Monday, June 24

I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue – Edinburgh Festival Theatre

For the long-standing listener, a chance to see just exactly how they do it. Twice, as it happens, which makes for a long night but detracts not a jot from the hugely entertaining formula honed and tweaked over the years, the A-List cast (Rory Bremner, Pippa Evans, Milton Jones and Fred MacAuley) and its A-List Humph replacement, Jack Dee. Who, on reflection has been at it for pretty much 15 years now. The show with no apparent end to its stamina was conceived in 1972, a riposte to the wave of ‘panel’ games taking over our screens and wireless units.

So that’s what he looks like! The first reveal is the appearance in front of three tourquoise-covered tables of producer Jon Naismith, who performs the oft-belittled role of warm-up bloke with greetings, explanations and the odd cracker of a joke, un homage and timely reminder of the part played in the show’s success by the sadly deceased Barry Cryer. No matter how many times the parrot joke’s told it never fails. Indestructible.

The next reveal – and it shouldn’t really be because this is, after all, radio – is the attire. Pianist Colin Searle’s presence on the airwaves screams dinner jacket, bowtie and shiny shoes but here he is in lumberjack shirt and casual trews, smilingly steeling himself for the ritualistic ribbing heading his way. Jack is resplendent in a suit that says grumpy without moving its lapels, but the rest are quite informal, Pippa looking like she really has just come straight from the playgroup. But mightily relieved to be so. Which hints at the key to the show’s endurance, for the ‘contestants’ look like they’re genuinely happy to be there, settling in for an hour of verbal sparring and improv, never mind the script and structure holds it all together.

Reveal three is probably best described as a disappointment as Samantha’s seat remains vacant. And Sven is absent in the second of the evening’s shows… reveal four is the complete failure of the laser display unit announcing the titles of the charades to be performed.

We’re treated to longer versions of all the routines as it’s likely these two shows will be edited down to one half-hour for broadcast at a future date on Radio 4: Bands with one different letter, ‘Words’, altered Film Titles, imagined TV/Radio programmes, Uxbridge English Dictionary, One Song To The Tune Of Another, Pick-up Song, Sound Charades, Celebrity Animal Smugglers. Kitchen Or Bedroom stole it for your reviewer as, be honest, it’s really one’s imagination that makes this funny. How big’s yours?

At some point tonight’s work will be sculpted into 30 minutes of radio magic so sadly any mention of the content is off-limits. Just tune in when the Edinburgh edition is broadcast. If you were there you may even hear your own laughter.

Reviewer: Roger Jacobs

Reviewed: 27th May 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.