The death of Humphrey Lyttelton the other day has been doubly sad for the many fans of his masterly chairmanship of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. His perfect timing and avuncular, deadpan delivery are, of course, irreplaceable. But there's also the knowledge, or at least the expectation - certainly one shared by his long-serving fellow cast members - that the show will die with him. No more Mornington Crescent. No more unlikely ball-goers. No more improbable letters from Mrs Trellis of North Wales, or Colin Sell's long-suffering accompaniment of One Song to the Tune of Another. No more Samantha, who always managed to score. Perhaps Lionel Blair will be relieved. But everyone else who has ever tuned in will be feeling the withdrawal symptoms for years.

Well I have a solution, and I offer it to anyone at the BBC who may be reading this (and people at the BBC do read this blog from time to time; the stats don't lie). There needs to be a new chairman. Not an ersatz-Humph: that would be impossible. But there must be someone out there with the combination of wit, timing, the slight air (feigned, obviously) of not quite knowing what the hell is going on, above all the ability to preside over a superbly-orchestrated chaos. Such a person must exist. And I think I've found him. Coincidentally he is, like Lyttelton, an old Etonian. He has, it's true, been rather busy these past few weeks, but he might just become available soon. I refer, of course, to Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

Naturally, he would have to lose on Thursday, and the minute possibility of my suggestion being taken up is no reason to vote against him. But if Ken Livingstone does squeak back in (and for a while now I've been convinced he probably will) then perhaps chairmanship of Clue would make a suitable consolation prize. There's no doubt of his abilities. His chairmanship of Have I Got News For You is always inspired: his episodes have all been instant classics. More importantly, the extensive knowledge of the London transport system that BJ has presumably acquired might be put to good use determining the best route to Mornington Crescent. Indeed, compared with the subtleties of that game, sorting out the administration of the capital ought to be simplicity itself.

And what of the introductory monologues, in which Humph would genially insult whatever town the programme happened to be coming from? Boris has plenty of experience in that regard.


Anonymous said…
Brilliant suggestion - and I love your last sentence Heresiarch.

No one could really replace him of course. When my cheques come in next month I'm getting my signed Humph album framed - Take it From the Top, won on ebay last year from the Oxfam Wembley shop - my winning bid was 99p plus £3.50 postage. A couple of weeks ago I re-read the Riverside Villas Murder and thought the Colonel had something of Humph about him and I wondered if I would ever get the chance to ask him if he agreed. Not ever, alas.

Popular Posts