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The Fully Authorised History of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue: The Clue Bible from Footlights to Mornington Crescent [Paperback]

Jem Roberts
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Sep 2010

'It's a great missing piece of the jigsaw - people go on endlessly about Python and Peter Cook, which is all well and good but there's basically this great corpus of work stretching for decades - and consistently good ... A major piece of work, and universally loved.'

So says John Lloyd, brains behind Blackadder, QI, Spitting Image, and so much besides - all shows with a massive debt to I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. Together they form a body of work stretching across five decades, from Cambridge in 1960 to today's world-beating Antidote to Panel Games, a laughter-bringer which has inspired unparalleled adoration in millions over fifty series. This book tells the whole story, from Footlights to Broadway to the ferret-filled madness of Radio Prune - comedy's answer to the rock & roll revolution of the sixties. Offering an exhaustive guide to the comedy world that brought us Mornington Crescent, besides episode guides, glossaries and rare facsimiles, Jem Roberts will take the story right up to the present day, celebrating the lives of Willie Rushton, Sir David Hatch and of course, the irreplaceable Humphrey Lyttelton. With exclusive input from the Teams, plus Bill Oddie, Stephen Fry, Bill Bailey, Neil Innes and many more, this is the long-overdue authoritative, entertaining and, above all, very silly lasting celebration of an unsung comic legacy that both shows so richly deserve.

Frequently Bought Together

The Fully Authorised History of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue: The Clue Bible from Footlights to Mornington Crescent + I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue: The Best of Forty Years: Foreword by Stephen Fry + The New Uxbridge English Dictionary
Price For All Three: 27.18

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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; Reprint edition (2 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184809132X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848091320
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

STEPHEN FRY: "Jem manages to write about popular cultural institutions with knowledge and affection, while avoiding the dismal traps of nerdy fanboyism on the one hand or grandiose cultural pseudo-intellectualism on the other. His research is flawless and the results are readable, illuminating and delightful."

THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT: "J.F. Roberts's lively, warm-hearted True History of The Black Adder is a celebration of 'this incredible feat of comedy production'."

TIM BROOKE-TAYLOR: "An incredibly good job - and he got it RIGHT."
BARRY CRYER: "You're very charming, it's a pleasure to go on about it."
GRAEME GARDEN: "As Bibles go, I reckon THE CLUE BIBLE is among the top two."

THE TELEGRAPH: (The True History...) "Essential for any comprehensive comedy library..."

BRIAN BLESSED: "Tell them, 'Brian loves and trusts me.' What you're doing is so worthwhile, KEEP AT IT!"

Jem Roberts first emerged in Ludlow in the summer of 1978, and studied Film, TV and English Literature at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He lives in Bath, where he performs comedy both solo, and with his troupe/band The Unrelated Family.

Having written for games magazines from an illegally young age, a decade of working on titles from DVD Review, Total Advance and Xbox World to Disney Girl and Muffin the Mule followed graduation, until scribblings for fanzines Publish & Bedazzled and Kettering led to an invitation to chronicle fifty years of silliness in his first book, The Clue Bible: The Fully Authorised History of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. When invited to suggest a follow-up, his lifelong devotion to Blackadder resulted in the marking of the 30th anniversary of the legendary sitcom's debut, with The True History of The Black Adder (As J.F. Roberts).

Jem has also been writing for children since long before anyone had ever heard of that Potter lad. 'Little Wee' was published in the charity collection Homespun Threads, an enormous new project, 'Brother Bernard' is currently boiling away on the hob, and he is working on a number of further books and literary projects for children of all sizes.

Product Description


"Were it not for Jem Roberts and his encyclopaedic knowledge of Clue - its dizzying array of antecedents, its career on radio and on the road and its inside information on the regular members of the cast, past and present - my memory of that particular show and of many another high spot, would be a lot hazier than it is now" (Daily Mail)

"A gift for Clue obsessives" (Sunday Times)

Book Description

The official, definitive, exhaustive, complete history and doings of the antidote to panel games: I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. With forewords by Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Barry Cryer.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Longer Clueless 23 Dec 2009
The first half of this, largely, excellent book traces the careers of a small group of satirists and comedians from Cambridge Smokers to Clue via Footlights, revues, I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again, The Goodies, Hello Cheeky and numerous other less well remembered projects and, over that time, there are comedy connections to most of the greats of the last 40 years. It is only half way through that we are finally introduced to Humph, Barry and Willy.

The author tries to make a case for ISIRTA being the greatest of all radio scripted comedy. Having been too young to have listened to it when first broadcast I have only encountered it far down the line via, the wonderful, BBC Radio 7. As the author writes in another context perhaps you had to be there at the time.

Of course after nearly 40 years Clue has undergone massive changes in style - if not in cast. Most of the early years got wiped by the BBC long ago but those episodes left are a much gentler affair than the current, barely broadcastable, riot with its systematic victimisation of Lionel Blair and the infliction of Jeremy Hardy's "singing" on an unsuspecting world. It was a succession of young producers - Perkins, Mayhew Archer on - who slowly transformed the game into what we know now. Jack Dee has the right personality and wit to keep it going.

