I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue

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I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue (ISIHAC) is a long-running and very popular BBC Radio comedy show which has been broadcast in two series per year on Radio 4 since 1972, and is advertised as 'The Antidote to Panel Games'.

Original Team members left to right: Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer, Humphrey Lyttelton, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and Willie Rushton

In the show four regulars, primarily Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer and, (until December 1996, Willie Rushton), are given 'silly things to do' under the chairmanship of originally 'Humph' (Humphrey Lyttelton) and currently Jack Dee, while Colin Sell provides the musical accompaniment, and is the foil for much of the humour, for example: "We've just heard some great news — I'm very pleased to announce that the BBC have arranged a special collection of Colin's entire work... they've bagged it up and the council are sending some men round for it on Tuesday."

The show has a cult following, notably a Mrs. Trellis of North Wales, and supports the care in the community initiative by providing work for geriatric comic performers and superannuated jazz musicians. Samantha sits on Humph's right hand and scores regularly.

Probably the most famous game played by the team is Mornington Crescent. As most people know the rules to this game, or can track down the International Mornington Crescent Society rulebook, they will not be repeated here. However, beginners may like to see the transcript from a novice’s game. The following are the simplified rules for Mornington Crescent:

  1. Get to Mornington Crescent.
  2. Stop your opponents getting there first.

On the show the teams frequently play one of the Variations

Many of the comments made by the octogenarian chairman have made the show notorious for including far more and far ruder innuendo and double entendre than the BBC would ever broadcast on television in a similar early evening timeslot. The show's standard response to this is that any humour exists solely in the mind of the listener. An example of this humour is the following example, where the chairman discusses what Samantha will be doing after the show: "She's looking forward to going out for an ice cream with her Italian gentleman friend. She says she's looking forward to licking the nuts off a large Neapolitan."

Much of the true humour of the show lies in it self-deprecation; panellists and chairman frequently poke fun at the show for its supposedly low quality. For example, Humph has been heard to say:

  • "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!"

The show invariably draws to a close with Humph imparting final words of wisdom, invoking time, fate and eternity:

  • "...And so, as the guardsman of time strokes the bearskin of eternity, and the sergeant major of fate orders him back to the barracks to put some clothes on..."

ISIHAC is a British Institution.


From its inauguration in 1972 until his death in 2008 the show was hosted by jazz musician Humphrey Lyttelton. The next season to be made, first broadcast in June 2009, was under the rotating chairmanship of Stephen Fry, Rob Brydon and Jack Dee.[1] Subsequent series have been hosted exclusively by Dee.[2]