Sunday, 26 August 2007

Biography 7: Sean Lock

This week, our focus is on the infamous koala fiend, Mr Sean Lock.

Born on 22nd April 1963 in Woking, Sean Lock first began a career as a builder. Eventually he took to a new path as a stand up comedian, beginning with a five-minute open spot in a small pub in Hackney in 1988. He is currently a regular at London's Comedy Store and has appeared at all the major festivals around the world including Edinburgh, Melbourne, Montreal and the Stavanger Humorfestivat in Norway. In 2000, his show 'No Flatley, I Am The Lord Of The Dance' was nominated for the prestigious Perrier Award. That year he also received a British Comedy Award for Best Stand Up (previous winners have included Jack Dee, Eddie Izzard and Jo Brand). Sean has also won a Time Out Comedy Award.

Sean has performed in some of the most successful live shows of recent years, beginning in 1995 when he collaborated with Bill Bailey on Rock, a much misunderstood music industry spoof, which would later become serialised on Radio 1. His radio credits include regular contributions to Mark Radcliffe's Evening Show on Radio 1, Loose Ends on Radio 4, and The Treatment on Radio 5. He made his name in radio in 1998/9 with the show 15 Minutes of Misery on Radio 4, written by and starring Lock as the inhabitant of a South London tower block. This series grew into 15 Storeys High, where he played the same character, renamed as Vince and now a swimming pool lifeguard. It ran for two series on radio and two series on television in 2004.

As well as 15 Storeys High, Sean has gradually moved his comedy towards television, commencing with his own slot on the show Newman and Baddiel in Pieces, where he played Shenley Grange in a recurring sketch called Disappearing World – the character would warn about endangered species before ultimately killing said species. He subsequently became the first comedian to perform at Wembley Arena due to the fact that he was supporting Robert Newman and David Baddiel. However, he was booed offstage, and it was Newman and Baddiel who were widely reported as being the first to have done this.

As a writer, Sean co-created Mark Lamarr's Leaving The 20th Century, and has contributed to such shows as Never Mind The Buzzcocks, It's Only TV But I like It, and Is It Bill Bailey, and also wrote material for Bailey, Lamarr and Lee Evans. His other television credits include appearances on The World Of Lee Evans, Here's Johnny, and The Stand Up Show. He has also guested on the World Cup special edition of They Think It's All Over.

Sean is currently a team captain on the Channel 4 panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats (a position he has held for the previous two years) and has his own show on the same channel, TV Heaven Telly Hell, that returned for a second series this year.

On QI, Sean has proved remarkably popular with such stories about how he got a little too close to a koala, how he went to a fish ‘n’ chip shop in Eastbourne (which wasn’t open), and most memorably, his discovery of a portal to the underworld while Rory McGrath discussed Latin bird names. Given his popularity, his appearances in future QI series seem assured.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

E Series - Rumoured 13th Episode

Those who read the reviews of this year's E Series recordings will have noted that there were only 12 episodes. Series D included 13 episodes so there has been suspicion of a secret 13th episode would be made for the next season.

It has now been confirmed that there will be a 13th episode made using clips from the 12 recordings. It is expected to include all new material that wont have been included in the first 12 episodes.

P.S. Don't forget the QI marathon on UKTV G2 on Saturday and Sunday night.

Daily Telegraph QI Column - Week 29

This week the column takes a close look at some I's. To read about IT, Indian Restaurants, Inventions, Idiot, Illegal and Inmates click here.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Biography 6: Clive Anderson

This week it’s time to turn our attention to the man who is 17% less annoying than Antarctica, Mr Cleeve, er sorry, Clive Anderson, pictured left here, next to Andy Parsons.

Clive was born in Stanmore, Middlesex in 1952. He was educated at Harrow County School for Boys, alongside future politician Michael Portillo. After studying law at Cambridge University, where he was also President of the Footlights revue group from 1974 to 1975, he was called to the bar a year later and practised as a barrister in London for about 15 years, specialising in criminal law.

Despite his busy work, he found time to become part of the alternative comedy scene in the early 1980s, and was the first person to come onstage at The Comedy Store in 1979. During this time he wrote scripts for Frankie Howard, Griff Rhys Jones, Mel Smith and others (including the sketch series Not the Nine O’clock News), and performed as a stand-up comedian, which led to presenting radio and television programmes. He began his chat show connections by once standing in for Terry Wogan on his show, but came to prominence in Whose Line Is It Anyway? on Radio 4 and then on Channel 4. It was here that he bore the brunt of jokes referring mostly to his baldness and short neck, but this did not stop him from achieving further exposure. The show won a BAFTA in 1989. He presented ten series of his chat show Clive Anderson Talks Back, picking up British Comedy Awards in 1991 and 1992 and being named Top Channel 4 Presenter that same year. He later moved on to BBC1 with Clive Anderson All Talk. In 2003 he also presided over The Big Read for BBC2. His chat shows have been particularly controversial, most notably for causing the Bee Gees to walk out of an interview in apparent disgust, although the interview had seemed to be progressing smoothly. He has also had water poured over him by Richard Branson. Conversely, he has gained the upper hand in conversations with both Jeffrey Archer and Piers Morgan, the latter in an appearance on Have I Got News For You, where he has made several appearances as a panellist.

