First, the really important news: I Guess That's Why They Call It The News is available as part of the BBC Radio 4 Friday Night Comedy Podcast.
I first heard of I Guess That's Why They Call It The News several months ago. The description of the upcoming show read something like "Fred MacAulay hosts as two teams of two play silly games about the week's news." My reaction: "So it's just The News Quiz."
I was wrong. The News Quiz, while a great show, consists of little more as a format than the host reading a question about a news story and that question starting the panelists off on several minutes of discussion\ranting about that story. I Guess That's Why They Call It The News, on the other hand, consists of what I suppose are best described as "news improv games" - but even that description seems not quite right. Most of the games played on the first show seem like they came straight out of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and were adapted only slightly to fit the week's news. One round began with Fred reading a piece of news about standardized testing, but this merely led into a silly parody of exams featuring "an actual question from an A-level exam from the year 2000BCE: Ugh. Is the answer A. Ugh, B. Ugh, C. Ugh or D. Ugh." Another one began with the news that Oxford Airport will soon be changing its name to London Oxford Airport, leading to a round of "Misleading Place Names" that was straight out of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. "Mumbai. You can't buy a mother there."
A few rounds were more intriguing - perhaps the best being a game of "Good News, Bad News" in which the panelists have one minute to explain, for example, why train fares coming down is bad news. Probably the round that sounds strangest when described is one where the panelists had to convince Americans to introduce something similar to Britain's NHS, and do so while eating plates full of biscuits. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite as funny as that description makes it sound.
The panelists on the first show were Laurence Howarth, Sarah Kendell, Gordon Southern and Milton Jones. Milton Jones was the only one I had heard of, but they're all good talents, as was Fred MacAulay once you get past his thick Scottish accent. One thing that certainly hadn't changed: scoring was purely arbitrary and random. The show ended with the two teams tied, 29 - 29. In short, this is barely topical and hardly original, but it's entertaining and serves what's clearly its sole purpose - filling a few weeks until The News Quiz comes back. If we ever hear from this show after September 24, I'll be amazed.
This will be my last post until I come back from my trip on Thursday, August 27. I will, hopefully, post tomorrow's Millionaire results that day.