Wednesday, 25 June 2008

QI Series F, Episode 11 Recording Review

Hello everyone, apologies for the late reviews but we just couldn't post them up in the wrong order now could we? I'm back with the review of the penultimate recording. Now as some of you already know I was allowed backstage on this to get a better insight as to how the show is made, there will be a review of that coming very soon..

Having spent the majority of the day inside the studio I didn't get a very good look at the queue, however I did nip out and talk to a few familiar faces from the forum. It was also nice to have Stephen Grant back doing his magnificent warm-up.

Onto the spoilers!

Tonight's theme was "Fame and Fortune" The guests were David Mitchell, newcomer Emma Thompson and returning from the earlier seasons John Sessions. The designers had added a lot of flourishes to the set for this episode. The centre of the Q was decorated with red carpet and red rope barriers surrounded the bottom half of the symbol. Two large BAFTA style "happy and sad" faces sat either side of the screens facing inwards towards Stephen. If that wasn't enough, two giant Oscar statuettes either side of Stephen. However they bore shields rather than the traditional swords due to copyright issues.

Topics for discussion included Marlon Brando, patents, Stanley Gibbons, foleys, double F, Carnegie Hall, Oscars, publicity stunts, Greek statues, cheese, hedgehogs, Shakespeare, headlice (Stephen Fry and much of the audience began to scratch his head when the topic was discussed), flu vaccines, depression, and film. The lineup was perfect, John Sessions was on top form and I really hope that his brilliant impression of Alan Rickman will be included in the final edit. Another moment that will hopefully make the cut is the banter between Emma and Stephen regarding bikini-line waxes and anal bleaching! Watch out for Luvee Alarms and Teacher's Pet awards as well.

The show went very well and then I was off into the Green Room once more to chat with the stars. I also met QI Fanatic (Lord and master of the blog) and Glenn (Known to forum members as Gluben).

I'll be back in a few days with the final episode review! Ciao for now!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

QI Series F, Episode 10 Recording Review

I apologize even more for not having done this review weeks ago; it is ever exams and ever shall be exams. Exams will be the death of me, just as they were the birth of me. That strikes me as somehow not quite right, but I can't remember a life without them. Forgive a drowned woman.

This review is for the QI recording of 5th June, 2008.

We saw, upon entering the studio, that the set was dappled with tiny Pudsey bears, and a giant eyepatch had strung its way across the circular backdrop. It was clear that we had a Children in Need special in store for us, even though the episode isn't going to be able to be broadcast for months yet. Gordon Southern provided us with the warm-up, which was interrupted part of the way through when a life-sized Pudsey entered the room. Pudsey was guided to a seat in the audience, after choosing a woman to displace (Gordon, ominously: "Pudsey has chosen his bride."), and Guy, the floor manager, directed a small bit of film in which the bear we all love enthusiastically waved his telephone number above his head.

That finished, Pudsey left the audience and took the seat to Stephen's left, and this is where the spoilers begin.

Stephen came on (to tumultuous applause and cheers, as always; there is no one who doesn't love that man), and introduced the two other mystery guests: David Mitchell and Ronni Ancona. The show started--buzzers demonstrated and guests introduced--with no indication that Pudsey wasn't going to be a permanent panellist. Very soon, however, Stephen was interrupted by a booming voice from off-stage, and in walked . . . Terry Wogan. Let it not be said that QI is not apropos. Terry took Pudsey's place at the desk so that the show could really begin.

The theme of the day was "Families", and the first topic discussed was old wives' tales and what they are associated with. Stephen disclosed that he has a novel way of preventing macular-degeneration-by-shortness-of-zinc, but his method might not be for everyone. The next discussion centered upon one of the most popular fads of the early 20th century, which was followed by a question on foundling wheels. Some Jelly Babies were brought out during the course of the next question, although the panellists declined to share with the audience. Then came a topic about Tarzans of film; Ronni Ancona was asked outright to do impressions of Jane-as-various-people, for which she was taken aback at first, but rose to the challenge admirably, starting with a pitch-perfect impression of Renee Zellweger.

