Never Mind The Full Stops, BBC4

by | May 11, 2006 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

A sumptuous feast of vulgar vocabulary with a witty panel and some fun games, even if some of them seem more suited to being played in the parlour at the after-show party for the Badminton Horse Trials or the Boat Race.

What was good about it?

• Host Julian Fellowes. Evidently aware that no matter how much he toned down his upper class vowels he would still sound like a toff, Fellowes cleverly chose to exaggerate his gentility and, through a studied theatrical verbosity, become an amusing parody of himself always getting in a outraged fluster at the merest lapse in language.

• David Aaronvitch, a laconic hack who was twice as funny as the hyperactive Janet Street Porter while using only half the words. His derision and distaste for facile ways to say “goodbye” such as “laters”, “TTFN” and “ciao” was particularly acerbic.

• But that’s not to say Janet Street-Porter’s mania wasn’t welcome. Her vivacity helped the show keep a pulse in its duller moments.

• After Ned Sherrin identified Richard Gere as the speaker of a preposterously overwrought sentence, he was asked how he managed to work it out. “I had dinner with him once,” he spat, “and he was rather unpleasant.”

• The best round was when the teams had to rewrite a short passage and replace certain words and phrases with euphemisms for a sympathetic angle or cacophonisms (no, we’d not heard of this word either and we’re not even sure it it’s spelt right as it isn’t in the dictionary) for a harsher perspective. So under a euphemism “fraud” became “financial brilliance” while “smells” became “pongs” under a cacophonism.

• Another decent round was deciphering what modern phrases have replaced in the language such as “no brainer” superseding “it’s not rocket science”, and more absurdly “negative care outcome” being a euphemism for “dead”.

• The wrongly spelt signs painted in thick white letters on the roads; “Stop” was “Sotp” and “School” was “Shcool”.

What was bad about it?

• The glaring, blinding backdrop which seems to have been transported lock, stock and barrel from the set of 1960s horror classic Masque of the Red Death so incandescent was the garish crimson backdrop.

• Julian Fellowes perched on his silver-rimmed throne in his tweed suit like the god of dictionaries passing judgement on the semantic sins of humanity.

• Some of the questions seemed more a vindictive excuse to mock Americans or working class politicians, but as the politician was the atrocious John Prescott we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. But some of the others such as when Sherrin remarked that Sven Goran Eriksson “speaks better English than most other managers” smacked of simple snobbery.

• The round where the teams had to correct a short passage of its grammatical errors. It would be fine were we not journalists, as it then became a very easy sub-editing task you get set at job interviews (which perhaps made it all the more surprising that hacks Aaronovitch and Street-Porter didn’t score full marks while Sherrin and Carole Thatcher did).

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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