Just a minute, am I repeating myself?

Share
Related Topics
The other day I was in the foyer of Broadcasting House in London's Upper Regent Street, headquarters of BBC radio, and I picked up a blue piece of paper that said: "Funny You Should Say That. A new panel game all about the use of language. Chairman, Alan Coren, with panellists Barry Cryer, Willie Rushton, Kevin Day and Lorelei King. Monday 18 March, 1996. For FREE tickets send SAE to ..."

Now, this may well turn out to be an excellent programme, but that was not my immediate thought. My immediate reaction was one of sorrow and sympathy for the people who have to think up new ideas for quiz programmes when, quite obviously, there aren't any, and also new guests for panel games when there don't seem to be any.

Somewhere upstairs at the BBC there is a room with a committee in session behind locked doors (not to preserve secrecy but to stop them escaping) whose members have a day in, day out discussion that goes something like this ...

"I say, Controller, I read somewhere the other day that people are getting interested in the correct use of language again. Why, even the Reith Lectures this year were all about it. Why don't we have a new quiz on the use of language?"

"Because, for God's sake, it's been done. Remember Wordly Wise?"

"Well, let's do it again."

"It's been done again. Word of Mouth."

"No, I don't think that was a quiz game. That was a serious programme, actually looking at language."

"Bit of a waste of time having a serious programme on a subject that might be better used for a quiz, don't you think?"

"Well, sir, the fact is that all possible subjects for quizzes have now been used up. We've done films, radio, quotations, music, business, books, history ..."

"History?"

"Yes, sir. There's a quiz on at the moment where historians have to answer questions on a subject such as Alfred the Great or Queen Victoria. History as gossip. Rather good, actually."

"Oh, is that a quiz programme? I heard that. I thought it was Start the Week without Melvyn Bragg. Well, it certainly explains why they were awarding each other points, which doesn't ever happen on Start the Week."

"On the contrary, Start the Week is all about point-scoring. Did you not hear Tony Parsons and Melvyn Bragg the other week? I remember thinking that I had stumbled into a new panel game that I had devised and then forgotten about ..."

"Quite so. Incidentally, will someone remind me of the difference between a panel game and a quiz game?"

"Yes, sir. In a quiz game it helps to answer the question correctly. A panel game is one where the answers don't matter as long as they are funny, and where nobody cares about the points. The News Quiz is actually a panel game, for instance."

"That can't be true. I think the answers are very important on The News Quiz. I have heard much better political points made by people such as Jeremy Hardy on The News Quiz than any of the faffing around on Any Questions. Which, despite its name, is not a quiz or a panel game."

"Do you think it should be? Do you think it would come back to life if Jonathan Dimbleby started awarding points for answers? And deducting points for evading the question?"

"Excellent idea. But we've got a political quiz on Radio 4 already."

"Have we? What's it called?"

"I can't remember, but it's got Austin Mitchell and Julian Critchley on it. Or if it hasn't, it should have ..."

"Tell you what. Why don't we have a quiz programme about itself? It would be called, As I Was Saying, and the panel would be asked questions in the second half about what had been said in the first half."

"It wouldn't be the first quiz about itself. There's that weird programme with Irene Thomas and all those other people which is so clever and inbred that they have to guess what the question means before they can applaud themselves for answering it."

"I say, Controller, why don't we have a quiz programme about the use of language? The Reith Lectures this year - oh no, I've said that already ..."

"Oh No, I've Said That Already. Actually, that's not a bad idea for a programme. A game in which you are penalised for repeating yourself ..."

"We've got one. It's called Just A Minute."

"Well, how about ..."

The discussion continues.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine