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The world's most impossible quiz

Brace yourself for a feast of mind-bending trivia, foolish banter and BIG laughs!

QI is the world’s most impossible quiz (Series “N”)

On the face of it, QI (short for Quite Interesting) is a TV comedy panel game like any other. It has a chairman and four contestants, who are asked questions and get points for their answers. But there the resemblance ends.

The questions on QI are so difficult that the panellists almost never get one right. So the chairperson only gives points for interesting answers, regardless of whether they are correct, or even relevant.

In theory, it is quite possible for the most ignorant person in the room to win the game. In practice, this rarely happens. This is because the game is booby-trapped to the disastrous disadvantage of people who believe everything they are told.

The chairperson awards heavy penalties for wrong answers which are also “obvious” – clichés, misconceptions and “common wisdom” – much of which is taught every day in school but is in fact completely untrue.

The subject matter of QI is unique because it takes as its canvas not familiar material like the news, sport, television and pop music but the entire universe, of quite interesting things.

Facts

The dedicated team of researchers at QI HQ, who use books, the internet and their own very large brains to devise all manner of fiendish questions to outfox Sandi and the panel members, are known as the ‘QI elves’.

Even the clever elves sometimes get things wrong, though. One error that attracted a large amount of viewer ire was when the show claimed that the Welsh have no word for 'blue'. In fact, they do and that word is 'glas'.

The show’s creator, John Lloyd, is also known for his work on seminal British comedy programmes including Not the Nine O’clock News, Spitting Image, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Blackadder.

The Book of General Ignorance, which is based on the final round of the show and aims to expose many of the myths of ‘common knowledge’, has been a massive hit. It has been translated into 29 languages and sold over a million copies worldwide since its publication in 2006.

The spiral pattern which forms part of the set in all series so far is called the Fibonacci Spiral. This is based on the famous mathematical sequence which is used in many computer algorithms and is related to natural phenomena such as the branching of trees and the arrangement of a pine cone.

Other than Alan Davies who has appeared on every episode so far, the record for number of appearances on the show is held by Jo Brand with 32 episodes clocked so far.

The show's theme tune was composed by Howard Goodall, who also composed the theme tune for Blackadder. Howard has also appeared twice as a panellist on the show.

John Lloyd has admitted that not even he has any idea how the show’s convoluted scoring system works, with points being added and taken away seemingly arbitrarily so that contestants are often left with negative scores…

Each series is referred to by a letter of the alphabet rather than a number, which raises the issue – what happens when they run out? Thankfully, the show’s producers have until the year 2029 to think of a possible solution to that problem!

Unlike many TV panel shows, guests are not shown the answers before filming, which adds to the spontaneous and often anarchic atmosphere of the show.

Profiles

QI - Profile

Sandi Toksvig

Sandi’s parents met at Bush House in London while they were both working for the BBC. Sandi’s father was on attachment from Danish Radio. They married in 1954. Sandi was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1958 where her father was now a celebrated television and radio broadcaster. His work took him to Africa and the United States where she grew up.

Sandi began her comedy career at Girton College, Cambridge University, writing and performing in the first all-woman show for the Cambridge Footlights and still finding time to gain a first class degree. While still at university she performed at the first night of The Comedy Store in London and for many years was part of The Comedy Store Players, an improvisational comedy team.

Sandi began her career in the theatre performing in musicals and straight plays. She made her television debut presenting the children’s series No. 73 (1982–1986) and went on to do other children’s television including The Saturday Starship, Motormouth and her own show Toksvig. Since then her television work has included factual programmes such as the archaeological Channel 4 series Time Team, Island Race (in which she sailed around Britain with John McCarthy), The Talking Show, Great Journeys (in which she canoed across Africa) and a six part documentary series about Sudan for Al-Jazeera English. She has also acted in sit-coms such as The Big One (which she co-wrote) and more recently BBC’s Up the Women. For many years she was team captain on Call My Bluff. Other panel shows include Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Mock the Week, and QI. She was the host of What the Dickens,Antiques Master and currently presents Channel 4’s 1001 Things You Should Know.

In 2010 she brought live drama back to television when she conceived, co-wrote and hosted Theatre Live for Sky Arts television. She both wrote and produced plays for the channel including her own film The Man starring Stellen Skarsgard, Stephen Fry and Zoe Wannamaker.

