Monday, 30 July 2007

Biography 3: Dara Ó Briain

As promised last week, today’s biography focuses on Dara Ó Briain.

Dara is relatively new to the UK comedy scene. Only in the last 4 years has he broken out of Irish television and the comedy clubs onto UK television.

Born February 4th 1972, Dara started his career as a children's presenter on RTÉ (an Irish broadcaster) whilst performing his first stand-up gigs on the Irish comedy circuit. He spent three years as a presenter on a bilingual (Irish and English) children's programme Echo Island which he looks back on with amusement (he put children’s presenters into Room 101). He came to prominence as a team captain on the topical panel show Don't Feed The Gondolas, an RTÉ similar programme to Have I Got News For You.

From 2002, with his profile rising in the UK due to his one man shows at the Edinburgh fringe festival, Dara began to start making appearances on UK television shows such Never Mind The Buzzcocks. His big break in UK television came in 2003 when he made an appearance as guest and, ultimately, four appearances as guest host of the popular news quiz, Have I Got News For You.

In "Three Men in a Boat", Dara rowed up the Thames with Griff Rhys-Jones and Rory McGrath to produce a two-part documentary following the route in the book of the same name. He has also performed stand-up in front of fantasy role-players as part of the ITV1 series Tough Gig.

Dara is now hosting the panel show Mock the Week on BBC television. The show attempts to blend the TV and radio panel show formats with features that would not look out of place on Have I Got News For You or Whose Line Is It Anyway?

In the last 4 series of QI (including series E) Dara has made 6 appearances. Dara has won on all but one occasion (not including series E) making him one of the most successful guests on QI. In episode C12 he lost a game because viewers had complained that he had been awarded points for saying that 0 degree Celsius is the triple point of water in his first time on the show. The correct answer is 0.1 degrees Celsius so Dara was given a klaxon and a ten-point penalty. Dara’s memorable response was “How many people sat at home, watching that, and thought ‘It’s just a comedy show, but I’m not letting that fecker get away with that!”

Friday, 27 July 2007

Daily Telegraph QI Column - Week 25

The QI Column has now moved on to the letter H. For a close look at Handbags, H Bombs, Hollywood, Holidays, Hooligans and Hats Click Here.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Biography 2: Jeremy Clarkson

The second biography was a choice between the two men who have both made 6 appearances on QI: Jeremy Clarkson and Dara O’Briain. Naturally, as QI works alphabetically, so will the biographies, and this week’s focus is the living legend that is Mr Jeremy Clarkson.

Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson was born on April 11, 1960, in Doncaster. He was educated at Repton School, although he claims to have been expelled for drinking and smoking. In 1984, he combined his writing skills with his love of cars, and together with business partner Jonathan Gill, they formed the Motoring Press Agency (later MPA Fingal), conducting road-tests for local newspapers. He first began presenting the BBC motoring show Top Gear, in 1989, doing so until 1999 and again from 2002. It is for this show that he is most well-known. His current co-presenters are James May and Richard Hammond. Stephen Grant, the warm-up comedian at QI recordings, could have replaced James May as a co-presenter. In auditions to replace Jason Dawe he reached the final two. Producers chose James May because Stephen was too similar to Richard Hammond. Top Gear is now the most watched TV show on BBC Two, with about 350 million viewers around the world. It won an International Emmy in 2005, for the best non-scripted entertainment show that was not broadcast in the U.S. In spite of his penchant for fast driving and high-perfomance automobiles, Clarkson has remarkably been reported as having a clean driving licence record.

Clarkson is known to be opinionated and forthright in his views. He was once described by Tony Parsons in the Daily Mirror as a "dazzling hero of political incorrectness". He has criticised Piers Morgan, America, Hyundai, Rover, BMW, Politicians, cyclists, bus drivers, Wales and students at Oxford Brookes University (after a talk, a student threw a meringue pie in his face, but took it in good humour, claiming the pie had too much sugar). He has also championed Isambard Kingdom Brunel as the Greatest Briton. He has taken a keen interest in engineering, presenting programmes on British inventions like the Colossus computer.

He appeared briefly in the British version of the Pixar movie Cars as Lightning McQueen’s manager Harv. He has been blamed for poor denim sales in the UK, being called one of the “world’s worst-dressed celebrities” in an edition of What Not To Wear. He has also driven the London Marathon course in normal traffic, with a runner beating him by 8 minutes.

On QI Jeremy has won 2 episodes. When Stephen asked the panelists to predict their own scores Jeremy made a prediction of –29. However, he scored 0 prompting Stephen Fry to say he “did a lot better than he thought”. He was criticised by the RSPCA for his explanation on QI of the taste of whale and a seal flipper with grated puffin (which taste like “steak but with an irony texture” and “like licking a hot Turkish urinal” respectively).

Friday, 20 July 2007

Daily Telegraph QI Column - Week 24

This week QI is heading overseas for an interesting look at travel. Click Here.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Biography 1: Stephen Fry

Firstly, thanks must go to QI Fanatic for his astounding work on this blog and for giving me the role of one of his bloggers. I’ll be keeping my very small blog up for now, but I suspect that I will be transferring the posts over here at some point.

