Usually filmed in a university, four contenders (never 'contestants') were put through their paces by Magnus Magnusson whilst sitting in the intimidating black leather chair.
The chosen topics could be anything provided they were 'deep'. Topics have ranged over the years from British Moths to The Works of Dorothy L. Sayers and Old Time Music Hall.
The series was initially thought too 'high-brow' and was aired in a late night slot on BBC 1. When it was brought to peak hours it clocked up such a huge audience that it remained there.