QI - the letters stand for 'Quite Interesting'- is a comedy game show whose object is to provide interesting information in a clear and cheerful manner so that people learn something without noticing it and feel a bit better about life afterwards.
Hosted by avuncular polymath and National Treasure Stephen Fry, and ably hindered by resident dunderhead Alan Davies, the show also features three different top stand-up comedians each week.
Points are given purely for being interesting, rather than merely ‘right’, and the panel are heavily penalised for giving the ‘obvious’ answer - especially when (as frequently happens) it is also completely wrong. In this way, QI tries to rid the world of the flotsam of nonsense and old wives' tales that can build up in your mind. QI not only makes us look more closely at things, it encourages us to question all the received wisdom we have carried with us since childhood. Think of the program as a humorous cranial de-scaler.
QI isn't really about pointless information, or shoring up vast banks of trivia, It's about finding undiscovered connections and seeing hidden patterns, just like the best comedy. After all, curiosity is hardwired in all of us; we just lose the ability to indulge it. "The lust of the mind", Thomas Hobbes called it, "that exceedeth the short vehemence of any carnal pleasure".
There you have it, and from a philosopher not a press release. QI: better than sex.
Having started in 2003 with all things 'A', QI is attempting to get all the way through the alphabet, one letter a series, and then possibly continue through the numbers which are, naturally, slightly more numerous.
The show is now watched all over the world, both in its original UK form and in new international series.