Talk about groupthink. I tuned in to the repeat of The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4 this lunchtime. Presided over by Sandi Toksvig – who herself is quite leftist albeit with a lesbian twist – Jeremy Hardy and Andy Hamilton provided all the appropriate “jokes.” So, there was much praise for Rowan Williams, much castigation for George Papandreou and the predictable attacks on capitalism. (Do these comrades not get paid for their appearances?) This programme is an extended 30minute left wing whinge with very little remnants of humour. Pity, once upon a time I used to like this programme but it’s now part of the hive, better ignored. Next week, the NOW show returns..aaaargghh!


Is the staid cosy world of Radio 4 topical comedy really being forced into a tokenistic gesture to fend off criticism of its blatant political bias?

I don’t know how truthful that tweet is but it would be amusing to think that, after all these years, Hardy and pals suddenly found that even their smug little lefty enclave was not beyond the reach of the BBC’s Diversity Strategy with its commitment “to reflect the diversity of the nation accurately and authentically”.

If the “decree” is genuine, it will no doubt be good news for a handful of moderate centre-ground media types who are deemed acceptable enough to fill the role of “right-wing guest” each week (keep your Thursday evenings free, Hugo).

How much more fun to have somebody who really would shake things up. David Starkey, for example. I wonder what Jeremy would have to say about that?

Like most of Hardy’s material – not very original:

From fine upstanding citizen Piers Morgan to lefty R4 Front Row presenter John Wilson, people are queuing up to declare Starkey’s TV career over. A return to radio could be just the thing. The News Quiz should snap him up now. What’s more, Jeremy Hardy would probably boycott the programme. I believe that’s known as win-win.

Let the campaign begin – Starkey for the News Quiz!


I had the misfortune earlier today to listen to what the BBC allege is a “topical panel quiz show”. I refer, of course, to the News Quiz. The panelists were Jeremy Hardy, Paul Sinha, Imran Yusuf and Fred Macaulay. We all know Hardy for the hard left parasite he is, feeding off the largesse extended his way by the BBC. Palestinian loving Mecca visiting Imran Yusuf  lived down to expectations and Paul Sinha (“Openly gay” according to his biog) proved to be particularly vicious in his leftist stream of hate. Macaulay got to spout about how wonderful  Scotland is under SNP rule. What a lousy programme this has become – stripped of any value other than offering lefties a chance to spew out their trash “humour”.


Listening to the first ten minutes of The News Quiz last night (couldn’t take any more than that) I was struck by how the audience reaction seemed a little out of proportion to the “funny” comments of the panellists. Even allowing for the fact that I – a right wing bastard – am never likely to be particularly impressed by The News Quiz, something still didn’t ring true.

Here are some clips all taken from the first ten minutes of the programme. You’ll hear the final few words of some “amusing quips” by Andy Hamilton, Sue Perkins (x2), Sandi Toksvig, Miles Jupp and Jeremy Hardy, and the audience reaction to each. Each clip is followed by a shorter clip isolating part of the audience response. Finally, the 6 isolated clips are played one after the other for direct comparison. Is it just me or is there something a tad similar about them?


What do you think – is there a bit of laugh track manipulation going on there? Could it be that even the sort of people who attend News Quiz recordings aren’t as impressed by the jokes as we’re led to believe?

Update. In response to a request in the comments, here’s the relevant part of the 6 clips in the form of sound wave graph thingies. Obviously they’re not entirely identical because there’s other stuff going on in each individual clip, but I think they’re close enough to suggest the same bit of laughter may have been added to each one:

Also via the comments I’m reminded that during the opening ten minutes of this week’s show Sandi Toksvig said, “It’s the Tories who have been putting the ‘n’ into cuts”. I’ve become so jaded by Radio 4 comedy, so inured to the bias, that this passed me by as just another unfunny joke. On reflection it really is quite a thing to say, especially when one considers the time the show goes out.

(On the other hand the Tories will indeed put the ‘n’ into cuts if they back down and say “Not now”, as that idiot Huhne has suggested.)