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Why the BBC will never sanitise "The filthiest thing on radio"

By: The Leader @theleaderspeaks
Published: Saturday, June 21, 2014 - 15:43 GMT Jump to Comments

I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue is the still beating heart of the BBC and if it goes Auntie will be dead within a couple of years.

Writing in the Saturday Guardian, Shazia Mirza (a standup comedian) comes to the defence of Jack Dee and the writers/producers of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. The Clue team, we have been told, are charged with going too far with their smutty innuendo. Mirza is a talented comedian and we can only applaud her willingness to risk the anger of many in defending the indefensible.

Unfortunately, Mirza is too young to know what she is talking about. Her own “taking it up the Khyber” crack (sorry) is smutty but it is nothing compared to the filth that passes for humour in Clue.  Suggesting cultural or comedic links between Clue and the Carry on Films, the Two Ronnies and Larry Grayson is to miss the point completely.

All three of the above were carefully targeted for a family audience. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t. One thing is certain, you could watch any of the three with your mother - and many of us did.

The Clue's smutty doubles entendres - in the words of Willie Rushton "the filthiest thing on radio" -have been a feature of BBC radio comedy for decades. They are, in many cases, wincingly close to the bone, always funny, sometimes agonizingly so. In our house we often listen to Clue while cooking supper. On more than one occasion I have come into the kitchen (sorry) only to find the awfully well brought up Mrs. Leader, unable to speak, leaning on a wooden spoon plucked up to test the pasta, weeping tears of howling, pelvic floor testing amusement into the Putanesca sauce - all occasioned by some utterly filthy sign off by Humphrey Lyttelton.

There is no chance that the BBC will sanitize Clue. The show was originally devised, not as it is fond of claiming, as an antidote to the awful middle class staidness of most of the BBC output. And, in the way of these things, it was the staid middle class audience who took it to their saggy bosoms and have never let it go. I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue is the still beating heart of the BBC and if it goes Auntie will be dead within a couple of years.

Most of us thought that the programme was doomed when Humph shuffled off in 2008.  Miraculously, not only was Jack Dee ready and willing to tuck in alongside Samantha, he proved more than able. Humphrey Lyttleton set the benchmark for being the act that was impossible to follow, and yet Jack Dee did it. For this alone he will never lack friends, money or the love of a loyal audience.

I had a dream last night. I bumped into Humph in Frith Street. I asked him what he thought of the show now he was gone. “Not enough filth” he said. I suggested he came back as a ghostly script consultant. He said he would like to but was unable to do so as he had decided to change his instrument, had given up the trumpet and had joined Samantha in taking lessons from the trombone player in the band of the Royal Marines - an athletic and demanding young man who expected Samantha to keep blowing however hard he slid his instrument in and out.

Then my mother appeared in my dream. “What are you laughing at dear?” she said.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

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