James Harkin (podcaster)

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James Harkin
QI elves.jpg
Harkin, right, with the other hosts of No Such Thing as a Fish
  • Podcaster
  • Researcher
  • Radio producer
Years active2014—present
Known for

James Harkin is a British podcaster, television host, and television writer. He is one of the four regular hosts of the podcast No Such Thing as a Fish, together with Dan Schreiber, Andrew Hunter Murray, and Anna Ptaszynski. He was also a presenter of the BBC Two television show No Such Thing as the News. He is a researcher for the television show QI, where he has been both the head researcher and the head writer.

Early life and education[edit]

Harkin grew up in Bolton.[1] He attended The University of Sheffield, where he studied maths and physics.[2] After graduating, he took a job as an accountant in Salford[3] and Eccles,[4] working first at a chain of hotels and then for a hospitality company.[2] When he learned about the television game show QI, Harkin joined the internet forums for the show where the researchers would hold contests to submit the best fact, which Harkin regularly won.[1][5]


After Harkin had submitted research to QI online for several months, producer John Lloyd offered him a position as a researcher at the show in London.[1][5] Fellow No Such Thing host Andrew Hunter Murray later joked that Harkin had won so many of the cash prizes from QI's online fact-finding contests that it was cheaper for the producers to offer Harkin a job.[5] Initially, Harkin was hired both as a researcher and as an accountant for the program.[3] By 2017 he had become the head researcher for the show.[6][7] He has also been the show's head writer.[1]

In March 2014 QI launched the spinoff podcast No Such Thing as a Fish, with Harkin as one of the show's four regular hosts.[8][9] By the end of 2019, episodes of No Such Thing as a Fish had been downloaded over 250 million times.[10] Harkin has gone on several national and international tours to record live tapings of No Such Thing as a Fish.[11][12]

Harkin was a co-author of three books published by the podcast's co-hosts — The Book of the Year 2019, The Book of the Year 2018, and The Book of the Year 2017 — and a co-author of more than half of the books that were written using facts from the show QI.[1][10] He was also involved in a television version of No Such Thing: along with the other regular hosts of the podcast, he was a presenter for the television series No Such Thing as the News on BBC Two.[13]

In addition to being a host and presenter, Harkin has worked as a producer for the BBC, including working with Dan Schreiber as a producer for The Museum of Curiosity on BBC Radio 4.[4][14]

Harkin's education in mathematics and physics, and his background in accounting, mean that he often supplies numerical or natural science facts for QI and No Such Thing as a Fish,[6] and his use of puns has been reviewed positively.[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e Jacques, Adam (20 December 2015). "Dan Schreiber and James Harkin: How we met". The Independent. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Where are they now? James Harkin". The University of Sheffield. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b Williams, Zoe (19 September 2016). "Sandi Toksvig's QI: 'I'm not here as a mini-me for Stephen Fry'". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b Hoyle, Andrew (29 April 2017). "CNET UK podcast 519: Filtering facts with BBC's QI's chief Elf". CNet UK. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Ling, Thomas (3 January 2018). "9 fascinating facts about the QI Elves". Radio Times. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  6. ^ a b Fane Saunders, Tristram (2 November 2017). "The QI Elves, aka No Such Thing as a Fish, talk their new book and share 10 of their weirdest facts". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  7. ^ Armstrong, Julia (19 March 2019). "Sheffield visit for the 'elves' from popular TV show QI". The Star UK. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  8. ^ Sawyer, Miranda (22 March 2014). "No Such Thing As a Fish; Freakonomics – podcast reviews". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  9. ^ Abit, April Joy (11 March 2019). "No Such Thing as a Fish". The Medium, University of Toronto Mississauga. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  10. ^ a b "No Such Thing As A Fish's 'THE BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019' Out Now". Broadway World. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  11. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (1 July 2017). "EXCLUSIVE The No Such Thing As A Fish Team talk QI, podcasts and men with two penises". Metro UK. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  12. ^ "James Harkin on 'No Such Thing As A Fish' tour". Liverpool Live. 27 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  13. ^ "No Such Thing as the News". BBC. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  14. ^ Johnston-Flint, Rosa (18 January 2019). "There's No Such Thing as a Fish Interview". Culture Calling. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
  15. ^ Betts, Marc (23 March 2019). "Review: No Such Thing As A Fish at Norwich Theatre Royal". Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved 22 March 2020.