Dermot Murnaghan (2003-14)

Jeremy Vine (in rotation with Murnaghan 2008-15, main host 2015-23)


Kevin Ashman
Christopher Hughes (2003-20, 2022-23)
Judith Keppel (2003-22, one episode in 2023)
Daphne Fowler (2003-14)
CJ de Mooi (2003-12, 2014-16)
Barry Simmons (2008-23)
Pat Gibson (2010-23)
Dave Rainford (2012-18)
Lisa Thiel (2014-23)
Steve Cooke (2016-23)
Beth Webster (2016-23)
Olav Bjortomt (2021-23)


12 Yard for BBC One, 10 November 2003 to 28 October 2004 (60 episodes in 2 series)

12 Yard for BBC Two, 23 May 2005 to 15 June 2020 (1810 episodes in 19 series)

12 Yard for Channel 5, 4 October 2021 to 19 April 2023 (150 episodes in 3 series)

Celebrity Eggheads

12 Yard for BBC Two, 15 December 2008 to 31 August 2018 (92 episodes in 8 series)

12 Yard for Channel 5, 14 February 2022 to 26 April 2023 (10 episodes in 2 series)


Typical 12-Yard fare, five amateur quizzers take on five quiz professionals in an occasionally big-money quiz.

Original host, Dermot Murnaghan

In the first four rounds the challengers are given a category and must decide which one of them will take it and which of the Eggheads they want to take on. Each Egghead normally has some kind of weakness, so boning up by watching past episodes is a must.

"...That's the way we all became The Brady Bunch."
Top: Chris, CJ; Middle: Barry, Pat, Judith; Bottom: Daphne, Kevin.

Because there is to be no conferring, the selected players are moved to a separate "question room" and are shown on a large screen behind the rest of the team. Each person is given three multiple-choice questions and whoever gets the most correct wins the duel. In the case of a tie, sudden death non-choice questions are asked until there is a winner. Losing the duel means not being involved in the all-important final round.

The options appear on screen. This question asked which band recorded the album "Through the Barricades".

The prizemoney increases £1,000 every day the Eggheads aren't beaten in the final round. All losing duelists are banished to the "question room" and appear on the large screen behind the rest of the players. The remains of each team are now asked three multiple-choice questions as before but now they can confer with anyone left in the game. (Occasional celebrity series of 45-minute editions had five questions per team in this final round, which helps to stretch out the show, but does add to the ever-increasing roster of shows which have this exact format for the final.) Again, ties are broken by non-multiple choice sudden death questions. If the challengers win then they win the Jackpot. If the Eggheads win then their reputation stays intact.

The progress of this round is summarised over a wide shot of the studio.

The production team have come under fire from many in the quizzing community over the vetting of contestants. Anyone who sounds as though they might be a 'professional quizzer' seems to be vetted in favour of the average pub team who doesn't try out for many television programmes. Whilst this does make a slight mockery of the "can nobody beat these Eggheads" idea, it does turn the show into an intellectual version of Gladiators which for some is where its strength lies.

Key moments

The following exchange between Jeremy and Judith in a series 20 (2018) episode:

Jeremy: "Which character in Friends became associated with the phrase "How you doin'? Need a first name and a surname."
Judith: "I don't know… how you doin' … I can't think of a single person in it, apart from Jessica… Thingummy Parker … how you doin' … I think it was one of the men in it. … Was there one called Ross?"
Jeremy: "First name, last name."
Judith: "Ross, uh… Absolutely nothing coming to me, sorry."
Jeremy: "No gut feeling on Ross' surname? Okay."
Judith: "No."
Jeremy: "All right. … The answer is Joey…"

Also Barry's complete inability to control his disappointment whenever someone from his team gives a wrong answer.

The question editors having great fun in the last ever BBC episode by getting Jeremy to ask which of a "bony-eared assfish", "hairy-tailed boobfish", or a "shiny-nosed groinfish" was a "deep water fish found in tropical and subtropical waters" (hint: it's the one they probably wouldn't get away with saying if it wasn't). Almost as if the popularity of Richard Osman's House of Games, and the much, much shorter Eggheads series commission than usual gave the question editors a clue they didn't have long left on air.