On radio he has chaired Chat Room on Radio 2, and The Cabaret Upstairs and Unreliable Evidence on Radio 4. In Unreliable Evidence Clive cross-examines some of the most eminent legal figures in the country. Other broadcasting credits include the shows Time Cycle, The News Quiz, The Devil's Advocate and a Radio 5 Live series called The Real… where he has profiled figures such as Gordon Brown, George Bush and Jesus Christ. Clive is also an accomplished writer and has written for The Times, The Observer, The Listener and The Sunday Correspondent. He is a keen supporter of Arsenal FC and lives in Highbury.

On QI, his nervous but quick delivery continues to shine, as does his drawing skills (when asked to draw a wigwam, he instead drew the band Wham! wearing wigs). He was revealed to be President of the Woodland Trust, although Jo subsequently became President of the Shut Up About The Woodland Trust Trust. A frequent panellist since the beginning of the show, he appears in series E and it is safe to assume he will reappear in future series.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Daily Telegraph QI Column - Week 28

This week's Telegraph column takes an in-depth look at islands. Click Here.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

"QI in America" Petition UPDATE

Hello from me again. The petition we've starting to bring "QI" to BBC America now has over 500 signatures! Notably, signature no. 423 was added by none other than John Lloyd, QI's incomparable producer (although, as you can see, he has gone to lengths to disguise his identity).

I'm very glad that so many of you have taken the time to show your support for the poor QI-less in the States. We will, however, need to further hype the petition if we hope to let it make a good impact upon the discriminating minds at BBC America, n'est-ce pas?

I leave you all with this charge: Encourage others you know to sign the petition and DIGG IT as well. I've never met a person who dared to dislike QI, so I'm willing to bet that you too would be hard-pressed to find someone unwilling to spread the influence of this British gem. x

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

QI Marathons and ComedyBox Launch

UKTV G2 will be showing another QI marathon on the weekend on the 25th/26th of August. It will include 18 back-to-back episodes on the Saturday and Sunday nights. Make sure that you take note of this if you want a QI fest.

ComedyBox will be launching on the 21st September. John Lloyd's pet project will include a new QI spin-off called QI News which will be available to watch online for free. Hopefully more information about this coming soon.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Biography 5: Jimmy Carr

Today we raise a glass to the man that is Jimmy Carr.

Carr was born on September 15th 1972 in Limerick, Ireland. Carr was very successful at school. He achieved four A grades at A-level and went on to gain a first in Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge. Following this, he took a job as a marketing executive for Shell, which lasted him just under two years and was, according to him, the “easiest job in the world”. He then joined JC Productions and began to work on a career in stand-up comedy. Whilst there, he made his first film, The Colour of Funny, which starred Red Dwarf comedian Craig Charles. Though the film was a flop, it brought Carr into comic writing and stand-up.

Eventually, Carr performed at the Royal Variety Performance which opened up TV opportunities for him. Channel 4 chose him to present game shows like Distraction and Your Face or Mine? He now presents the panel shows 8 Out Of 10 Cats, with fellow QI panellist Sean Lock as a team captain, and The Big Fat Quiz of the Year. He has also been a guest on Have I Got News For You.

Jimmy Carr has continued his stand-up career. In 2002 his first full-length show Bare-Faced Ambition won the Perrier award. In 2003, he was named the best stand-up at the Time Out Awards, and won the same award at the Laftas in 2004. He was named “funniest man” at the same awards a year later. And in 2006, his tour Gag Reflex was named Best Live Stand-Up at the British Comedy Awards. The Observer named him one of the funniest acts in British comedy in 2003, and he was placed 12th in a list of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups by Channel 4 in 2007. He commences a new tour, Repeat Offender, in autumn this year.

Carr is one of the few comedians to have broken into the USA. He has appeared numerous times with chat show hosts Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, hosted two series of Distraction USA and had a half-hour special on Comedy Central. Meanwhile in 2006 he acted in a number of films including Confetti, Alien Autopsy and Stormbreaker. He was also the first cyberspace comedian in the virtual reality world of Second Life.

