For very many years, The News Quiz has regularly filled the Friday 18:30 comedy slot on BBC Radio 4. The show takes a satirical look at the week’s news. It still maintains the quiz format that it started out with, though nowadays the competition element is not really relevant. It’s just a vehicle for a tongue-in-cheek look at the events and the people in the news that week.

The panellists’ observations are always amusing and good for at least a chuckle or two, but the real belly laughs often come from the cuttings that listeners send in, read by a variety of BBC continuity announcers. These usually open and close every show and precede each round.

The shows were topical at the time of transmission – sometimes too topical, with it being a running joke that the shows are recorded on a Thursday and transmitted on a Friday. This can be especially pertinent during elections as the show is being recorded while people are still voting, while the results are known by the time it’s transmitted. Further opportunities for confusion over timing are offered by whether one is listening to the original broadcast, or the repeat. One of my favourite examples of this was a comment by Alan Coren:

… this was six hundred million years ago.
Or, if you’re listening to the Saturday repeat, six hundred million years and a day.

Although the subjects and people discussed are ‘of the moment’ the humour stands the test of time, with shows from the 70s and 80s being as funny now as when they first aired.


A complaint has been made after an episode of Basil Brush featured a gypsy character, selling pegs and lucky heather, and a joke about a fortune teller stealing Basil’s wallet. Joseph Jones, vice-chairman of the Southern England Romany Gypsy & Irish Traveller Network, said “To perpetuate this myth about travellers and gypsies is wrong. Attitudes like this belong twenty or thirty years ago. We are supposed to have moved on by now.”

Grocer’s notice in Jersey: In the interests of hygiene please do not handle the rolls and croissants. Kindly use the tongues.

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