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"I" Comedy

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Ian Dunn
775326.  Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:32 am Reply with quote

Here are some things related to comedy beginning with "I".

I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue

A spin-off to another comedy beginning with "I" - I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, ISIHAC has been running on Radio 4 since 1972. It most famous round is almost impossible to play Mornington Crescent, invented by the late Geoffrey Perkins. Whenever people ask the BBC for the rules they are told to consult Mornington Crescent: Rules and Origins by N. F. Stovold, and are told the book is out of print.

Here, taken from The Clue Bible (page 219-220) is a transcript of the first ever edition of Mornington Cresent played in 1978.

Humphrey Lyttleton: ...We go on to the next game, which is an old favourite, and I know a lot of you like to join in with this one at home, Mornington Crescent. No special rules come in to play in this particular round, so we'll start now with you, Tim Brooke-Taylor.

Tim Brooke-Taylor: Mm. Er, Neasden High Street.

Barry Cryer: ... Goodge Street.

Will Rushton: Ah... Cromwell Road.

Graeme Garden: Oh! (Hits table) Dollis Hill.

BC: Good lad.

TBT: ... The Strand.

BC: Mornington Crescent!

HL: Yes!

GG: Yes!

WR: Swine!

TBT: Actually, is that right, because -

BC: Yes.

HL: Yes, Barry definitley wins that game ... (Audience reluctantly applaud.)

GG: Yes, come on! Well deserved.

HL: The audience recognising brilliant play when they see it...

It Sticks Out Half a Mile

If you ever wondered what happened to Sgt. Wilson after Dad's Army, this tells you.

It Sticks Out Half a Mile was a spin-off to Dad's Army broadcast on Radio 2 which was set after the war. It was written by Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles, who adapted Dad's Army for radio.

Originally the plot of the series involved Mainwaring wanting to buy an renovating an old run-down pier and getting a loan from a bank. The manager of the bank is now Wilson, so now it is Wilson in power and Mainwaring answering to him.

An unbroadcast pilot was made in 1981, but shortly after it was made Arthur Lowe died. However, Lowe's widow told the writers that he liked the idea and so they should still do it. As a result, the script was re-written with the pier now renovating by Hodges and Pike.

Only one series (including a second pilot) of It Sticks Out Half a Mile was broadcast however because John Le Mesurier died.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the series was that although this was being made in the early 1980s, episodes were still being wiped. Recordings of all the episodes including the unbroadcast pilot however managed to survive so you can still hear the entire series.

Sources: The Complete A-Z of Dad's Army edited by Richard Webber page 104-107, and British Comedy Guide

It's That Man Again (ITMA)

From comedies set World War Two wartime to a comedy broadcast during World War Two.

Today we hear shouts of "Yeah but, no but". In the 1940s you would most likely hear shouts of "Can I do you now, sir?"

This was one of the many catchphrases in It's That Man Again, the biggest comedy series of it's day, starring and co-written by Tommy Handley.

The title comes from the newspapers. Whenever Hitler made a new territorial demand in Europe they would run with the headline "It's That Man Again".

The series ran from 12th July 1939, a few weeks before the war began (interestingly for me, 12th July is my birthday) to 6th January 1949. Three days later Handley died of a cerebral haemorrhage.

ITMA is mostly known for it's catchphrases. It had them by the bucketload. These included: "This is Funf speaking" (Funf was a parody of German radio propaganda played by Jack Train), "Don't forget the diver" (Deepend Dan the Diver, played by Horace Percival), and most famously "Can I do you now, sir?" (char woman Mrs Mopp, played by Dorothy Summers).

ITMA is also notable for many other achievements. In April 1942 it became the first BBC show to perform for the Royal Family, with an episode recorded at Windsor Castle for 16-year-old Princess Elizabeth (now Elizabeth II). It was never broadcast but a recording still exists.

When Handley died it was a huge shock to the nation. On the day of his funeral, mourners and sightseers lined the six mile route between the private chapel at Westbourne Grove and the Golders Green Crematorium, and two memorial services were held - one at St. Paul's Cathedral and the other at Liverpool Cathedral.

Sadly, most of the episodes, of which there were 310, have been lost, which is a shame when you stop to think that this series got us through the war.

Sources: British Comedy and Drama website and British Comedy Guide

Iannucci, Armando

The Scottish-Italian, most noted for his satirical works has created two comedies beginning with "I": I'm Alan Partridge and In The Loop. He has also worked on shows such as On The Hour and The Day Today, which witnessed the rise of Chris Morris.

However, perhaps one of the most interesting comedies made by Iannucci is his Radio 4 series Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive, because it has a QI connection.

In one episode guest starring Jo Brand, she first cracked her joke about the "Lady Thatcher". No-one complained about it. It was only when the joke was broadcast on QI that the joke attracted controversy from people such as Lord Tebbit (see Telegraph).


This subject has already been discussed on QI in some detail by Jan Ravens when she appeared in Series G (the Gifts episode).

Spitting Image was originally going to be called Rubber News, but this title was rejected when it was pointed out that there was already a publication called that, "for people who like that kind of thing" to quote John Lloyd.

Interestingly enough...

The lead character in the Radio 7 sitcom Knocker, created and starring Neil Edmond, is Ian Dunn.

775332.  Fri Jan 14, 2011 7:48 am Reply with quote

Occasionally a quiz question comes up on this; such as "which radio comedy show has a feature called 'Mornington Crescent?". There is great delight in answering "I'm sorry I haven't a clue".


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