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Radio / The News Quiz

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"We present The News Quiz, with your host Andy Zaltzman!"
Opening announcement

A Long-running (reaching its 100th series in 2019) BBC Radio 4 Panel Game, The News Quiz is a comedy programme in which "contestants" make fun of news stories over the last week. The show began broadcast in 1977 with Barry Norman as chairperson; it was later hosted by Barry Took, Simon Hoggart, Sandi Toksvignote , and Miles Jupp, and since 2021 has been hosted by Andy Zaltzman (following a period after Jupp's departure where the chairmanship was split between him, Nish Kumar and Angela Barnes). The panellists are predominantly stand-up comedians and political journalists. It is known for having actual BBC newsreaders who read out funny news stories in the show.

Usually broadcast every Friday in the late afternoon,note  and has a set of pages on the BBC website.

The American equivalent is Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.


  • Assurance Backfire: Hugo Rifkind notes the government declaring they've got a "world-leading" response to the RAAC debacle isn't so great when the rest of the world doesn't have a crisis with their concrete to begin with.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Susan Calman reacted with near-fury to Hugo Rifkind's declaration that he found The Great British Bake Off boring.
    • Mark Steel gets very animated about the notion of saving for a pension.
    • Insulting the English cricket team is a sore spot for Andy Zaltzman, and he will deduct all points from any panellist who makes a joke about them.
  • Blatant Lies: A documentary about the show had Linda Smith claiming that she had been a maid cleaning the studio, who was made a panellist as part of a Pygmalion Plot by Alan Coren — and that there had been several Alan Corens since the start of the show.
  • Brick Joke: Early in one episode, Hugo Rifkind mentions Jacob Rees-Mogg's assertion that anyone against fracking was being paid off by Russia. Later on, when the subject of the Ukranian War comes up, and Russians deserting ahead of a draft, Hugo absently mentions he's not getting his cheque now.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Susan Calman is not a little outlandish. From one episode, while discussing thoughts...
    Susan: I was genuinely thinking of Jeremy—this is absolutely true—and wondered what soup would go well with you.
    Sandi: Soup?
    Susan: Well, I mean...
    Sandi: Did you say soup?
    Susan: What I mean is, if Jeremy was in a large bowl...I was thinking this! And I was going to put soup in the bowl, to eat it...
    Sandi: Mm-hmm.
    Susan: What soup would fit him best?
    Jeremy: At my age, I really hope it's not cock-a-leekie.
    Susan: I was thinking Heinz Tomato...but the point is, people listen to me on The News Quiz and they think "oh, her head must be filled with brilliant political analysis", and I'm going "would croutons suit him...?"
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In the 12th January 2024 episode, the panel suggest that in addition to the honours system there should be a dishonours system, where any recipient is sent to the House of Lords.
  • Crossover: A special show in early 2013, "The News Now Quiz Show", pitted Sandi and Jeremy against Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt from The Now Show (with Rory Bremner as host).
  • Deadly Game: Ian Smith suggests replacing the British electoral system with a version of Squid Game. Survivor gets to be PM.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Often the job of the host, but Miles Jupp did it especially well.
  • Double Entendre: Frequently, especially in the news cuttings.
    "Police reveal that a woman arrested for shoplifting had a whole salami in her knickers. When asked why, she said it was because she was missing her Italian boyfriend."
    • A classic, from a cutting about a group of drunken students on a naked rowing expedition: "The eight rowers and the cox were seen late last night."
    • Taken as far as could be managed when discussing the renaming of a street named "Bell End".
  • The Eeyore: Jeremy Hardy comes off this way, as he often talks about how the world is naturally depressing and his tone of voice almost never changes from a disappointed drone. When Sandi once asked the panel if they were a "glass half-empty or half-full", Jeremy replied "I'm an empty beaker with a turd in it".
  • Epic Fail: In the 20th October 2023 show, the panel figure that if Liz Truss was still Prime Minister and paid a diplomatic visit to Israel she'd likely manage to piss off both sides and open up a third front.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real:
    • One of Jeremy Hardy's surreal rants:
    Jeremy: America isn't a real place. Think of all the Americans you've heard of: John Wayne, Demi Moore; they're all actors!
