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British Comedy

news stories confirming ISIHAC is to return
09/09/2008 00:00 GMT

Posted by lisa

Various news stories have appeared today confirming plans for "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" to return next year.  The new item for those of us who have read other recent articles is a quote from head of Radio 4 Mark Damazer regarding the show's return. 

The following (fairly similar) articles come from:

    - The Telegraph (at

    - The Press Association (at

    -  BBC News (

There is also an updated biography of Humph from The Telegraph


I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue to return

I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, the popular Radio 4 quiz show formerly fronted by the late Humphry Lyttelton, is to return next year with Stephen Fry among the potential presenters.

By Nicole Martin, Digital and Media Correspondent Last Updated: 2:20PM BST 09 Sep 2008

Few thought the programme would be brought back after its much-loved chairman, affectionately known to his fans as Humph, died in April.

However, Mark Damazer, who runs Radio 4, said that after long discussions with the producers and panellists he decided that it was the right and proper thing to do.

"When Humphrey Lyttelton died I had an open mind about whether or not we should bring it back," he said. "We received thousands of bits of correspondence, many expressing condolences for Humphrey, but the overwhelming majority wanting us to bring the show back. And the team wanted to come back, and so we are going to bring it back late spring or early summer next year."

Mr Damazer would not be drawn on possible successors but among those tipped to step into Lyttelton's shoes are Fry and the comedian Jack Dee, who have both appeared on the show as guest panellists.

Panellists Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Barry Cryer have ruled themselves out of the running.

Mr Damazer said it was possible that presenters would be rotated for the first few shows before a permanent successor was named.

The spoof quiz show has run for more than three decades, attracting more than two million listeners.



Long-running comedy show to return
1 hour ago

Long-running comedy show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue is to return to Radio 4, it has been confirmed.

The programme, described as the "antidote to panel games", will come back with a new host following the death of Humphrey Lyttelton, chairman of the programme since its inception in 1972.

The bandleader and jazz trumpeter, famous for his innuendoes and deadpan performance, died in April at the age of 86 following complications for surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.

Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said a new series would be broadcast in late spring or early summer next year.

He said: "When Humphrey died I had an open mind about whether or not we should bring it back.

"We received thousands of bits of correspondence, many expressing condolences for Humphrey, but the overwhelming majority wanted us to bring the show back. The team also wanted to come back, so it will come back in late spring or early summer next year."

Those tipped as possible successors have included Stephen Fry and Jarvis Cocker while panellists Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graeme Garden and Barry Cryer have ruled themselves out of the running.

Mr Damazer also announced the dramatisation of eight John le Carre spy novels in celebration of "a great, great British author".

The George Smiley series of books were seen on TV in the 1980s, featuring Sir Alec Guinness, and will be broadcast next May over 20 hours.

Other changes will see the medical programme Catch Up, the natural history strand Shared Earth, and two editions of the Afternoon Reading being dropped as part of schedule changes.



Radio 4's Clue quiz is to return
  Page last updated at 16:12 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 17:12 UK

Long-running comedy show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue will return to Radio 4, the BBC has confirmed.

The programme will come back with a new host as a result of the death of Humphrey Lyttelton, chairman of the series since its inception in 1972.

Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said in April, when "Humph" died, he had an "open mind" on whether it would return.

A BBC spokesman said a new series was planned for next year, but no decision had been made on who would present it.


"We received thousands of bits of correspondence, many expressing condolences for Humphrey, but the overwhelming majority wanted us to bring the show back," Mr Damazer said.

"The team also wanted to come back, so it will come back in late spring or early summer next year."

Lyttelton, famous for his innuendo and deadpan performances, died in April at the age of 86 following complications for surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm.

Just before the operation the BBC announced it was cancelling the recording of the latest series of the show.



Humphrey Lyttelton

Humphrey Lyttelton, who has died aged 86, was a prominent figure in British popular culture for more than 50 years, originally as a jazz musician, but also as a cartoonist, humorous writer, broadcaster, calligrapher and proprietor of his own record label.

Last Updated: 5:05PM BST 09 Sep 2008

For the last 35 years he was the famously deadpan chairman of I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue on Radio 4, giving a panel of four comedians "silly things to do" in what was billed as "the antidote to panel games".

For all his varied talents, Lyttelton was a remarkably modest and unambitious man. He always claimed that his career had simply happened to him as he went around pursuing his interests. But his famously languid manner concealed an immensely agile mind and an inexhaustible capacity for simple enthusiasm.

It was this last quality which prompted one member of his band to remark, on the occasion of Lyttelton's 75th birthday: "Humph is the world's oldest teenager."

Humphrey Richard Adeane Lyttelton was born on May 23 1921 at Eton College, where his father, George Lyttelton, was a housemaster. One of his grandfathers was Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, while the other, according to Lyttelton himself, "owned half of Worcestershire".

Humphrey Lyttelton recalled his life as a child of the landed gentry mainly as a round of visits to stately homes, with endless changes of costume according to the time of day. He found the whole business so irksome that for the rest of his life he avoided pomp and ceremony wherever possible.

When it came to choosing a career, it was proposed that he join his uncle, Oliver Lyttelton (later Lord Chandos), in his City office. When this was turned down, a career in industry was suggested and he was packed off to observe the workings of a South Wales steelworks. The experience turned him into a lifelong Socialist. The problem was finally settled by the outbreak of war and a commission in the Grenadier Guards.

By this time he was already a keen amateur jazz musician, having absconded from the Eton-Harrow match at the age of 15 to buy his first trumpet in the Charing Cross Road. The trumpet went with him throughout his military career, even during the assault and eventual landing at Salerno.

