Sunday, 14 August 2011

Would that it were, would that it were.......

Time for Fantasy Bob to mark the sad news of the death of Robert Robinson.  As presenter of a range of TV and radio programmes he was one of the definitive presences of FB's formative and indeed deformative years. Call My Bluff, Ask the Family, Today, Stop the Week all benefitted from his distinctive fussing and tutting.   Alongside Johnners and Arlott, Dimbleby and Michelmore Robinson's is one of the distinctive braodcasting presences that seem to define another age, another world, another time zone.  It is hard to imagine this style surviving for a moment in today's multi- channelled dumbed-down media world.

Robinson's longest service was as Chair of the general knowledge quiz Brain of Britain.  And it was in this capacity that he had the privilege of meeting FB many long years ago.  While  Robinson was condemned to many long years in the Brain of Britain studio, FB's career on Brain of Britain was cruelly limited to a single appearance.

He was outrageously inched out of the top spot in the final round by being unable to answer a question which required him to identify streets in a Lancashire town of which he had only vaguely heard.  A yorker of a delivery if ever there was one.  His wrong answer met with the inevitable, 'Would that it were, would that it were...' and some Lancastrian rival contestant hoovered up the point.  Meanwhile FB's rival contestants were bowled pies of the 'Who wrote Charles Dickens' Great Expectations?' variety. 

Most outrageous of all FB was given no cricket questions or questions about the career average of Beethoven - subjects which would have secured his passage to the next round and possilby world domination.  FB's lacuna on knowledge on Lancashire street directories mean that he failed to gain not only the accolade of the bonus point but the endearing Robinson commendation 'An extra point for being so clever.....' The shame has hung heavy on FB ever since affecting his batting and bowling.

Robinson could go through a whole series of Brain of Britain riding on the same five or six phrases.  So much so that, as with many distinctive broadcasting styles, Robinson's verged towards a self parody.   Cruelly caught by Fry and Laurie in this little gem.

............and an extra point for being so clever........... may well be an appropriate epitaph.

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