Linda Smith, Panel Game Debutante

I was doing my usual Sunday evening pottering last night, which involves stalking the corridors and chambers of Petty-Stewart Towers my flat, picking things up, putting them down somewhere else, ostensibly to get ready for the working week ahead, but still somehow leaving myself with a mad rush in the morning, desperately cramming bits of paper and electronics in my pockets as I dash for the train.

While doing so, I heard the, ahem, dulcet tones of Linda Smith yipping and mewling from the withdrawing room. Now this is not so unusual, because Radio 4 tends to be on all the time in the kitchen, and let’s face it, if there’s a panel game of any kind on Radio 4, Linda Smith will be on it.

F*cking Quote F*cking Unquote devised and inflicted by F*cking Nigel F*cking Rees, for example, or Just A Bleeding Minute, you name it, she’s on it. She clearly sleeps under the desk in the Radio 4 Panel Game Studio, emerging only to appear in the News Quiz or whatever, alongside those other denizens of Panel Game Purgatory, Andy “I wrote a series once” Hamilton, Jeremy “If the kids are united” Hardy and Paul “Not as funny as Tony Hancock” Merton.

But no. This came from the TV. A quick glance (and Mairi) told me it was the new show Mock The Week, which it appears is a game where members of the panel compete with each other to be as smug as possible, while referring to front-page news stories in a cursory fashion.

And there she was. Sandwiched between Hugh Dennis and Rory Bremner (what an image), both positive beacons of self-satisfied glee at being able to present pub-level satire on national TV as if it was in any way shape or form dangerous, biting, or cutting-edge. And while I knew this already, I was once again shocked at how much Linda Smith looks exactly like she sounds.

The Radio 4 Panel Game Studio now has cameras in it, and Hattie Hayridge’s lawyers are battering the door down.