I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue is a BBC radio comedy panel game. Billed as "the antidote to panel games", it consists of two teams of two comedians "given silly things to do" by a chairman. The show was launched in April 1972 as a parody of radio and TV panel games, and has been broadcast since on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, with repeats aired on BBC Radio 4 Extra and, in the 1980s and 1990s, on BBC Radio 2. The 50th series was broadcast in November and December 2007.
After a period of split chairmanship in the first series, Humphrey Lyttelton ("Humph") served in this role from the programme's inception until his death in 2008. In April 2008, following the hospitalisation and subsequent death of Lyttelton, recording of the 51st series was postponed. The show recommenced on 15 June 2009 with Lyttelton being replaced by three hosts: Stephen Fry, Jack Dee and Rob Brydon. Dee went on to host all episodes of the 52nd series later that year, and continues in that role. The chairman's script was most recently written by Iain Pattinson, who worked on the show from 1992 until his death in 2021.
(L-R) Ross Noble, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Humphrey Lyttelton, producer Jon Naismith
, Graeme Garden and Barry Cryer during a 2005 recording. Naismith is sitting in the chair reserved for "Samantha".
I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue developed from the long-running radio sketch show I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again, the writers of which were John Cleese, Jo Kendall, David Hatch, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor and especially Graeme Garden who suggested the idea of an unscripted show which, it was decided, would take the form of a parody panel game. A panel game with no competition was not itself a new idea: the BBC had a history of successful quiz shows designed to allow witty celebrities to entertain where winning was not important. Examples include Ignorance Is Bliss, Just a Minute, My Word! and My Music on the radio and Call My Bluff on television.
The pilot episode (at that time titled I'm Sorry, They're At It Again) opened with Graeme Garden and Jo Kendall singing the words of "Three Blind Mice" to the tune of "Ol' Man River" followed by Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor performing the lyrics of "Sing a Song of Sixpence" to the melody of "These Foolish Things". Dave Lee, who was bandleader on I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, was at the piano and a number of rounds were introduced by a short phrase of music. Other rounds included "Dialogue Read in a Specific Accent" and "Songs Sung as Animals". In 1974 Bill Oddie was replaced by Willie Rushton, with Barry Cryer as Graeme Garden's teammate, and Humphrey Lyttelton as chairman, and the personnel remained constant from this point until Rushton's death in 1996, although occasional guest panellists appeared in the 1980s and early 1990s (see below). Since then the panel has featured a variety of guest comedians.
The show has over two million listeners on Radio 4 and its recording sessions typically fill 1500-seat theatres within a week of being advertised. At least one recording for the spring 2006 series filled all its seats within three hours of the free tickets being made available, and the London recording of the autumn series in that year sold out in ten minutes. Although there are twelve Clue shows broadcast per year these are the result of just six recording sessions, with two programmes being recorded back-to-back. The show was recently voted the second funniest radio programme ever, after The Goon Show. It has a large following among professional comedians such as Armando Iannucci, who turned down opportunities to work on it as he preferred to remain a listener.
(centre) chairs the Newcastle recording of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
. Also pictured are Tim Brooke-Taylor (low left) and Colin Sell (top left). The chair next to Brydon with the microphone is 'used' by "Samantha"
The official, authorised history of the show and ISIRTA, The Clue Bible by Jem Roberts, was published by Preface Publishing in October 2009.
Humphrey Lyttelton, primarily known as a jazz trumpeter and bandleader, was invited to be chairman because of the role played by improvisation in both comedy and jazz music. In the first series Lyttelton shared the role of chairman with Barry Cryer but he made it his own (especially once Cryer replaced Cleese as a regular panellist) and continued as chairman until his death on 25 April 2008. He read the script introducing the programme and segments in an utterly deadpan manner. He claimed the secret was just to read what was in front of him without understanding why it was funny. He adopted the grumpy persona of someone who would really rather be somewhere else, which he attributed to worrying that, surrounded by four professional comedians, he would have nothing worthwhile to chip in. He did occasionally depart from the script, however, often bringing the house down with an ad-lib. He was credited by the regular panellists as being the chief reason for the show's longevity.
On 18 April 2008 the producer of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, Jon Naismith, announced that, owing to hospitalisation to repair an aortic aneurysm, Humphrey Lyttelton would be unable to record the scheduled shows and that they would have to be postponed. The final show of the 2008 Best of tour on 22 April would be presented by Rob Brydon. Following Lyttelton's death there was speculation that the series might be cancelled because replacing him would be extremely difficult if not impossible. In a eulogy in The Guardian, Barry Cryer did not allude to the future of the programme but said that there's "got to be an agonising reappraisal" and that Lyttelton was the "very hub of the show". Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden all ruled themselves out as hosts: Cryer did not think the programme would work if a panellist became chairman and it "would need somebody of stature to be parachuted in". Jeremy Hardy also ruled himself out, saying "Humph had big shoes to fill and I wouldn't do it."
In the Clue mailout for September 2008 Naismith stated: "Despite the rumours, we've made no decisions about possible replacements for Humph, and are unlikely to make any decisions this year at least. Certainly I don't envisage us selecting anyone on a permanent basis for several series." It was announced that the show would continue recording beginning in 2009. The first new shows would be hosted by rotating guest presenters (similarly to the format of Have I Got News for You) before a permanent replacement host was decided. In the Clue mailout for February 2009 Naismith announced that Stephen Fry, Jack Dee and Rob Brydon would host two shows each, to be recorded in April, May and June 2009 respectively. The programme returned on 15 June 2009, chaired by Fry with the usual panellists and special guest Victoria Wood. Every series since then has been chaired by Dee.
