Tuesday 16 February 2021

"And who can forget that breathtaking finish when Lionel Blair came from behind and had Dirty Harry licked in under two minutes?"


I've been led down a happy path tonight by news of someone whose name I didn't know but whose humour has punctuated my life in the nicest possible way.

One of the jokesmiths behind Radio 4's most consistently funny comedy show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, Iain Pattinson, has died, aged 68. 

And if, like me, during the show's Golden Age, you would eagerly await Humphrey Lyttelton's deadpan reading of filthy jokes about Lionel Blair, then here's a selection of my favourites, transcribed from a YouTube tribute (hopefully for your delight). 

And they were, apparently, Iain Pattinson's doing. 

RIP sir.


The show's still going on in various guises, but connoisseurs agree that the original line-up was best. No one who witnessed the event will ever forget the sparkle in Lionel Blair's eye as he received Free Willy from Michael Aspel. For two minutes.

The undisputed master on the show was Lionel Blair, but even he needed two whole minutes on Harold Pinter's Caretaker

The experts' expert was, of course, Lionel Blair. Who can ever forget opposing team captain Una Stubbs sitting open-mouthed as he tried to pull off Twelve Angry Men in under two minutes.

The undisputed mime-meister was of course Lionel Blair. And who can forget the look of relish in his face when he was given two minutes on The African Queen?

And who can forget that breathtaking finish when Lionel Blair came from behind and had Dirty Harry licked in under two minutes? 

And who will ever forget the relish in Lionel Blair's eye as he got stuck into Howard's End for two minutes?

And who can fail to remember he scored double points by skillfully using both hands in different actions to finish off One Man and his Dog in under 30 seconds?

We all recall how film titles were demonstrated by mime against the clock by the grand master of the game, Lionel Blair, who'd use just his hands to delight his team's members.

The most highly-skilled of all was Lionel Blair. How the tears of frustration welled up in his eyes during their Italian tour at not being allowed the use of his mouth to finish off Two Gentlemen of Verona!

Sadly, however, Give Us A Clue hasn't been made recently, so we'll never see what team captain Lionel Blair would have done with modern films. Lionel used to get quite emotional and, no doubt, after two minutes against the clock The Talented Mr Ripley would have put a lump in his throat.

The undisputed master of the genre was Lionel Blair, who would use every ounce of his mime-acting skills. None of us will ever forget the gasps of amazement when he spent a frustrating two minutes trying to fit in the whole of The Man on the Flying Trapeze.

Possibly the most versatile performer was Lionel Blair, and no one will ever forget the occasion he was given A Town Like Alice when he chose to do a silent impression of the author. Such was the performance Una Stubbs gasped in amazement when she saw 'Neville Shute' in Lionel's face.

The undisputed experts' expert was Lionel Blair. who was particularly good at Mickey Mouse cartoons. However, he occasionally had to save the day when he was let down by his team. Una Stubbs still recalls how amazed she was when Christopher Biggins failed miserably with Fantasia and Lionel was straight in behind him with his Steamboat Willie. 

So expert was the grand master Lionel Blair that he even managed to score points on an obscure TV documentary called Tales of Thuggery by indicating 'Third word sounds like' and calling for assistance from Christopher Biggins.

The most accomplished player was, without doubt, Lionel Blair. But on one fateful visit to entertain the troops even he was caught out. Lionel was quite happy on the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy but he was hard pressed to finish off the rest of Company B in under 3 minutes.

Sadly the show is no longer aired, but regulars Lionel Blair and Christopher Biggins recently appeared on Stars In Their Eyes where Lionel, singing Maggie May, came second to his old teammate. Biggins said Lionel's Rod was outstanding but he easily had it licked.

The past-master of the game was Lionel Blair, who regularly amazed and delighted his teammates with his mime portrayals of the songs and movies of the so-called 'blaxploitation' genre. Una Stubbs's eyes were out on stalks as she witnessed Lionel using his hands on Isaac Hayes's Shaft for two minutes.

The undoubted master was Lionel Blair, who used to work himself to a frazzle leaping up to be given his film titles on cards. Even while Lionel collapsed over the Chairman's desk receiving The Dirty Dozen he could still cope with The Sting afterwards.

The undoubted master of the genre was Lionel Blair. Hopeful team members used to constantly badger Lionel with pleas to get a place on the show. Lionel relates how he once had Christopher Biggins on his back every night for a month before he finally got the part he wanted. 

The undoubted master of the game was Lionel Blair. His live performances were always loudly praised by his teammates. Una Stubbs recalls listening through the dressing room wall as Christopher Biggins and Melvin Hayes were still gushing ten minutes after Lionel blew them away on tour.

The original show is no longer aired but the undisputed mime-master of Give Us a Clue is still Lionel Blair. He now tours the country doing exhibition performances in bars and restaurants, but sadly last week's show had to be cancelled. Lionel's van broke down on the M6 and he had to pay £50 to be pulled off into a Little Chef. 

The undisputed master of Give Us a Clue was Lionel Blair, who could mime virtually any TV or radio programme. Lionel still does demonstration events and recently guested at the Multi-Faith Conference, improvising his mime of Thought For The Day. Eyes were out on stalks as he started his impressions of the lesser-known presenters before Lionel Blue, the Bishop of Bath and Wells and the Chief Rabbi. 

The undoubted master of the genre was Lionel Blair, whose unique skills were legendary. Sadly, the show is no longer aired here, but there are plans in Los Angeles to revive the show for American TV. So Lionel's to be put on a plane to see how he goes down on the pilot.

The grand mime-master of Give Us a Clue was Lionel Blair, but since the show ended he's confined to the occasional pantomime appearance, and they says he's becoming difficult to work with due to his mood swings. In this year's Snow White they said one minute one minute Lionel could be feeling happy and the next he'd come all over grumpy.

The undisputed mime-master of Give Us a Clue was team captain Lionel Blair. When the show was scrapped his team was devastated to the point of tears. But, ever the trooper, Lionel took a video round to Christopher Biggins and they pulled themselves together over The Fabulous Baker Boys. 

The undisputed master of the game was Lionel Blair, who was particularly good at the Rocky series of movies. Christopher Biggins relates how Lionel would visit his dressing room to hone his impression of Sylvester Stallone beating his opponents, often going down several times before knocking one out.

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