John Lloyd talks to Jane Clark and Hilary Papworth about the philosophy behind the QI project.

John Lloyd is a television producer and presenter who has been responsible for some of the most innovative and influential UK comedies of the last thirty years, in honour of which he received, in 2011, a CBE for services to broadcasting. In the 1970s and ’80s, he worked on programmes such as ‘The News Quiz’, ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’, ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’, ‘Spitting Image’ and ‘Blackadder’, and went on to direct a series of award-winning adverts, including the Barclaycard series featuring Rowan Atkinson. But in the 1990s his career was interrupted by a bout of deep depression which lasted for several years. In 2002, he returned to television, making the pilot of ‘QI’ (standing for ‘quite interesting’), the popular comedy panel game which is now in its 15th series on the BBC.

But QI is more than a television programme; it is a different way of engaging with knowledge which has its own philosophy and manifesto. As an independent research company, it produces radio shows, podcasts, live theatre, DVDs and books (the latest of which, ‘1,423 QI Facts to Bowl You Over’, appeared this October). Now it is poised to enter the realm of education: at the 2017 Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference in Belfast, John revealed that a new QI approach to learning, based upon inspiring pupils with quite interesting facts, will be piloted at a number of UK schools in the coming year. (See video.) We met him at his offices in London’s Covent Garden, where he and his tiny army of ‘elves’ beaver away at uncovering the extraordinary bits of information which power the QI enterprise, to ask him about the insights behind the project and the experiences which led him to them.
A ‘Quite Interesting’ Approach To Education — a talk with John Lloyd