/article-1387891-detail/article.html - the webpage has two photos (a small one of Graeme & Barry and a larger one of Graeme alone):
Unmissable inspired nonsense
Friday, October 02, 2009, 10:52
I'M Sorry I Haven't A Clue, the stage version of the most listened-to comedy programme on British radio rolls in to Torquay on Monday.
Joining Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jeremy Hardy and Colin Sell at the piano is special guest host Jack Dee for an unmissable evening of inspired nonsense.
The brainchild of Graeme Garden, the programme was devised in 1972 as an alternative to I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, the chaotic sketch show that ran from 1964 to 1973 starring John Cleese, Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jo Kendall and David Hatch.
It's run ever since. Not bad for a show that after the pilot, in the pub afterwards, they nearly ditched.
Graeme said: "Certainly, when we started Clue I wouldn't have given it 35 years of life.
"The pilot show was pretty horrible and we all hated it. Certainly in the pub afterwards. We said 'never again' and reprimanded ourselves for coming up with this stupid show.
"Then the head of Radio Four listened to it and said he'd quite like a whole series.
"It horrified us to begin with. Bill Oddie and John Cleese were involved in the early days. They dropped out, they didn't like it. We ended up with Barry Cryer and Willie Rushton.
"That was the core for quite a long time unless a guest came in when one of us couldn't make it."
He added: "Sometimes over the years it has been fun to do, sometimes a bit embarrassing, or a bit of a chore.
"The producers contributed more and more and they won't let it rest. In particular our current producer, who's been with us for the past 18 years, keeps on insisting that we come up with new silly games for each series.
"They don't all see the light of day but we try our best. If we ever grind to a halt it's during one of these new games where we don't really know what we are doing.
"We try and do our best and try not to rest on our laurels, perhaps trying to scare ourselves by going out on a limb on occasion."
Graeme was born in Aberdeen and educated at Repton and Cambridge University where he appeared in the famous Cambridge Footlights productions.
He later qualified in medicine at King's College, London.
"There was parental influence in so far as I was following in my father's footsteps - I became a doctor, the same as him" he said.
"He always said I could go off and do other things, and I did.
"At Cambridge, I fell in with a bad crowd, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Bill Oddie, John Cleese, Eric Idol. We all drifted through as a group.
"I'm not sure that all of us would have made it if we had set out individually. But because we were all in shows together, and were seen as a group, we all had team courage and followed it through."
Jazz legend Humphrey Lyttelton was the surprise choice for chairman of the programme.
David Hatch recalled the conversation with Graeme: "What we already had was a scripted show which was like a composed piece of music and the notion was that we should go off-piste and not have words written down, and the equivalent to the composed piece of music was jazz.
"I think his name emerged over the third pint. I think we both said it together and then both realised how clever we were".
Humphrey Lyttelton went on to be the corner stone of the show.
When he died the devastating loss was deeply felt by the fans and everyone involved in the programme, and, at first, there were conflicting feelings about the future of the series.
"It was a great shock to us we were terrible sorry to lose him after the 37 years we had worked together," Graeme said.
"It was a huge loss, both personally and in terms of the show.
"We decided that we shouldn't make up our minds too quickly if we were going to carry on.
"The BBC had to make up their minds too if they wanted to keep it going.
"For a year or so we didn't do any recordings or tours or anything.
"After that time I think our general thinking was 'yes' we wanted to carry on if the public wanted us to. The BBC said they had received a huge public response from people.
"To start with people said that it had to be the end of things but, as time went on, it grew and people said they very much wanted it back."
He added: "We had a big problem in who to put in the chair in the absence of Humph.
"Nobody would be prepared to step straight into the breach and try to fill those particular shoes. To start with we got people who had been on the show, Jack Dee, Stephen Fry and Rob Brydon. I hasten to add it wasn't a kind of talent contest.
"We wanted to find out how comfortable they were in the role.
"Jack is doing the tour but we are doing another series with perhaps a different chairman.
"Perhaps by next year we will have found someone permanent."
I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue plays at the Princess Theatre on Monday. For details, log on to www.princesstheatre.org.uk
Kazoo chorus salutes an outstanding show Tuesday, October 06, 2009, 11:47
I'M SORRY I HAVEN'T A CLUE
Princess Theatre, Torquay
THE sound of kazoos filling the auditorium, a tense game of Mornington Crescent, a letter from Mrs Trellis and heartfelt apologies for the absence of The Lovely Samantha - it can only be a live performance of the hit radio show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.
And judging by the reaction of the packed audience at the Princess Theatre, South Devon is not short of afficionados of the long-running Radio Four show.
Billing itself as 'the antidote to panel games', ISIHAC is a multi-award winning show packed with running gags and moments of inspired silliness.
And in the flesh the audience can enjoy the privilege of seeing some of the giants of British comedy at their absolute best.
On one side Jeremy Hardy and Tim Brooke-Taylor; on the other Graeme Garden and Barry Cryer; in the chair Jack Dee; on the piano Colin Sell and operating the laser display screen, producer Jon Naismith.
All of them were on absolutely cracking form at the Princess, keeping the audience laughing almost non-stop for more than two hours.
Comedy timing seemed effortless, a state only achieved through years of practice and stage craft, and the nonsense came thick and fast.
The highlight was an inspired 'pushy waiters in a restaurant' sketch, but the entire show kept up the highest standard.
A plastic kazoo was left on each seat, giving the audience the chance to play along with a number of games, and full marks to audience member 'I'm not from Torquay' Peter who valiantly stood alone and played 'Imagine' while the panel struggled to identify the tune.
ISIHAC is a show packed to bursting with in-jokes, but it didn't stop the first-timers from enjoying the fun.
Most even hung on through a satnav-assisted game of Mornington Crescent without being 'in knip' at any point.
There were genuine groans when Jack Dee announced the end of the show, although there was still time for the combined kazoos and swanee whistles to play 'We'll Meet Again' before the audience poured out into the night.
And you could still hear the sound of kazoos all the way back to the car park.
Deadpan Jack is game for a laugh... honestly Tuesday, October 06, 2009, 09:33
DEADPAN comic Jack Dee showed his lighter side in Torquay last night.
The comedian appeared as guest host in the stage version of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue at the Princess Theatre.
He was joined at the packed production by Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jeremy Hardy and Colin Sell at the piano and was 'happy' to meet fans and pose for a photograph.
Speaking before last night's show, Jack Dee said: "I went for a run around the seafront earlier. It's very nice. I've never been here before. I think I've only come as far as Exeter. The production is going really well."
He added: "I hope that I can bring stern discipline and some much-needed health and safety precautions. For a long time I've thought the kazoos should be soaked in white spirit at night. The way Barry is." He added: "I always look forward to the new definitions round. It's one of those games which you can do all the time. Sometimes I drift off at night trying to think of good ones. Other times I drift off while Graeme, Tim, Barry and Jeremy try to think of good ones.
"The main difference between this tour and a solo comedy one is that you have company.
"On a solo show you spend days and days travelling alone and sitting in hotel rooms watching Sky, whereas with Clue there's always someone to have a pint with afterwards.
"Okay, there's always Barry to have a pint with afterwards."
Jack Dee is hosting the stage tour of the show which is being hosted by Stephen Fry and Rob Brydon for Radio 4.
Rob Brydon sold out when he appeared at the Princess Theatre earlier this year.
For a full review of the show see Friday's What's On guide.