The regular panellists for much of the show's history were:
- Graeme Garden was a member of the I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again team from which the programme grew and has been a panellist since the first episode. Lyttelton described him as very dry, biding his time before stepping in with a perfect punchline. Garden was absent from January 2016, for the whole of series 65, 66 and 67. On 12 October 2017 Garden announced that he would be rejoining the team.
- Barry Cryer hosted six episodes in the show's first series before moving to a permanent seat on the panel. He was credited by then-chairman Lyttelton as being the show's "bricks and mortar", providing quick-fire one-liners in any situation. There is a running joke in the programme that he is a dirty old man with a drink problem.
- Tim Brooke-Taylor was also part of the I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again team and had also been with the show since the start until his death in 2020. He was very popular with the crowd and adopted a vulnerable persona. Garden and Brooke-Taylor had previously worked together on television in The Goodies and Brooke-Taylor in particular would occasionally drop references to that show into some of the games, eliciting cheers from the audience.
- Willie Rushton was one of the regular panel members from 1974 until his death in 1996. The other panellists have fond memories of his off-the-wall sense of humour and quick-fire puns. Since Rushton's death his seat has been turned into a permanent guest spot frequently filled by the late Jeremy Hardy when on non-broadcast tours. Guests have also appeared when one of the regulars was unavailable.
The show has had a number of producers over the years:
Early episodes featured Dave Lee, who provided piano accompaniment on I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again. However, Colin Sell now usually fills this role. He is often the butt of jokes about his musical ability to which he is unable to respond as he has no microphone. For example: "When music experts hear Colin's compositions, they say he could have been another Berlin, Porter or anybody else employed by the German State Railway." Guest pianists are called in when Sell has been unable to attend (or the ISIHAC team have "won the coin toss" as Lyttelton once said on the show), including Neil Innes, Denis King and Matthew Scott. Lyttelton's band also appeared on a couple of Christmas specials. Once when Innes was guesting Lyttelton outlined the musician's career, concluding that this "has brought him to where he is today: standing in for Colin Sell." In another appearance Innes sang along to his own composition "I'm the Urban Spaceman" during a round of "Pick Up Song".
The theme music is called "The Schickel Shamble", by Ron Goodwin, and is from the film Monte Carlo or Bust. It was chosen by David Hatch.
Guests have included:
- Pam Ayres (2018)
- Bill Bailey (2002)
- Max Boyce (1998)
- Jo Brand (2009, 2014, 2017, 2019–20)
- Rory Bremner (2016, 2018, 2020–21)
- Marcus Brigstocke (2011, 2019–21)
- Rob Brydon (2006–07, 2009, 2011–13, 2015, 2018, 2021)
- Susan Calman (2014–18)
- John Cleese (regular panel member during the first series, 1972)
- Denise Coffey (1979, 1981, 1983, 1991, 1997)
- Jack Dee (2004–05, 2007)
- Omid Djalili (2014–15)
- Pippa Evans (2016, 2019–21)
- Kenny Everett (1985)
- John Finnemore (2013–14, 2017–18)
- Stephen Fry (1986–87, 1989, 1997, 1999–2000, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2019)
- Kerry Godliman (2018)
- Andy Hamilton (1999, 2001–02, 2004–07, 2011, 2014, 2017, 2020–21)
- Mike Harding (1984, 1986)
- Jeremy Hardy (1995, 1998–2007, 2009–12, 2015–18)
- Tony Hawks (1995, 1997, 1999–2006, 2012–21)
- Harry Hill (2003, 2005, 2014, 2019–20)
- John Junkin (1975, 1979, 1986)
- Phill Jupitus (1999, 2001, 2009–10)
- Miles Jupp (2013, 2015–17, 2019–21)
- Jo Kendall (regular panel member during the first series, 1972)
- Jonathan Lynn (1978)
- Fred MacAulay (1998–99, 2016, 2021)
- Lee Mack (2021)
- Paul Merton (1991–92, 1994, 1997–98)
- David Mitchell (2009–11, 2013)
- Neil Mullarkey (2000)
- Ross Noble (2003, 2005, 2011–12)
- Bill Oddie (regular panel member during the first two series, 1972–73)
- Richard Osman (2016, 2018–19)
- Rachel Parris (2019–21)
- Vicki Pepperdine (2021)
- Caroline Quentin (2018)
- Jan Ravens (2017)
- Linda Smith (2001, 2004)
- Bill Tidy (1985, 1989, replacement for Tim Brooke-Taylor for one series in 1991)
- Sandi Toksvig (1997–2003, 2005, 2010, 2015–16, 2019–20)
- Henning Wehn (2021)
- Victoria Wood (2009, 2012–13)
Raymond Baxter was occasionally drafted to commentate on sessions of Mornington Crescent and also presented the one-off special Everyman's Guide to Mornington Crescent. Both Judi Dench and Alan Titchmarsh took part in "Celebrity What's My Line?". Judi Dench and Michael Gambon performed the Mornington Crescent drama The Bromley by Bow Stratagem. Alan Titchmarsh also played every questioner (that is, famous gardeners) on a 2012 show which featured Victoria Wood. A 2013 episode featured a round of Useless Celebrities, a parody of Pointless Celebrities, and featured Richard Osman as the co-presenter (this was broadcast three years before Osman appeared on the panel). A 2017 episode featured a spoof of The Chase which featured Anne Hegerty, one of the Chasers from the show.
