Stephen Fry steps down as QI host

My huge thanks to Stephen Fry, who has presented QI for 13 fantastic years, and I’m delighted to welcome the wonderful Sandi Toksvig to the show; she is exactly the kind of bright, brilliant company I want to see on BBC Two.Kim Shillinglaw, Controller, BBC Two and BBC Four
Date: 14.10.2015     Last updated: 14.10.2015 at 11.52
After more than 180 barnstorming episodes of the much-loved panel show, Stephen Fry has announced his retirement halfway through the alphabet. The upcoming ‘M’ series will be his last.

Originally cast as a team captain opposite Alan Davies, he generously agreed to chair the show as a last minute replacement for Michael Palin ‘just for the pilot’. But, from the first few moments, it was instantly clear that he was born for the role.

His sparkling wit, charm and effortless erudition have taken QI on a rip-roaring, award-winning ride across four BBC channels – BBC Four, BBC Two, BBC One and Dave – and to international acclaim all over the world, educating the nation by stealth and bringing a new kind of general knowledge – ‘General Ignorance’ – to a whole generation.

Stephen Fry comments: "For 13 years I had one of the best jobs on television. Behind the camera, squadrons of quite extraordinarily brilliant researchers, programme-makers and uniquely curious (in both senses of the word) people making that job so much easier. In front of the camera, generations of lively minds and above all, of course, the wonder of nature that is Alan Davies. After passing the alphabetical halfway mark I thought it time to move on, but I will never cease to be grateful to John Lloyd for devising QI and for everyone else for making it such fun."

Stephen’s place will be taken by his old friend and university contemporary Sandi Toksvig OBE, the Danish-born writer, presenter, actor and comic, who herself stepped down earlier this year after a dazzling 10-year run as chair of Radio 4’s The News Quiz. Alan Davies will continue as QI’s resident panellist and genial fall guy.

Sandi Toksvig says: "QI is my favourite television programme both to watch and to be on, so this is absolutely my dream job. (My Nordic background also makes me keen to spend time with the Elves.) Stephen has been utterly brilliant with the first half of the alphabet. Now I look forward to picking up the baton, mixing my metaphors and sailing towards the Land of Nod (ie Z). Who knows what lies ahead? It should all be quite interesting."

John Lloyd comments: "Stephen’s departure is the end of an era. It’s been a thoroughly delightful experience. After more than 40 years in broadcasting, QI has been by far the most enjoyable show it has been my privilege to produce, and Stephen has been its big, beating heart. Though we are all very sad he’s decided to move on, I am confident that we have found the perfect person to occupy his gigantic shoes. Sandi will be the first female host of a mainstream comedy panel show on British television – an appointment that is well overdue."

Mark Linsey, Controller of BBC Entertainment Commissioning, says: "Stephen has masterfully presented QI for the past 13 years and I am hugely grateful to him for doing such a wonderful job. I’d like to thank him and wish him well for his future endeavours. QI will be in very safe hands with a broadcaster of Sandi’s calibre at the helm, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming her to the show."

Kim Shillinglaw, Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, comments: "My huge thanks to Stephen Fry, who has presented QI for 13 fantastic years, and I’m delighted to welcome the wonderful Sandi Toksvig to the show; she is exactly the kind of bright, brilliant company I want to see on BBC Two."

The last series of QI starring Stephen Fry begins on BBC Two at 10pm on Friday 16 October. The star-studded panel includes Bill Bailey, Matt Lucas, Jo Brand, Romesh Ranganathan, Sheila Hancock, Jimmy Carr, Jeremy Clarkson, Sami Shah, Eddie Kadi, Sarah Millican, Sue Perkins, Noel Fielding, Sara Pascoe, Johnny Vegas, Julia Zemiro, Josh Widdicombe, Sara Cox, Rhod Gilbert, Phill Jupitus, David Mitchell, Lucy Porter, Ross Noble, Danny Bhoy, Aisling Bea, Susan Calman, Greg Davies, Chris Addison, Cariad Lloyd, James Acaster, Tommy Tiernan, Dermot O’Leary, Jenny Eclair and, of course, Sandi Toksvig.

Press contacts:

For QI - Gaby Jerrard at gaby@gabyjerrardpr.com

Tamsyn Zietsman, Head of PR, FremantleMedia UK - Tamsyn.zietsman@fremantlemediauk.com