Here’s an analysis of one of my favourite quiz shows ‘Quite Interesting’ which I’d done as part of my TV Genre assignment. Its truly one of the most interesting and quirky quiz shows I’ve ever watched.
QI is an abbreviation for Quite Interesting. It is a BBC comedy panel quiz television show that started in September 2003.
Created by John Lloyd, the show is hosted by Stephen Fry and features permanent panelist and comedian Alan Davies along with a set of three other panelists that changes with every show. All panelists aren’t ordinary ones that usual quiz shows have, QI invites the country’s funniest men and women –all stand up comedians, making the show qualify into the category of classic edutainment.
The format of the show was created by writer and former BBC writer, John Lloyd. Hosted by Stephen Fry, the panel consists of four participants, three rotating and one permanent, Alan Davies, who’s seated to Stephen Fry’s immediate right. The duration of the programme is 30 minutes that is broadcasted on BBC Two.
QI is a unique project that will last for 26 years, currently on its 10th year with each series covering topics that begin with a different letter of the alphabet. The first series covered topics whose word began with “A”. Therefore, it is referred to as “Series A” instead of “Series One”.
Each series consists of around 12 episodes which are broadcasted every year between September and December, since 2003. The panelists are rewarded more if their answers are ‘quite interesting’. Any “quite interesting” answer may get a point, even if they are right or wrong, and penalties will be imposed for obvious wrong answers. There’s also negative scoring involved which are common. The total scores are only announced at the end of the show.
Shows within the genre
Since it’s a 26 year long project, there will be a total of 26 series representing each alphabet. So far nine series have been completed, with the tenth one ‘Series J’ starting this September 2012. The show is pretty much the same, full of quirky facts, in which contestants are rewarded more if their answers are ‘quite interesting’. Therefore, the show will follow the same format and style until the end of the 26th series.
Impact of QI on the viewer
The show was originally being seen as an “Annotated Encyclopedia … the world’s first non-boring encyclopedia.” The impact on the viewers is quite large and positive as it contains a strong combination of superlative comedy and interesting information that greatly appeals to its viewers unlike ordinary quiz shows.
Below is an image that shows how the setting of the programme appears. All recordings take place at the London Studios near Waterloo station. The evening recordings start at 7:30pm. There are four panelists seated around the host (Stephen Fry- center), two on either sides of the table which is in the shape of a ‘Q’ that’ stands for ‘Quite’ and ‘I’ that stands for ‘Interesting’ which is within the ‘Q’. You have a large seated audience who watch the show live. The audience largely consists of a British audience as the show is based there.
1-Stephen Fry, the host, is able to show off his knowledge, intelligence as well as his incredible wit. He guides the quiz and creates an order when the jokes or question goes out of hand. He follows an unscripted session as each guest is on their own, the only scripted part is the list of questions he holds on his desk. Moreover, the questions aren’t shown to any of the guests beforehand. Fry is seen as an icon in the country, he has a strong following on twitter that equals to over a million people.
2-Alan Davies, is a British comedian, actor and a permanent member on QI. The host, Fry and Davies share an excellent chemistry on screen, throwing fits of laugher.
3-Other panelists are all stand up comedians. The element of spontaneity is obvious as they joke around with probable answers, which what makes the show amusing. In terms of invited guests, there have been several repeats during the series, most of them the audience favorites. The list includes 40 guests till date. These invited guests do get paid to be a part of the show. Being invited to the QI is quite an honor as they get to feature alongside Stephen Fry and be a part of the BBC comedy quizzing tradition.
QI, unlike other TV quiz shows, has a 26-year-long project. Each series covers topics that begin with a different letter of the alphabet. Starting this September 2012 is ‘Series J’ which is the tenth series. The whole show is fully unscripted except for the questions which are prepared beforehand and are not shown to the quests until the show begins live. The show is full of unusual and quirky facts on the basis of which the contestants are rewarded more if their answers are ‘quite interesting’ unlike other quiz shows, whose priority is getting the answer right. This usual quiz format is found to be boring which is why adding humor is what is central to the programme’s flavor. It is the guessing, the teasing, wittiness and the amusing confusion that makes the show a success. The solution or answers are discussed in the most jovial manner and comments thrown back at each other with a sense of humor.
What makes this quiz show different from other quiz shows is it comical nature. Each character has a personality which is radiated in the show. The emotions of each character, from the host to each of the panelists, contribute to the humorous outbursts during the 30 minute show. Therefore, together the host and the panelists throw fits of laughter to the audience.
This quiz holds strong British values – its style is British in terms of its intellectuality that is distinctly trailed with its light sense of humor with each question posed by the host. Its lightheartedness is most appreciated because it’s not a quiz show like “Who’s going to be a millionaire” or India’s version of “Kaun Banega Crorepati” where you’re winning money. Here its for the sheer joy of playing the game, enjoying it (be it the audience or the players) as there is no pressure of any form and of course learning while you do it. Overall, the values are strong as it focuses on anybody interested in a good laugh and would like to learn something new.
6- Target Audience
The target audience is primary with a live audience comprising mainly of British, as well as secondary as it is broadcasted on television. Episodes are also available to watch online on BBC iPlayer for international audiences. Audiences need to be educated and have that sense of humor to enjoy the show.
BBC official website. Quite Interesting (QI) Show Programming. http://www.bbc.co.uk
Official Quite Interesting website. http://www.qi.com
Image sourced by The British Comedy Guide (March 2011). http://www.comedy.co.uk