In the meantime, my objective is to bring you profiles on the main participants in QI. That means that every week, you can read up on information regarding Stephen, Alan, Jo Brand, Phill Jupitus, Bill Bailey and so on. This will continue until late September/early October, when series E of QI begins broadcasting on BBC Two. So today, here is a profile of the QI-master, Stephen Fry.

Born Stephen John Fry on 24th August 1957 in Hampstead, London, the 6' 4½" legend is the son of British scientist Alan Fry, and Marianne Neumann, an Austrian of Jewish descent. Writer, actor, and comedian, Fry lives in his London SW1 flat and his Norfolk house when not travelling. He grew up in Norfolk (where his parents still reside) and attended Uppingham School and Stout's Hill. After serving three months in Pucklechurch prison for credit card fraud at the age of seventeen, he attended Queens College, Cambridge in 1979, finishing with a 2:1 in English in 1981/2.

While at Cambridge, he was a member of the Footlights society, alongside Thompson, Tony Slattery, Martin Bergmann, and his now best friend Hugh Laurie. His prolific writing partnership with Laurie began in 1981, starting with Footlights revues for (among others) Mayweek, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and a three-month tour of Australia. In 1984, Fry was engaged to do the rewrite of the Noel Gay musical Me and My Girl, which made him a millionaire before the age of 30, and also earned him a nomination for a Tony award in 1987. Throughout the 1980s, Fry wrote for newspapers, magazines and hosted his own radio comedy show, Saturday Night Fry, with Laurie, Thompson and Broadbent often appearing as guests, and was a contestant on Whose Line is it Anyway? He also appeared in an episode of The Young Ones, as part of a University Challenge skit (he was familiar to this role, having been part of a real panel on the show not long before). He is perhaps best known for his television roles in Blackadder II and Blackadder Goes Forth as Lord/General Melchett, and in a cameo as the Duke of Wellington in Blackadder the Third. He went on to play the valet Jeeves in Jeeves and Wooster (1990), alongside Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster. Both shows ran for 4 successful series.

Fry's acting career has not been limited to films and television though. He had successful runs in Alan Bennett's Forty Years On, Simon Gray's The Common Pursuit with John Sessions, Rik Mayall, and others. Gray's Cell Mates was less successful. During what Fry described as one of his ‘episodes’ in his documentary The Secret Life of the Manic-Depressive, he walked out of the play. He then tried to commit suicide before later resurfacing in Belgium. Over that weekend, he had considered suicide and has since spoken frankly on the subject. Fry has published four novels as well as a collection of his radio and journalistic miscellanea. He has recorded audiotapes of many works for both adults and children, including the Harry Potter novels. As earlier reported on this blog, Stephen Fry is one of only 5 people to know the end of the final book in the series.

More recently, he has appeared in US drama Bones, directed his own film Bright Young Things and hosted the BAFTA awards. Fry is currently starring in the ITV1 drama Kingdom. A second series has already been commissioned and is currently in production.

Most readers of this blog will recognise Stephen Fry primarily as the host of QI. However, it was not originally intended that he would be the host of the show. When John Lloyd first presented the idea (which soon changed from a radio show to a TV show) he imagined Fry as a team captain with Michael Palin hosting the game. Palin turned down the role but QI has continued to be a huge success with Fry at the helm.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Daily Telegraph QI Column - Week 23

QI's taking a trip to the beach this weekend. Go enjoy some seaside related facts here.

This weekend will see the start on this blog of a series of biographies of the stars on QI. The host of QI, Stephen Fry will be the subject of the first biography this Sunday.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Daily Telegraph QI Column - Week 22

QI's host might take a special interest in this week's QI Telegraph Column. This week Stphens come under the QI magnifying glass here.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

QI Series B on DVD

It's been a long time coming and some thought it might not happen at all due to the poor sales of Series A. However, it looks like the Series B DVD will finally get made. A deal should be signed in the next few weeks. There's even a chance that both series B and C will be released at the same time.

However, you could also provide your assistance by telling QI what you would like on the DVD. Go to the forum here to read more.

Don't forget that the second QI iDVD will also be released this Autumn.

Monday, 2 July 2007

The Comedy Box - QI News

The Comedy Box, something that you may have heard of already, is a new, soon-to-launch, Internet TV channel. Warner Music is launching the project as part of their attempt to diversify into new markets.

John Lloyd, QI's creator and producer, is working to secure talent for the new channel. There has also been a new board added on the QI forum for budding writers to post their ideas. Click here.

The exciting news is that the new channel will feature, in its opening line up, the QI News. It will be a "topical weekly spin-off from the popular BBC Two panel show". EDIT: The channel will launch in September (not at the Edinburgh Fringe as previously reported in the Times).

As regular readers will know, the QI website already has a feature called the QI Rolling News which has already proven to be very popular.

The Comedybox will be free to view and funded through sponsorship and advertisements.

Welcoming a New Blogger

I am pleased to welcome Gluben to the QI blog. Glenn Reuben, who has been running his own QI blog here, will be writing biographies of all of the big stars on QI right here. No doubt he'll be able to dig up some excellent info on the life and careers of your favourite guests.