11th April 1972, hosted by Humphrey Lyttleton, who still hosts the show today. The original line-up of players was Graeme Garden (show devisor), Bill Oddie, Jo Kendall, and Tim Brooke-Taylor. Bill Oddie and Jo Kendall were replaced by regulars Barry Cryer and Willie Rushton. Also, during the first series Cryer and Lyttleton alternated their roles as Chairman, before the latter took over the host's chair on a permenant basis. Sadly, in 1997, Willie Rushton died, and since then, the fourth position has been filled by guest participants, who range from Bill Bailey to Paul Merton via Stephen Fry.
Characters Colin Sell: The resident pianist, accompanying the panellists for the musical activities. Is often the butt of Lyttleton's jokes, and unfavourable introductions, much to the delight of the audience. In his 'spare time' he is a music lecturer at the Music and Drama school in Kent.
Samantha: The scorer on the show, known by all as "The lovely Samantha". Often leaves early for a rendez-vous with a 'gentleman friend', leading to an innocent activity punned by Lyttelton into some sort of double entendre. Oddly enough she hasn't aged in the 30+ years of the show's existence...
Mrs Trellis: Regular correspondant to the show, from North Wales. Her letters generally appear before the infamous game of Mornington Crescent.
The Games There have been far too many games played by the teams over the years to list, but here are the main ones, with a little bit of explanation to those of you uncultured (*ahem*) enough to have not yet listened to the show.
One Song to the Tune of Another Pretty self explanatory in the title. Colin Sell accompanies the guests with humorous consequences. Personal favourite combination of mine include the Postman Pat theme to the tune of Bizet's Carmen.
Mornington Crescent Bizarrely complicated game, and yet the most well known amongst hardcore fans and occasional listeners alike. Players take it in turn to name London Underground stations with the objective being to 'get to' Mornington Crescent. However, rules, sub-rules and variations (Take the Slough version, where half way through playing it was pointed out there was no Mornington Crescent in Slough) make the game an art for the team-players! Attempts have been made to detail the rules online, a google search for Mornington Crescent could tell you more about the game than you could read in a lifetime.
Late Arrivals The guests take turns to name families who have turned up late at a themed ball, punning the surname into something that fits the theme. For example, at the Fairy Tale Ball, there might be a Mr and Mrs Suponatime and their spanish son Juan Suponatime. At some point, one of the contestents will bring out a Mr and Mrs Bennet... and their son Gordon Bennet..., greeted with raucus laughter from the audience.
Swanee-Kazoo The teams take it in turns to play well-known songs using only a swanee whistle and a kazoo.
Censored Song The teams are given a perfectly innocent song and a bleep machine or buzzer to censor what would have been harmless words.
Cheddar Gorge The objective of this game is to create a story with one word at a time, but whoever dares to finish a sentence is interrupted by Lyttelton's horn and is eliminated from the game.
Straight Face The panellists take it in turn to say words, trying not to recieve any laughter from the audience. This is more difficult than it sounds, as the '...Clue' audience is such that they may burst into fits after having heard the most mundane words. Often players risk their future in the game by daring to go for more exciting traditionally funny words. Entertainingly, Lyttelton's decision is final, and it is great to see him eliminating players after the most modest titter of a response, after keeping players in for bringing the house down.
Other than the non-existent Samantha, Sell-baiting and Imaginary letters from listeners in North Wales, the operative term is innuendo. The show is filled to the brim with double entendres, which, if aired on television would probably not make the pre-watershed airwaves. However, it is true to say that the majority of jokes are not crude on face value and it is the audience's "imagination" that turns it on its head. That and its history have kept clue on the Radio4 airwaves. There's something quite comforting about releasing the dirty old man within for half an hour a week.
Some jokes are kept specifically for the live audience, such as the claim to having a "laser display board" to show the audience a word that the panellists cannot see or hear. In fact, it is a man running accross the stage with it written on a piece of card.
Seeing the Show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue tends to tour, recording, generally, one month before the broadcast, though this is not always the case. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of the show, tickets are administered seperately from the rest of BBC tickets, and there is a charge to see the show. However, it is an evening's entertainment, that is then edited down to a half-hour's highlights for the show. To find out where the team are heading next, there is an opportunity to receive emails from the BBC (log on to the "Clue" website) detailing the venues and how to get tickets. But be quick, some shows have been known to sell out in hours.
However, fear not if you can't make a live show. "...Clue" is here to stay on our airwaves, digital and analogue. This,and it's eternal quality, is down to one reason; the show is made by people who genuinely enjoy their roles, bringing out their silly side and generally making fools of themselves for our amusement.