Watching QI

QI's J series has now been recorded and is currently being prepared for broadcast - the next series, covering all things 'K', will be recorded in May and June 2013. The tickets will be free and available from The Applause Store - check in with them to put yourself on their reserve list!

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Americans need us!

After the success of our online petition to have Series 1 released on DVD, we're following it up with another - this time to get QI shown in America. Read more.

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QI teaser questions

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Series guests

QI is hosted by Stephen Fry, with Alan Davies the only other permanent guest. Other guests have included:

  • Jo Brand
  • Phill Jupitus
  • Sean Lock
  • Bill Bailey
  • Rich Hall
  • Jimmy Carr
  • Clive Anderson
  • David Mitchell
  • Rob Brydon
  • Dara Ó Briain
  • John Sessions
  • Jeremy Clarkson
  • Andy Hamilton
  • Danny Baker
  • Sandi Toksvig
  • Ronni Ancona
  • Jack Dee
  • Jeremy Hardy
  • Vic Reeves
  • Johnny Vegas
  • Ross Noble
  • Arthur Smith
  • Linda Smith
  • Mark Steel
  • Gyles Brandreth
  • Hugh Dennis
  • Howard Goodall
  • Charlie Higson
  • Phil Kay
  • Fred MacAulay
  • Lee Mack
  • Doon Mackichan
  • Rory McGrath
  • Graham Norton
  • Sue Perkins
  • Liza Tarbuck

For a complete listing of who was on when, we are pleased to recommend Wikipedia's QI entry.

Clips & photos

Browse through our collection of favourite clips and photographs from the lastest series:

QI : The BBC Television Series

The Show

Stephen Fry & guests

Quite Interesting - or 'QI' to its friends - could loosely be described as a comedy panel quiz. However, none of the stellar line-up of comedians is expected to be able to answer any questions, and if anyone ends up with a positive score, they can be very happy with their performance. Points are awarded for being interesting or funny (and, very occasionally, right) but points are deducted for answers which merely repeat common misconceptions and urban myth. (Alan Davies has turned this aspect of the game into somewhat of an artform.) It's okay to be wrong, but don't be obviously, boringly wrong. In this way, QI tries to rid the world of the flotsam of nonsense and old wives' tales that can build up in your mind. QI not only makes us look more closely at things, it encourages us to question all the received wisdom we have carried with us since childhood. Think of the program as a humorous cranial de-scaler.

Thomas Hobbes

QI isn't really about pointless information, or shoring up vast banks of trivia, It's about finding undiscovered connections and seeing hidden patterns, just like the best comedy. After all, curiosity is hardwired in all of us; we just lose the ability to indulge it. "The lust of the mind", Thomas Hobbes called it, "that exceedeth the short vehemence of any carnal pleasure". There you have it, and from a philosopher not a press release. QI: better than sex.

Having started in 2003 with all things 'A', QI is attempting to get all the way through the alphabet, and then possibly continue through the numbers which are, naturally, slightly more numerous.

The QI Interactive DVDs

If Friday evenings (or series repeats) don't come around quickly enough for you, why not pick up a QI Interactive DVD and play in the comfort of your own home? No, we can't think of a reason either.

The Guests

Stephen Fry

QI is hosted by Supreme Fiendish Question Master, 33rd Degree, Stephen Fry who wields autocratic power over the scores. Stephen's task is to gently encourage his guests to search for answers, avoid urban myths and reach deep into their comedic pockets to entertain us.

Alan Davies

Permanently installed guest Alan Davies develops the intellectual counterpoint and, as Stephen puts it, "rushes headlong like a puppy into the wall of ignorance." Far from being something to be ashamed of, Alan highlights, with his inimitable comedy style, that there are no stupid questions. Only funny ones.

We have been delighted to welcome some of the world's finest and most gifted comedians, writers and broadcasters to QI since it started in 2003. Just run your eye down the list on the left to see who's been on. Unlike many TV quiz shows, guests are not given the answers beforehand. Not that this would help, mind you - getting the answer right is probably the most boring thing that could happen - what is central to the programme's flavour is the guessing, the 'teasing out' and the inevitably amusing bemusement that follows.

The Programme-makers

QI is the brainchild of long-time TV comedy guru John Lloyd, producer of Not The Nine O'Clock News, Spitting Image and Blackadder. A few years ago, John came to the sudden and shocking realisation that he didn't really know anything - or rather that there was a colossal landscape of fascinating knowledge 'out there' that he'd never really, genuinely trod; just occasionally used maps of it to swat mosquitoes.

Some years of wandering the intellectual landscape later, having explored some quite promising seams of really quite interesting discoveries, he just knew he had to bring it to everyone's attention, and show his friends, his colleagues and the world at large just how interesting - and amusing - everything is. And QI is the result - a much acclaimed marriage of top-level comedy and fascinating insight into the world we occupy and all-too-often take for granted.

Each series is researched for months beforehand by a dedicated team of 'QI Elves' who are prepared to accept that they don't know anything either, but are pretty sure they can find out. (See the QI Philosophy page for more on this approach to life.) During recordings, it is their task to clear up any remaining threads of doubt or ignorance that are cast upon the proceedings, making Stephen look even more ridiculously knowledgeable, if that's possible.

QI is produced and recorded by Talkback Thames, at the London ITV studios, edited by the wizards at Evolutions, and broadcast and licensed by the BBC.

The excellently catchy QI theme tune, by Howard Goodall, is temporarily unavailable for download.

The Set

One of the most common group of questions that we get at QI (if you ignore the ones asking why we said that there was more than one moon) are queries about the iconic set.

The set itself was designed by Jonathan Paul Green, who was also responsible for shows such as Mock the Week and TopGear. He has his own website as well as a blog specifically about QI. You can also follow him on twitter @jpgdesign

But what about the most common specific query that we receive? It's all about the spiral on Stephen's desk. Is it a golden spiral? A logarithmic spiral? Or something else?

Well here is Jonathan's sketch of the design:

Original sketch design of QI spirals

As you can see, it is made by joining-up the vertices of various rectangles, which means that the spiral is actually more like a fibonacci spiral than a golden spiral. The two are close enough to be almost identical, but the "golden spiral" is created simply by using the exact "Golden Ratio" (1:1.618) to determine the rate at which it leaves the centre, while the Fibonacci series joins corners of rectangles of the golden ratio. The two spirals get more and more similar as the numbers get higher, but are not the same.

Having said that, in actual fact while Jonathan used the Golden Spiral as his inspiration for the set, and drew what looks like a fibonacci spiral, if one gets up close and measures the set, one will find that ratios of the defining rectangles are 1.24 to 1 (central) and 1.76 to 1 (outer) - nowhere near the golden ratio of 1.618 to 1. Such a fudge was necessary in order to make the set look aesthetically pleasing, and so the spiral is actually neither a golden spiral, nor is it a fibonacci spiral - perhaps we should call it a 'QI Spiral' or maybe a 'JPG Design Spiral'.

For more information about golden spirals, fibonacci spirals, QI spirals, and the QI set design, check out the Qibble blog entry on this subject.

Teaser campaign

At QI, we believe very strongly that the internet can change things. If we make the most of it, we can make the world more interesting, make people laugh more - and possibly get your local network executive to broadcast QI!

We have a few goodies that you can download, link to, or put whole onto your own website or favourite forum. The URLs to these are as follows: