Whose Line is it Anyway? is a short-form improvisational comedy television show hosted by Clive Anderson. Originally a British radio programme for the BBC, it became a television show when the concept was bought up by Channel 4, premiering on September 23, 1988, and running for ten series until its finale on February 4, 1999. The show consists of a panel of four performers who create characters, scenes and songs on the spot, in the style of short-form improvisation games, many taken from theatresports. Topics for the games are based on either audience suggestions or predetermined prompts from the host. The show itself ostensibly takes on the form of a game show, in which the host arbitrarily assigns points and likewise chooses a winner at the end of each episode, though with the “game show” format merely a part of the show’s comedy.
The programme itself featured a variety of comedians from across Britain, Canada and the United States, who took part, including Stephen Fry, John Sessions, Paul Merton, Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, Josie Lawrence, Sandi Toksvig, Greg Proops, Tony Slattery, Mike McShane, Stephen Frost, and Jim Sweeney.
The success of the format influenced a few international versions, including an American version of the same name – aired by ABC between 1999 and 2007.
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