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Characters / QI

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The regulars and frequent (at least two appearances to their name) guests of the BBC 2/4/1 Panel Show QI:

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Stephen Fry

  • Gentleman Snarker
  • Sophisticated as Hell
  • Straight Gay
  • Quintessential British Gentleman:
    • The others regularly make jokes about how ridiculously posh he supposedly is.
    • In an episode where Fry revealed he owned both a copper teakettle and an Aga stove, an exasperated Phill Jupitus exclaimed "It's no wonder Twinings had you, pal!"
    • Many of Stephen's jokes work best if, like him, you attended a prestigious public school and an elite university.

Alan Davies

  • Actor Allusion: Other panellists often make jabs at his role in Jonathan Creek.
  • Adorkable
  • Butt-Monkey: Always gets the silliest introduction and the most ridiculous buzzer sound, and his answers are generally the most likely to set off the klaxon. In some episodes, his buzzer is rigged to act very strangely when he presses it, such as not working at all, shorting out the studio lights, or even setting off the klaxon (and losing 10 points for it).
  • Cloudcuckoolander
  • Curious as a Monkey: If the panel is handed a fragile historical artifact or common household tool, Alan will play with it. It's gotten to the point where the people who lend out these artifacts add a clause that Alan is not to touch them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Not often, but has played this role from time to time.
  • The Ditz: In the first few series particularly, but starting in Series D he's been getting more wins and second-place finishes. He slipped back into this a bit in Series H (his first with no wins since Series C), but recovered in Series I, especially with regards to the "nobody knows" bonus.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity/Contractual Genre Blindness: From a special on the making of the show, it seems that he's sometimes obligated to give the "stupid answers" that would make the klaxon go off.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Has never managed to get a blue whale question right, but finally got one in the L Series, earning bonus points. Unfortunately, the objective of that episode was to get the lowest possible score, so he ended up in last place by a hefty margin.
    • As a Running Gag, his buzzer is sometimes rigged to play chants by fans of the Manchester United football club, rivals of his beloved Arsenal FC.

Sandi Toksvig

Area of expertise: Inventive uses of geese
  • Ascended Extra: Replaced Stephen as presenter as of Series N.
  • Deadpan Snarker: With emphasis on the 'deadpan'.
  • Fake Brit: Well, yes and no. Danish on her father's side, British on her mother's. She lived in America for a long time during her childhood, but speaks with noticeable and posh-sounding Received Pronunciation, as she was educated in England and has long since become a naturalised British citizen. She said on one episode she based her speech on actress Celia Johnson's after being made fun of for the strong Brooklyn accent she had as a girl when she was first sent to British boarding school.
  • Only Sane Woman: Has more or less been conscripted into this role since taking over from Stephen.
  • The Smart Guy: She won almost every episode she appeared in as a panellist.
  • Straight Gay: And, like Fry, completely unafraid of making cracks about it.


    Panellists first appearing in series A 

Clive Anderson

Area of expertise: Law

Bill Bailey

Area of expertise: Birds

Danny Baker

Area of expertise: Music

Jo Brand

Area of expertise: Mental Health
  • Contractual Genre Blindness: On occasion. If she has already received a number of forfeits in an episode, she'll start trying to set the klaxon off deliberately.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Makes the most dirty jokes of possibly anyone on the show. See "Jumble" for some particularly gross ones.
  • Does Not Like Men: Played for Laughs, of course.
  • Henpecked Husband: Has one, if she's to be believed. Played for Laughs. Of course, her real-life husband is much more attractive than she lets on, and by all accounts, they have a wonderful relationship.
  • Hidden Depths: For all of Jo's crude humour, she is actually well clued up on a number of subjects. (She is a qualified psychiatric nurse, for starters.)
  • Iron Lady: Usually the token female panelist, yet is able to put the men down quite easily, and the audience love her.

Gyles Brandreth

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Gyles was seated next to Sue Perkins in the Hanatomy episode and pushed hard on the line between chivalrous and lecherous, even though he was extremely the wrong age and gender to interest Sue.
  • Insufferable Genius / Know-Nothing Know-It-All: He ping-pongs between these two tropes so often, it's difficult to tell whether he's got his facts straight on something or not. (Probably the safest policy on anything he says is to not trust it unless Stephen specifically confirms that it is correct.)
  • Upper-Class Twit

Rob Brydon

Area of expertise: Elvis Presley, allegedly

Jimmy Carr

Area of expertise: Gentlemen's Special Interest Magazines
  • Black Comedy: His stand-up makes frequent use of this, so naturally, it carries into the show as well.
    Jimmy Carr: (On the subject of domestic violence) It's so stupid; I mean it's your wife. It's like keying your own car.
    David Mitchell: Society just got a tiny bit worse.
    Jimmy Carr: I like to think I can help.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • The Hyena: He has a very distinctive laugh.
  • Refuge in Audacity

Rich Hall

Area of expertise: The Moon, number of
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Funny Foreigner: There have been other Americans on the show, but Rich Hall is the only recurring one.
  • Grumpy Bear
  • Put on a Bus: Once one of the most common guests, and one of a handful to have appeared in every series to date up until Series J, where he stopped appearing. The Bus Came Back for a single appearance in Series O, but he hasn't been seen since.
  • Running Gag: "Which moon are we talking about?" Culminated in a forfeit in Series I.
  • The Stoic
  • When He Smiles: Very rare, true, but when it happens, it's enough to make most people go "D'aaaaaaaw".

