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Let's Get Quizzical - Brains, Pickles and Slips

Wednesday 6 April 2011, 19:08

Nick St George Nick St George Producer, Radio 4 Extra

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In Part 1 of 'Quizzical' Russell referred to mild-mannered Wilfred Pickles as a herbivore, while the more irascible Gilbert Harding was described as a carnivore. And it is perhaps difficult to envisage Harding getting the best out of the good people of Ramsbottom. But with the more media-savvy panellists on 'Twenty Questions' his inability to suffer fools gladly worked well. And, with the benefit of hindsight, he can be seen as the pioneer of a more abrasive era of broadcasting. Harding gave a famous interview to John Freeman in the TV series 'Face To Face' during which the gruff mask melted away as he wept while recalling the recent death of his mother. We are rarely as one-dimensional as Received Wisdom suggests.

Drawing of Gilbert Harding by Feliks Topolski

Drawing of Gilbert Harding by Feliks Topolski

But what ultimately is the appeal of the quiz/panel game? Why do they endure? It seems to be less about who wins and loses, about how many points are gained or questions answered correctly and more about the relationship between the participants and listeners. Paul Mayhew-Archer, who went on to co-write 'The Vicar of Dibley', worked on 'I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue', 'Many A Slip' and 'Top Of The Form' during his time as a radio producer. He says in Brains, Pickles and Slips that success in this genre "isn't about knowledge or information ... you feel you know these people like friends ... it's like a warm bath".

So dust down the loofah and join us for a nice, long wallow on BBC Radio 4 Extra at 9am and 7pm on Saturday 9th April.

Nick St George is the co-producer of Let's Get Quizzical.

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