After a decent interval following the death of Humphrey Lyttelton a year ago, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue returned with a knowing wink and a helpless giggle. It's taken three men to replace the great man, and on Monday Stephen Fry was in the Humph seat. (He'll rotate with Rob Brydon and Jack Dee, though I'd like to have seen Bill Bailey given a shot, too.)
There was a fear that reconvening without the show's spiritual leader might be like The Beatles re-forming after John Lennon died. But though Fry was berated in some quarters after his debut, the essence of the complaints was that he's not Lyttelton. He probably can't play the trumpet, either.
The Lyttelton lacuna apart, it was business as usual, with the innuendo quotient maintained at its traditionally ferocious level. The lovely Samantha has been given a rest (for newcomers, she's the non-existent scorer) in favour of "the rippling Sven", who's had the builders round: "Whenever they ask for cheese and chutney, he always palms them off with relish."
Smut levels were high, too, in the week's other comeback: witness the song "Big Bottom": "My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo/I want to sink her with my pink torpedo." Spinal Tap: Back from the Dead was a faux tribute, predicated on next week's "One Night Only World Tour" at Wembley Arena, with the likes of Glenn Tilbrook, Suggs and Jarvis Cocker as we-are-not-worthy supplicants. "I've had to ban people in my band from showing Spinal Tap videos when we're on the road," said Cocker. "It's just dispiriting knowing you're not going to be able to rock as hard as they do."
In the wilderness years since This Is Spinal Tap, the boys have been busy: lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) has been raising miniature racehorses, and is now looking for 2ft-high jockeys, while rhythm guitarist David St Hubbins (Michael McKean) spent years working on a scat Carmen until he realised that as scat is improvised, he'd get no royalties. But now they're together again. As St Hubbins observed: "Musical messes are making a comeback, aren't they?" And if Wembley's a disaster, fear not. "If you're loud enough," St Hubbins said, "you can't hear the booing."
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