I am sure some people saw this title and feared it was a cut and paste rush job to exploit the good will we all had for Humph. Nothing could be further from the truth, this book has clearly been pieced together by a decent writer over a long period and with significant input from most of those involved over the best part of 50 years. My one criticism is that the author likes everyone a little too much.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin 14 Jan 2010
By GordonD
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a book that you *can* judge by its cover - it shows Humph and the rest of the 'ISIHAC' gang in a pose based on Leonardo's 'Last Supper'. Inside is an in-depth history not only of 'Clue' itself but of its predecessor 'I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again' and of other Radio 4 comedies including 'Hello Cheeky!' starring Tim Brooke-Taylor and Barry Cryer.

I believe there are two types of people in the world - those who love 'Clue' and those who haven't discovered it yet. The former will adore this book and with any luck it will encourage the latter to seek out this comedy gem.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clue Bible - result! 2 Jan 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was well received as a gift for a Clue fan who rarely finds time to read books. But he's had his nose in this book ever since, with much chuckling to be heard!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars abundant wit and mirth 8 Jan 2013
By bentley
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book of the best of forty years of my favourite radio comedy programme irresistible.Other members of the house wondered why guffaws of laughter kept resonanting from the lounge at all hours
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What to say? 8 May 2013
By iBozz
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Any Clue book is, by definition, superb and this one doesn't disappoint. It is a feast of information for the obsessive devotee and for the recently initiated alike.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the Myths and Anecdotes 11 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is very engaging read which brings to life the fascinating facts behinds the myths and anecdotes of some of the amazing key people that have made British comedy the envy of the world and have made us laugh so often and so loud over 6 decades or more. Jem Roberts has produced a terrific and authorative book that will be up there with the best of comedy histories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Walking In A Wonder Hinterland 30 Jan 2013
I picked up this weighty tome thinking it would be a fun book to dip into and relive some of the puns and gags from the fifty-odd series of everyone's favourite radio comedy. However, after reading a couple of pages I realised this wasn't a mere collection of "best of"s and was, in fact, a proper chronological story. The history of some of Britain's true comedy greats, from Cambridge University in the 1960s to the present day. So, rather than picking my way through the "Bible" I read it cover to cover, enjoying it enormously.

Clearly, many of the jokes and skits and (particularly) the Chairman's speeches are retold here, and these are more than welcome, but generally this is a written record taken from the mouths of the principal players, at great length, by Jem Roberts. Roberts has performed a great service to the cultural history of Britain, I'd say, if it didn't sound so po-faced.

The book divides into two sections (or, inevitably,"Testaments") the first dealing mainly with the radio show "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again" which led directly to The Goodies, Monty Python etc etc the second section is about "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" itself.

Part 1 is a bit more of a critical appraisal than Part 2, which is unashamedly the work of a fan of the show. I found the "ISIRTA" bits if anything more interesting, since I knew nothing about this ground breaking show. Also, unlike the apparent serenity of the "Clue" regulars, the earlier show, featuring John Cleese and Bill Oddie, who both seem more than capable of butting heads with their old friends, comes accross as a bit more frazzled.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ISIHAC perfection 7 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Any ISIHAC fan will find this a perfect addition to their collection. Brilliant stories and jokes.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought for my husband who enjoyed it
Published 8 days ago by Mrs. Julia C. West
4.0 out of 5 stars One for die hard fans - no Mr Willis not the film...
If you're a fan of the long-running Radio 4 antidote to panel games, you'll find this book packed with interesting and amusing information. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ian Barker
4.0 out of 5 stars The antidote to radio comedy books
Excellent read. An exhaustive account of I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again and I'm Sorry I haven't a Clue and everything leading up to and between the two. A joy for fans.
Published 2 months ago by John Hannibal Swift
5.0 out of 5 stars ISIHAC
Waht a good book. A thorough examination the history of, and the eventual current show that is ISIHAC. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Michael Dodds
4.0 out of 5 stars very good
again I have to write meaningful or meaning less words, just let me give it the right number of stars
Published 7 months ago by Mr. J. Biltcliffe
4.0 out of 5 stars Jem's Gem
It stands to Robert's credit that ISIHAC is only first mentioned on page 162 of this 350 page book. Any treatment of the history of this most beloved of BBC Radio comedies would be... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mark Sean Tynan
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Very complete review of post-Kenneth Horne British radio comedy. Excellent coverage of ISIRTA and Clue personalities and programme development. Recommended.
Published 18 months ago by James Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars A reminder of very happy memories
These are the comedians I grew up with and time has only made them funnier. I introduced my children to the humour of Messrs Cryer, Lyttleton, Brooke-Taylor, Garden, Oddie and... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Wizard_of_Odds
3.0 out of 5 stars Grrr. Kindle shortcomings spoil this
While the content of this book is interesting and informative (at least if you've enjoyed "I'm Sorry I (fill in appropriate extension here)"), if a little overlong - 480 pages... Read more
Published on 11 April 2012 by John Brooke
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