Mornington Crescent (game)

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Mornington Crescent is a spoof[1] game featured in the BBC Radio 4 comedy panel show I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue which satirises complicated strategy games, particularly the obscure jargon involved in contract bridge or chess[citation needed].

The game consists of each panellist in turn announcing a landmark or street, most often a tube station on the London Underground system. The apparent[1] aim is to be the first to announce "Mornington Crescent", a station on the Northern Line. Interspersed with these turns is humorous discussion amongst the panellists and host regarding the rules and legality of each move, as well as the strategy the panellist is utilising. Despite appearances however, there are no rules to the game[2] and the naming of both the stations and rules is based on stream of consciousness association and improvisation.[3] Thus the game is intentionally incomprehensible.[4]

Contents

Origins

Mornington Crescent first appeared in the opening episode of the sixth series of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, broadcast on 22 August 1978. Although five episodes transmitted in 1974–1975 are still lost, Mornington Crescent makes no appearance before 1978 but was played in every surviving episode of the sixth series.

The origins of the game are not clear. One claim is that it was invented by Geoffrey Perkins,[5] who stated in an interview that Mornington Crescent was created as a non-game.[6] According to chairman Humphrey Lyttelton, the game was invented to vex the series producer, who was unpopular with the panellists. One day the team were drinking when they heard him coming. "Quick," one said, "Let's invent a game with rules he'll never understand."[7]

Barry Cryer, on Radio 4's Today programme, stated that Geoffrey Perkins did not invent the game, which he said had been around since the sixties. In The Guardian dated 6 September 2008, Bunny May, a contributor to the letters page, claims that he (along with John Junkin and David Clime) invented the game in 1970, in an actors' club off Shaftesbury Avenue called Gerry's (which was run at the time by Gerald Campion), in order to infuriate and bemuse patrons whom they found boring or boorish.

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