Stephen Fry (2003-16)

Sandi Toksvig (2016-)


Alan Davies (regular panellist)


Talkback for BBC Two and BBC Four, 11 September 2003 to 9 December 2005 (36 episodes in 3 series)

TalkbackThames for BBC Two and BBC Four, 29 September 2006 to 14 November 2008 (26 episodes in 2 series)

TalkbackThames for BBC One, 22 December 2008 to 14 January 2011 (45 episodes in 3 series)

bbc.co.uk webcast, 5 to 6 March 2011 (24 Hour Panel People)

TalkbackThames for BBC Two, 9 September 2011 to 4 May 2012 (19 episodes in 1 series)

Talkback for BBC Two, 14 September 2012 to present


Intellectual comedy panel show where four celebrity panellists (with comic and actor Alan Davies as a regular) try to answer difficult and arcane questions. Points are awarded for interesting answers and facts which are tenuously related to the question at hand. QI, you see, stands for Quite Interesting

If a player gives the really obvious (and usually wrong) answer, an alarm goes off and that player is docked points.

It's Stephen Fry mucking around with his comedy chums for half an hour really.

Image:Qi_pose.jpgStephen Fry, mucking around with comedy chums Alan Davies, Rob Brydon, Rich Hall and Gyles Brandreth

We've been to a recording of this, it took about two to two-and-a-half hours. We think it would be quite interesting if rather than showing the next episode immediately after on digital channel BBC4, they could do a special 90 minute edit from the recording gone out on BBC2. An ever-so-slight nod in this direction has occurred with the "F" series which, following the lead of Have I Got News for You, got extended repeats on BBC2 under the title QI XL, because it's both "extra large" and about 40 minutes long, get it? Though it's closer to 45 really. (Some years later, BBC2 took to using 10-15 minute extracts as filler under the title QI XS.) The "T" series aired the XL versions first with the half-hour versions following a few days later.

The questions in each series (excluding those from the closing General Ignorance round) come from categories all beginning with the same letter. So series 1 featured questions about astronomy, animals, Alans and other such 'A' subjects; series 2 covered the Bs, and so on.

Very little changed on QI for the first thirteen years. Stephen Fry was the man with all the answers, the researchers were (almost) always right, Alan Davies gave the obvious response. They tried putting the "I" series on BBC1, but the intellectual nature of QI didn't fit with the One's mainstream approach, and the "J" series went back to BBC2.

And then Stephen Fry left after the "M" series, to be replaced by regular guest Sandi Toksvig. Would her first show in charge be "New Host"? Sadly, no. Sandi's first episode was "Naming Names"; there was an episode on the theme of "New" but it aired as the last of the series.


"Ooooh, Alan!" *ALARM*


John Lloyd, the former producer of the Blackadder comedy series. He also devised The News Quiz.

Theme music

Howard Goodall


It was originally going to be a radio show, but Talkback persuaded John Lloyd to take it to television as there wasn't any money in radio.

Why is Alan Davies a regular guest? Thereby hangs a tale. Originally, the series was devised with Michael Palin in mind as the middle-man host, with Alan as head of the 'thick' team and Stephen as head of the 'clever-clogs' team. However, Palin didn't want to do the show, so producer John Lloyd begged Fry to host the pilot. The result was such a success that Fry went on to present the series proper with Davies retained as a regular instead of a team captain.

The show was invented with spin-offs in mind. Fry and Lloyd bought an old building in Oxford which has been done up to become the QI Building featuring a bar and a bookshop.

The BBC and Talkback issued an apology in January 2011 after the Japanese Embassy made a complaint over a question and answer about Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only man officially recognised as a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bomb explosions, who was described on the show as "either the unluckiest or the luckiest [man in the world], depending on which way you look at it".

One episode from the O series, "The Occult", was withdrawn from BBC iPlayer in September 2023, due to the presence of Russell Brand.

Web links

Official site

BBC programme pages: QI, QI XL, QI XS

Wikipedia entry

British Comedy Guide entry


Image:Qi_panel_5.jpgAnother episode, another panel: Alan, Stephen and Rich again, with Jeremy Clarkson and Sean Lock


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