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The 99p Challenge
A lot has been said about The 99p Challenge, mostly uncomplimentary and on Radio 4's "Feedback". Despite that its often left-field humour combined with strong panellists to produce a cult following for the series.
The 99p Challenge is an ironic panel game, with host Sue Perkins asking contestants such as Simon Pegg, Armando Iannucci, Marcus Brigstocke and Peter Serafinowicz to indulge in verbal pastimes of the sort a certain type of bloke comes up with when conversation in the pub has run out.
Like inventing fake "Births & Deaths" messages: "Died: Fred Jamieson after a long illness... under an anvil", discovering what Mr Muscle oven-cleaner loves as much as "the jobs you hate": "Mr Muscle - loves pursuing building firms through the small claims court", and favourite book group reading: "Cooking with Jamie Oliver: Delia Smith tells you the best way to cook Jamie Oliver".
Launched on Radio 4 in 2000, The 99p Challenge was a revamped version of King Stupid, one of many new shows introduced to the channel in 1998 as part of a major change to the schedules.
Given the Radio 4 audience's conservatism such a launch was never going to be easy and matters were made harder by the fact many of the new shows, including King Stupid, had to be put together in just weeks.
In the circumstances it was hardly surprising that the audience greeted the programme like an expectant mother discovering King Herod was her midwife.
As its successor The 99p Challenge was much more successful, though still capable of dividing its audience.
Just as silly as I'm Sorry I Haven’t A Clue but with much less reliance on innuendo (and, perhaps, less warmth), the programme could be patchy but certainly served up some slices of hilarity over its five series.
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