I Guess That's Why They Call It the News



Fred MacAulay


BBC Radio 4, 21 August to 19 September 2009 (5 episodes in 1 series)


I Guess That's Why They Call It the News went out in The News Quiz / The Now Show's regular slot. As had been the tradition for over ten years, this was topical comedy. The regular filler - Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive - could not go out because Iannucci was working on a new series of his political drama The Thick of It.

The net result was a show in which two teams played improvisation games based on the week's events. Some of the games turned up each week - "Headlines" took real headlines and invited panelists to make up ludicrous stories. "Good news, bad news" invited contributors to take controversial positions, such as why Dan Brown is good news for literature. "Who's the new who" asked, quite simply, who in the headlines was like who in established culture.

Additional games were played each week based on the topical stories - in one edition, players were asked what new laws they would like to propose, make jokes about strikes, and pretend that product placement was allowed on the BBC.

Very few of the games were original - there are elements of Mock the Week, Heresy, and Whose Line is it Anyway? - but the programme flowed well, with host Fred MacAulay keeping his guests in firm check. The show didn't have the feeling that it was a bear pit, a criticism levelled against Mock the Week earlier in the summer.

Did it have more laughs per minute than The News Quiz? Some of us haven't so much as tittered at the latter since about 2003, so quite probably.

Web links

BBC programme page

Wikipedia entry

British Comedy Guide entry


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