Jeremy Hardy

Eddie Izzard (Pilot)

Phill Jupitus

Area of expertise: Stephen Fry impressions
  • Large Ham
  • Running Gag: Kestrels, dating from his very first appearance ("Advent"). John Sessions picked up on it in the series D episode "Drinks".
    • Tries to headbang whenever his buzzer sound is music or singing, no matter what style it is.
  • Token Romance: Phill has gone on record (in the making-of special) that his role on the show is to flirt with Stephen as much as possible. This may be partly a joke, but he actually does do this to some extent.

Sean Lock

Area of expertise: The Movement of Banana Trees
  • Ax-Crazy: Played for Laughs. When Stephen says that the moon has nothing to do with lunacy, for instance, Sean's response is, "Then why do I go out killing?"
  • Berserk Button: Whenever a "Genius" person in the panel's there, Sean's sure to mock that person endlessly.
  • Epic Fail: Currently holds the record for the lowest score by a guest panelist on the show: -76 in the "Germany" episode. (Alan, the lone regular panelist, has done worse: -84 on "Cleve Crudgington" under normal circumstances, and there have been special circumstances where he's gone even lower, such as when the score was given in millions.)
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Again, Played for Laughs; he talks about kicking dogs and killing people, all with a childish glee on his face.
  • Kick the Dog: Frequently makes jokes about torturing small animals.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: An odd nonfictional example: his fanciful stories about his past experiences of being a "goatherdsman" or a plumber in Israel.
  • Phrase Catcher: His more offensive jokes are often met with an outraged "Sean Lock!" from Stephen, delivered as if he were scolding a schoolboy.
  • Refuge in Audacity

John Sessions

Area of expertise: The Birth and Death Dates of Artists
  • Insufferable Genius: He has extensive knowledge of several subjects.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Sessions is quite good at imitating voices, and did a very funny Alan Rickman impersonation by "talking without his lips touching his teeth."
  • Too Clever by Half: Despite this, he tends to fall into forfeit traps, and has managed only one win in his appearances to date (two if you count his appearance in series J: he was the highest-scoring panelist that episode, but Stephen Fry "won" that show).
  • Luvvies: The "Luvvie Alarm" was installed due to his habit of namedropping.

Linda Smith

    Panellists first appearing in series B 

Jeremy Clarkson

Area of expertise: Cars
  • Extreme Omnivore:
    • Every time he's on he likes to tell people about his unusual appetite. Tortoise leg on toast anyone?
    • He specifically noted once that he'd tried some puffin because he'd never had it before.
  • Flame Bait: To the extent that two episodes have been postponed from broadcast because he was on them. Not because of anything on the show itself, but rather his involvement with some controversy in the press at the time.

Fred MacAulay

Dara Ó Briain

Area of expertise: Science

Arthur Smith

Mark Steel

Area of expertise: The French Revolution

    Panellists first appearing in series C 

Andy Hamilton

David Mitchell

Area of expertise: History

Rory McGrath

Area of expertise: Latin

    Panellists first appearing in series D 

Ronni Ancona

Area of expertise: Obscurity

Vic Reeves

Area of expertise: Pirates

    Panellists first appearing in series E 

Charlie Higson

Johnny Vegas


    Panellists first appearing in series F 

Hugh Dennis

    Panellists first appearing in series G 

Jack Dee

  • Deadpan Snarker: He has managed to get an entire career out of doing this extremely well, after all.
  • Grumpy Bear
  • When He Smiles: It is very difficult to get Jack to do this or burst out laughing on television (radio is different, but you can't see him in that case unless you go to the recording). If you have got this reaction, you have said something extremely funny.

Lee Mack

Area of expertise: The word 'ceiling'

Graham Norton

Sue Perkins

Area of expertise: Spilling liquid all over the set

    Panellists first appearing in series H 

Ross Noble

Area of expertise: Ewoks

    Panellists first appearing in series J 

Susan Calman

Victoria Coren Mitchell

Area of expertise: Jackrabbits
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Dreamed before the show that one of the questions would be "Why was the march hare important to the Aztecs". At the end of the show, this very question was asked. (Of course, it is likely the question was prepared during the show, however, it did in fact have a coherent answer, still fitting the spirit of this trope.)
  • The Smart Guy: Has come in first or tied on the shows she's been on.

Jason Manford

    Panellists first appearing in series K 

Colin Lane

Richard Osman

Sara Pascoe

Josh Widdicombe


    Panellists first appearing in series L 

Aisling Bea

  • Bile Fascination: Her reaction to Sandi confirming the purpose of the falcon sex hat (followed by a video demonstration) is either this, or Covert Pervert.
    • She had the same facial expressions when Stephen explained the functioning of a male spider's pedipalps... Maybe it's both.
  • Fan Disservice: Interprets Alan's "shark impression" as a badly-faked orgasm noise, and starts trying to one-up him.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Puts on a ditzy persona when Sandi recruits her to help with a mathematical demonstration.

Lucy Porter

    Panellists first appearing in series M 

James Acaster

  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander
  • Rant-Inducing Slight: Called Bridget Christie a racist for saying that toffee fingers and caramel cups were the same.
    Toffee one's a lot firmer, the caramel one's nice and soft. Give that to an old man with dentures, ask him if they're the same!

Rhod Gilbert

Cariad Lloyd

  • Distracted by the Sexy: A discussion of the origins of the Rorschach test ended quite abruptly when Cariad spied a picture of Dr. Rorschach and immediately caught the thirst.

Matt Lucas

Romesh Ranganathan

    Panellists first appearing in series N 

Nish Kumar

Holly Walsh

Corey Taylor

    Panellists first appearing in series O 

Alice Levine

Joe Lycett

Sally Phillips

    Panellists first appearing in series P 

Teri Hatcher

Area of expertise: Superman
  • Ascended Fanboy: Well, fangirl.
  • The Tease: Spent significant amounts of her appearance mercilessly flirting with Phil Jupitus.


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