If QI is the best television programme ever made (a claim I’m sometimes tempted to make), why doesn’t the whole world watch it? Why hasn’t every country at least adapted it—as the world has done with so many less interesting shows (does the planet really need any more versions of X Factor?)? There’s a bit of debate on this topic. The show has been sold to channels in Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and Africa, and a Dutch version was made in 2009. However, it’s still not been seen on American television, not even on BBC America.
On 9 August 2009, TV Squad reported that John Hodgman, who appeared as a bonus guest in Series G, was furious with BBC America’s choice not to broadcast the show, implying that the channel thinks the show is too intelligent for an American audience. Two days later John Lloyd explained to TV Squad that part of the issue was cost, as the pictures used on the show are only cleared for use in the UK; although he admitted that then-president of BBC America, Garth Ancier, “is convinced that Americans ‘won’t get it.’ We disagree (of course!).”
Recently, John Mitchinson, head of QI research, said the fact that QI is “genre-busting” is the problem: “It’s much more to do with the difference between US and UK panel shows. QI doesn’t fit into any US channel’s remit.” This is a shame for American television and viewers. If smart, funny entertainment doesn’t meet a channel’s needs, what does that say about the execs’ opinions of the American viewing public?
This. All of this. QI on BBC America would be the best thing ever. And if they ever decide to ‘remake’ QI instead of just broadcasting the UK eps in America, John Hodgman would be a fantastic host.
(I’d also like to thank Katey for doing her part in bringing QI to America with her UCB show The Fascinator, which was very good and also quite interesting.)