Thursday, 13 September 2012
Tomorrow night I’m going to be on Q.I. ! Well, tomorrow and Saturday. Friday’s what I would think of as the “normal” version, the half-hour one, and Saturday’s the extended one. The episode’s already been recorded and I’m relieved to say it seemed to go well. I can’t remember whether or not I wrote a blog about it at the time, but I was (of course) pretty terrified in advance. I love Q.I. and I’m so glad it exists; how awful, you think to yourself as soon as you’ve said yes (and non-stop throughout the night before) to go on a show you love and slightly ruin it. Other fears include: looking like an idiot. It’s all very well sitting in the Only Connect chair, when I’ve read the questions in advance and all I have to do is remember the answers to anything I didn’t know before, free to smile kindly at the contestants and say “Goodness me, no, the answer is obviously chapter 5 of Don Quixote…”
.... quite another to be on the BBC’s cleverest mainstream show and be asked the questions, with every risk that you’ll say a lot of stupid things, or nothing at all.
Luckily, everyone on the programme is incredibly nice. They just don’t seem very interested in making anyone look like an idiot. It’s really a lovely show to do; very relaxed, sort of like going to the pub with a lot of really interesting people, one of whom has a list of good facts to throw in every so often, to make sure conversation doesn’t run dry. Stephen Fry and Alan Davies (the super-regulars) were really kind and welcoming and generous, and the other guests (Bill Bailey and Jimmy Carr) - who are also regulars, of course, compared to me, were great as well. I hope the result is fun to watch.
The only slight niggle is that I’m sorry to see an old episode of Would I Lie To You? that I recorded a couple of years ago, is repeated on BBC One IMMEDIATELY after the Friday night Q.I. It’s really annoying that shows get repeated so often these days. I mean, it’s annoying as a viewer, but it’s EXASPERATING as an occasional panellist. It makes it a much bigger gamble, doing those sorts of shows; if it doesn’t go very well, your embarrassing failure gets broadcast 25 more times on the same channel and probably 725 more times on Dave. Just to make sure that nobody misses it. (You don’t get paid for repeats, of course. It’s just free awkwardness).
More importantly, I try to deliberately not do too much stuff, because I know it can be annoying to see the same faces on TV too often. If someone is not a fan of yours, but they are a fan of TV light entertainment, it feels a bit unfair to deliver yourself up over and over again until they can’t escape you. Besides, I never want to get so familiar that people actually notice it’s me in the supermarket, strangely worse-dressed and more soup-stained than I appear on TV. Better to just do the odd thing occasionally, and hope to stay a bit under the radar.
So it seems rather UNFAIR to creep out of the woodwork and have a go at Q.I., only to find that I’m suddenly a relentless comedy double-bill on two channels - not to mention the repeated Q.I. the following night - shrieking at viewers from every side as if I were SIMON COWELL, when it’s really two programmes recorded two years apart!
There. Rant over. Hope you enjoy Q.I. if you watch. And if you watch it on Friday rather than Saturday, you’ll find there’s a nice Bond film afterwards, on ITV.