Further topics discussed: Relatives of famous people, Micronations, Dan Dare, the Eurovision song contest ("It's united the nations of Europe!" Terry stated loudly; "Has it, arse . . . it's divided east and west!" Stephen shot back), the Swiss Family Robinson, boomerangs, kangaroos, lions manes, and a specific mathematical proof.

Although Terry Wogan would seem to be a rather unexpected choice of guest, he rose to the task wonderfully and was very funny, and took many opportunities to verbally spar with David. He did sneak in one long Children (are) in Need(!) speech in the first third of the show, but it was well-received by the audience. Ronni Ancona's return to guesthood was also very good; when she had something to say, whether joke or anecdote, it was unerringly sweet. She kept a running tab throughout the show of how many times something particularly racy was mentioned, pondering the appropriateness of the jokes for a CiN special. Although QI does not usually hesitate to be ribald, many of the more risqué jokes are going to have to be dropped in order to be shown on the night. The innuendo alone could have made up an entirely separate show! Despite the necessary lack of knob gags, it was a great recording that will no doubt yield a tight and extremely entertaining cut.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

QI Series F, Episode 9 Recording Review

It was quite an achievement in the end that anyone was there to review this recording. Applause store is hard enough to get tickets out of and at this stage in the series the production lists are pretty much fully booked now.

Having taken my seat the warm-up soon got underway. Stephen Grant is still touring with his Edinburgh previews so enter Ben Norris again. His performance is too repetitive for the regulars but some of the jokes are still good (the panda joke continues to get a very big laugh). Stephen Grant will be back for the last two recordings next week.

As usual Stephen Fry walked onto the set to huge applause and sat down in his seat to give his usual introduction. It is at this point that I should explain that my guest at recording this week was Tom Scott. He is possibly someone that the readers of the QI blog will be familiar with. He co-founded the official website for the UK leg of International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Indeed he has recently been elected to the post of the Student Union President at the University of York - mainly by virtue of the fact that he campaigned as his pirate alter ego Mad Cap'n Tom. However, his greatest association with QI comes from a video that he made last December in which he attempts to remove his fingerprints using a pineapple because it was something claimed on QI in the last series. Having delivered his usual introduction, Stephen declared that we had a very important person in the room "Tom Scott, where are you?"

Tom was of course rather surprised, I had only told him that he would be able to come about 6 hours before the recording when he was still in York. Stephen quickly explained Tom's video to the audience and his attempts to remove his fingerprints. Tom explained how the experiment had failed and then it was time to introduce the guests so time for the spoilers:

The guests this week were Clive Anderson, Rich Hall and newcomer Reginald D Hunter. The topic of the night was fashion, so whilst the set had not been decorated with anything special for this show, Alan was wearing a very chique outfit. The topics discussed included; haircuts, engagements, the Duke of Wellington, trousers, head wear, bollocks, canals, macaroni, month, Michelin and balls.

Justin Pollard had invited his friend - a Romanian mathematician - to come to the show and bring a rather remarkable object with him. You'll have to watch it in the autumn to find out what that item was. At the start of the show the panelists were given the task of picking a catch phrase that they will attempt to popularise by repeating through out the recording. Alan went with "Has your mother sold her mangle", Clive Anderson decided to use "Who are you?", Rich chose "Dumber than a bag of wet mice" and Reginald used one from back home "Do what you do best". It's recommended that you try to start using them now so that you're ahead of the game when all your friends are repeating them after the episode airs.

That's my last recording review this series, Mandibles returns next week with a rather special review. She will be heading behind the scenes to get a closer look at how the show is produced.

The QI Test

On Tuesday I attended the first of 5 run-throughs of a new show being produced by QI called the QI Test. In attendance were several forum members including Andrew, Neotenic, Mr and Mrs Tetsabb and Smiley_Face.

