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Whose Line Is It Anyway to be revived at Fringe

Picture: Channel 4

Picture: Channel 4

  • by BRIAN FERGUSON
 

ONE of Britain’s best-known TV comedy programmes is being turned into a live stage show for the first time at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Comics from the Channel 4 hit Whose Line Is It Anyway? will reunite for the first time in more than 15 years for a major Fringe run.

Original host Clive Anderson will be at the helm of the revived quick-fire improvisational comedy show, along with former stars Greg Proops, Josie Lawrence, Stephen Frost and Colin ­Mochrie.

They will be reviving many of the popular games from the programme, which was based on suggestions from the audience and starred a mix of British and American comics.

The Fringe run, which will see it renamed Whose Live Show Is It Anyway? is set to be one of the biggest comedy events at this year’s festival as it is booked into the 1,000-capacity McEwan Hall, the largest venue in Underbelly’s programme.

As a rolling line-up of special guests is also promised, it is hoped other former stars of the programme – including comics performing in other Fringe shows – will be persuaded to appear. Paul Merton, Mike ­McShane and Richard Vranch, the musician from the hit TV series, are all performing in ­Edinburgh this summer.

The original show made stars out of Anderson, a former stand-up comic, and many of the other guests on the programme including John Sessions, Ryan Stiles, Sandi Toksvig and Tony Slattery.

The programme started in 1988 as a BBC Radio 4 show, with Dawn French, Lenny Henry, Stephen Fry and John Sessions in the original pilot.

When the BBC passed on the opportunity to turn it into a TV show, it was taken on by Channel 4 and ran until 1998, when it transferred to the United States. The American version of the show continued until 2005 and was revived last year, with Mochrie and Stiles among the returning stars.

Among the other comics to appear in the early UK TV series were Rory Bremner, Peter Cook, Jonathan Pryce, Graeme Garden, Rory McGrath, Griff Rhys-Jones, Arthur Smith and Julian Clary.

Anderson told The Scotsman “I come to Edinburgh every year these days for the Fringe with the radio show Loose Ends and I was looking at a number of other projects this year.

“Someone suggested doing a version of Whose Line Is It Anway? and I couldn’t really think of a good reason not to. We did film a lot of material for the TV show that never made it in, but it was all genuinely improvised from audience suggestions. The only thing that we faked at all was the running order of the games.

“We had been going for a long time when it ended and I was not too bothered at the time, but nowadays I do wonder why we’re not still going.

“I’m speaking to a number of the old faces to see if they are able to do the show, especially if they are already going to be in Edinburgh, but I think it would also be good to have a few new people on as well. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Among the comedians lined up for appearances at this year’s Fringe are Stewart Lee, Jim Davidson, Russell Kane, Lucy Porter, Josie Long and Al Murray

Whose Live Show Is It Anyway? is at the McEwan Hall from 6-19 August.

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