Saturday 1 February 2014


Genre: Comedy / Quiz Show
Channel: BBC1
Transmission: 16/03/1992 - 15/05/1992

Everyone can get a bit gibberish at times. Speaking to a beautiful girl, attempting to argue when we know we're wrong and awkward urinal chats are some of our horror scenarios.

There is, however, a certain schadenfreude when it comes to watching others trip over their tongues. The resulting superiority boost always results in a hearty laugh.

Accordingly, chuck a few comedians into the mix and the laughs should rain down heavily; that's what the producers of Gibberish were banking on.

The Wild Beast of Improvisational Comedy

Gibberish was a 1992 comedy panel show hosted by Kenny Everett. Part improvisation, part wordplay, the show featured two teams of three: Jessica Martin, Barry Cryer and Danny Baker versus Carol Vorderman, Steve Punt and Jan Ravens. The teams remained the same throughout the series.

Rounds included:

Opening Letter - Team members are given a letter each and have to form a sentence using those words e.g. letters O, P and S are given out which result in "old people sympathise". The team have to keep it going for 30 seconds.

Newsreader - A team member is nominated to 'tell the news' based on words prompted by Kenny.

Reveal Your Identity - One team member has to ring the other and give them clues as to who they are.

The series aired from Monday to Friday in the mid morning slot on BBC1. Only one series was produced and it was never repeated. It was the final show hosted by Kenny Everett who passed away in 1995 from an AIDS-related illness.

Gibberish? Or Comedy Gold?

We were first made aware of Gibberish during a lively Twitter chat about forgotten TV shows.

It wasn't a show we remembered from its original run, but it certainly aired during a period where we could have caught an episode. The fact that it was one of Kenny Everett's final television appearences also intrigued us.

Some of our earliest telly memories are from The Kenny Everett Television Show, so we decided to investigate.

Very little information was found online, not surprising for a show tucked away in the daytime schedule. There was certainly no footage available, just one group photo of the teams. The BFI Archive holds every single episode, so we booked in to watch the first episode.

The morning slot lends itself to a casual feel to proceedings, much like Win, Lose or Draw which Danny Baker was also involved with. Kenny dishes the points out as he wants, sometimes regardless of the team members actual performance.

There are no desks which add to the informal feel and Danny Baker is frequently shouting at the opposing team in his inimitable style. Kenny isn't in full on MANIC mode, but he slips into it every now and then whilst keeping the show moving.

Gibberish isn't as anarchic as They Think It's All Over or Never Mind the Buzzcocks, but we doubt anything in this timeslot could be.

Atmosphere wise, then, it's perfect for the intended audience of stay at home mums and students. A rum bunch indeed.

The guests are decent fare although we have to confess to having no idea who Jan Ravens and Jessica Martin were. After doing a little research, we were able to pinpoint Jan Ravens, but Jessica Martin's CV rang no bells to us.

Carol Vorderman had been part of Countdown for 10 years when Gibberish aired, so she was somewhat of a quiz show veteran. She displays her usual slaphappy charm and delivers some good laughs. Steve Punt provides the Oxbridge smarts and Danny Baker roars in with his playful, everyman persona.

Presiding over them is Barry Cryer, a legend of British comedy who has worked with an endless list of stars. He seems to be the most at home here, which isn't a surprise as he'd been appearing on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue for the previous 20 years.

Some of the games work better that others and, as a whole, Gibberish isn't as funny as Whose Line is it Anyway, perhaps it's nearest relative.

We weren't particularly impressed with the set either. Rather unimaginative, but then wasn't everything pre-Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Actually, no, there was a curious charm to the Fifteen to One set. It's a minor quibble, but quibble we shall!

Gibberish is a harmless piece of fluff which provides some good laughs and is something we would have watched at the time. Kenny Everett had been diagnosed as HIV positive a few years earlier, so we suspect that health issues perhaps led to Gibberish being a one series wonder.

It's a fitting final outing for Kenny and certainly one for any comedy aficionados to sniff out


  1. I was the Video Editor on this show!

    What a claim to fame!

  2. I watched this being recorded when I was in Sixth Form as one of the teachers got a load of tickets. All I remember is that it was very mild compared to Who's Line Is It Anyway, and I still clearly remember the venerable Barry Cryer wearing the tightest trousers I've ever witnessed. It looked vacuum packed.