The Guardian and Observer have teamed up with Audible to give away a free audiobook download every day this week.
Today's download is the best of Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive.The Observer, 5th September 2010
With the help of some itinerant humorists, the news is dissected and generally piffled around with, and each programme is recorded close to transmission. So although the line-up of subjects is yet to be finalised, it would take an idiot not to know that the Olympics will feature large, as will 'staycations' - the awfully named trend to holiday in the UK - and the US presidential shenanigans.Frances Lass, Radio Times, 15th August 2008
Armando Iannucci's radio show is a bit of a teeth-clencher... let's examine the components.
It's a sort of chat show, with three guests, except they aren't allowed to chat. They are there to make jokes on topics, presumably of which they have had notice, chosen to reflect the week's events. On Friday these included national holidays (Get Carter Day, suggested Will Smith, to rare studio audience silence), unlikely headlines (E.coli has entered the Big Brother house, offered Iannucci), David Cameron choosing a Benny Hill song on Desert Island Discs (here Natalie Haynes began talking, bafflingly, about shoes), who in public life you would like to kill and why (Clive Anderson pointed out that killing people is wrong, but Will Smith insisted that he still wants to kill Alan Rothwell for stealing his Action Man, the one with a parachute).
Iannucci joined in competitively and did solo riffs on why he hates Apple (his iPod froze) and his local gym. Croquet figured largely, of course, so largely that on Saturday, after the repeat, the weatherman said it would be a wonderful afternoon for it if the subject hadn't already been malleted to death.
Could it be that none of Iannucci's guests had spent enough time thinking what to say? Is it possible that Iannucci himself, back in 1990, when he was putting together the genuinely revolutionary On the Hour (and sweeping aside the News Quiz team waiting to get into the studio after him), would have allowed this show on air? I doubt it.
I think he's bored with the news and with radio. He's exhausted. He's had an exceptionally busy and productive year. Another, during which he will also set up the BBC's new comedy workshop, lies ahead. He has given energy and intelligence to some truly major work. Armando Iannucci's Charm Offensive is, alas, the dregs.Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 6th June 2006