    • A discussion on Ireland's treatment in post-Brexit negotiations by Britain leads Andy Zaltzman to say most people in Britain think Ireland is fictional, like Atlantis, or Dubai.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The 30 December 2011 episode was an all-star Radio 4 Panto, with Sandi and Andy rescuing the Greenwich Pips from Radio 4 Island and returning them to Broadcasting House, thereby foiling the evil plot of Nigel Pargetter from The Archers.
  • Grammar Correction Gag: After a long talk from Freddie Ray about how Brexit has impacted immigration, Neil Delamere scolds another panellist for saying what he said on BBC Radio 4; namely, saying "less" instead of "fewer". Wild applause follows.
    Andy: That's an extra point for linguistic pedantry.
  • Lohengrin and Mendelssohn: Played when Susan Calman was coaxed into the revelation that she was getting married on the weekend following the show.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Miles Jupp has two:
    • Thanking the people who sent in cuttings "for that piece of nonsense/naughtiness/filth".
    • Beginning his rundown of the answer "[appropriate but unusual adverb]ly, this is the story..."
  • Manchild: Hugo Rifkind explains he finds Liz Truss baffling because she seems to have no mentality beyond "proud toddler".
  • Never My Fault: In the 2nd of June 2023 episode, Andy Zaltzman explains that never admitting you've done wrong is the British way.
  • Not in Front of the Parrot!: One classic clipping involved a parrot who captured and related the details of its owner's extramarital affair.
  • Political Overcorrectness: Several of the left-wing panellists, but especially the late Jeremy Hardy, were fond of parodying this. The most direct being Jeremy's "You can't do anything these days. You can't even sexually harrass someone without being accused of sexual harrassment!"
  • Pun: At least once a month. The story of North Korea's 2009 nuclear test unlocked a Hurricane of Puns:
    "The North wants to invade the South and make a Korea (career) of it."
    "We should worry about the situation careering out of control."
    • On the subject of a member of the church resigning due to the 'Occupy London' protests;
      Hugo Rifkind: The canon has fired himself.
  • Running Gag:
    • Sandi Toksvig, Andy Hamilton, and Susan Calman's short height. Sandi has been known to deduct points if someone makes a joke about her height (not that the points mean anything), but will cheerfully make her own jokes about Andy Hamilton's.
    • Sandi Toksvig being one of those "foreigners, comin' over here, taking our jobs"; she's Danish.
    • Andy Zaltzman's love of cricket.
    • One episode has Andy declare the points at the end of every round is four. Initially it seems like he's flubbed, until he keeps doing it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Chancellor of the Exchequer had described the economy as having four sectors:
      Sandi Toksvig: So you've got public sector, private sector...
      Hugo Rifkind: Third sector...
      Sandi: And the Aztec Zone?
    • In one episode, while discussing the furniture Lazy Susan, Sandi makes a quip about how the show normally has a lazy Susannote , but she was unavailable for recording that day.
  • Standard Snippet: Some public figures are seen as such a gift to the show that they are given their own leitmotifs. Any and all mentions of Sarah Palin elicit a single Hallelujah chorus, while the mention of Michael Gove's name is accompanied by an excerpt from Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Reed Flutes".
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Nish Kumar makes a joke about being unable to hold one's liquor might lead to someone standing outside an off-license in Croydon shoeless at four in the morning screaming "I'M THE HOST OF THE NEWS QUIZ!" while demanding booze... or so he's heard.
  • Take That!: When discussing a hike in train fares at the beginning of 2018, Miles Jupp finishes by stating that train fares in Europe remain unaffected, but the trains there go to places in Europe, and are therefore worthless. Whether this is a Take That at Europe or at the UK's post-Brexit attitude to Europe depends on your point of view.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Hugo Rifkind says "smoking minister Teresa Coffey", and admits that could be seriously misheard (minister for smoking, not that he finds her attractive).
    Hugo Rifkind: Makes her sound sexier than I meant, actually.
    Ria Lina: Everything alright at home?
    Hugo: Not once this goes out.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Charlotte Green prefaced her reading out of some rap lyrics by saying "I apologise for this in advance". She was already Corpsing at that point.
  • Voice Clip Song: One was made with Sandi's Pronunciation of "Eyjafjallaj√∂kull". This was then featured on the show itself.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: During 2020, during the lockdown, when the series was filmed via Zoom, any panellist who experienced technical difficulties was docked a point.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Andy Zaltzman describes a forthcoming Labour conference in these terms.
    Andy: Labour prepared for a showdown with its age-old rival, itself.

"And with that, goodbye."