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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 9, Series 5

Monday August 21 at 06:25

England

Stephen Fry effortlessly evokes 'England' with guests Sean Lock, Phill Jupitus, Charlie Higson and Alan Davies. 9/11

Episode 10, Series 5

Monday August 21 at 09:45

Endings

Stephen Fry endlessly elongates 'Endings' with guests Jimmy Carr, Doon Mackichan, Dara O'Briain and Alan Davies. 10/11

Episode 4, Series 15

Monday August 21 at 16:00

Noble Rot

Sandi Toksvig considers some noteworthy noble rot with Jeremy Clarkson, Sara Pascoe, Jason Manford and Alan Davies. 4/16

Episode 4, Series 15

Monday August 21 at 17:30

Noble Rot

Sandi Toksvig considers some noteworthy noble rot with Jeremy Clarkson, Sara Pascoe, Jason Manford and Alan Davies. 4/16

Episode 9, Series 5

Monday August 21 at 20:20

England

Stephen Fry effortlessly evokes 'England' with guests Sean Lock, Phill Jupitus, Charlie Higson and Alan Davies. 9/11

Episode 5, Series 15

Monday August 21 at 20:50

Not Nearly

Sandi Toksvig hosts the Not Nearly episode of QI with Gyles Brandreth, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Jimmy Carr and Alan Davies. 5/16

Episode 11, Series 5

Tuesday August 22 at 10:25

Empire

Stephen Fry endearingly embodies 'Empire' with guests Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Jo Brand and Alan Davies. 11/11

Episode 10, Series 5

Tuesday August 22 at 16:35

Endings

Stephen Fry endlessly elongates 'Endings' with guests Jimmy Carr, Doon Mackichan, Dara O'Briain and Alan Davies. 10/11

Episode 11, Series 5

Tuesday August 22 at 17:10

Empire

Stephen Fry endearingly embodies 'Empire' with guests Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Jo Brand and Alan Davies. 11/11

Episode 11, Series 5

Tuesday August 22 at 20:50

Empire

Stephen Fry endearingly embodies 'Empire' with guests Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Jo Brand and Alan Davies. 11/11

Episode 11, Series 5

Wednesday August 23 at 04:45

Empire

Stephen Fry endearingly embodies 'Empire' with guests Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Jo Brand and Alan Davies. 11/11

Episode 11, Series 5

Wednesday August 23 at 06:25

Empire

Stephen Fry endearingly embodies 'Empire' with guests Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Jo Brand and Alan Davies. 11/11

Episode 11, Series 5

Wednesday August 23 at 07:40

Empire

Stephen Fry endearingly embodies 'Empire' with guests Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Jo Brand and Alan Davies. 11/11

Episode 2, Series 6

Wednesday August 23 at 10:30

Fire And Freezing

Clive Anderson, Dom Joly and Rob Brydon join Stephen Fry and Alan Davies for a festive edition of QI. 2/12

Episode 11, Series 5

Wednesday August 23 at 17:00

Empire

Stephen Fry endearingly embodies 'Empire' with guests Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Jo Brand and Alan Davies. 11/11

Episode 11, Series 5

Wednesday August 23 at 20:15

Empire

Stephen Fry endearingly embodies 'Empire' with guests Bill Bailey, Sean Lock, Jo Brand and Alan Davies. 11/11

Episode 3, Series 6

Wednesday August 23 at 20:45

Flotsam And Jetsam

Stephen Fry quizzes Charlie Higson, Andy Hamilton, Rob Brydon and Alan Davies. 3/12

Episode 3, Series 6

Thursday August 24 at 03:05

Flotsam And Jetsam

Stephen Fry quizzes Charlie Higson, Andy Hamilton, Rob Brydon and Alan Davies. 3/12

Episode 1, Series 13

Thursday August 24 at 06:25

L-Animals

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

Episode 2, Series 13

Thursday August 24 at 08:55

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 1, Series 13

Thursday August 24 at 09:25

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

Thursday August 24 at 17:00

L-Animals

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

Episode 5, Series 15

Thursday August 24 at 20:15

Not Nearly

Sandi Toksvig hosts the Not Nearly episode of QI with Gyles Brandreth, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Jimmy Carr and Alan Davies. 5/16

Episode 2, Series 13

Thursday August 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 5, Series 15

Friday August 25 at 02:05

Not Nearly

Sandi Toksvig hosts the Not Nearly episode of QI with Gyles Brandreth, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Jimmy Carr and Alan Davies. 5/16

Episode 3, Series 13

Friday August 25 at 06:25

Literature

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

Episode 3, Series 13

Friday August 25 at 17:00

Literature

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

Episode 3, Series 13

Friday August 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 6, Series 15

Friday August 25 at 21:15

Night

Sandi Toksvig has a 'Night' to remember with Noel Fielding, Holly Walsh, David Mitchell and Alan Davies. 6/16

Episode 1, Series 8

Saturday August 26 at 06:00

Gallimaufrey

Stephen Fry hosts the comedy quiz with questions relating to gallimaufrey, which means a jumble or hodge-podge. With Phill Jupitus and Hugh Dennis. 1/8

BBC Brit

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
Sweden – Boxer: 18 | Canal Digital DTH: 36 | ComHem: 43 | Sappa: 29 | Telia: 93