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Old 12-01-2012, 10:37 PM
dropzone dropzone is online now
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Why are the Brits so in love with panel shows?

Okay, while researching this I found that all was explained here, but why should having the answer kill a good topic? Anyway, I started out with primetime US shows like What's My Line? and daytime hits like To Tell the Truth and Match Game. Later there was the US version of Whose Line is it Anyway? (Thanks to YouTube I have learned from the British version the hard truth that Stephen Fry simply cannot do improv.) Nowadays all I get is Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, but a local classical radio station used to play episodes of My Word and My Music so I went searching for them online. What I found instead was an embarrassment of riches because panel shows are MASSIVE in Blighty! Fry can't do improv, but he is an excellent panelmaster on QI, and watching that introduced me to hundreds dozens the same few comedians who linked me up to other shows. Most recently I discovered Comedy World Cup, which features David Tennant(!) as the snarky Scottish quizmaster.

And some of these comedians stretch out from the quiz show/sitcom roundabout, sometimes in a manner that only proves that anybody can get a series on British TV. Bill Bailey, from QI and Spaced, hosted a reality program that featured celebrities (in the reality show meaning of celebrities, IE: I never heard of them) BIRDWATCHING FOR FREAKING POINTS! And his next is a miniseries documentary about explorer and naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace! Can you imagine a US networking greenlighting this, much less doing it at the request of a disheveled comedian?

So, what have I missed? Never Mind the Buzzcocks is too much about musicians I either don't know or don't like and Noel Fielding creeps me out. I know that's his schtick and I want to shove Jimmy Carr through a plaster and lath wall because that's his schtick, but at least he's funny. Are there older shows that made it to YouTube? And radio; BBC Radio4 used to have some I could listen to but they only have the current I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue to listen to.

Last edited by dropzone; 12-01-2012 at 10:37 PM..
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  #2  
Old 12-01-2012, 10:55 PM
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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When I lived in Ireland for a few months in 1990, there was a radio game show hosted by someone whose name was like Gabriel Byrne, but obviously it wasn't him -- it was someone older than he. I think it was called "Catch Phrase." Apparently quite well loved at tge time among a certain set.
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:01 PM
dropzone dropzone is online now
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Here you go.

No snarky comedians but bad 90s cgi and puzzles! I'm livin' large!

Last edited by dropzone; 12-01-2012 at 11:06 PM..
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:09 PM
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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ETA: After a bit of web research, I see that I was conflating two radio shows from my Ireland experience 22 years ago: Gay Byrne (no relation to the "In Treatment" actor, though they're both Gabriels) is a beloved longtime Irish Republic radio and television host, now 78 years old. "Catch Phrase," however, was a UK television game show (simulcast on Irish radio, apparently) that happened to be hosted for a long tome by some Northern Irish comedian.

ETA again: Nice work, dropzone!

Last edited by JKellyMap; 12-01-2012 at 11:12 PM..
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  #5  
Old 12-01-2012, 11:39 PM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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BBC Radio 4 offers a "Friday Night Comedy" podcast that alternates seasons of "The Now Show" (comedy and music sketches) with "The News Quiz" (like Wait Wait but without caller participation or guest stars).
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:49 PM
dropzone dropzone is online now
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Thanks. The sketches kept me from trying "The Now Show." I prefer my quiz shows, especially if they have points that don't matter, but I will give it a try.
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Old 12-02-2012, 12:31 AM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is online now
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Presumably you've heard I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. If not, you have 40 years of episodes ahead of you.

You mention your potential intolerance of Jimmy Carr (and his weird laugh), but I think you'd like The Big Fat Quiz of the Year. It's an end-of-year quiz show that is just an excuse for a bunch of comedians to run riot.

And there's Dara O'Briain's show Mock the Week.
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Old 12-02-2012, 12:36 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Originally Posted by dropzone View Post
Thanks. The sketches kept me from trying "The Now Show." I prefer my quiz shows, especially if they have points that don't matter, but I will give it a try.
The News Quiz definitely has points that don't matter. They're running the Now Show currently, but since that isn't your cup of tea, you could subscribe and just watch for the episode description to change over.
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  #9  
Old 12-02-2012, 01:05 AM
Robot Arm Robot Arm is online now
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There's another radio show you might like, Says You! It's a bit like an American version of My Word. There's a list on that site of the stations that carry it, and at what time. I've been listening for years, been to a couple tapings, and have a bit of a crush on one of the panelists.
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  #10  
Old 12-02-2012, 01:31 AM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
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There is a Facebook group for My Word! It doesn't get much traffic, though. https://www.facebook.com/groups/17894122667/

It does include a link where you download lots of the shows. Here are two links for current broadcast times of My Word! and My Music.