On one occasion Humph announced that they had a very distinguished actor as a guest who would join in the game of Mornington Crescent. When the game started, after great ceremony, the penultimate player, the last of the panellists, won on his first move, thus denying the distinguished guest the opportunity to make a single move. The chairman apologised but explained that this was an unavoidable possibility and the guest left without having uttered a word. The show was allegedly inundated with complaints at the treatment of Sir Alec Guinness as on the actual recording Lyttelton can be heard to say, "Well I'm very sorry about that. Rather unfortunate. We would like to go on and ask you a few things about what you're doing currently, Sir Alec, but we do have to hurry on to the next game." This story became a favourite of Lyttelton's, who claimed in interviews that the "distinguished actor" had never actually been named on the show.
Since 18 May 1985 (in the same episode as Kenny Everett made his debut) the show has included a fictional and completely silent scorer "whose job is eased by the fact no points are actually awarded", usually "the lovely Samantha" who sits on Humph's left hand. There is a seat with a microphone next to the Chairman which is "used" by Samantha. During the introductory music Humphrey Lyttelton would stand up and "help" Samantha into her seat. In practice the seat and microphone were only used by the producer to welcome the audience, to introduce the participants and to give any other information to the audience such as the expected date of broadcasting, and to supervise re-recordings of fluffs made in the programme.
Lyttelton would describe Samantha's social activities, usually in an apology received from the unseen character who had been detained, often with a "gentleman friend". His comments included sexual innuendo and double entendres, like "Samantha likes nothing better than a little potter in the woodshed in the morning", though many were far more daring and explicit. During early episodes of Samantha's appearance on the show, it was not completely clear that she was a fictional character, garnering complaints about the sexist and humiliating treatment she received. Producer Jon Naismith recalled "when we [Naismith and Iain Pattinson] took over the show we used to get quite a few letters accusing us of sexist references to Samantha" (the character was named after the page 3 topless model Samantha Fox). Samantha's inabilities as score-keeper often form the basis for humour; in a programme from 1997, Humph said: "It's just occurred to me that Samantha hasn't given us the score... since 1981."
Samantha has sometimes been replaced by a Swedish stand-in, Sven, or occasionally another substitute, Monica. When Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990 Lyttelton introduced a scorer named Margaret. In an episode in November 1991 both Samantha and Sven were present but occupied with each other and unable to award points.
The programme's scoring is completely nonexistent. Most of the show is scripted, but in rounds such as "Sound charades", where one team of panellists have to guess the charade of the other team, the answer may be obvious (usually a pun) but the opposing team are now actually not told the answer. In recording, it has taken them many minutes to come up with the correct answer, most of which has to be edited out before broadcast.
In rounds in which the panel must not see what the audience sees, there is the "advanced laser display-board" (actually a sign with the answer written on, held by Jon Naismith), sometimes described in more elaborate terms and "so generously funded by our hosts" but these of course do not exist: they are conveyed to "listeners at home" by the "mystery voice", alluding to the 1960s radio programme Twenty Questions.
A regular feature on the programme, preceding the game Mornington Crescent, is a fictional letters section which begins with the chairman's comments ("I notice from the sheer weight of this week's postbag, we've received a little over no letters" and "I see from the number of letters raining down on us this week that the Scrabble factory has exploded again"). The invariably single letter each week is from "A Mrs Trellis of North Wales", one of the many prompts for a cheer from the audience, whose incoherent letters usually mistake the chairman for another Radio 4 presenter or media personality. "Dear Libby" (she writes), "why oh why ... very nearly spells YOYO", or "Dear Mr Titchmarsh, never let them tell you that size isn't important. My aunt told me that, but then all my new wallpaper fell off."
The chairman introduces the show with remarks such as:
"Hello and welcome to I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Tonight, we promise you a nail-biting contest. Which will be followed by a nose-picking contest."
and continues by providing a little background material, usually derogatory, about the show's location:
"Hastings joined with Romney, Hythe, Dover and Sandwich to form a brotherhood of coastal towns in 1067, intended to defend England from any cross-Channel invasion; they took the crest of a running horse rampant and stable door bolted."
Then the teams' introduction:
"The Dorset coast is also famous for its sedimentary deposits dating from the Eocene Age, and the curious still come here in search of fossils and even obscure little-known dinosaurs...Let's meet the teams..."
The teams are often mocked at their introduction:
"As I introduce the teams today I must say we couldn't have asked for four better comedians. So that's answered your next question..."
Many games are played on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, some frequently and dozens less often. A few have been played only once, either because the joke works only once or because they were not particularly successful. Popular games include "One Song to the Tune of Another", "Mornington Crescent", "Sound Charades", "Late Arrivals", "Double Feature", "Cheddar Gorge" and "Uxbridge English Dictionary". "One Song to the Tune of Another" is always introduced using a complex analogy, despite its self-explanatory title, often ending with a joke at the expense of Colin Sell.
The panellists play as individuals or as two teams. "Celebrity What's My Line?" completely destroyed the intent of the original — for players to guess the occupation of a third party by asking yes/no questions. The I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue version once employed the famous actress (and fan of the show) Dame Judi Dench in this role and the renowned television gardener Alan Titchmarsh. Each began by performing a mime illustrating their occupation, giving a cryptic clue to the panel (appearing to a radio listener as a short silence punctuated by exclamations from the panel and laughter from the studio audience), before fielding apparently serious questions from the teams (e.g. "Is that your own hair?" or "Do you kill people for money?"), who pretended not to know who they were.
