Saturday, 21 June 2008

QI Series F, Episode 10 Recording Review

I apologize even more for not having done this review weeks ago; it is ever exams and ever shall be exams. Exams will be the death of me, just as they were the birth of me. That strikes me as somehow not quite right, but I can't remember a life without them. Forgive a drowned woman.

This review is for the QI recording of 5th June, 2008.

We saw, upon entering the studio, that the set was dappled with tiny Pudsey bears, and a giant eyepatch had strung its way across the circular backdrop. It was clear that we had a Children in Need special in store for us, even though the episode isn't going to be able to be broadcast for months yet. Gordon Southern provided us with the warm-up, which was interrupted part of the way through when a life-sized Pudsey entered the room. Pudsey was guided to a seat in the audience, after choosing a woman to displace (Gordon, ominously: "Pudsey has chosen his bride."), and Guy, the floor manager, directed a small bit of film in which the bear we all love enthusiastically waved his telephone number above his head.

That finished, Pudsey left the audience and took the seat to Stephen's left, and this is where the spoilers begin.

Stephen came on (to tumultuous applause and cheers, as always; there is no one who doesn't love that man), and introduced the two other mystery guests: David Mitchell and Ronni Ancona. The show started--buzzers demonstrated and guests introduced--with no indication that Pudsey wasn't going to be a permanent panellist. Very soon, however, Stephen was interrupted by a booming voice from off-stage, and in walked . . . Terry Wogan. Let it not be said that QI is not apropos. Terry took Pudsey's place at the desk so that the show could really begin.

The theme of the day was "Families", and the first topic discussed was old wives' tales and what they are associated with. Stephen disclosed that he has a novel way of preventing macular-degeneration-by-shortness-of-zinc, but his method might not be for everyone. The next discussion centered upon one of the most popular fads of the early 20th century, which was followed by a question on foundling wheels. Some Jelly Babies were brought out during the course of the next question, although the panellists declined to share with the audience. Then came a topic about Tarzans of film; Ronni Ancona was asked outright to do impressions of Jane-as-various-people, for which she was taken aback at first, but rose to the challenge admirably, starting with a pitch-perfect impression of Renee Zellweger.

Further topics discussed: Relatives of famous people, Micronations, Dan Dare, the Eurovision song contest ("It's united the nations of Europe!" Terry stated loudly; "Has it, arse . . . it's divided east and west!" Stephen shot back), the Swiss Family Robinson, boomerangs, kangaroos, lions manes, and a specific mathematical proof.

Although Terry Wogan would seem to be a rather unexpected choice of guest, he rose to the task wonderfully and was very funny, and took many opportunities to verbally spar with David. He did sneak in one long Children (are) in Need(!) speech in the first third of the show, but it was well-received by the audience. Ronni Ancona's return to guesthood was also very good; when she had something to say, whether joke or anecdote, it was unerringly sweet. She kept a running tab throughout the show of how many times something particularly racy was mentioned, pondering the appropriateness of the jokes for a CiN special. Although QI does not usually hesitate to be ribald, many of the more risqué jokes are going to have to be dropped in order to be shown on the night. The innuendo alone could have made up an entirely separate show! Despite the necessary lack of knob gags, it was a great recording that will no doubt yield a tight and extremely entertaining cut.

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