The News Quiz

The News Quiz
The News Quiz

The News Quiz: Stop Press CD, with from left to right, Alan Coren, Sandi Toksvig, Andy Hamilton and Jeremy Hardy on the cover.
Genre Panel game
Running time 30 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Languages English
Home station BBC Radio 4
Starring Sandi Toksvig (host), regulars: Andy Hamilton, Jeremy Hardy, Francis Wheen, plus a BBC R4 newsreader
Creators John Lloyd
Producers Sam Bryant / Victoria Lloyd
Air dates since 1977
No. of series 75
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]

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.


The programme is usually recorded in front of a live audience on a Thursday evening at the BBC Radio Theatre at Broadcasting House in central London. It is then edited, broadcast first on Friday evening, then repeated on the Saturday lunchtime.

Each week, four panelists 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 panelists 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 panelists read out funny newspaper cuttings.


Current chair

The Danish-born comedienne Sandi Toksvig took up the chairman's role in the sixtieth series (the show broadcasts three series per year), which began on 8 September 2006.

Former chairmen

Current regular panellists

Former regular panellists

Guest panellists

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

BBC newsreaders

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

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.


  • Sam Bryant (current)
  • Victoria Lloyd
  • Ed Morrish
  • Katie Tyrrell
  • Simon Nicholls
  • Lucy Armitage

Script Writers

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

  • Simon Littlefield
  • Rhodri Crooks
  • Lucy Clarke
  • Gareth Gwynn
  • John-Luke Roberts
  • James Sherwood
  • Stephen Carlin
  • Jon Hunter
  • James Kettle
  • Benjamin Partridge
  • Andy Wolton


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

Cultural references

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.[3]


  1. ^ Hoggart, Simon (28 January 2006). "In David we trust ... but not Peter". The Guardian.,,1696927,00.html. Retrieved 2008-02-17. 
  2. ^ "Headlines, Deadlines and Punchlines". The Archive Hour. 2002-09-07.
  3. ^ "The News Quiz Podcast". 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 

External links

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