Friday, September 08, 2006

Welcome back

Hurrah! The News Quiz returns to Radio 4 tonight (guess what I'll be listening to on the way down to London). I'm not sure why Simon Hoggart isn't in the chair, so we have Sandi Toksvig, a formerly regular panellist, instead. I'm not sure how I feel about that, though I think she's quite a funny woman.

I've enjoyed listening to the show ever since the days of the Private Eye versus Punch rivalry which led to the superb teaming of Richard Ingrams and Ian Hislop (and Alan Coren with anly old guest panellist). Ingrams was notorious for not ever having appeared to have read or listened to the news each week, and sometimes Hislop (despite his reputation on Have I Got News For You) was not much better. Alan Coren I could do without: never as funny as he thinks he is.

Much of the fun in the show comes from the interaction of the panellists with each other. It seems to work well when they just riff off each other's comments. Francis Wheen is usually witty, making comments about his odd resemblance to Ian Duncan Smith (now almost forgotten former Conservative Party leader); Armando Ianucci (however I spell that it looks wrong) takes absurdity to a new level. I liked Linda Smith's comparison of world-shattering events to mild domestic tragedies, like losing scissors.

There's just one problem - it's not available as a "futuristic" podcast (as The Now Show would have it). Is this the BBC just guaranteeing sales of News Quiz CDs before Christmas?

Sandi Toksvig did a fine job of being chairman - although her reading of the script was a little stilted, probably due to lack of practice, her off-the-cuff remarks were very funny. I'm looking forward to the next edition.


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