Release Date: Tuesdays, 9:30 PM
There are quiz shows that make you feel like an idiot, quiz shows that make you feel smart – and then there’s Q.I.. Stephen Fry’s idea of an on-air test not only entertains, you actually turn off the box feeling like you’ve learned something.
Q.I.’s format is unlike that of any other member of the quiz family. Of course there are four celebrity guests arranged either side of a large curved desk, with Stephen Fry holding court from the centre, and the program progresses through rounds of ‘questions’ – but that’s where the resemblance ends. Generally speaking quizmasters are supposed to ask the questions, and the contestants aim to provide the correct answers. However Fry awards points for the most entertaining or even inaccurate answers. That’s because the questions tend to be so obscure or hard to fathom that there are very few people who would be able to provide a sensible response. But the audience isn’t left wanting. After asking the questions Fry then answers them from his own extensive reading.
The format sounds pretentious but Fry’s seemingly inexhaustible supply of knowledge is so impressive, and his manner so winning, that you find yourself wishing the contestants would get their jokes out of the way so you can see what television’s most informed host has to say. Like most adult programs, Q.I. can’t resist a bit of blue humour, so beware. However, in a world that constantly assures us we are all pretty good, it’s not bad to realise that our ‘good’ is not much good in the presence of real brilliance. Who knows, a dose of humility might also wake us up to the distance between our moral goodness and the perfection God requires.