Dead Poets and Spelling Tests.Is It School?

By Garfield, Simon | The Mail on Sunday (London, England), October 21, 2001 | Go to article overview

Dead Poets and Spelling Tests.Is It School?


Garfield, Simon, The Mail on Sunday (London, England)


Byline: SIMON GARFIELD

Towards the end of Say The Word (Radio 4, Wednesday) ***, the new lunchtime quiz that can't quite decide whether it wants to be a comedy, I felt as if I were back at school. 'Spell accommodation,' host Frank Delaney demanded.

One of his guests did their best: 'A-double-com-o-d-at-i-on'.

'No!' 'Double m!' another very proud guest said.

A spelling test on the radio is pretty desperate stuff, but no more desperate than some other attempts to fill the slot directly after The World At One. All manner of weak comedies and panel games have come and gone, and even though this new one needs a poker rammed up it, at least it has the feel of something that may be around for a while.

The first show was recorded in front of a very generous audience at a literary festival in Dartington, Devon, and they whooped and stomped at even the weakest quips from team members Sandi Toksvig and Christopher Matthew.

Another guest, Cambridge English don Laura Wright, must have wished she were marking essays.

But it began well, with the first of its regular interviews with dead authors and poets by the Nimmo Twins. Their opening victim was Dylan Thomas, who, though dead, still had a hangover, and revealed that he was updating Under Milk Wood to Under Skimmed-Milk Wood with new characters such as Dai the Hair and Pearce the Nipple. …

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