Does the Team Think?
Peter Haigh (1957 and stand-in)
MacDonald Hobley (1958-76, including TV version)
Kenneth Horne (recurring stand-in)
Tim Brooke-Taylor (1982-3)
Vic Reeves (2007-9)
Jimmy Edwards (permanent panellist, radio version)
Other panellists included: Ted Ray (almost all episodes 1958-76), Cyril Fletcher (1960-76), Tommy Trinder (1958-71), Alfred Marks (1957-76), Arthur Askey (1958-76), Richard Murdoch (1960-9), Cardew Robinson (1963-76).
(1961-9, the "classic" panel comprised Edwards, Trinder and Ray, with Fletcher in about half the episodes and the others deputising for him. Askey replaced Trinder as the third regular panellist from 1970 onward.)
Light Programme / Radio 2, 25 September 1957 - 1973
Radio 4 1974 - 2 September 1976
BBC-TV, 4 June - 23 July 1961 (8 episodes in 1 series)
Thames for ITV (not all regions), 14 January 1982 - 21 June 1983 (14 episodes in 2 series)
as Does the Team Think... Open Mike Productions for BBC Radio 2, 28 June 2007 to 7 March 2009 (16 episodes in 2 series)
It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Any Questions? was about anything but the latest political fashions. When it began in 1948, Freddie Grisewood would ask local celebrities serious questions with a topical bent, but nothing that might be debated in Parliament within the next fortnight.
This format was deemed ripe for parody, and in 1957 comedian Jimmy Edwards convinced the Light Programme to run a short series, which ran each year for almost twenty years. Chairman MacDonald Hobley invited members of the audience to ask moderately serious questions, about which the panel had no prior knowledge. The comedians would respond with improvised jokes, one-liners, and anything to keep up the flow of laughs, but always ensuring that their responses were factual. Another guest would join the show about halfway through proceedings, and ask a question of their own. At the end, the chair would award points on a capricious basis, and declare an almost arbitrary winner.
The first series featured a panel of Edwards, David Tomlinson, Jimmy Wheeler and David Nixon, but the show really found its feet during the 1958 run, which saw the debuts of Ted Ray (who appeared in almost all episodes from then on), Tommy Trinder, Arthur Askey and Cyril Fletcher. The programme remained popular until it was finally taken off air in 1976.
A television version was made in summer 1961, but met with very limited success. Thames Television revived the format in 1982, in which members of the public were asked to baffle The Team with unusual facts about life and the universe. The emphasis was still on wit, humour, and moving expeditiously from one joke to the next. The celebrity guest slot remained - in the first show, Dr. Magnus Pike was the guest and asked the team if they knew that water in Britain goes down a plughole clockwise but in Australia anti-clockwise. Thames Television had high hopes for the programme, putting it out in the 7pm slot on Thursdays opposite Tomorrow's World, but those ITV regions that did buy the show aired it around teatime, or in the mid-afternoon death slot.
Some people (well, Nicholas Parsons) have argued that Does the Team Think? is a direct antecedent of QI, as it involves people trying to be both funny and clever at the same time. It was certainly sufficiently well-remembered to be re-commissioned by Radio 2 in 2007, now under the chairmanship of Vic Reeves. This version wasn't particularly well-received by critics, who saw it as an attempt to wind the clock back to the mid-90s, when Reeves was in his heyday.
Does the Team Think......?