Stephen Fry is quitting QI after 180 episodes of the erudite comedy quiz.
He will leave following the upcoming series of the BBC2 favourite, which takes its name from its abiding subject – ‘Quite Interesting’ snippets of information.
Each series is named after a successive letter of the alphabet which means that Fry will depart – with the letter M – half way through the show’s projected length.
Originally cast as a team captain opposite comedian Alan Davies, Fry agreed to chair the show as a last minute replacement for Michael Palin on the pilot edition. But he grew into the role and stayed for 13 years.
He will be replaced by former Radio 4 News Quiz host Sandi Toksvig who, according to the show’s creator and producer Jon Lloyd, will become “the first female host of a mainstream comedy panel show on British television – an appointment that is well overdue.” Alan Davies will continue as QI’s resident panellist.
Fry said: “For thirteen years I had one of the best jobs on television. Behind the camera squadrons of quite extraordinarily brilliant researchers, programme makers and uniquely curious (in both senses of the word) people making that job so much easier. In front of the camera generations of lively minds and above all of course the wonder of nature that is Alan Davies. After passing the alphabetical halfway mark I thought it time to move on, but I will never cease to be grateful to John Lloyd for devising QI and for everyone else for making it such fun.”
Toksvig said: “QI is my favourite television programme both to watch and to be on, so this is absolutely my dream job. (My Nordic background also makes me keen to spend time with the Elves). Stephen has been utterly brilliant with the first half of the alphabet. Now I look forward to picking up the baton, mixing my metaphors and sailing towards the Land of Nod (i.e. Z). Who knows what lies ahead? It should all be quite interesting.”
John Lloyd added: “Stephen’s departure is the end of an era. It’s been a thoroughly delightful experience. After more than 40 years in broadcasting, QI has been by far the most enjoyable show it has been my privilege to produce, and Stephen has been its big, beating heart. Though we are all very sad he’s decided to move on, I am confident that we have found the perfect person to occupy his gigantic shoes.”
BBC2 controller Kim Shillinglaw thanked Fry for his contribution to the show and said Toksvig represented “exactly the kind of bright, brilliant company I want to see on BBC2”.