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Executive producer John Lloyd explains BBC's import impasse of QI

by Danny Gallagher, posted Aug 11th 2009 3:02PM
Actress Liza Tarbuck and Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson on QIJohn Hodgman's public lambasting of the BBC for not bringing QI to America didn't explain the network's reason for their decision, other than Dumb Ol' America is so dumb (how dumb are we?) that when we go to a sperm bank, we ask the teller for a BLANK.

Thankfully, Hodgman isn't the only man coming to the U.S.A.'s defense. John Lloyd, the show's executive producer, feels the same way so much so that he was willing to interrupt his vacation in Turkey to chat with me about it.

"Garth Ancier (BBC America chief) is convinced that Americans 'won't get it'," Lloyd said in an email. "We disagree (of course!)."

QI's executive producer John LloydLloyd, also the director of the show's production company Quite Interesting Ltd. and co-author of several quiz and information books based on the show, said ratings have been huge for the show's six year run on BBC1 and BBC2.

They have seen the same success in the States, thanks to scores of countless Internet hoodlums uploading the show to sites like YouTube and BitTorrent.

Even the show's first official book, The Book of General Ignorance, came to the States and made the New York Times' Best Seller List in its opening week on the shelves.

"The basic situation is that, while QI has been a huge ratings success on both BBC1 and BBC2 as well as the digital channels BBC4 and Dave," Lloyd said, "we have been unable to persuade BBC America to run the show."

A big part of the reason for QI's inability to leave port is a matter of cost. Since the show regularly features images accompanying their many quiz questions on topics ranging from ancient phrenology to the mating habits of invertebrates, rights to certain images have to be cleared in new areas.

"No country in the world has bought the original show and this is partly a matter of cost," Lloyd said. "The pictures in the background of the show are only cleared for UK usage, so until the show is bought by a Stateside TV company and the rights cleared for World, the programme (is) unaffordable by smaller countries."

The opportunity for eyeballs would far outweigh the prohibitive costs of, for example, the rights to a picture of Queen Elizabeth's head slapped on a walrus in heat, Lloyd said.

"QI runs back to back all year round on Dave, where, despite being rerun to death, it regularly gets half a million viewers. When the show is on air over the weekends on BBC1/2 it is generally watched by about 9 million people," Lloyd said. "So it's a big popular show: we're not in any way 'niche'. And it's also commercial. Dave is half owned by the BBC and half commercially-owned. They make a lot of money form [sic] showing QI!"

Lloyd said BBCA isn't the only American network to turn the show down, but it is definitely the most disappointing.

"Of course, we have tried to sell the show to several other US channels - Comedy Central, PBS and Discovery all also turned it down for different reasons - but we think BBC America's position is particularly shameful, because it ought to be a showcase for the best of British," Lloyd said. "Which, sadly, it most assuredly is not."

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Apparently you can download the first five seasons on demonoid...

...whatever that is!?!

August 11 2009 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

to check our balance?

August 11 2009 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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