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Quote... Unquote

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Quote ... Unquote
GenrePanel game
Running time30 minutes
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Home stationBBC Radio 4
SyndicatesBBC Radio 4 Extra
Hosted byNigel Rees
Ronald Fletcher
Patricia Hughes
Charlotte Green
Created byNigel Rees
Recording studioBBC Radio Theatre and remotely
Original release4 January 1976 (1976-01-04)
No. of series57 as of November 2021
No. of episodes506 as of November 2021
Audio formatStereo
Opening theme"Duddly Dell", written and performed by Dudley Moore
WebsiteOfficial website

Quote ... Unquote is a panel game, based on quotations, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. It was chaired by its deviser, Nigel Rees, and ran from 4 January 1976 to December 2021. The programme is available online via the BBC Sounds application.[1][2]



The main part of the programme consisted of a non-competitive quiz where the chairman asked each of three panellists (originally four) in turn to identify where a certain quotation, phrase or saying comes from. In between these rounds, the panellists were asked to share some of their favourite quotations on a specified theme. Other parts of the programme were devoted to answering queries from listeners about the sources of quotations and the origins of everyday phrases and idioms.



There have been over 500 guests on the programme, many appearing several times. They include Tom Stoppard, Peter Cook, Peter Ustinov, Ned Sherrin, Judi Dench, Alan Bennett, Denis Healey, David Attenborough, Kingsley Amis, Kenneth Williams, Douglas Adams, John Mortimer, Neil Kinnock, Celia Haddon, Katharine Whitehorn, Julian Mitchell, Malcolm Muggeridge and Lord George-Brown.



Actors or former BBC staff announcers were engaged to read the quotations on the programme. Ronald Fletcher[3] was the original reader. In later years the main male reader was Peter Jefferson, formerly of BBC Radio 4, who took over from William Franklyn when that actor died in 2006. Another former Radio 4 announcer, Charlotte Green, assumed the role from the beginning of Series 50 in August 2014. Patricia Hughes, formerly in the same role on BBC Radio 3, was another regular from 1994.[4]

Several significant comedy producers supervised the programme early in their careers, including John Lloyd (deviser of QI), TV executive Geoffrey Perkins, Have I Got News for You producer Harry Thompson, and Armando Iannucci.

The programme's theme tune, between which snatches of quotations were inserted at the beginning of each show, was "Duddly Dell", written and performed by Dudley Moore; it had been the B-side of the single "Strictly for the Birds" (1961).

Following the 500th edition, broadcast in December 2021, Nigel Rees announced that he was ending the programme after 46 years, partly because the COVID pandemic had made it impossible to record in the traditional way with a studio audience, and also because of what he described as "cultural issues at the BBC", saying "I can no longer do the programme [in the way that] I have enjoyed doing it".[1] He implied that the BBC's enthusiasm for "woke" attitudes had caused difficulty.[2] Rees has said the associated newsletter would continue.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c Kidd, Patrick (29 September 2021). "Nigel Rees readies his final quote". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 9 January 2022. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c Butter, Susannah (9 January 2022). "Quote... Unquote's Nigel Rees: why I quit the BBC after 46 years". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 9 January 2022. (subscription required)
  3. ^ Rees, Nigel (9 February 1996). "Ronald Fletcher obituary". The Independent. London. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  4. ^ Rees, Nigel (24 February 2013). "Patricia Hughes obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 1 December 2016.