Chairmen

The chairman’s role is to introduce – and often explain – each round and ask the questions. There have been only two regular chairmen – Humphrey Lyttelton and Jack Dee. Barry Cryer shared the task with Humphrey Lyttelton in the first series. However, Humph quickly established himself as being perfect for the role while Barry moved permanently to being a panellist. In the first few series, Humph was often quite enthusiastic but as they progressed he professed ever greater contempt for the games and the panellists. When the show moved out of London to being recorded on location it became traditional for him to say a few words about the host town. A few words became a few minutes, and it wasn’t long before Humph’s introductory remarks were a staple of the show. When he sadly died, in April 2008, it was hard to imagine the show continuing, at least as successfully, without him. Guest chairmen sat in for series 51. From series 52 on he was permanently replaced by Jack Dee. Jack’s deadpan delivery is just right for continuing Humph’s style, and while the great man can never be bettered, Jack’s tenure has proved an inspired choice. A full count of the show’s chairmen is five*, as shown to the right.

Scorers

Scorers have little to do, the notion of scoring having faded into insignificance long ago, but they do make an excellent foil for double entendres. With just two exceptions, there is only one scorer per show. This is usually Samantha but when she is not available the role is most often filled by Sven, though very occasionally someone else has stood in. Since the show began, there have been only three different individuals in the role*. Strangely, none of the scorers have ever been heard to speak.

Panellists

On a regular show there are four panellists, split into two teams. From series three, it settled down to there being the same four regulars in every show – Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Willie Rushton. Now and then a guest panellist would substitute if one of the regulars couldn’t appear. Since Willie sadly passed away, in late 1996, a guest panellist has joined Tim Brooke-Taylor for each show to take on Barry and Graeme. There have been thirty-seven different panellists on the show over the years*. When you consider that nowadays there are only a dozen shows aired each year – with a panellist being on a pair of shows, so really only six ‘positions’ – anyone reaching double figures could claim to be a semi-regular.

Pianists

There is at least one proper musical round per show, and since his first appearance in the role, in series three, Colin Sell has rarely missed an edition. Although demonstrably highly talented, it became a running joke that Humph would make snide remarks about Colin’s abilities whenever the opportunity arose. Jack Dee has continued in the same vein.

Guests

It’s rare for there to be guests on the show apart from guest panellists. Indeed, one special I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Desert Island where celebrities shared their favourite bits of the show, had nearly as many guests as all of the rest of the shows put together. There have only been thirteen guests in total*. On occasion there have been ‘guests’ that were not really there, with recordings of them being used as necessary. I’ve tried NOT to include these ‘appearances’ in the figures. However, apart from in specials guests are not usually credited, so it could be that none of people I’ve included here actually appeared in person.

Psuedo Guests

There have been a few ‘pseudo guests’ on the show, for example a computer and a couple of SatNavs used in Mornington Crescent. In my opinion, they are the funniest versions of the game ever broadcast, so I’ve included them here – along with one or two other memorable ‘guests’ – to make the shows easier to find.

Hosts

Specials and compilation shows have had a host presenter (or Humph has appeared in a role where he performs functions similar to that of a chairman, but technically it wouldn’t be correct to describe him as such). There have been three hosts*.

Producers

One imagines it must be quite difficult to edit the panellists’ efforts into only thirty minutes per show. It was also only a few years ago (as a result of an interview I think) that I realised the mystery voice is in fact the producer. For some reason, I’m a little disappointed that I know that. Oops … now you know it too. There have been eight producers*.

Writers

Writers, at least ones credited as such at the end of shows, are even rarer than guests. This is perhaps not surprising in a show that is mostly unscripted, though no doubt someone writes the chairman’s introduction and script, as well as putting thought into games and questions. Only two people are credited as writers in all of the shows, and this is for specials where a script would be a reasonable expectation. However Iain Pattinson does get a credit as Programme Consultant at the end of most shows.

*The numbers in brackets are the number of appearances of that person in that role. Click a name to see a list of the shows. Information is from the shows that I either have or have been able to find records for. As I’m missing a few shows, it’s unlikely to be completely accurate! I’ve tried NOT to count inclusions in compilation shows where a contribution is just a repeat from an earlier show.