Musical games often involve incongruities such as singing "One Song to the Tune of Another" or playing a song using only a swanee whistle and a kazoo. In "Just a Minim" – a parody of Radio 4's Just a Minute – panellists must sing a specified song avoiding repetition, deviation, or hesitation: the chosen songs often have extremely repetitive lyrics.
Humour is derived from wordplay such as puns or mockery of styles of speech. For example, in a round based on suggesting television programmes from biblical times:
In "Uxbridge English Dictionary" the panellists contribute humorous redefinitions of words; "Puny: the Roman Catholic equivalent of tennis elbow". More puns are found in the "Arrivals at the Ball" section, of the form "Mr and Mrs X and their son (or daughter)...." the child's name forming a pun, preferably laboured and feeble. This grew out of the "drama" section of later shows in the I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again series, for example, at the Criminals' Ball, "Mr and Mrs Knee, and their Swedish son, Lars Knee".
According to Tim Brooke-Taylor twenty per cent of the show is ad-libbed. According to Willie Rushton, it is more like fifty per cent, but he didn't think that a bad thing.
Time, destiny, fate and eternity
The show draws to a close with the chairman imparting some final words of wisdom intended to evoke time, destiny, fate and eternity, undercut with silliness. For example: "...And so, as the hunter of time blasts the moose of eternity, and the dairy counter worker of fate sighs and grabs her mop..." Lyttelton's final sign-off on the show, shortly before his death in April 2008, was:
And so as the loose-bowelled pigeon of time swoops low over the unsuspecting tourist of destiny, and the flatulent skunk of fate wanders into the air-conditioning system of eternity, I notice it's the end of the show.
— Humphrey Lyttelton, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, broadcast 17 December 2007
Most of the humour is detached from the real world. Steve Punt cites it as one of his favourite radio shows because "there's no points being made or targets being attacked." Contemporary references occasionally made by participants are usually asides. The show does occasionally comment on the outside world, though from an innocent perspective. The game "Complete George Bush Quotes" was once played, in which the teams had to supply endings for phrases that George Bush had begun (see Bushism), the teams complaining that they couldn't be any funnier than the original; similar rounds with guessing or completing quotes of other well-known public figures and personalities have also been played.
Self-deprecation forms a big part of the show's humour. It frequently pokes fun at itself and its supposed low quality. For example, Lyttelton was heard to exclaim at the end of a round:
- "Nietzsche said that life was a choice between suffering and boredom. He never said anything about having to put up with both at the same time."
- "I'm often prone to bouts of misplaced optimism. This round's going to be a hum-dinger!"
- "All good things must come to an end, so let's carry on."
- An introduction to "Sound Charades", a round based on Give Us a Clue, went: "In the TV version the teams were not allowed to speak, making the games both silent and hilarious. Our version differs in just two ways."
The regular panellists are represented by the chairman to be unfunny, struggling comedians who have been doing the same act for many years. Further to this, supposed personalities of the panellists by the chairman, fictitious but drawn from their public personas, is also a recurring theme, with Barry Cryer often represented as a tight-fisted alcoholic who can't wait to get to the pub (but who never buys a round of drinks), whilst Tim Brooke-Taylor was often represented as willing to take any small performance job in his quiet career, and always campaigning for a repeat of The Goodies (something which Brooke-Taylor himself played upon in many rounds). The late Humphrey Lyttelton often delivered mock comments of how boring and low quality the show was and, particularly in his later years on the show, often preferring to doze off than listen to the rounds. Pianist Colin Sell, meanwhile, is often the butt of many jokes regarding his supposedly terrible musical skills (despite in reality being an accomplished musician).
According to Willie Rushton, "The show gets quite filthy at times, but the audience love it."
After over forty years on the air one of the most important aspects of the show is its huge stock of running gags which, if not always funny in themselves, can elicit huge anticipatory laughter from the studio audience. The mere mention of Lionel Blair will often bring roars of laughter in anticipation of an outrageous double-entendre based on his supposed homosexuality (he is not gay); Similarly, particular mention of points scorer Samantha, or her occasional replacement Sven (neither of whom actually exists) will typically bring anticipatory laughter in wait of a sexual double-entendre.
In the "Film Club" round any reference by Graeme Garden to Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia is sure to cause a similar response. The game "Wobbling Bunnies" was introduced several times by Humph, often with eager anticipation by the panel and audience, but time pressures always meant the game was never actually played. Graeme Garden and Barry Cryer frequently play the characters of two Scots, Hamish and Dougal, whose skits usually begin with the phrase "You'll have had your tea?", as a stereotypical Scots miser when receiving a guest never offers any food or drink. The characters were developed into their own Radio 4 show, Hamish and Dougal. Another long-running gag involves one of the panellists putting forward a challenge of "hesitation" when another panellist leaves a long pause in the middle of speaking, a reference to Radio 4's other long-running panel show Just a Minute. (Likewise, occasionally on Just a Minute, a panellist will make a challenge of "Mornington Crescent".)
Chairman Humphrey Lyttelton frequently poked fun at Just a Minute and its chairman Nicholas Parsons, something which Lyttelton's successor Jack Dee has continued with and expanded upon, mimicking Parsons by constantly emphasising the long experience of some panellists, and the fact that the programme can be heard all over the world.
The programme has won the Gold Sony Radio Comedy Award three times:
- 1995: featuring Humphrey Lyttelton, Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Willie Rushton
- 2002: featuring the usual cast and Jeremy Hardy.
- 2004: I'm Sorry I Haven't A Christmas Carol, featuring the usual cast with Stephen Fry, Andy Hamilton, Jeremy Hardy, Tony Hawks, Sandi Toksvig and Linda Smith.
