Chairmen

The chairman’s role is to ask the questions and more or less keep the panellists on topic. There have been four regular chairmen. Barry Norman chaired the first show in 1977 and continued until the early 1980s. Simon Hoggart took over then Barry Took started a run in the role until midway through series 36 in 1996. Simon Hoggart picked up the reins again up to series 59 in 2006. Sandi Toxvig took the role from series 60 in 2006 and is the current chairman. In addition, a few individuals have sat in when the usual suspect has been unable to appear. Therefore a full count of the show’s chairmen is twenty*, as shown to the right. The numbers in brackets are the number of shows that person has chaired. Click a name to see a list of those shows. With the [possible*] exceptions of the two Barrys – Norman and Took – all of the chairmen have also appeared as panellists.

Readers

Readers deliver the cuttings which open and close each show, and precede each round. They also occasionally help out chairmen and panelists with the pronunciation of foreign names and words. They are BBC Continuity Announcers in their ‘day job’, giving their voices a familiarity which adds a certain gravitas to the deliveries, somehow making them even funnier.

Apart from compilations and one special – 25 Years of The News Quiz (which also had three panellists on each team) – there is only one reader per show but several may feature in a series. However, readers have also stood in when an expected panellist hasn’t materialised. They’re listed separately as panellists when this has happened.

Probably the best known reader is Charlotte Green. At the time of writing, my records indicate she has made the most appearances in the role though I have a feeling that wouldn’t be so if I wasn’t missing so many of the earlier shows. I suspect that distinction would then go to Brian Perkins. Most readers manage to deliver the cuttings with a very straight face but Charlotte has been known to corpse now and then, and it’s rumoured that some of the smuttier double entrendres were saved for shows where she would be the reader.

Since the show began, there have been twenty-two different individuals in the role*. As before, figures in brackets are the number of shows they’ve been in, and you can click a name to see a list of those shows.

Panellists

On a regular show there are four panellists, split into two teams. In the earlier series each usually comprised a captain and a team member. Captains were more or less regular panellists, the team members varied from week to week, and competition to win each show seemed genuine. In later series there are no longer captains and therefore a little more variance in the teams’ constitution. The competitive nature of the show has been retained, but emphasis now is less about winning and more just about using the format to offer comedic opportunities. There have been three hundred and twenty-six different panellists on the show over the years.* Many are regulars and some have only appeared once or twice. Rather than fill this page with a list of names, you can see these separately here.

Producers

This role must have periods of hectic activity and near panic, as there are only hours between finishing recording a show and it being on air. During that time it has to be edited down to the required length and, no doubt, checked to ensure that the panellists’ comments aren’t too libellous. (A task that the panellists frequently don’t make easy!) There have been thirty-three producers*. As before, … brackets … click … etc. [The producer credited on the Extra version of the show is usually different to that on the standard broadcast. On episodes where I only have the Extra edition the producer is therefore based on information found elsewhere.]

Writers

It may come as a slightly shocking revelation to some that the shows’ content is not entirely ad-libbed. A team of writers supply the chairman with a script to work from, though no doubt this is supplemented with pertinent off-the-cuff remarks. Actually, it probably isn’t entirely a bad thing. It does give the chairman someone else to blame for some of the worse jokes and puns! For each show, there is a main writing team and suppliers of additional material. However, who is in the team and who supplies additional material seems quite fluid, with individuals appearing in both camps and not, it seems to me, in what one might consider a logical way – e.g. starting off supplying additional material then joining the main team then moving on to other things, perhaps still supplying the odd additional piece. There have been forty-one people who have been in the main writing team. These are listed below. You can see a list of people who’ve been credited with providing additional material here. As usual, brackets … click.

*Information is from the shows that I either have or have been able to find records for. As I’m missing all of the series pre-1990, and some individual shows since then, it’s unlikely to be completely accurate! I also haven’t included involvement with compilation shows in these numbers, of either people in front of a microphone or those behind, except where I’m fairly certain that involvement wasn’t just through use of a clip from an earlier broadcast.