The Cambridge Geek


I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue has a tagline. Every episode, it describes itself as "The antidote to panel games". The idea being that a quiz show in which the actual quiz element wasn't very important might be a decent source of humour. It's been doing this since 1972, so it's probably right.

Which does rather make me wonder why someone thought doing a straight version (even themed) would be a success.

Jo Brand hosts this match between two Women's Institutes, namely, Cambridge and Manchester. Theoretically, I should be on tenterhooks. This is the old home versus the new home. Why then, am I not thrilled by two teams of three matching wits on such topics as impressive women, the WI, cakes and the very necessary general knowledge? Because it's actually a bit boring.

Hell, maybe all the quiz shows are. QI was okay for a while, but I got bored somewhere around the "C"s. It might just not be my genre. I certainly don't normally listen to them, and really only gave this a listen out of a sense of duty to try and not be entirely stuck in my man lane. But the issue that you'll always come back to is that someone reading out questions and answers doesn't really leave much room for entertainment.

Brand manages a few quips, and the panellists get a chuckle or two, but a simple recitation of facts doens't lend itself to compelling listening. Perhaps worst of all was the cake judging. Please, do describe a cake badly to me, so that I can attempt to imagine what it might look like. (I mean, again, showing my biases. I refuse to watch Bake Off and similar, on the basis that if I'm going to spend half an hour watching someone make food, I better get to eat some of it at the end of it. Otherwise it's just constant biscuit consumption.)

Perhaps it would be improved if we got more information on the answers, although then you creep into something like Helen Keen's territory where it's more of a documentary. Definitely not a bad thing, but not really a quiz format. (Speaking of, let her make some more programmes Radio 4, she is excellent. Personally, I'd love to see her collaborate with Chris Addison, of "Ape That Got Lucky" fame, but I will take more Big Problems.)

It's a quiz show. It's played too straight. If you're a fan of the WI, maybe give it a listen, for the occasional tidbit of interesting historical information. But I can't say it's very exciting.

Score 2

Tagged: Radio Quiz show Cast Panel Geography/History