Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Empty chair

Sandi Toksvig is stepping down as chair of Radio 4's The News Quiz.

The programme started in 1977, an early creation of wunderkind producer John Lloyd, apparently from an idea by Nicholas Parsons. Initially the two sides were billed as Private Eye v Punch, refereed by Barry Norman, with team captains Richard Ingrams and Alan Coren, each joined by one supporter with connections to the publications, however loose. In the first year, these included Clive James, Tina Brown, Russell Davies, Lord Oaksey, Clement Freud, Barry Fantoni and many more. The questions were compiled by Lloyd with co-producer Danny Greenstone. Bits were read out by Radio 4 newsreaders, the first being John Marsh.

Once settled, later producers included Douglas Adams, Griff Rhys-Jones, Geoffrey Perkins, Harry Thompson and Armando Ianucci. Barry Took followed Barry Norman as chair in 1979. The Punch v Private Eye element faded away, but not Alan Coren, who stayed for 30 years.  Richard Ingrams resurfaced in the 90s.

Simon Hoggart followed Barry Took, then Sandi assumed the chair in 2007 - a mere eight years' service, though she had been a panellist off and on for the previous five.

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