The News Quiz

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The News Quiz
Genre Panel game
Running time 28 minutes
Country  United Kingdom
Language(s) English
Home station BBC Radio 4
Starring Host:
Sandi Toksvig
Andy Hamilton
Jeremy Hardy
Francis Wheen
A BBC Radio 4 newsreader
Various guest panelists
Creator(s) John Lloyd
Producer(s) Lyndsay Fenner / Sam Michell
Exec. producer(s) Julia McKenzie
Recording studio BBC Radio Theatre
Air dates since 1977
No. of series 86
Opening theme The Typewriter by Leroy Anderson
Website Radio 4
Podcast Friday Night comedy podcast

The News Quiz is a topical panel game broadcast on British radio BBC Radio 4.


It was first broadcast in 1977 with Barry Norman as chairman. Subsequently it was chaired by Simon Hoggart, Barry Took (until 1995), and then again by Simon Hoggart until March 2006.[1] Hoggart was replaced by Sandi Toksvig in September 2006. The series was created by John Lloyd[2] based on an idea from Nicholas Parsons.[3]

Originally Private Eye editor Richard Ingrams and Punch editor Alan Coren acted as team captains.

It was adapted for television in 1981 under the title Scoop, running for two series, and later inspired the television programme Have I Got News for You.

In 2012 the BBC piloted an American version hosted by Lewis Black.[4]

On 28 June 2013, the News Quiz paid tribute to Radio 4 announcer Rory Morrison, who used to read the news cuttings on the programme.


The programme is usually recorded in front of an audience on Thursday evenings at the BBC Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in central London. It is then edited and broadcast first on Friday evening at 1830, then repeated on the Saturday lunchtime. The final 28 minute show is significantly shorter than the original recording. In 2012 the BBC began making an extended version for BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Each week, four panellists appear on the show. They are usually either comedians or journalists, and sometimes politicians. Journalists predominated in the early years. The ostensible purpose of the show is to test contestants' knowledge of the events of the previous week by asking questions which are usually oblique references to those events. However this has given way to a general free-for-all where panellists chime in with their own humorous and satirical remarks once the question has been answered. The participants frequently wander off topic. The host ends the discussion of each question with a summary of the events it refers to, usually with a scripted comic punchline, before asking the next question. It is not uncommon for the show to get through only two rounds of the panel before the final section is reached. Before the host announces the largely symbolic scores, the panellists read out statements from newspapers and other media which they find amusing.


Current chair[edit]

The comedian Sandi Toksvig took up the chairperson's role in the sixtieth series (the show broadcasts three series per year), which began on 8 September 2006.

Former chairmen[edit]

Current regular panellists[edit]

Former regular panellists[edit]

Guest panellists[edit]

Includes panellists that have appeared on several occasions over many years, and those who have only appeared once.

BBC newsreaders[edit]

The News Quiz also features considerable comedic input from regular BBC newsreaders (or "hacks-neutral", as Alan Coren famously referred to them). The current regulars are:

And former regulars include:

Corrie Corfield appeared as a panellist once when Sandi Toksvig was unable to attend. As a current BBC newsreader she was bound by the BBC's code of practice for newsreaders, which prevented her from making any opinionated comments on-air (When asked, "What do you think of Bush, Corrie?", she responded, "He's an American.")

Peter Donaldson also appeared as a guest, in an episode broadcast in September 1999.



Each week, the chair's script is written by three main writers, with material contributed by one or two additional writers. Current regular writers include:

Former regular writers include:

There has been some controversy over the low pay for trial writers on the show.[6]


The opening title music is an arrangement of The Typewriter, by Leroy Anderson.

Cultural references[edit]

BBC MindGames Magazine regularly featured a number of BBC-linked puzzles, including The News Quiz, a series of questions about the last month's more unlikely news. Issue 5 (November 2006) also included an interview with Sandi Toksvig.


As of 28 September 2007, The News Quiz became downloadable as part of the "Friday Night Comedy" podcast for Radio 4. The podcast switches between The News Quiz and The Now Show, depending on which show is being transmitted.[7]


  1. ^ Hoggart, Simon (28 January 2006). "In David we trust ... but not Peter". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  2. ^ "Headlines, Deadlines and Punchlines". The Archive Hour. 2002-09-07. 
  3. ^ "Video: Creating The News Quiz at 1:18". 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-06-02. 
  4. ^ Dowell, Ben (12 March 2012). "Radio 4 pilots US version of News Quiz". The Guardian (UK). 
  5. ^ Brown, David (12 March 2012). "BBC Radio 4 to make The News Quiz USA". Radio Times. 
  6. ^ "The News Quiz is no sweatshop". Chortle. 11/03/2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ "The News Quiz Podcast". 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 

External links[edit]