Note that you can listen to the web stream for Australia Radio National for the two shows (as well as other British shows at the same time on other days). http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/comedy/

Currently they come on at noon Chicago time on the previous day.

Not a panel show, but Saturday Night Fry was a six-episode comedy series with Stephen Fry (not to be confused with his later short-lived talk show of the same name). The first episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbm-VgdzA8s
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  #11  
Old 12-02-2012, 03:21 AM
Tapioca Dextrin Tapioca Dextrin is offline
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Originally Posted by GuanoLad View Post
Presumably you've heard I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. If not, you have 40 years of episodes ahead of you.
Similar to, but totally different from I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue is Just a Minute, which the BBC has been airing since the late 1880s. Unfortunately, the original telegraph based broadcasts have been lost.
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  #12  
Old 12-02-2012, 04:10 AM
Charley Charley is offline
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The Unbelievable Truth is another Radio 4 offering, hosted by David Mitchell. The panellists have to lie on a given subject, whilst trying to smuggle a small number of true facts past their competitors. The other contestants have to spot the truths in amongst the lies. (I've just noticed that that may well be close to the explanation David Mitchell starts each show with, it feels like something I've memorised from somewhere!). I like it, but as with all these things, the humour level depends on the guests.

I think the article dropzone links to sums up their popularity very nicely. Typically a panel will be a mix of familiar faces and the odd newbie, so it's a good introduction to new comedians. The host has to work, of course - heresy, I know, but I cannot listen to Just a Minute because the host, Nicholas Parsons, make me stabby. Humourless, pompous arsehole, hate him at an unreasonale level.
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  #13  
Old 12-02-2012, 06:44 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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I think they are probably popular with UK broadcasters because they are relatively cheap to produce. They only need one simple set (if on TV), and they don't need much scripting. For the comedians and other performers who participate regularly, they are probably also a very easy gig. They do not need to do much if any preparation: just turn up and engage in "witty" banter, something they generally have an innate talent for. I suspect that, for this reason, you probably do not have to pay someone, even quite a star, as much to appear on a panel game as you would for them doing a proper "act". As for the less well known, less experienced performers who are sometimes on, they would probably pay the production company to get their face on TV, if that were an option. (I don't suppose it actually is.)

The article linked in the OP does answer the original question to some extent, but it raises another. It says, probably rightly, that Britain's panel games fill much of the same sort of entertainment needs that in America are filled by late night chat shows. Why, then, are late-night (and often nightly) chat shows such a prominent part of American TV, and so much less significant in Britain?

Last edited by njtt; 12-02-2012 at 06:47 AM..
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Old 12-02-2012, 09:19 AM
johnpost johnpost is online now
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there may be something with the difference in population size. the USA late night talk shows, and a good amount of daytime too, are used to promote performers nationwide.
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Old 12-02-2012, 10:19 AM
Corcaigh Corcaigh is offline
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Originally Posted by JKellyMap View Post
some Northern Irish comedian.
That would be Roy Walker
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  #16  
Old 12-02-2012, 10:42 AM
Hershele Ostropoler Hershele Ostropoler is offline
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I have been at the tapings for two different American pilots for Have I Got News For You, to no apparent avail.
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  #17  
Old 12-02-2012, 11:10 AM
Springtime for Spacers Springtime for Spacers is offline
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Originally Posted by GuanoLad View Post
Presumably you've heard I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. If not, you have 40 years of episodes ahead of you.

You mention your potential intolerance of Jimmy Carr (and his weird laugh), but I think you'd like The Big Fat Quiz of the Year. It's an end-of-year quiz show that is just an excuse for a bunch of comedians to run riot.

And there's Dara O'Briain's show Mock the Week.
The Big Fat Quiz of the Year: Noel Fielding alert, beware. He is rather more diluted on this though.
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Old 12-02-2012, 11:14 AM
Springtime for Spacers Springtime for Spacers is offline
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Would I Lie to You? is pretty funny, at least for the last two or three series. ISTR trying it out at the beginning and not being so impressed*. Hosted by Rob Brydon, with David Mitchell and Lee Mack.

*Wikipedia tells me that Angus Deayton was the original host, that's probably what it was.
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Old 12-02-2012, 12:21 PM
Ashley Pomeroy Ashley Pomeroy is offline
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
The article linked in the OP does answer the original question to some extent, but it raises another. It says, probably rightly, that Britain's panel games fill much of the same sort of entertainment needs that in America are filled by late night chat shows. Why, then, are late-night (and often nightly) chat shows such a prominent part of American TV, and so much less significant in Britain?
I've always assumed there were two, interlinked reasons for this. Until very recently US television comedy tended to be very sentimental, simplistic, with tiny pools of satire adrift in a tide of glurge. Something like Have I Got News for You wouldn't work in the US, where there isn't a tradition of intellectual, informed satire; a US version would either be utterly toothless or basically two lots of people shouting Drudge Report headlines at each other. In general, Americans have a curious, puppy dog faith in their government and state, which defies satire.