- 1995: Best Radio Comedy, British Comedy Award
- 1997: Radio Programme of the Year, British Press Guild
- 1997: Radio Programme of the Year, Voice of the Viewer and Listener
- 2003: Radio Programme of the Year, Voice of the Viewer and Listener
- 2003: Radio Programme of the Year, Television and Radio Industries Club
- 2003: Best Comedy, Spoken Word Award
- 2005: Radio Programme of the Year, Television and Radio Industries Club
In 2020 the programme was voted the greatest radio comedy of all time by a panel convened by Radio Times.
Clue has been broadcast since 11 April 1972 on BBC Radio 4 with new series rotating with the other Monday night comedy staples such as The Unbelievable Truth, The Museum Of Curiosity and Just a Minute.
- 1st Series (1972) – 11 April–4 July [13 episodes] (Introduction of 'Word for Word' and 'One Song to the Tune of Another')
- 2nd Series (1973) – 30 April–23 July [13 episodes] (Including the first appearances of 'Sound Charades', a version of 'New Definitions' and the use of 'The Antidote to Panel games')
- 3rd Series (1974) – 28 August–2 October [6 episodes] (Willie Rushton's first appearances)
- 4th Series (1975) – 29 July–16 September [8 episodes] (Colin Sell's first appearance, Graeme mentions 'Gordon Bennett' for the first time as a late arrival and the name 'Pick-Up Song' is used but a different game.)
- 5th Series (1977) – 6 March–10 April [6 episodes] (The first series in which 'Good News, Bad News' was played and 'Pick-Up Song' in its recognisable format.)
- 6th Series (1978) – 22 August–24 October [10 episodes] (The first time 'Mornington Crescent' is played.)
- 7th Series (1979) – 16 July–17 September [10 episodes]
- Christmas Special (1979) – 24 December
- Christmas Special (1980) – 24 December
- 8th Series (1981) – 22 August–24 October [10 episodes]
- Christmas Special (1981) – 24 December
- 9th Series (1982) – 20 March–27 March [2 episodes], 10 April-22 May [8 episodes] (The first playing of 'Just a Minim'.)
- 10th Series (1983) – 26 February–30 April [10 episodes]
- 11th Series (1984) – 7 April–9 June [10 episodes]
- 12th Series (1985) – 4 May–6 July [10 episodes] (Kenny Everett replaces Graeme for two shows and Samantha makes her first appearance.)
- 13th Series (1986) – 26 July–27 September [10 episodes] (Willie predicts his own death in 1996.)
- Christmas Special (1986) – 25 December
- 14th Series (1987) – 17 August–19 October [10 episodes]
- 15th Series (1989) – 7 January–11 March [10 episodes]
- 16th Series (Spring 1990) – 5 February–12 March [6 episodes]
- 17th Series (Autumn 1990) – 17 November–22 December [6 episodes] (The first time a letter sent in by Mrs Trellis from North Wales is read out.)
- 18th Series (Summer 1991) – 22 June–27 July [6 episodes] (Bill Tidy replaces Tim and Humph asks 'what do points mean?' for the first time.)
- 19th Series (Autumn 1991) – 19 October–7 December [8 episodes] (Sven makes his first appearance standing in for Samantha.)
- 20th Series (Summer 1992) – 23 May–27 June [6 episodes] (The first time a show ends with a 'film club'.)
- 21st Series (Autumn 1992) – 14 November–19 December [6 episodes], 26 December (The first time 'Swanee-Kazoo' is played.)
- 22nd Series (1993) – 6 November–11 December [6 episodes]
- Christmas Special (1993) – 25 December
- 23rd Series (Summer 1994) – 28 May–2 July [6 episodes]
- 24th Series (Autumn 1994) – 5 November–10 December [6 episodes]
- 25th Series (Summer 1995) – 27 May–1 July [6 episodes]
- 26th Series (Autumn 1995) – 11 November–16 December [6 episodes]
- Christmas Special (1995) – 25 December (Hamish and Dougal make their first appearance.)
- 27th Series (Summer 1996) – 1 June–6 July [6 episodes]
- 28th Series (Autumn 1996) – 9 November–14 December [6 episodes] (Willie records his last show.)
- 29th Series (Summer 1997) – 7 June–12 July [6 episodes]
- 30th Series (Autumn 1997) – 8 November–13 December [6 episodes], 25 December [Compilation]
- Compilations (1998) – 6 April–20 April [3 episodes]
- 31st Series (Summer 1998) – 27 April–1 June [6 episodes]
- 32nd Series (Autumn 1998) – 30 November–4 January 1999 [6 episodes]
- Christmas Special (1998) – 25 December
- Special (1999) – 11 January [I'm Sorry I Haven't A Desert Island]
- 33rd Series (Summer 1999) – 24 May–28 June [6 episodes]
- 34th Series (Autumn 1999) – 8 November–13 December [6 episodes]
- Christmas Special (1999) – 25 December
- 35th Series (Summer 2000) – 22 May–26 June [6 episodes]
- 36th Series (Autumn 2000) – 13 November–18 December [6 episodes]
- 37th Series (Summer 2001) – 28 May–2 July [6 episodes] (The first time 'Uxbridge English Dictionary' is played, as 'New Meanings'.)
