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ISIHAC or is it “Clue”?

February 24, 2009

There’s a comment on Mark Damazer’s latest Radio 4 blog from a reader who quite rightly points out that the Radio 4 show “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” is referred to by the cognascenti as “ISIHAC” and not “Clue”. Yes, I know it’s pedantic but that commenter is right.

Poor old Mark Damazer. He might be controller of Radio 4 and someone listed on the page marked “Very Important People To Keep Sweet” in my special never-to-be-seen notebook, but he’s taking a huge risk here announcing that Stephen Fry, Jack Dee and Rob Brydon will be guest-hosting the much-loved, almost cult show which made the late Humphrey Lyttleton a hero for his filthy misdirection and general affableness.

I’ve never met Mr Damzer or spoken to him, but I do feel a little nervous on his behalf. Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure why I’m feeling defensive or protective. Controller Damazer has stuck his head above the parapet by making the announcement about the forthcoming recordings of ISIHAC: “I am confident the shows will work. So, fingers crossed,” he writes on his blog. Really and truly, Mr Damazer doesn’t need the likes of me leaping to his defence. And yet I still feel a tiny bit protective.

On the basis that you may be someone who hasn’t listened to it, ISIHAC is an institution. Those who listen and have enjoyed it know there’s a special place in their heart especially reserved for this very programme. It doesn’t matter how many times those listeners have played the tapes they’ve acquired over the years, each listen is just as fresh as the last.

The show is about Humph. Humph and his vehicle has provoked warmth and love. Listeners of this programme don’t like change. We hate it even though we know we have to embrace it. Listen carefully and I’m sure I can hear hordes of spear-yielding listeners marching down Regent Street towards Broadcasting House with plans to puncture the tyres on Mr Damazer’s cars, thus delaying his journey home. I would join in the throng, but I need to go to bed.

Who’d be a controller? It’s got to be a tough, decidedly unpleasant job. All that ‘having to make decisions’ and hoping they’re the right decisions.

Stephen Fry, Jack Dee and Rob Brydon will do a great job. Personally, if I was forced to choose between them then I imagine I’d warm to Dee in the big seat on account of Fry seemingly being everywhere at the moment and Brydon always being my number three choice with everything anyway.

But that’s my view. It’s based on nothing but imagination. The fact is that whilst I’m reluctant to enthuse about the show I’ve adored listening to for years continue, I can think of no better people to take up the mantle.

One thing’s for certain. You can be assured that people will listen intently to the final product. Those of us who listen (the same who contacted each other when we heard that Lyttleton had died) will be chattering away when the new shows are broadcast.

There will be a buzz about this (I think).

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