Dilemma. Sue Perkins. Copyright: BBC


  • Radio panel show
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2011 - 2015
  • 25 episodes (4 series)

Panel show in which Sue Perkins poses a series of moral and ethical dilemmas to a panel of comics and journalists.

Press clippings

Dilemma review

With a successful fourth series under its belt, Danielle Ward's comedy panel game Dilemma presents hypothetical situations in the self-proclaimed "show which acts as an intrepid donkey walking across the nation's moral mind field, desperately trying not to sneeze".

Kerry Gilsenan, The Student Newspaper, 9th November 2015

Radio Times review

Only Sue Perkins could imply that former Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis is a sizzling dominatrix behind that sweet-natured exterior and get the whole audience -- and Ellis herself -- on side. Perkins is the perfect host for this canny combination of real moral dilemmas and sharp, unscripted responses to the problems laid before the panel of guests.

Here, for example, the comedian Sarah Millican has to decide what to do if the DJ at her sister's wedding made deeply offensive, sexist remarks to her before the party got started. Millican's first question is "Why am I at the party half-an-hour before everyone else?"

And so the laughter begins -- and continues.

Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 6th April 2015

Radio Times review

The panel show that's a cross between QI and The Moral Maze returns with former Sunday Express political editor Julia Hartley-Brewer proving that ethical absolutes are hard to pin down when she is asked whether she would sever investment ties with a company caught in nefarious deeds. This prompts host Sue Perkins to offer the memorable threat. "I'm gonna hashtag the cack out of you!"

The delight of the show is that everyone is given space to expand their ideas and come up with recurring motifs, which gives former chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association Clark Carlisle the opportunity to prove that not only should he hold the title of the most intelligent footballer but also that of the funniest. It's something quite gross to do with his feeding his cats.

John-Luke Roberts gets to live out his dream pretending to be a gay man in public, while anyone who's not seen the films When Harry Met Sally, Bambi, Dumbo, Se7en, Sixth Sense and Titanic should steer clear of Kerry Godliman's spolier section.

But I can reveal that this show ends with a moral quandary that stumps all the panel. It involves Miley Cyrus and Bono. Enough said.

David Crawford, Radio Times, 4th February 2014

Entering its second series, Dilemma is a Radio 4 panel game hosted by Sue Perkins where the guests are forced to admit what they'd do in various - unlikely - ethical situations.

In this opening episode Paul Sinha was asked what it would take for him to stop supporting Liverpool FC; the poet Lemn Sissay was queried on plastic surgery; actor Margaret Cabourn-Smith was asked how far she would help her daughter if she was involved in a drunken hit-and-run; and Graeme Garden had to decide if would only watch ITV in order to preserve the BBC's future.

Aside from Lemn Sissay, the panellists all had their moments. But my favourite 'bit' was when the show opened out to the audience, and the panel then had to pass judgement on their dilemma - including a man who was at the show with two women and didn't know which one to take back home after. Safe to say he didn't come off well.

Dilemma's basically just a round-table discussion programme with jokes. It's nowhere near as fierce as other panel shows like Mock the Week, and if you like your panel shows to be a bit more relaxing then Dilemma is one to seek out.

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 25th February 2013

Audience participation is taken to a new level in the return of the comedy series that puts its panel through a moral wringer.

Sue Perkins is quick to spot flaws in the panel members' justifications for their actions in hypothetical dilemmas, but even the unshakeable Sue is taken aback by a member of the audience who confesses his problem is which of the two women who have accompanied him to the recording he should go home with.

The funniest moment of the night, though, comes from comedy stalwart Graeme Garden. The dilemma he faces is whether to ensure the future of the BBC for ever by spending the rest of his life viewing what was, until recently, called ITV1.

Anyone who can claim that watching Emmerdale with all the lights switched off is a suitable replacement for Borgen is a comic genius.

Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 20th February 2013

I sit at home, stony-faced, like a statue in the company of pigeons.

Studio audiences these days fall about at the following: the royal family, religion, flatulence, foreigners, male genitalia, lavatories. No actual joke need be made. The mere mention of any of the above words is an absolute guarantee of mirth from those sitting there as, for instance, Dilemma is recorded. From this, I deduce they are being held hostage, each one to be released only on due production of four guffaws and a titter.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 22nd November 2011

Think of The Moral Maze on acid. No, don't. Dilemma, like the best panel shows, is based on a simple premise. "The show where we explore the big moral and ethical questions [that's The Moral Maze bit] by asking silly questions [that obviously isn't at all like The Moral Maze]".

The premise put me in mind of the board game Scruples that called for you and your chums to consider moral dilemmas: things like whether you would go unwashed for a year in exchange for a million pounds... and, no, you couldn't tell people you were stinky for cash. I forget how the rules worked, and with Sue Perkins's Dilemma, the rules don't seem to matter much either - but it doesn't matter because this first programme is very funny.

Sue Perkins has a nifty introductory script ("If Piers Morgan's house was below sea level, would you still care about climate change?") but really shines when she plays devil's advocate with the panellists as they calibrate their moral compasses.

Richard Herring opens by wrestling with the idea of selling his grandfather's war memorabilia to a Nazi sympathiser. Perkins's pushing turns questions with seemingly obvious answers into a fun debate. Everyone on the panel sparkles, but for me Dominic Lawson is the stand-out with a series of naughty interjections. His slide-rule of racism is hilarious (Perkins: "Well, that's racism sorted out"). When he "became" Amanda Holden, I wondered whether the BBC lawyers would allow it to be broadcast.

Acidic, and not in the way I mentioned at the start. A non-irritating, hilarious panel show.

Eddie Mair, Radio Times, 13th November 2011

Dilemma (Radio 4, 7.45pm) is a new panel show, hosted by inescapable Sue Perkins, a sort of Moral Maze for the lace-loosened, in which comedians Dave Gorman and Richard Herring, actress and writer Rebecca Front and pithy columnist Dominic Lawson discuss such questions as "Would you provide an alibi for someone you hate?" Sketch show comedy and topical satire have so far not exactly flourished in this slot. Management fingers will be crossed for this, hoping that the audience hasn't already scuttled off to other channels.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 11th November 2011

Dilemma: The Moral Maze with laughs

In new Radio 4 comedy panel show Dilemma, guests are told that there are no wrong answers.

BBC Ariel, 9th November 2011

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