Considering Jimmy Carr’s pedigree in panel shows he was an obvious choice of guest for QI. He has demonstrated his intelligence by coming up with the sentence “Put Smarties tubes on cats’ legs, make them walk like a robot” from a random selection of fridge-magnet letters. However, despite his claim that he only lost his virginity at 26, Carr has a reputation for producing a lot of ‘explicit material’ on QI. Anyone that has been to one of his recordings will know just how much has to be cut to allow the show to be broadcast. Still, Jimmy has earned his place as a regular panellist in the upcoming series E.

Stephen Fry Weekend on BBC4

Next weekend BBC4 will give its tribute to Stephen Fry. It'll kick off on Friday night with episode C03 of QI and will continue on Saturday with some of Fry's favourite shows. Highlights will include '50 Not Out' a special programme to celebrate Fry's 50th Birthday to be shown at 21:00 on Friday (plus several repeats later in the week). There will also be an hour long interview with Mr Fry by Mark Lawson on Saturday at 19:00. Friday night will also include shows in which Fry has featured like A Bit of Fry and Laurie, The Young Ones, Blackadder Goes Fourth and the film Wilde.

Click Here
for more details and listings.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Daily Telegraph QI Column - Week 27

Don't be fooled by the Telegraph's QI Column homepage. This is the 27th column, not the 26th. For a 'Digest of Discoveries' Click Here.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Biography 4: John Sessions

This week, we look at the life and times of Mr John Sessions.

Born John Gibb Marshall in 1953, John Sessions would later change his name when he became a performer. Sessions graduated with an MA in English literature from the University of Wales and later studied for a PhD in Ontario. Though he detested his experience in Canada, it was here that he first showed his skill at improvised comedy and stage acting. After he attended RADA he began to work in the small venue comedy circuit in the early 1980’s. He started with largely improvised freewheeling fantasy monologues, often topping a double bill with French and Saunders.

John Sessions made two film appearances in the 80’s but found these roles uncomfortable. He soon began to exhibit his strengths in improvised comedy with his one-man stage show Napoleon, which ran in London's West End. His ability to improvise landed him a spot as the first regular contestant on "Whose Line Is It Anyway?” on radio and television. It was here that he earned a reputation for being a swot because he has great literary knowledge. However, he also became known for his ability to convincingly portray accents and characters in a variety of styles.

In 1989, Sessions starred in his one-man TV show, John Sessions. The show involved Sessions performing before a live audience who were invited to nominate a person, a location and two objects from a selection, around which Sessions would improvise a surreal performance for the next half hour. After other similar shows he starred in Stella Street (1997) in which he plays a variety of middle-aged actors living in a suburban street, alongside Phil Cornwell.

Increasingly Sessions has returned to formal acting, with parts ranging from James Boswell in Boswell and Johnson's Tour of the Western Isles (1993) to Doctor Prunesquallor in the BBC adaptation of Gormenghast (2000). He has also appeared in some Shakespeare adaptations, appearing in; Henry V (1989) and In the Bleak Midwinter (1995). He also played Philostrate in the 1999 film of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Salerio in 2004's The Merchant of Venice. In the recent revival of Jackanory, Sessions made two appearances to tell the story of Muddle Earth.

On radio, one of Sessions’ most memorable shows came when he guested in 1997 on the regular BBC Radio 3 show Private Passions, not as himself but as a 112-year-old Viennese percussionist called Manfred Sturmer. He told anecdotes about Brahms, Clara Schumann, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg and others so realistically that some listeners did not realise that it was a hoax.

On QI, he has demonstrated his knowledge of the birth and deaths of many famous artists and composers, calling such an ability a “sickness”. He was subject to a Luvvie Alarm given to him for name-dropping Robert Redford (Stephen Fry was also given an alarm when he mentioned the Duke and Duchess of Westminster).

Given his impressive performances on QI he may be disappointed that he has only won once on his second show. His fans will also be disappointed that he did not attend any of the recordings in series E. One hopes that he will return in series F.

Friday, 3 August 2007

"QI" in America Petition!

Hello, quite interesting readers,

This is Sarah, your American correspondent and resident transcriber; more commonly known, on various online fora, as MinervaMoon.

You may remember the success of the QI DVD petition, which got the first series of QI released on DVD only a few months after it was started.

It is with great hope and pleasure, therefore, that QI Fanatic and I to present you with:
The "QI" in America Petition!

Please do sign: It's going to take an extraordinary number of signatures--more than that of the DVD petition--to convince BBC America to pick up the show. If you can take the time to fill in a comment, that would be marvelously helpful.

I've set up a homepage for the petition here. I'll be tracking the progress of the petition there, and when necessary, update with relevant news on the venture.

Thanks to everyone for signing, and fingers crossed for success. The above picture is not me, by the way, but someone far more relevant (and far taller). x

Daily Telegraph QI Column - Week 26

The Daily Telegraph make a good job of hiding the columns that they put on their website. Anyway, 2 days late here is this week's column, all about the number one. Click Here!