The Laughter File (ITV, 1991-2006)
A while ago I reviewed It’ll Be Alright On The Night, the long-running and popular show that featured a lot of unusual and amusing moments that definitely made me laugh a lot. This was only ever shown as one-offs, but it always did well in the ratings and it was frequently repeated. So in the early-90s, host Denis Norden returned with a new show that was rather similar, called The Laughter File.
But unlike that other show, the idea was that it wouldn’t only concentrate on “cock-ups” (as they were famously called), it was expanded to feature other things including hosts having pranks played on them, parodies of various things, or generally odd moments, and there was just about enough difference between the two shows. All of the clips were sourced from around the world and categorised into separate files, and once again, really old clips from local American news shows were a rather rich source.
So for example, among the things featured were bizarre adverts, baffled weather presenters, daft game show answers, shopping channel mishaps, and proof that being a presenter on live TV really could be tough, especially when news reporters found out that the worst thing about asking the public for their opinion is that they’ll tell you. Some of these moments were similar to what would be featured on Tarrant On TV, or even You’ve Been Framed.
There was a six-year gap between the first and second editions, but from then on there was usually one new edition a year, and it was only ever shown in one-offs. There were also several repeats, meaning that some of the moments from the first few shows became rather familiar, and they should be as famous as the ones on It’ll Be Alright On The Night, mostly for their oddness. One personal favourite of mine is “that’s a picture of me when I was a very young person!”.
There were eventually 13 editions of The Laughter File (including a Christmas special), and again they were all carefully numbered so nobody lost count. At its best it was definitely up to the standard of anything that would appear on It’ll Be Alright On The Night, and usually the were just as good too. There was also some memorable theme music. The final edition was in 2006, around the same time that Norden retired from TV presenting after sharing thousands of great moments over almost four decades.