Sandi is a familiar voice for BBC Radio 4 listeners, as the chair since 2006 of The News Quiz and for many years as the host of the travel programme Excess Baggage. Sandi also writes for the theatre. Sandi and Elly Brewer wrote a Shakespeare deconstruction, The Pocket Dream, which Toksvig performed in at the Nottingham Playhouse and in the West End in 1992. In 2002, she and Dilly Keane co-wrote a musical Big Night Out at the Little Palace Theatre, written for the Watford Palace Theatre, in which they appeared with Bonnie Langford. In September 2012 her play Bully Boy starring Anthony Andrews was the opening production of London’s new St James Theatre. She is currently writing a musical.

Sandi has written many books including fiction and non-fiction books for children and adults. She has been a columnist for Good Housekeeping magazine for more than twenty years and for seven years wrote every week in The Sunday Telegraph. In 2009 a collection of her Telegraph articles were published in book form as The Chain of Curiosity. Her latest novel Valentine Grey was published in the autumn of 2012 and her book on manners will be published in the autumn of 2013.

She is the current Chancellor of Portsmouth University and is involved with many charities focusing on civil liberty, women’s rights and education. Sandi is in an immensely civil partnership. She has three utterly splendid adult children and one smallish but excellent step-daughter. She spends her free time weaving, cooking, canoeing, hanging out with her children and having a laugh with her wonderful friends.

QI

Alan Davies

Alan Davies graduated from the University of Kent in 1988 and went straight on to begin a career in stand-up comedy. It proved to be a good move, as within months he was runner-up in the City Limits New Act of the Year contest 1989 and named Time Out’s Best Young Comic in 1991.

Alan spent several successful years on the comedy circuit before landing his own show on BBC Radio 1, and appearing regularly on Have I Got News For You and The Clive James Show. His BBC Radio 4 sitcom, The Alan Davies Show, was nominated for a British Comedy Award.

In 1996, Alan took on the eponymous role of Jonathan Creek, which won a BAFTA Award for Best Drama and went on to achieve worldwide popularity. Having caught the acting bug, Alan went on to take up lead roles in numerous other TV shows like A Many Splintered Thing, Bob
 & Rose, The Brief and Whites. His big screen debut came in 2008 with a role in the hit movie Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.

Alan's famous partnership with Stephen Fry began in 2002 when he took part in a comedy pilot of celebrity quiz game, QI. He has appeared on every regular episode of the show since, with the exception of episode 10 of Series D, where he appeared in a pre-recorded scene in the opening minutes as he was attending the 2006 Champions League final in Paris during the actual recording. His chair was empty for the rest of the episode.

Alan also produces an Arsenal podcast called It's Up For Grabs Now and has written a book, My Favourite People and Me 1978-1988.

Next on...

Episode 11, Series 3

Tuesday May 23 at 06:00

Carnival

Clive Anderson, Jo Brand and Phill Jupitus join Alan Davies to face virtually impossible questions in Stephen Fry's tough quiz. 11/12

Episode 1, Series 13

Tuesday May 23 at 06:30

L-Animals

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'L-Animals' with guests Sarah Millican, Ross Noble, Colin Lane and Alan Davies. 1/18

Episode 12, Series 3

Tuesday May 23 at 07:00

Combustion

Stephen Fry quizzes Alan Davies, Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitus and Dara O'Briain with almost impossible questions. 12/12

Episode 12, Series 3

Tuesday May 23 at 16:40

Combustion

Stephen Fry quizzes Alan Davies, Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitus and Dara O'Briain with almost impossible questions. 12/12

Episode 1, Series 13

Tuesday May 23 at 20:45

L-Animals

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'L-Animals' with guests Sarah Millican, Ross Noble, Colin Lane and Alan Davies. 1/18

Episode 1, Series 13

Wednesday May 24 at 01:20

L-Animals

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'L-Animals' with guests Sarah Millican, Ross Noble, Colin Lane and Alan Davies. 1/18

Episode 1, Series 2

Wednesday May 24 at 06:25

Blue

Stephen Fry probes Alan Davies, Jo Brand, Sean Lock and Bill Bailey about blues, beetles and baguettes. 1/11

Episode 8, Series 3

Wednesday May 24 at 06:55

Corby

Phill Jupitus, Bill Bailey and David Mitchell join Alan Davies in the world's most impossible quiz, hosted by Stephen Fry. 8/12

Episode 12, Series 3

Wednesday May 24 at 07:25

Combustion

Stephen Fry quizzes Alan Davies, Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitus and Dara O'Briain with almost impossible questions. 12/12

Episode 1, Series 2

Wednesday May 24 at 17:10

Blue

Stephen Fry probes Alan Davies, Jo Brand, Sean Lock and Bill Bailey about blues, beetles and baguettes. 1/11

