Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Why no Paxman spoofs ?

Here’s a question which has just occurred to me after reading a recent post on Jenny Turner’s excellent Quizzlestick. Namely, considering there have been some excellent parodies of University Challenge during the latter days of the Bamber Gascoigne era, why have I never seen a parody of Jeremy Paxman’s University Challenge ?

Without even trying I can name three from Bamber’s days.

1) Firstly we have the Not the Nine O’Clock News sketch, H.M. Prison Challenge, where prisoners were asked to supply answers to unsolved crimes in order to secure remission rather than points ( er – was it Reggie ‘The Dog’ Trubshawe ? ) . Trust me, it was a lot funnier than I made it sound. This provided Griff Rhys Jones with his first opportunity to play Bamber, which he so memorably reprised in the second of our list .

2) The classic episode of The Young Ones, where our heroes from Scumbag College take on Messrs Fry , Laurie, Thompson and Elton – or to give them their characters names, Lord Monty, Lord Snot, Miss Money Sterling, and Kendal Mintcake – from Footlights College Oxbridge.(“Whose last words were “Lawks a Lordy, my bottom’s on fire ?” “Lenin ? “ “No, it was Joan of Ark. “ ) So much has already been written in different places about this episode that I can’t add anything original to it, and so will move on to the third.

3) The film “Starter for Ten” based on the novel by David Nicholls. OK, so this isn’t a parody. The episode of University Challenge is actually central to the plot of both film and book, and no attempt is made to parody or mock. In fact Mark Gatiss ( ahh, the League of Gentlemen ) makes rather a good job of playing dear old Bamber.

Well, alright, Bamber presented the show for 25 years, so there was certainly plenty of time for him to become a target for some gentle mockery. But be fair, Jeremy Paxman has actually been presenting the show for 16 years, unless I’m very much mistaken. If you’ve been a LAM regular for any length of time you’ll know how much of a fan of him I am, but even I can admit that he has a style which, lets be honest , would be fairly easy to send up. So why hasn’t anyone ? Unless, of course someone has and I have just missed it, in which case I look for some kind reader to help me out with this.

I should probably mention a couple of clips on YouTube. There’s a highly amusing one which has manipulated footage of the 2010 Grand Final to consider what might have happened if the great Alex Guttenplan hadn’t known so many answers. Also there’s a good clip from Armando Ianucci’s Time Trumpet. This looks like genuine footage from the show, over which different voices have been dubbed. I think that if you go to YouTube and search University Challenge spoof you should find both of these quite easily.


While on the subject of spoofs and send ups of quizzes, I recall that some time ago I posted about my favourite depictions of pub quizzes in sitcoms. I mention this because I caught part of another one a week or so ago. There's a BBC sitcom on a Saturday evening I think, called The Old Guys. Now, the fact that it was on a Saturday evening didn't fill me with any great hopes, and I'll be honest, considering it was created by the same people who created the excellent Peep show it didn't really do it for me. As for the quiz, well basically the two protagonists - Roger Lloyd Pack and CLive Swift want to improve on a dismal performance in their local pub quiz in order to impress Jane Asher, who is actually worse than they are. Cherie Lunghi came into it somewhere as a librarian, but I'm afraid that I was losing the will to live , and so I switched the set off and went and took my pleasures elsewhere.


Jack said...

The closest I've found to a proper Paxman UC spoof is the Red Dwarf Universe Challenge, which starts with Chris Barrie impersonating Jeremy Paxman, before Bamber Gascoigne pops up behind and blows him up, before taking the chair.

That Guttenplan video is absolutely genius! It's one of the few UC spoofs on YT that doesn't rely heavily on swearing.

I'll mention a few other UC spoofs on YT. One piece that always makes me laugh is one where Roger Tilling is manipulated at the start to say 'Asking the questions, Pacman!', at which point we see a yellow pacman behind Paxo's desk!

Another, made by the same user, shows, among other things, last year's Imperial team introducing themselves. Most notably, when Mr Good introduces himself, he simply says 'South Wales', at which points Tom Jones singing fades into view!

Oli said...

Hi David,

Take a look at this Youtube clip, especially 7.06 onwards: - Bremner doing his Paxman impression a few years back.

I'm a regular reader of LAM and love the blog; thought I'd pop up and say hello at last!


Des Elmes said...

The following Spitting Image scene depicts Paxo interviewing Kenneth Clarke (when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer) on Newsnight, but does it count as a UC spoof too?

Paxo puppet: "Chancellor, when are interest rates going to come down?"

(Clarke puppet presses a buzzer on the desk)

Voiceover: "Clarke, Conservative."

Clarke puppet: "Uhh... when economic conditions dictate!"

Paxo puppet: "Whoa! Look, I'm not even doing that show! Oh, why am I doing University Challenge?"

(Clarke puppet presses buzzer)

Voiceover: "Clarke, Conservative."

Clarke puppet: "Because you didn't get the job on Question Time!"

HughTube said...

Not a Paxman spoof but I thought this was funny.

Londinius said...

I knew that you guys wouldn't let me down ! Thanks for all the references and ideas to check out.

Jack, I honestly did not know the Red Dwarf one. Do you know , is it on You Tube ? I'll check it out if it is.

Oli, its a pleasure to have you on board, and thanks for your kind words.

Des, it seems funny to think that Spitting Image was still going when JP took over, but of course it was. I loved their Mastermind spoofs with George Bush sr., and Jeffrey Archer.

Hugh, for some reason my laptop shuts down internet explorer every time I try that URL, so I'll have to try it on the PC later - but thanks for leaving it with me.

Londinius said...

Jack, scratch that request - I just found it on YouTube. Brilliant !

Quentin Vole said...

Joan of Ark? I thought Noah's wife was Naamah 8)

Londinius said...

Oopppss ! ( red face )

Anonymous said...

There are these, I don't only like them because they have the Emmanuel team in, honest...

and this, my favourite youtube Guttenplan spoof:

Thanks for the blogging as ever,
Jenny (Harris)