A comedy panel show embracing a love for words with no Stephen Fry somehow leaves you feeling unfaithful.
Though this injustice is soon settled as veteran broadcaster Gyles Brandreth introduces the show with a resonance carried straight over from his many appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Just A Minute and in Countdown’s dictionary corner on Channel 4. Now in its third season, the show feels confidently produced and presented, with Brandreth eagerly welcoming us to his world; a place where it seems every round must start and end with one of his jokes, funny or otherwise. Although I must admit hearing his plummy voice utter the word ‘Crunk’ did raise a welcome smile.
Fellow admirers of Bill Bryson’s fact-filled books can sit comfortably and learn further boast-worthy facts, though it must be said Brandreth lacks the subtleties of Bryson’s pen. Of the rounds, ‘You Can’t Say That’ provided the most laughs and will sit well with those familiar with a game of Balderdash or episode of QI or two. The German word for comfort eating, ‘Kummerspeck’, both offering a cheap laugh and a valid one in Giles’ intermission that for true ‘Grief Bacon’ one should ask a pig.
The laughter inducing introductory music to the ‘Head Shoulders Portmanteau’ round, reminiscent of Rocky Horror’s ‘Dammit Janet’, earned me a number of looks along with panellist Helen Keen’s opportunistic labelling of Mock the Week as a ‘panel’ show, which also earned her a round of applause. The presence of her fellow panelist Josh Widdicombe, a writer for Mock the Week, did somewhat soften the impact though.
On listening I could not quite describe myself as a ‘Gigglemug’, any show which allows the discovery of Susie Dent’s much too frequent use of harass on Countdown is worth a listen, lets just hope Nick Hewer isn’t the reason behind it.