The Radio Times logo

Sandi Toksvig: Noel, Prue, Paul and I are planning a holiday together

The QI and Bake Off host also explains why panel shows shouldn't have a quota for women

Published: Friday, 8th December 2017 at 11:21 am

What are you watching on TV?


I’ve downloaded the BBC’s Cranford with Judi Dench because I like a bit of bonnet acting and I can turn it on and off without worrying about whether I can follow what’s happening. I just know everything’s going to be fine and that she will marry the right person and get a better bonnet when the new lace comes in. I never watch TV on its own, I always sew or knit at the same time – I’m currently making a hand-sewn advent calendar for my grandson.

How about the radio?

I can’t live without Radio 4, it’s worth the entire licence fee. I’m an obsessive listener, I get up and Radio 4 goes on, but it goes off when Thought for the Day starts, as that’s a step too far. I can’t be doing with it, I just think, “Oh shush!” I’m trying to get my kids – in particular my step-daughter Mary, who’s 12 – to recommend music to me. You reach a certain age and realise you haven’t kept up, but I don’t want to fall behind. I went to see French singer Christine and the Queens recently, which I enjoyed.

What can you see from the sofa?

My wife Debbie and I have just moved house so I watch TV in a room that desperately needs decorating. I’m in a time warp from 1977. A lot of maroon, horizontal striped wallpaper – don’t come round if you’re not feeling well.

What’s it been like, taking on Stephen Fry’s QI mantle?

It’s even more fun than I expected. It was a fairly daunting task because it’s a successful show and there’s a lot of information, but when it’s going well it’s a bit like flying, or surfing a great wave.

Do you think panel shows should be forced to have a quota for women?

I don’t think so. But we do need to encourage more women and one of the ways to do that is to make sure they’re comfortable. This series of QI we have more women on the show than ever, including women who haven’t done it before, like Claudia Winkleman, who was triumphant. The boys can get a bit giddy with their testosterone-fuelled jokes and we need to make sure there’s space for the women to get in as well. I think the secret is to have more women in host positions.

Who would your dream QI guest be, dead or alive?

I’m slightly obsessed with women’s history so I’d love to talk to Emily Dickinson, or Louisa May Alcott. But if there’s a single person I’d like to have on the show it’s my dad [Claus Toksvig], who was a brilliant writer and broadcaster. I’ve followed in the family business, but he was way better than me.

Were you expecting to cry quite so much on Bake Off?

I didn’t know I would be as invested. I’m quite an emotional person but I had no idea that the drama would be so gripping. And when you see a young person go out of the show, who has spent all their spare money on buying ingredients so they can practise, and who has given their soul to it, it does break your heart.

Do you miss your Bake Off co-presenter Noel Fielding?

I love him. He just texted me this morning, saying, “Morning, little Danish wife.” Noel, Prue, Paul and I are trying to plan a holiday together


QI is on Friday 10pm BBC2


Sponsored content