Episode 2, Series 13

Wednesday May 24 at 20:45

Location, Location, Location

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'Location, Location, Location' with guests Jason Manford, Aisling Bea, Johnny Vegas and Alan Davies. 2/18

Episode 2, Series 2

Thursday May 25 at 06:25

Birds

Phil Kay, Rich Hall, Jo Brand and the hapless Alan Davies are faced with questions about birds, bills and brothers. 2/11

Episode 2, Series 13

Thursday May 25 at 06:55

Location, Location, Location

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'Location, Location, Location' with guests Jason Manford, Aisling Bea, Johnny Vegas and Alan Davies. 2/18

Episode 2, Series 2

Thursday May 25 at 10:40

Birds

Phil Kay, Rich Hall, Jo Brand and the hapless Alan Davies are faced with questions about birds, bills and brothers. 2/11

Episode 2, Series 2

Thursday May 25 at 17:25

Birds

Phil Kay, Rich Hall, Jo Brand and the hapless Alan Davies are faced with questions about birds, bills and brothers. 2/11

Episode 2, Series 2

Thursday May 25 at 20:15

Birds

Phil Kay, Rich Hall, Jo Brand and the hapless Alan Davies are faced with questions about birds, bills and brothers. 2/11

Episode 3, Series 13

Thursday May 25 at 20:45

Literature

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'Literature' with guests Victoria Coren Mitchell, Jack Whitehall, Lloyd Langford and Alan Davies. 3/18

Episode 3, Series 2

Friday May 26 at 06:25

Bombs

Stephen Fry questions Clive Anderson, Rich Hall, Phill Jupitus and Alan Davies about bombs, bats and bagpipes. 3/11

Episode 3, Series 13

Friday May 26 at 09:20

Literature

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'Literature' with guests Victoria Coren Mitchell, Jack Whitehall, Lloyd Langford and Alan Davies. 3/18

Episode 3, Series 2

Friday May 26 at 11:25

Bombs

Stephen Fry questions Clive Anderson, Rich Hall, Phill Jupitus and Alan Davies about bombs, bats and bagpipes. 3/11

Episode 1, Series 15

Friday May 26 at 17:00

Naming Names

New QI host Sandi Toksvig kicks off the N Series by naming names with Cariad Lloyd, Romesh Ranganathan, Phill Jupitus and Alan Davies. 1/16

Episode 3, Series 2

Friday May 26 at 20:35

Bombs

Stephen Fry questions Clive Anderson, Rich Hall, Phill Jupitus and Alan Davies about bombs, bats and bagpipes. 3/11

Episode 1, Series 15

Friday May 26 at 21:05

Naming Names

New QI host Sandi Toksvig kicks off the N Series by naming names with Cariad Lloyd, Romesh Ranganathan, Phill Jupitus and Alan Davies. 1/16

Episode 3, Series 2

Saturday May 27 at 02:35

Bombs

Stephen Fry questions Clive Anderson, Rich Hall, Phill Jupitus and Alan Davies about bombs, bats and bagpipes. 3/11

Episode 1, Series 15

Saturday May 27 at 03:05

Naming Names

New QI host Sandi Toksvig kicks off the N Series by naming names with Cariad Lloyd, Romesh Ranganathan, Phill Jupitus and Alan Davies. 1/16

Episode 13, Series 13

Saturday May 27 at 06:00

Lucky Losers

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'Lucky Losers' with guests Jeremy Clarkson, Sandi Toksvig, Danny Baker and Alan Davies. 13/18

Episode 13, Series 13

Saturday May 27 at 14:25

Lucky Losers

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'Lucky Losers' with guests Jeremy Clarkson, Sandi Toksvig, Danny Baker and Alan Davies. 13/18

Episode 14, Series 13

Saturday May 27 at 14:55

Little and Large

Stephen Fry guides his guests, and regular panellist Alan Davies, into the strange worlds of the very little and the very large. 14/18

Episode 15, Series 13

Saturday May 27 at 15:25

Long Lost

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'Long Lost' with guests Suggs, Claudia O'Doherty, Jimmy Carr and Alan Davies. 15/18

Episode 16, Series 13

Saturday May 27 at 15:55

Landmarks

Stephen Fry asks questions on 'Landmarks' with guests Jo Brand, Colin Lane, David Mitchell and Alan Davies. 16/18

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Intelligent but irreverent factual entertainment.

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Denmark – Canal Digital DTH: 42 | YouSee: 18
Finland – Canal Digital DTH: 27
Norway – Altibox: 46 | Canal Digital Cable: 24 | Canal Digital DTH: 41 | GET: 16 | RiksTV: 11
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