- 38th Series (Autumn 2001) – 12 November–17 December [6 episodes]
- Christmas Special (2001) – 24 December
- Special (2002) – 13 April [30th Anniversary Special]
- 39th Series (Summer 2002) – 20 May–24 June [6 episodes]
- 40th Series (Autumn 2002) – 18 November–23 December [6 episodes]
- 41st Series (Summer 2003) – 26 May–30 June [6 episodes]
- 42nd Series (Autumn 2003) – 17 November–22 December [6 episodes], 22 December [Compilation], 25 December [I'm Sorry I Haven't A Christmas Carol]
- 43rd Series – (Summer 2004) – 31 May–5 July [6 episodes]
- 44th Series – (Winter 2004) – 6 December 2004 – 17 January 2005 [6 episodes], 27 December [Compilation]
- 45th Series – (Summer 2005) – 30 May–4 July [6 episodes]
- Special (2005) – 1 September [Edinburgh Festival Special]
- 46th Series – (Autumn 2005) – 14 November–26 December [6 episodes], 12 December [Repeat of Edinburgh Festival Special]
- Special (2005) – 24 December [In Search of Mornington Crescent]
- 47th Series (2006) – 22 May-26 June [6 episodes]
- 48th Series (2006) – 13 November–18 December [6 episodes]
- 49th Series (2007) – 4 June–9 July [6 episodes]
- 50th Series (2007) – 12 November–17 December [6 episodes], 24 December [compilation], 25 December [Humph In Wonderland]
- 51st Series (2009) – 15 June–20 July [6 episodes]
- 52nd Series (2009) – 16 November–21 December [6 episodes]
- 53rd Series (2010) – 21 June–26 July [6 episodes]
- 54th Series (2010–2011) – 27 December–31 January [6 episodes]
- 55th Series (2011) – 27 June–1 August [6 episodes]
- 56th Series (2011) – 14 November–19 December [6 episodes]
- 57th Series (2012) – 25 June–30 July [6 episodes]
- 58th Series (2012) – 12 November–24 December [6 episodes and one Christmas special]
- 59th Series (2013) – 1 July–5 August [6 episodes]
- 60th Series (2013) – 11 November–16 December [6 episodes]
- 61st Series (2014) – 30 June–4 August [6 episodes]
- 62nd Series (2014) – 17 November–22 December [6 episodes]
- 63rd Series (2015) – 13 July–17 August [6 episodes]
- 64th Series (2015–2016) 30 November–4 January [6 episodes]
- 65th Series (2016) – 27 June–1 August [6 episodes]
- 66th Series (2016) – 14 November–19 December [6 episodes]
- 67th Series (2017) – 26 June–31 July [6 episodes]
- 68th Series (2017) – 13 November–18 December [6 episodes]
- 69th Series (2018) – 25 June–30 July [6 episodes]
- 70th Series (2018) – 12 November–17 December [6 episodes]
- 71st Series (2019) – 24 June–29 July [6 episodes]
- 72nd Series (2019) – 11 November–16 December [6 episodes]
- 73rd Series (2020) – 11 November–29 December [6 episodes]
- 74th Series (2021) – 14 June-19 July [6 episodes] (listed on the BBC website as series 75)
Excluding compilations and repeats, this totals 497 episodes, (including series 70, 71 and 72). Some early episodes of the series, including the first, were wiped in the late 1970s. Following the BBC's Treasure Hunt appeal for missing material in 2002, several shows were recovered from off-air recordings made by listeners. Ultimately, a complete archive (barring the opening music in places) was assembled, though the quality was somewhat poor for early episodes.
In 2007, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue: The Official Stage Tour visited 9 locations across England. While the broadcast shows are recorded on location, this was the first ISIHAC touring stage show in the show's 35-year history. It was a best of show, featuring favourite rounds from the past 35 years, and the guest panellist was Jeremy Hardy. The shows were not recorded for broadcast on Radio 4, although it was suggested that they may be recorded for release as part of the BBC Radio Collection.
In 2008, I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue: The Official Stage Tour embarked on another best of tour, with the intention of visiting many parts of the UK that were missed in the autumn 2007 dates.
The show at the Lowry in Salford was filmed and broadcast on BBC Four on 13 September 2008. Although some unaired pilots had previously been made, this was the first time ISIHAC has been shown on television. An extended version was released on DVD on 10 November 2008.
The regular panellists decided to continue the annual stage tour despite Lyttelton's death, with Jack Dee (one of the 51st series' hosts) as chairman for the tour shows. Jeremy Hardy remained as the guest participant.
- Wednesday 22 July 2009 – The Orchard Theatre, Dartford (Cancelled due to power cut)
- Thursday 23 July 2009 – New Victoria Theatre, Woking
- Saturday 25 July 2009 – The Sands Centre, Carlisle
- Friday 18 September 2009 – Manchester Opera House
- Sunday 20 September 2009 – Bristol Hippodrome
- Monday 21 September 2009 – Portsmouth Guildhall
- Tuesday 22 September 2009 – Cambridge Corn Exchange
- Wednesday 23 September 2009 – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
- Friday 25 September 2009 – St George's Hall, Bradford
- Saturday 26 September 2009 – Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
- Sunday 27 September 2009 – New Wimbledon Theatre
- Monday 28 September 2009 – Symphony Hall, Birmingham
- Tuesday 29 September 2009 – Southport Theatre
- Wednesday 30 September 2009 – Grand Opera House (York)
- Saturday 3 October 2009 – Derngate, Northampton
- Sunday 4 October 2009 – The Anvil, Basingstoke
- Monday 5 October 2009 – Princess Theatre, Torquay
- Tuesday 6 October 2009 – Congress Theatre, Eastbourne
- Wednesday 7 October 2009 – De Montfort Hall, Leicester
Another set of tour dates, with Jack Dee as chairman and Jeremy Hardy as guest panellist, took place in 2010.