Upon our arrival we were soon shepherded down to the basement studio, not a particularly large room and certainly not somewhere that you could fit an audience. There were 16 chairs placed in two concentric semi-circles. After we were introduced to Justin Gayner (one of QI's senior elves - in experience and not age I should add) we all sat down and got to business. The format of the show was explained to us and we began playing the game.

This unfortunately is where things get a bit vague. This was the first of five run-throughs before a proper pilot is produced and pitched to the BBC. There will likely be some big format changes anyway so what I could say here wouldn't be that informative. Plus, for obvious reasons, the producers will not want the format ti be known to the public until the time is right. What I can probably tell you is that in its current guise there is a very inventive take on the pun at the heart of QI's name (the IQ test) but frankly that's probably something you'd already worked out for yourselves.

After the show there was some quick chat and then we headed over to the pub where Justin Pollard (historian, author and QI elf) joined us for a few drinks. I was quite impressed by the idea for the QI Test, it definitely has the potential (and a show at this stage of development can have nothing more than that) to become very entertaining viewing. I am pleased to say that when the show does come to fruition, you'll be able to hear about it first on the QI blog.

P.S. A review of Wednesday's recording will be available Friday.

QI Series F, Episode 8 Recording Review

Yet another guest reviewer today. Hello! I'm Kate -- long-suffering friend of MinervaMoon's, and watcher of QI. I will be reviewing the recording of May 29th, or at least, what I can remember of it. Memory like a sieve, me!

This recording's warm up comedian was Tom Price. Lovely chap, and definitely NOT a paedophile (this is a joke based on his skit, not a standard disclaimer).†

On to the show itself, where I will try not to ramble too much:

It was the Christmas episode, the title of which was "Fire and Freezing", so the set was decorated with snowflakes, two trees and some fake snow (or cocaine as Stephen dubbed it). The guests, Dom Joly, Clive Anderson, and Rob Brydon (and, of course, Alan and Stephen) came out in assorted winter hats and stripy scarves looking lovely, as Stephen managed to point out at least three times (plus commenting on Rob's "chocolatey wells of love")! The buzzers were songs on the theme of fire, and Alan's was a specially made recording of Alan Sugar telling Alan he was disgrace.

Dom made a very good debut and I'd be glad to see him make some more appearances. Clive was, if I remember rightly, also very good, and Rob was on fire (not literally, although it would fit with the theme). There were some jokes about the fact that the show will be aired many months in the future: Gosh, remember when it rained on the 100m at the Olympics? Gosh, remember when it rained on the 200m? Gosh, remember when it rained on the shotput? Etc. . . .

The guests all had fans, and were following rules of fan-etiquette or something to flirt and send each other coded signals. There was also lengthy discussion of smoke signals, firemen and smoke. I should stop now though because this runs the risk of being really rather long as more things come back to me.

† Sarah notes: He didn't introduce himself with "Hello. You may remember me from such roles as P.C. Andy from Torchwood." But he should have.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

The Museum of Curiosity 2nd Series

The Museum of Curiosity has been commissioned for a second series. The radio 4 comedy is loosely based on QI and stars John Lloyd (QI's creator) as the professor and Bill Bailey (a frequent guest) as its curator. Guests are asked to contribute an item to the museum. Items already added to the museum have included silence and the Battle of Waterloo.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

QI Series F, Episode 7 Recording Review

This recording was the first outing of the Quite Interesting Society at the University of York, so whilst I was writing this review I also had the minor concern of getting 10 students to the recording on time. After what turned out to be a 6 hour drive from York to London (due to traffic on the M1 and central London) our two cars arrived outside the studio at 7:18, and we walked into the studio as the floor manager was giving the safety briefing. We ended up seated all over the place, I myself was sat on a chair in front of the curtain at the back of the studio. It was by far the worst seating I had ever had in that studio but it was still better than sitting on the far side of one of the wings.

Before I could get the notepad out, Ben Norris strolled on to warm-up the audience. It was a competent skit but if I'm to be honest the adrenaline was only just wearing off from having been minutes from turning round and heading straight back to York; I wasn't precisely concentrating at the time.