Dermot to the Eggheads: "You're playing for something money can't buy - the Eggheads' reputation."

"Can nobody beat these Eggheads?"


12 Yard format

Theme music

David Hubbard and Rumble Music


The record win is £75,000, won by a team of five Oxford Brookes University students called "Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow".

The first two series went out at 12.30 on BBC1, a slot previously occupied by Wipeout and later taken over by Bargain Hunt. From October 2005, Eggheads took up residence at 6pm on BBC2; popular cartoon The Simpsons had filled that slot for a number of years, but Channel 4 bought the rights from November 2004, and BBC2 had tried many shows there (games included Traitor, an edit of Spy, Dick and Dom's Ask the Family) without much success.

Eggheads has remained at 6pm, with occasional shifts to 6.30 for the Richard Osman shows Two Tribes and House of Games. Are You an Egghead aired at 4.30, Make Me an Egghead went out at 6.45 (after Debatable). There's never been any other attempt to push Eggheads deep into primetime, although it did shift earlier in the day during bank holidays (at 5.15, as the news was shorter and Pointless aired at 5.45). Occasional repeat runs from autumn 2018 have aired at 4:45pm and earlier, when the 6pm slot is otherwise occupied, while a run of repeats of Celebrity Eggheads in August 2020 was repeated at 2.15pm on BBC1, its first broadcast on that channel for over fifteen years.

After a lengthy period of uncertainty during which the BBC insisted the show was merely being "rested", Jeremy Vine announced on the 12 March 2021 edition of his eponymous Channel 5 show that the series would be moving to the station with a 40 episode series later in the year; Christopher Hughes missed that series. These episodes aired at 6.30, presumably because it would have stood no chance against House of Games - although episodes 40 and 41 of its second series went out at 5:30pm. (Well we call them episodes 40 and 41. They insist that the five celebrity episodes that preceded its second series constitute episodes 1 to 5, and that those were in fact episodes 45 and 46, despite the celebrity episodes being quite obviously recorded after the civilian episodes.) Its third series was commissioned for sixty episodes but only aired 32 before taking a break; when it returned, Channel 5 pretended that the remaining 28 episodes constituted their fourth series, which they might have got away with had its third episode not made such a song and dance of being the 2000th episode…

In later series, the Eggheads would pose a question for the audience at home to work on, which they would answer at the end of the show. An odd decision to introduce, since regular viewers would be used to at least 20 questions in a half-hour slot. When it went over to Channel 5, they posed it before the break, which makes far more sense. For the 2000th episode, which featured a one-off return of Judith Keppel, this question was posed by Vine but written by Daphne Fowler. This episode also featured Linda Regan, the Hi-De-Hi actress.

Several other proper celebrities have turned up on civilian editions. Jade Goody once appeared with a team from her beauty salon, and through a series of lucky guesses managed to singlehandedly take the Eggheads to sudden death in the final round. The Mash Report presenter Rachel Parris also appeared on the show pre-fame; she lost her round but her team Oxford Imps won. Future Catfish UK presenter Oobah Butler appeared on the show in 2017, did the complete opposite (he won but the team lost), and wrote about his experience (warning: strong language). Several proper celebrities have turned up on civilian editions; singer Rab Noakes turned up on a 2017 episode, while late 2022 saw podcasters Rob Curling and Roy Stride and dartists Glen Durrant and Keegan Brown turn up on episodes.

Future Only Connect runner-up Amy Godel was a stand-by Egghead, though her services were never required. She would later appear as a civilian in 2019 and 2022, winning in the latter.


The Ultimate Eggheads Quiz Book

Nintendo DS game

Board game

Web links

BBC programme page

My5 programme page

Wikipedia entry

See also

Are You an Egghead?

Revenge of the Egghead


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