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Radio 4 as an antidote to Twitter panel games

Jem Stone Jem Stone 07:03, Wednesday, 3 June 2009

For the last few months there have been a rash of quite ancient comedy parlour games being adapted to Twitter where groups of friends devise, in 140 characters of course, punnery and wordplay around film and tv titles. Just in the last month credit crunch movies (eg: The Italian Jobless), medieval movies (eg: You've Got Chain Mail) have had their moment in the sun. In response a small group of Radio 4 fans including a lot of the Twitter regulars working here have had minutes of fun of an evening adapting these memes to our favourite national speech network;  CreditCrunchRadio4 spawned for example the rather bleak The Pip. My best attempt at medievalradio4 was You and Your Serf (sorry). However none so far had generated more than a brief flurry of interest.

But then Radio 4 announcer; Kathy Clugston found herself on a train journey home yesterday evening was bored and tweeted this:

kathytwitterminus.jpgAt first there was just a handful of top quality responses from some  regular contributors , and a couple of lame attempts from yours truly and it looked it was time for bed and the shipping forecast as usual. However I work up this morning and there were incredibly nearly a thousand tweets of programme titles mostly containing boos, wees and lots more Tims. About midnight Radio 4's very own King of Twitter; Mitch Benn had joined in and gradually by the time all his legions of followers had picked up on it; Radio 4 - minus 1 letter, was in Twitter parlance, trending. So to avoid you doing the rather hard work of sifting through the tweet archive.  

Our favourite 20 #radio4minus1letter tweets

  higgis: A look at Judeo-Roman history through one woman's obsession with a charioteer: Woman's Hur #radio4minus1letter · View

  richardberryuk: #radio4minus1letter - "lose ends" an invited panel have to find the end of the sellotape roll ·  View

  MitchBenn: #radio4minus1letter Fedback- Roger Bolton tries to answer listeners' letters and emails but finds someone's done it already. · View

  MitchBenn: #radio4minus1letter Loose Eds - Stourton, Mair and Reardon on a bender ·  View

  SirTerence: I nominate this as winner @jamescridland Snooker-based comedy panel show: I'm Sorry I Haven't A Cue #radio4minus1letter ·  View

  bopeepsheep: #radio4minus1letter Jus A Minute. Contestants have 60 seconds to produce a tasty gravy without repetition, deviation, hesitation, or Bisto. ·  View

  dogzero: #radio4minus1letter "Road Casting House" - join American doctor, Hugh Laurie as he makes various highways using molds and plaster of paris ·  View

  lesleypeal: #radio4minus1letter 'taking a stan' in which fergal keane talks to rap star m&m ·  View

  jonnydollarUK: #radio4minus1letter Omens hour. A black cat and a man who once broke a mirror discuss the ides of March. ·  View

  Jefy: "The NES quiz" Sandi Toksvig grills punt and dennis on game consoles that never quite caught on #radio4minus1letter · · View

  jimh: The Shipping Forecat - a daily nautical report from a feline stowaway #radio4minus1letter · · View

  mmechevrolet: #radio4minus1letter Just an inute - eskimos campaign for the correct spelling of their name ·  View

  LordPlumpton: @Xanneroo #radio4minus1letter Tet Match Special, in which Henry Blofeld remembers the Vietnam war · · View

  loveandgarbage: RT @Barc_alpha: #radio4minus1letter Geoffrey Boycott and Blowers travel supersonic in the world's fastest planes - Test Mach Special ·  · View

  jimeasterbrook: @kathyclugston Arming Today. Making sure Humphries, Evans, et al are properly equipped for dealing with politicians. #radio4minus1letter · · View

  JGONeill: @kathyclugston #Radio4minus1letter "Eek in Westminster", MPs open Daily Telegraph live on-air @thoroughlygood ·  · View

  DanRebellato: @kathyclugston Mr Gemmell's footballing reminiscences. The Archie Hour. #radio4minus1letter ·  View

  jasperparsnip: #radio4minus1letter Dow the line. Musings on American industrial averages. · View

  rpudd: #radio4minus1letter Bok at Bedtime. Members of the South African rugby team read from their memoirs. · View

Now obviously this sort of japery wasn't invented yesterday. In fact this blog post is really a long way round of reminding you all that the true masters of this activity for over nearly 40 years no less. Are back! (Monday June 15th: 6.30pm) And not on Twitter. Well apart from him

(Oh. A handful of the tweets online have a high innuendo factor. If the thought of what Samantha has got up to over the years offends then steer clear.)

Ok. If you're bored on the commute home tonight. mmm. #radio4plus1letter. That could be fun.

Jem Stone is Portfolio Executive for Social Media at BBC Audio & Music


  • Comment number 1.

    I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue = 5 Stars

    Twitter Panel Games = 1 Star [and that's being generous...]

    And 'movies'. Are they a bit like 'films' then ?? Do tell.

  • Comment number 2.

    LBG, I don't think you can compare the two - both are very different beasts. Have you tried Twitter? I followed the #Radio4minus1letter tweets as they were happening and they were both inventive and hilarious.

    I like 'Clue' but by its very nature it is full of in-jokes and cliques which form part of its charm. In contrast, Twitter can be utterly inclusive and democratic; a joy of modern technology. Not to mention excellent discipline to limit messages to 140 chars.

    Besides, I'm sure when the new series of Clue starts, there will be a string of tweets contributing to #CheddarGorge, #UxbridgeEnglish etc.

  • Comment number 3.

    perfectsix - If one day, many moons from now, the joys of the written word have lost all meaning, they have stopped making films, no more music is being written and most human life on earth has been killed off by Gaia, then I might, just might, find life so unutterably dull that I am forced to descend to the vapid inanity which Twitter seems to be, but until that day...

    Still, posting replies on BBC blogs is probably not that much further up the food chain, so maybe I haven't gotten as far to fall as I'd like to think...

  • Comment number 4.

    To #3: lordBeddGelert

    Maybe you have something in common with Socates who distrusted the written word:

    ""If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks." (from Plato's Phaedrus)"

  • Comment number 5.

    RIP Humph.

  • Comment number 6.

    Analsis - A programme about a tidy nun
    Word of Moth - facinating insights into bashing your head against a lightbulb
    Bell - Rather monotone version of Bells


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