On leave in London, he would sit in with bands at nightclubs, a practice which would probably have been forbidden by King's Regulations had it not been so bizarre as to be unimaginable. As a young Guards officer, Lyttelton was required to fulfil various social duties. These included attending balls at Windsor Castle, at one of which he found himself dancing with Princess Margaret, 13 years old and half his height.

Lyttelton greeted the end of the war by blowing euphorically while being trundled around the West End in a handcart. In the surviving BBC recording of the VE celebrations, presented by Wynford Vaughan Thomas, a distant trumpet rendering of Roll Out The Barrel can quite clearly be made out.

The career problem loomed once more. Taking stock of his talents and interests, Lyttelton identified two: he enjoyed doodling, and had achieved some proficiency on the trumpet. Accordingly, he enrolled at Camberwell Art School and joined George Webb's Dixielanders, a semi-professional band devoted to re-creating the music of the early jazz pioneers. The other members, mainly skilled workers who had worked in munitions during the war, were suspicious of his accent and background and at first he found it difficult to make friends.

Nevertheless, in 1948 the Dixielanders had become Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band, the first in an unbroken line of 60 years. At the same time, the doodling had turned him into "Humph", cartoonist on The Daily Mail.

The rise of "traditional" or "revivalist" jazz was a British post-war phenomenon, and Lyttelton soon became its leading figure. When his name appeared in the press it was usually accompanied by the tag-line "old-Etonian, ex-Guards Officer jazz trumpeter", a fascinating and outlandish combination for the time, and invaluable from the point of view of publicity.

In fact, Lyttelton soon showed signs of restlessness with the strictly revivalist approach and he began a series of bold musical experiments. In the early 1950s he made some of the very first records combining jazz with African and Caribbean music. Seeking variety of texture, he dropped the usual trumpet-clarinet-trombone set-up of traditional jazz in favour of various combinations featuring saxophones.

As early as 1951 Lyttelton exploited the new multi-track recording technology to produce the record One Man Went To Blow, on which he played trumpet, clarinet, piano and washboard. Almost by accident his 1956 record, Bad Penny Blues, became the first British jazz record to enter the pop charts. By the late 1950s, when traditional jazz was enjoying brief mass popularity as "trad", Lyttelton had left revivalism far behind and was leading a kind of pocket-sized big band, playing out-and-out swing in the Count Basie manner.

Of all Lyttelton's excellent bands, this was probably the finest. When it was joined by visiting American stars, such as the singer Jimmy Rushing and the trumpeter Buck Clayton, the band always rose to the occasion, producing performances of superb power and authority. Lyttelton's own playing grew steadily more impressive under the influence of Clayton, and the two men remained close friends until Clayton's death in 1991.

Towards the end of the 1950s the BBC began allowing bandleaders to make their own announcements on air. Lyttelton proved to have an instantly recognisable radio voice and a perfect broadcasting style: friendly, informal and gently humorous. Soon he was a regular broadcaster and, in 1966, began his weekly record programme, The Best Of Jazz, which continued until March 2008.

His elevation to the status of "radio personality", however, came with the spoof panel game I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue, launched in 1972 with Lyttelton as chairman. The most notable feature of this was an incomprehensible game entitled Mornington Crescent, the rules of which were said to be a closely guarded secret, known only to himself.

The show was voted Best Radio Comedy in the 1995 British Comedy Awards, and Lyttelton himself received a Sony Gold Award in 1993 for Services to Broadcasting. Between 1993 and 1996 he held an honorary Professorship of Music at the University of Keele. Unlike most honorary posts, this entailed giving a lecture each term, a task which he relished.

Surprise was often expressed that his name had never appeared in an Honours List, although friends believed that he had once been offered an Honour and refused it as a matter of principle. Lyttelton always declined to discuss the matter.

Throughout his career Lyttelton kept up a parallel occupation as a writer.
He produced two volumes of lightly humorous autobiography, I Play As I Please (1954) and Second Chorus (1958); three books of assorted memoirs, Take It From The Top (1975), Why No Beethoven? (1984) and It Just Occured To Me (2007); and two books of jazz criticism under the title The Best Of Jazz
(1978 and 1981).

He also wrote occasional articles for the press and served for a while as restaurant critic on Harper's & Queen. For several years during the 1950s he wrote the "balloons" for Flook, the Daily Mail comic-strip drawn by his friend and clarinettist Wally Fawkes under the pen-name Trog. He eventually handed the job on to another jazz man, George Melly.

Among the effects passed to Lyttleton on his father's death was a set of calligraphic pens. Lyttelton took up the hobby, becoming so keen and adept that he was elected president of the Society for Italic Handwriting. All his correspondence was conducted in this medium, including his VAT returns. He hated the telephone, and allowed only his manager and members of his family to know his phone number. Letters were always his preferred form of communication, even for such tricky tasks as hiring and firing members of the band.

In 1983 Lyttelton founded his own record label, Calligraph Records, principally to record and release his own work. Among its most successful releases were the many albums, released throughout the 1990s, featuring Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band and the singer Helen Shapiro. This long-standing partnership was good for both of them, bringing added cachet to the band and confirming Shapiro's status as a first-rate jazz singer.

He received lifetime achievement awards at the Post Office British Jazz Awards in 2000 and at the first BBC Jazz Awards in 2001, and continued as a road-going trumpeter until his death . In 2007 he remarked: "The embouchure isn't what it used to be; I'm not as steady (as a player) as I was; my range isn't as great. Not that this matters particularly, as it was never my greatest asset."

Humphrey Lyttelton married first, in 1948 (dissolved 1952), Patricia Mary Braithwaite, with whom he had a daughter. In 1952 he married Elizabeth Jill Richardson, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. His second wife died in 2006.

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