Stephen Fry walked on and I was rather pleased that my request for him to shout out the society was successful. There was a quick wave from our scattered members and Stephen told us to "get a life" (fair comment) and told the audience about York's claim to fame - the largest plastic-bottomed lake in Europe.

After Stephen had introduced the guests there was some quick banter about how he was stalked by Courtney Love and a rendition of "Peter Cushing Lives in Whitstable" it was soon time to start the tape rolling for the recording. Thus here begin the spoilers:

The guests for this recording were Jimmy Carr, David Mitchell and Rich Hall. This episode will be one of a minority this series formed only from regular guests. The topic of the episode was Food. The topics of oysters and fruit machines introduced a running joke into the show about oral sex and this was probably how this episode will have become one of the funniest of the series (not that one is in a position to judge having seen only two of them).

Other topics discussed included; tongues, yakult, tape worms, crabs, Scottish drinks, oysters, melons, Russian service, chips, muscle, teeth, snakes, cheese, cake and the Internet. David Mitchell was given two Teacher's Pet awards throughout the recording.

After the recording we all headed into the green room where we were all introduced to Stephen Fry and Alan Davies plus a number of the elves. After enjoying the free bar (except for the drivers) it was then time to head back home. The dawn had come before we were in our beds.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

QI Series F, Episode 6 Recording Review

Hello, I'm Erin. MinervaMoon, through whose awesomeness I was able to go to two QI recordings during the week I was in London,[1] asked me to do this review so she doesn't completely die from exams. I, being done with that sort of thing for the time being, agreed.

This is the review for the Tuesday, May 20 recording. As at the May 12 recording, Rufus Hound did the warmup. This was my second time at a QI recording, my first time having been the day before. I had a brilliant time both nights, and am already going through withdrawal and fantasizing[2] about moving to the UK.

[Footnote 1: All right, the main reason I went was to go to QI.]

[Footnote 2: Sorry for the spelling -- I'm an American.]

Now for the spoilery bits:

The guests for this episode were Jimmy Carr, Jo Brand, and John Sergeant, whose surname I hope I am finally spelling correctly. It was John's first time on the show, and yes, Stephen did bring up his resemblance to Jo.

The theme was "Flora and Fauna," and the center of the set was decorated with grass, flowers, and two garden gnomes.

The show began with a question about camellias (Stephen was wearing one). The answer involved a really precious line from Stephen (for which Jo made fun of him) that I hope makes the edit. Other subjects included flea circuses, tree-dwelling fish, flamingos (repeating some information from series B episode 2), naïve rhinoceroses, frogs and toads, fairy rings, more frogs, lice and the animals they live on, ferrets helping to build aircraft (segueing into ferrets and trousers), the fastest thing in nature, slugs, peacocks, albatrosses (Alan told the "albatross burger" riddle), and mushrooms. So it was mostly fauna rather than flora, but there were a few good plant questions.

Thanks again to MinervaMoon for giving me the opportunity to see QI and for entrusting me with the writing of this review.

[Erin, you're brilliant. Thank you and you're welcome. Sarah]

The QI Annual 2009

The next QI Annual 2009 has now been placed on amazon for pre-order here. Following on from the success of the first QI annual which covered a range of subjects beginning with “E”, this annual will cover “F” topics. The synopsis given by amazon claims that topics covered in the Annual will include ferrets, Fiji, Finland, fish, flags, flamingos, fleas, floods, flowers, fog, food, football, forests, fossils, Freemasons, fungi, fur and furniture.

It is not yet known who will contribute to the guide, but chances are it will be come from a range of QI guests, panelists and crew who wrote for the Annual last year with some extra contributions from those newly arrived to the QI world.

The QI Annual for 2009 is to be released on the 6 November 2008, and is to be 96 pages long (because 96% of the universe is missing). Currently priced at £12.99.

P.S. QIfanatic gives his apologies to the delays in posting the QI reviews this year. A busy exam schedule for a number of the reviewers is making life difficult.