Does the Team Think?
unknown (1961 television)
Tim Brooke-Taylor (1982-3)
Vic Reeves (2007-9)
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 Television 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. Edwards was joined on the resident panel by Arthur Askey and Ted Ray, with a different guest panelist each week. 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 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......?