Humph in Wonderland

Narrator ……………… Tony Hawks
Queen of Hearts ……. Sandi Toksvig
Duchess ………………… Tim Brooke-Taylor
Cook …………………….. Graeme Garden
Humpty Dumpty ……. Barry Cryer
Caterpillar …………….. Andy Hamilton
Mad Hatter …………… Rob Brydon
March Hare ………….. Jeremy Hardy
Cheshire Cat …………. Jack Dee
White Rabbit on the piano …… Colin Sell

ISIHAC: Humph in Wonderland was recorded for Christmas 2007, and I must admit I missed it first time round despite the fact that it combines two of my favourite things (rather like the ISIHAC game featuring the kazoo and the Swanee whistle). I thought it would be too contrived and try-hardy, and when I finally bought the CD and started listening, I thought I was right- the jokes seemed rather too laboured and sign-posted, and it was all over-scripted. However, when I turned off my pompousness, and listened properly I was won over. Tony Hawks still isn’t really my cup of tea, but there’s plenty else going on here.

Jeremy Hardy (one of my secret crushes) does his usual surreal thing with Cheddar Gorge (I game I never found at all amusing until I heard him play- the letter from Davros to the Doctor is one of the funniest ISIHAC moments). The premise here is that TweedleDum (JH) and JackDee are explaining the rules of croquet one word at a time, and the result is that it seems to involve more violence and vicars than I expected.

Cheerful Jack Dee is inspired casting as the grinning Cheshire cat, and TBT does his usual Lady Bracknell thing as the Duchess.

Hamish and Dougal put in an appearance as the Walrus and the Carpenter, who have moved from their place as characters in a verse to full-blown participants, acting as jailers when Humph is incarcerated along with Griffon Rhys Jones and the Man in the Wrong Story.

As for music: Jabberwocky fits remarkably well to the tune of Jerusalem, whilst Father William has been Lloyd Webbered. Jeremy Hardy gives his usual standard of performance when paired with Rob Brydon to sing Please Release Me, but the best is saved ’til last when we get to hear Humph play us out into a Winter Wonderland….

I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue: Humph in Wonderland (BBC Audio)


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January 2010
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