They also worship famous people in a way that we don't in Britain. US chat shows are cosy affairs in which coddled celebrities are allowed to publicise their newest thing, whilst the sycophantic host massages their ego. This goes on to a certain extent in the UK, but the audience would quickly tire of it (the few attempts to emulate David Letterman et al - and indeed the brief attempt to show his programme over here - crashed and burned). We prefer gruffer, less respectful hosts. Which occasionally goes wrong, e.g. this famous Parkinson interview with Meg Ryan, or Clive James with the Bee Gees.

I'll quote from the comment at the bottom of that article, which is absolutely true:
"Perhaps the reason Meg found the interview such a tough exercise is because celebrities such as her are to used to the empty, bland and shallow questions that American chat show hosts ask of their guests. Michael Parkinson asked intelligent questions and wasn’t only interested in the sell sell sell angle."
So, in summary, Britain and America have different television landscapes because the farmers and landscapers who shaped the land were bred from different stock, and grew up in different environments; the Americans were too busy taming the land to waste time making their media sophisticated, whereas Britain's environment was tamed a very long time ago. We are in the "where shall we eat" phase, they are still in the "what shall we eat" phase. Perhaps in fifty years they will have caught up.
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Old 12-02-2012, 03:14 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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IMHO, British comedians are actually clever and witty, able to produce spontaneous banter funny enough to make a show out of. Americans are not.

YES THAT APPLIES TO EACH AND EVERY MEMBER OF BOTH NATIONALITIES, OF COURSE!!
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  #21  
Old 12-02-2012, 04:06 PM
dropzone dropzone is online now
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...I cannot listen to Just a Minute because the host, Nicholas Parsons, make me stabby. Humourless, pompous arsehole, hate him at an unreasonale level.
Perfectly understandable. I wanted to kill him watching Comedy World Cup.
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Originally Posted by Smeghead View Post
IMHO, British comedians are actually clever and witty, able to produce spontaneous banter funny enough to make a show out of. Americans are not.
And yes, it is sadly true. To our credit, we knew enough to dump the unfunny Rich Hall on the Brits.

I forgot about Whad'Ya Know? which has been picked up by the local Socialist station after years of being on our National Communist Public Radio outlet.

Last edited by dropzone; 12-02-2012 at 04:07 PM..
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Old 12-02-2012, 04:18 PM
njtt njtt is offline
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Originally Posted by Ashley Pomeroy View Post
I've always assumed there were two, interlinked reasons for this. Until very recently US television comedy tended to be very sentimental, simplistic, with tiny pools of satire adrift in a tide of glurge. Something like Have I Got News for You wouldn't work in the US, where there isn't a tradition of intellectual, informed satire; a US version would either be utterly toothless or basically two lots of people shouting Drudge Report headlines at each other.
Although there certainly is a healthy tradition of both highbrow and lowbrow political satire in Britain (mind you, there is in America too), I see virtually no evidence of on HIGNFY (and only faint traces on Mock the Week). Those shows are mostly empty banter. Furthermore most of the other British panel shows have nothing to do with satire or politics at all. The main British comic tradition they tap into is the “low comedy,” sexual double entendre.

The nearest American equivalent of HIGNFY (actually a ripoff of BBC radio's The News Quiz, of which HIGNFY is the TV version) is Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me on US public radio. In my opinion it is a lot smarter and funnier than either of the British shows (although its audience share is miniscule by comparison).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashley Pomeroy View Post
In general, Americans have a curious, puppy dog faith in their government and state, which defies satire.
Have you ever heard an American conservative, or even a fairly apolitical but slightly conservative-leaning American, talk about their government? About half of America apparently believes that their government is at war with them, and will only vote for candidates who claim (usually falsely) to be political outsiders with no experience in government, and who promise to do their utmost to reduce the government's power and its influence over their constituents lives. A large proportion of Americans hate and fear their government (even when teh party they voted for is in power), unlike the British, who only hate the party in power (or perhaps the opposition party, if they are very strong supporters of the party in power).

You will find plenty of evidence of this if you ever venture into the Great Debates or Elections sections even of this (by American standards) very liberal (which, in America, means, roughly, “welfare statist”) message board.

