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This improvisational comedy, best known as a long-running late-night Channel 4 TV show, was a rather different animal in its original 1980s radio incarnation. It has always been chaired by Clive Anderson, the permanently flustered lawyer and chat-show host, but was originally tied to the tried-and-trusted radio panel game format in having two regular ‘team captains’ — Stephen Fry and John Sessions — and two guests each week, who were often chosen for their ‘celebrity’ value rather than specific improvisational comedy skills. Many of the games developed for the radio version were carried through to television, but the Channel 4 version was nearer in tone to a live comedy club show than a panel game, introducing a fluid line-up, visual elements and the piano skills of Richard Vranch. It also brought to public attention a new generation of performers who had not appeared in the radio version (although Sessions remained with the TV show through its early series), most of whom were members of the Comedy Store Players, a group dedicated to impro comedy. Several such performers, including Josie Lawrence and Paul Merton, were later to appear in The Masterson Inheritance, another improvisational radio show, which took its inspiration from the epic historical drama genre.
See also: You Asked For It