Teesside Snog Monster (jiggery_pokery) wrote,
Teesside Snog Monster

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Gyles Brandreth, who spoke for over an hour and a half at the local theatre on Sunday to an audience of between 50 and 70, was decent enough; he gave a lot of tales about famous old actors, about prominent politicians and about the Royal Family. However, I had heard him tell some of his stories on radio already and a fair number of his lines I had heard elsewhere. He gains marks for a long speech and a speech with at least purportedly local content, though I wasn't convinced that a fair amount of it couldn't be transplaced wholesale to other venues with only a minimum of local details changed. He loses marks for being fairly sparse with the laughs (though my standards are harsh here, for the last performer I saw live was Tim Vine) and for not interacting with the audience more, because I imagine his quick wit shows particularly well when he has people to play off. Not recommended, so slightly disappointing.

Sunday was also the day when British game show host Richard Whiteley passed away. I returned from the theatre to read the news; obviously Gyles wasn't aware and nobody was going to tell him, though evidently he heard soon afterwards to produce this detailed tribute. Richard hosted the Channel Four words-and-numbers daily afternoon game show Countdown for over twenty years with co-host Carol Vorderman. Their relationship can be compared to Pat Sajak and Vanna White, with the provisos that everyone knows Carol could do Richard's job but not vice versa (the opposite of Pat and Vanna!) and the fact that the daily game show in Britain is not nearly as well-established as it is in the US. To get the measure of the passing away, not only do you have to imagine Pat Sajak passing on, but you have to imagine there has never been a Bob Barker and there hasn't been Jeopardy! hosted by Alex Trebek since the end of the '80s. (Bob Holness with Blockbusters is the obvious analogy.)

I met Whiteley twice - once when he spoke at the Oxford Union, the second time when he presented prizes at the Mind Sports Olympiad in 2003. We had known that Whiteley had been suffering from pneumonia for some time, but I suspect that his health had not been great for some time before that. (See the picture in that article for a side-on view of him that you just don't get by watching him face the camera from behind the Countdown desk.) I found him to be a true professional, which is not entirely a compliment. He enjoyed being reminded of his impression of Tony Hancock and that is how I will choose to remember him.

In other news, Lord (Sebastian) Coe seems to be doing a really good job at attracting famous names on behalf of London's bid to host the 2012 Olympics and convince the voters that we are a good choice. I'm not going to say we'll win, but I can't imagine anyone else being able to do the job that he has done of catching up the considerable distance by which London's original bid lagged behind that of Paris.

Poker: so if the World Series of Poker is taking place at the Harrah's Rio Suites casino, except for the last two days of the last event which will revert to the original location of Binion's Horseshoe, why don't they open Binion's Horseshoe up early for play so that they can split the tournament over two sites and so get more players into action at the same time? Binion's Horseshoe coped with 1,000 players per day in last year's main event - surely adding more tables there would mean that the 6,600 player cap for this year's finale could be lifted without going to a fourth "day one".

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