History Repeats Itself



Danny Baker


Campbell Davison Media for BBC Radio 5 Live, 4 November to 18 December 2011 (7 episodes in 1 series)


How many topical panel games can a country stand? We have The News Quiz, we have Have I Got News for You, there's 8 Out of 10 Cats, Fast and Loose, Fighting Talk, Mock the Week, and (at a pinch) Argumental. History Repeats Itself can be distinguished from the competition by two points: one, it has a structure that's recognisable and flexible; and two, it's got an instantly-recognisable host.

Danny Baker introduces the show; after taking treatment against cancer early in 2011, he's bounced back with even more energy and vigour than ever. He introduces a panel of three celebrities, the sort who will provide entertaining conversation at 11 o'clock of a Sunday morning - one sample panel was Richard Madeley, and comedians Susan Calman and Dan Maier. Each panelist is playing "on behalf of" their old school, though this only amounts to giving the scores in the form "Dan Maier of the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle has six House Points".

The main part of the show is based around a quiz, itself loosely themed on lessons found in a school timetable. A week's line-up could be Economics, Social Studies, Geography, History, Mathematics, English Lit, Art, and History. "Why? Because history repeats itself," the show's best nod towards a catchphrase.

As is traditional in Danny Baker shows, the conversation is gently steered away from hard news towards the left-field, the unexpected, and half-forgotten pop culture nuggets. There are occasional flights of fancy, anecdotes from panel and host, but the quiz is never entirely forgotten, and a winner is declared at the end of the hour.

The show is typical Danny Baker - it rolls along merrily, and while the details won't be remembered by nightfall, the warm glow of being entertained does last.


"Because history repeats itself!"

The sound effect of someone running upstairs, because Baker's "forgotten" his questions.

Referring to "PE master Mr. Payne" when Ian Payne drops in to plug the next show, Sport on 5.


Danny Baker

Theme music

According to people who know, the main theme was a piece by the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. The show was introduced by a somewhat-predictable blast of "History Repeating", performed by The Propellerheads and Shirley Bassey.


The show featured an internet webcam, for which Danny Baker wore a mortarboard.

Contestants indicated they wished to answer the question by putting their hands up. This works spectacularly well on a radio show.

Web links

BBC programme page

British Comedy Guide entry

See also

Weaver's Week review


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