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They also worship famous people in a way that we don't in Britain.
Look at any tabloid newspaper or magazine rack in Britain. There is plenty of celebrity worship here too. Having lived for a long time in both Britain and America I would be hard put to say that celebrity worship is more pervasive or fawning in America than in Britain. (Though at least America’ newspapers are not saturated in it the way that British tabloids are.) If there is a difference, it is that Britain does not have enough decent celebrities of its own, and has to fawn over American ones too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashley Pomeroy View Post
US chat shows are cosy affairs in which coddled celebrities are allowed to publicise their newest thing, whilst the sycophantic host massages their ego. This goes on to a certain extent in the UK, but the audience would quickly tire of it (the few attempts to emulate David Letterman et al - and indeed the brief attempt to show his programme over here - crashed and burned). We prefer gruffer, less respectful hosts. Which occasionally goes wrong, e.g. this famous Parkinson interview with Meg Ryan, or Clive James with the Bee Gees.[/INDENT]
I'll quote from the comment at the bottom of that article, which is absolutely true:
"Perhaps the reason Meg found the interview such a tough exercise is because celebrities such as her are to used to the empty, bland and shallow questions that American chat show hosts ask of their guests. Michael Parkinson asked intelligent questions and wasn’t only interested in the sell sell sell angle."
This part is largely true, but you really have not explained why it is so.

[Incidentally, in my view the American political landscape might well be vastly improved if major American politicians were subjected to regular, tough and trenchant broadcast interviews the way that major British politicians routinely are. Robin Day, who instituted this tradition on British TV, and Jeremy Paxman, his successor, have done a great service to British democracy. They have no American counterparts. Unlike political satire, the tradition of the tough public political interview is something America does lack, and I do not know why. However, this is getting us way off topic.]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashley Pomeroy View Post
So, in summary, Britain and America have different television landscapes because the farmers and landscapers who shaped the land were bred from different stock, and grew up in different environments; the Americans were too busy taming the land to waste time making their media sophisticated, whereas Britain's environment was tamed a very long time ago. We are in the "where shall we eat" phase, they are still in the "what shall we eat" phase. Perhaps in fifty years they will have caught up.
Oh good grief!

Last edited by njtt; 12-02-2012 at 04:22 PM..
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  #23  
Old 12-02-2012, 05:17 PM
dropzone dropzone is online now
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I thought Ashley Pomeroy and Smeghead were trying to woosh us. I still think Smeghead is.

Last edited by dropzone; 12-02-2012 at 05:18 PM..
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  #24  
Old 12-02-2012, 06:01 PM
BigT BigT is offline
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Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with the fact that you guys still listen to shows on the radio. A panel show is easy to do in both radio and TV formats, unlike a lot of other shows. Even our late night talk shows use a lot of visual gags--even The Late Late Show, which is probably the most British (as the host has actual conversations rather than just allowing promotions).
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Old 12-02-2012, 06:10 PM
etv78 etv78 is offline
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BigT-The fact he's a Scot might have someting to do with that.
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  #26  
Old 12-03-2012, 09:42 PM
dropzone dropzone is online now
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[QUOTE=GuanoLad;15753993]Presumably you've heard I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. If not, you have 40 years of episodes ahead of you.[/QUOTEI acquired by alternative means a bunch from the '80s and listened during my commute. My, that was dreadful! Not because it was topical in Thatcher's Britain--I'm familiar enough to get most of those jokes--but because the jokes were old, tired, and wouldn't have been funny except to people's grandmums. As the cast is much the same, I assume it is now aimed at those same great-grandmums, though I might track down one hosted by Rob Brydon because I like him.

Last edited by dropzone; 12-03-2012 at 09:43 PM..
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  #27  
Old 12-04-2012, 02:35 AM
GuanoLad GuanoLad is online now
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...but because the jokes were old, tired, and wouldn't have been funny except to people's grandmums.
I grew up with that gentle naughty humour, so I giggle at it a lot. Modern comedy for me is just a bit too crude and on-the-nose. Though perhaps that means I am now officially old.
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Old 12-04-2012, 03:06 AM
kbear kbear is offline
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When I first moved to London I was shocked at the language and subject matter on some of these shows....not in a prudish way but in a "wow they get away with that here?" kind of way. I've gradually become hooked on these shows. They have lost their bite over the years but I still find them amusing. When I was a teenager I used to fall asleep to Johnny Carson. Now I fall asleep to Mock the Week reruns on Dave.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:30 PM
dropzone dropzone is online now
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I've gallantly soldiered on with my pirated ISIHAC and found some that were fairly easy to listen to (request for future pirates: don't record programs for personal posterity with a portable cassette player and a microphone held up to the speaker). I was wishing today that I was more familiar with the geography of London I so, too, could play "Mornington Crescent," a game that could be localized for commuters anywhere. I was saddened when I found out that it is intentionally nonsensical and that it is not a game one team trying to get to Mornington Crescent while the other team, in its turn, giving the first a bum steer.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:56 PM
dropzone dropzone is online now
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My word! There are so very many of them!

http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/genre/panel_show/
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