2011 and 2012
The show did not tour between 2011 and 2013, but there were a couple of one-off shows performed during this time with Dee as chairman and Hardy as guest panellist.
The touring show resumed in 2014, again with Dee in the chair and Hardy as the guest panellist.
The sixth tour took place in 2015, again with Dee in the chair and Hardy as the guest panellist. Sandi Toksvig deputised for Dee on some dates.
- Thursday 8 January 2015 – Sunderland Empire
- Friday 9 January 2015 – St George's Hall, Bradford
- Saturday 10 January 2015 – Barbican Centre, York
- Sunday 11 January 2015 – Liverpool Empire
- Thursday 15 January 2015 – G Live, Guildford
- Friday 16 January 2015 – Watford Colosseum
- Saturday 17 January 2015 – Royal Hall, Harrogate
- Sunday 18 January 2015 – The Lowry, Salford
- Wednesday 28 January 2015 – Kings Theatre, Southsea
- Thursday 29 January 2015 – Pavilion Theatre (Bournemouth)
- Saturday 21 February 2015 – The Centaur, Cheltenham
- Sunday 22 February 2015 – Butterworth Hall, Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
- Thursday 5 March 2015 – The Waterfront, Belfast
- Saturday 7 March 2015 – Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
- Sunday 8 March 2015 – Preston Guild Hall
- Monday 16 March 2015 – Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
- Sunday 9 August 2015 – Edinburgh Playhouse (as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe)
The seventh tour took place in 2016, again with Dee in the chair. Graeme Garden was absent from this tour so Jeremy Hardy took his place, with Miles Jupp as the guest panellist.
The eighth tour took place in 2017, again with Dee in the chair. Garden was again absent so Hardy took his place once more, with Tony Hawks as the guest panellist.
- Saturday 7 January 2017 – The Sands Centre, Carlisle
- Sunday 8 January 2017 – The Spa, Scarborough
- Wednesday 18 January 2017 – Chichester Festival Theatre
- Thursday 19 January 2017 – New Theatre Oxford
- Friday 20 January 2017 – The Anvil, Basingstoke
- Monday 23 January 2017 – De Montfort Hall, Leicester
- Tuesday 24 January 2017 – Venue Cymru, Llandudno
- Friday 3 February 2017 – Charter Hall, Colchester
- Saturday 4 February 2017 – Winter Gardens, Margate
- Thursday 23 February 2017 – Southport Theatre
- Friday 24 February 2017 – The Sage, Gateshead
- Sunday 26 February 2017 – Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells
- Monday 27 February 2017 – Colston Hall, Bristol
- Tuesday 28 February 2017 – City Hall, Salisbury
- Sunday 23 July 2017 – The Lowry, Salford
A one-off special stage show was advertised as in January 2019 to take place the following February. Following the death of regular guest Jeremy Hardy, the special show became a tribute to him, with Cryer, Garden and Brooke-Taylor joined by several guests – Rob Brydon, Tony Hawks, David Mitchell, Rory Bremner, Sandi Toksvig and Andy Hamilton.
A ninth tour was announced in October 2019 to take place in early 2020. Jack Dee, Colin Sell and Tim Brooke-Taylor were joined by Tony Hawks and Miles Jupp on the panel, with the fourth spot rotating between Rory Bremner, Richard Osman and John Finnemore. Marcus Brigstocke also appeared in place of Jupp on some dates, and Barry Cryer made a special appearance at the Watford Colosseum show.
- Sunday 5 January 2020 – Nottingham Royal Concert Hall (Rory Bremner as guest panellist)
- Monday 6 January 2020 – St. David's Hall, Cardiff (Bremner as guest panellist)
- Tuesday 7 January 2020 – Bristol Hippodrome (Bremner as guest panellist)
- Sunday 12 January 2020 – New Wimbledon Theatre (Richard Osman as guest panellist)
- Monday 13 January 2020 – The Alexandra, Birmingham (Bremner as guest panellist)
- Tuesday 14 January 2020 – Sheffield City Hall (Bremner as guest panellist)
- Wednesday 15 January 2020 – Hull City Hall (Bremner as guest panellist)
- Friday 17 January 2020 – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh (Osman as guest panellist)
- Saturday 18 January 2020 – Sunderland Empire (Osman as guest panellist)
- Sunday 19 January 2020 – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester (Osman as guest panellist)
- Monday 20 January 2020 – Wolverhampton Grand Theatre (Marcus Brigstocke and John Finnemore as guest panellists)
- Thursday 23 January 2020 – Lighthouse, Poole (Brigstocke and Finnemore as guest panellists)
- Friday 24 January 2020 – Assembly Hall, Worthing (Osman as guest panellist)
- Monday 27 January 2020 – St. George's Hall, Bradford (Osman as guest panellist)
- Tuesday 28 January 2020 – Harrogate Convention Centre (Brigstocke and Osman as guest panellists)
- Friday 31 January 2020 – Watford Colosseum (Osman as guest panellist)
- Saturday 1 February 2020 – Ipswich Regent (Osman as guest panellist)
- Sunday 2 February 2020 – Congress Theatre, Eastbourne (Osman as guest panellist)
BBC Audiobook releases
Episodes of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue were included in the package of programmes held in 20 underground radio stations of the BBC's Wartime Broadcasting Service (WTBS), designed to provide public information and morale-boosting broadcasts for 100 days after a nuclear attack.
- ^ "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue". BBC Radio 4.
