The irresistible, irrepressible QI

The brilliance and the oddity of the BBC quiz show


Do you revel in being a mine of useless information? If so, QI could be worth a view.


As a presenter, Fry is always good value. He has a way of introducing questions, expanding on answers or just making conversation that seems thoroughly effortless and pleasantly enlightening.

As a quiz show, QI’s clever, without being too clever, seems fresher than Have I Got News for You and more imaginative than 8 out of 10 Cats. One of the main reasons it works so well is because of Fry’s interaction with the only ever-present guest, Alan Davies. It’s a joy to behold.

Davies plays the part of the fall guy. Usually with a broad grin. It starts with the contestants’ personalised buzzers, each noise designed specifically to make him/her stand out from the others. Recently, the three other guests all had suitably ghoulish fanfares to announce their desire to participate, and for Alan? – Always Look On the Bright Side of Life. He took it all in good spirits as his score descended rapidly.

You see, the points system is quite wacky too, since minus figures are generally achieved by most players. Unless you demonstrate a superb lateral intelligence, as was the case with Ronni Ancona, you’re likely to end up with less than zero. The last show I watched was actually won by the audience.

Due to my abject lack of general knowledge (make that a bucket of useless information), I enjoy proceedings on the level of trying to guess the word or phrase that results in a large exclamation of derision from Stephen Fry and a ten-point penalty. If you think lemmings commit suicide by jumping off cliffs for instance, shame on you!

The actual subject matter, gleaned from ancient dusty tomes housed in the Bodleian Library by mad professors, I like to think, is pretty obscure. Do you know the song most people commit suicide to? No, me neither. Better to stick with Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Other priceless nuggets of information from the show: swimming with dolphins can be a great cure for manic depression (unless, of course, you repulse them), and Trumpet of Death mushrooms are highly nutritious! Where else can one take on board such vital material?

The final round, ironically titled “general ignorance”, comes, but by this time nobody really cares how clever or stupid they are, as long as they’ve had a good time along the way.


QI, basically it’s AOK.