The Announcers' Challenge



Michael Aspel


Scorer and adjudicator: Graham Poynton from the BBC Pronunciation Unit


BBC Radio 2, 30 December 1988

BBC Radio 4, 26 December 1989


"Michael Aspel delves into the mysteries of network presentation and lifts the lid on a few trade secrets in an amiably competitive quiz." So goes the billing in the Radio Times, and it's about right.

The Announcers' Challenge was a comedy panel game about the art and craft of radio announcers through the history of the BBC. There were history questions: who said the fleet was "all lit up?"

There were practical challenges: can the announcers read "Modern Major-General" coherently in less than ten seconds? Announcers need to fill when the programme disappears, and were challenged to fill with lots of fish puns or as a suspiciously well-rehearsed poem.

There were impractical challenges: can the announcers sing the signature tune of a show on another network? Announcers swap anecdotes of the time they almost forecast "sleet and snot showers", Charlotte Green went public with her proclivity with the giggles. James Alexander Gordon told of the Chancellor announcing details of his budgerigar, and host Michael Aspel played his Radio 2 jingle, with an embarrassingly long "Aaar" at the beginning.

The show finished in the style of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue: the teams prepared and delivered a 30-second trail for a programme on another network. Radio 3's Composer of the Week in the style of Radio 1's Steve Wright in the Afternoon? It happened.


1988 - Radio 4 (Charlotte Green, Eugene Fraser, and Laurie MacMillan) beat Radio 2 (Patrick Lunt, Jean Challis, and Steve Madden)

1989 - Radio 3 (Peter Barker and Susan Sharpe) beat Radio 4 (Laurie Macmillan and Charlotte Green) and Radio 2 (James Alexander Gordon and Steve Madden)


Dirk Maggs

Theme music

"Little Betty Bouncer" by Flotsam & Jetsam, sung by Richard Baker in the closing credits. Miss Bouncer "loves an announcer down at the BBC", see.


Each show was repeated later in the week on the other participating networks.

Tommy Woodruffe was the drunk announcer in the naval revue.


To correct something on this page or post an addition, please complete this form and press "Send":
If you are asking us a question, please read our contact us page and FAQ first.

Name: E-mail:   
A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in