- ^ a b Foster, Patrick (26 February 2009). "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue panel game to return to Radio 4". The Times. London: News International. ISSN 0140-0460.
Barry Cryer, a regular panellist, who shared the chairman's duties with Lyttleton in the first series...
- ^ Cryer, Barry (2009). Butterfly Brain. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-2978-5911-6. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
It was either David Hatch or Humphrey Barclay, the two producers involved in the planning of the first series, who decided it would be a good idea to put Humph in the role of chairman.
- ^ Randall, David (27 April 2008). "Millions haven't a clue what they'll do without Humph". The Independent. London: Independent News & Media. ISSN 0951-9467. Retrieved 28 April 2008.
- ^ Naismith, Jon. "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Mailout 17.10.08". The Official I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Mailing List (Mailing list).
- ^ "Fry, Brydon, Dee to host 'Clue' return". Digital Spy. 25 February 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
- ^ "Iain Pattinson at Amanda Howard Associates" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2009. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
- ^ Southern, Keiran (15 February 2021). "Tributes paid to comedy writer Iain Pattinson following his death aged 68". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
- ^ a b c "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue — A History". BBC.
- ^ "Games Info". The I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Info Site.
- ^ a b c d e f g "About". The I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Info Site.
- ^ Duncan, Andrew (11 February 2006). "placeholder". Radio Times.
- ^ "Profile". Chortle.co.uk.
- ^ "Humphrey Lyttelton". 25 April 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2008.
- ^ "Jazz legend Lyttelton dies at 86". BBC News. 25 April 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2008.
- ^ "Interview with Humphrey Lyttelton". BBC.
- ^ a b "Interview with Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Barry Cryer". BBC.
- ^ Naismith, Jon. "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Mailout 18.4.08". "The Official I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Mailing List" (Mailing list).
- ^ "News — RIP Humphrey Lyttelton". British Sitcom Guide. 25 April 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
- ^ David Smith (27 April 2008). "He was the hub of the show, the urbane man surrounded by idiots". Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 April 2007.
- ^ Chittenden, Maurice (27 April 2008). "Humphrey Lyttelton delivers swansong with giant kazoo band". The Times. London. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
- ^ a b Emily Dugan (24 August 2008). "I'm sorry, we haven't a clue: Who will replace Humphrey Lyttelton?". The Independent. London.
- ^ Naismith, Jon. "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Mailout 17.9.08". "The Official I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Mailing List" (Mailing list).
- ^ Naismith, Jon. "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Mailout 2009-02-20". "The Official I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Mailing List" (Mailing list).
- ^ a b c "Interview with Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Barry Cryer". [BBC].
- ^ "Episode 3, Series 65, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue – BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
- ^ "Episode 1, Series 65, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue – BBC Radio 4". BBC. Retrieved 7 July 2016.
- ^ Osman, Richard [@richardosman] (5 July 2016). "Brilliant time last night with Barry Cryer @TheRealJackDee @sanditoksvigMiles Jupp and a wonderful Southend audiences for @ISIHAClue" (Tweet). Retrieved 9 February 2020 – via Twitter.
- ^ "British Comedy Guide". Retrieved 22 July 2017.
- ^ Garden, Graeme [@GraemeGarden1] (12 October 2017). "Looking forward to joining the ISIHAC team at the Wycombe Swan Theatre next Monday 16th. It's been a while" (Tweet). Retrieved 9 February 2020 – via Twitter.
- ^ "Interview with Colin Sell". BBC.
- ^ "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue". I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. 15 November 1997. BBC Radio 4.
- ^ "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue – 1997". Archived from the original on 29 May 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
- ^ "ISIHAC Past Broadcasts". Isihac.co.uk. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
- ^ ISIHAC, 1979-12-24, BBC Radio 4
- ^ That Reminds Me, 2007-01-31, BBC7
- ^ Roberts, Jem. The Clue Bible: The Fully Authorised History of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue from Footlights to Mornington Crescent. Preface: London, 2009.
- ^ Langley, William (7 December 2014). "I'm sorry, but this satirical siren's best days are behind her". The Sunday Telegraph. p. 29.
- ^ a b Views From The Boundary, Brian Johnston ISBN 0-563-36023-2
- ^ Lyttelton, Humphrey (17 December 2007). "Peterborough". I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Series 50. Episode 6. Event occurs at 26:40. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
And so as the loose-bowelled pigeon of time swoops low over the unsuspecting tourist of destiny, and the flatulent skunk of fate wanders into the air-conditioning system of eternity, I notice it's the end of the show.
- ^ "Steve Punt: My Radio 4". BBC (via Internet Archive). Archived from the original on 24 October 2004.
- ^ "Winners – The Comedy Award". (Gold Award). Sony Radio Academy Awards. 2002. Archived from the original on 30 December 2006. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- ^ "Winners – The Comedy Award". (Gold Award). Sony Radio Academy Awards. 2004. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
- ^ Davies, Caroline (17 November 2020). "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue is greatest radio comedy, says panel". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
- ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 December 2019. Retrieved 15 December 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- ^ Naismith, Jon. "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Tour". "The Official I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Mailing List" (Mailing list).
- ^ Naismith, Jon. "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Tour Dates 2008". "The Official I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Mailing List" (Mailing list).
- ^ a b c d e f "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue Official Website – Tour Dates". Isihac.net. Archived from the original on 11 November 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
- ^ "Comedy stars to pay tribute to Jeremy Hardy". Chortle. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
- ^ Hellen, Nicholas (11 July 1999). "Julie Andrews to sing to Brits during nuclear attack". Sunday Times.