Inside Soap - - INSIDE TV -

It’s al­ways an un­cer­tain time for a TV se­ries when a long-serv­ing pre­sen­ter de­cides to de­part, so there was some ner­vous­ness when Stephen Fry stood down as the host of QI and Sandi Toksvig stepped in.

Of course, as a reg­u­lar guest on the show and a quiz host in her own right, Sandi quickly made the role her own – and now that she’s back for her sec­ond se­ries in the host’s chair, she tells Inside TV that she’s hav­ing a fan­tas­tic time…

Do you feel more com­fort­able now you have one se­ries un­der your belt?

I sup­pose I must do, ex­cept I loved it from the be­gin­ning! It’s like my dream job. I’ve never not felt com­fort­able, and that’s down to the team – but I al­ready knew them be­cause I’d been a guest so many times. The only dif­fer­ence in terms of my com­fort is that last time I had some­body else’s chair on a box, and now I’ve got my own chair. So that’s a lit­tle more com­fort­able.

The show is a to­tal trea­sure trove of in­for­ma­tion – is that part of the joy for you?

Well, there’s no end to how in­ter­est­ing the world is.

The is­sue is not find­ing the ma­te­rial, the is­sue is what to leave out! And then you add to that ev­ery­body riff­ing, the won­der­ful guests we’ve had on this se­ries, and there isn’t room for ev­ery­thing. I al­ways be­moan the stuff we don’t put in the show. You want to have an­other one where you go, “And here are all the odds and ends that we couldn’t fit in!”.

Are peo­ple ever ner­vous about com­ing on the show for the first time?

Yes, you do get that some­times. I al­ways say to them, “Don’t worry about be­ing funny, worry about be­ing quiet. So say some­thing, any­thing, be­cause then some­body else can be funny”. It can be hard get­ting peo­ple to open their mouths for the first time, so quite of­ten if it’s a brand-new per­son, you may no­tice that I ask them a di­rect ques­tion. I’ll say, “What do you think about that?” to get them to open their mouths, and then they’re up and

run­ning. But we’ve had some won­der­ful de­buts from peo­ple.

There’s been a lot of talk about get­ting more women on panel shows as guests, but there are still very few women at the helm of one. What do you make of that?

When they came up with the idea that there should be a woman on ev­ery panel, my view was that there should be more women chair­ing. And that’s no dis­re­spect to any of the won­der­ful boys who chair shows, but I like to think that hav­ing a woman in the chair will soon not be un­usual.

The best ex­am­ple is Vic­to­ria Coren-mitchell, she’s fan­tas­tic and is do­ing a bang-up job with Only Con­nect. And here’s the se­cret – when you’re the host they give you the an­swers, and the cards aren’t as heavy as I was led to be­lieve, so it’s re­ally not that dif­fi­cult!

Do you have to do a lot of home­work to get all the facts right?

Yes, be­cause I take a lot of time over the scripts with the Elves. If I have an am­bi­tion, it’s that we don’t get a sin­gle viewer’s letter that be­gins,

‘In an oth­er­wise amus­ing pro­gramme, I think you’ll find…’ – be­cause ‘I think you’ll find’ is not fun! I’m re­ally try­ing to make sure we nail the in­for­ma­tion so that when we say some­thing is so, we’re ab­so­lutely sure that it is.

Quite in­ter­est­ing: The first panel of the new se­ries

Two’s com­pany: Sandi and her reg­u­lar side­kick Alan Davies

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