“It’s Mastermind meets Have I Got News for You,” is how John Lloyd first sold the idea of QI to perplexed BBC bosses 14 years ago.
It was based on his conviction that everything in the world can be made interesting if looked at long enough and approached from the right angle.
Lloyd was appearing at a Southern Centre event held at Southampton Solent University in early December. Interviewed by lecturer Tony Moon, he emphasised the need for TV practitioners to know what they like and then be honest in setting out to achieve it.
He said that TV becomes dull when producers try to find out what audiences want rather than offering something new and arresting. “Take risks and share enthusiasms!” he told his youthful audience, most of whom were not around for the original broadcasts of classic comedy shows Spitting Image, Not the Nine O’ Clock News and Blackadder, all of which he produced.
Lloyd stressed that comedy comes from characters you love rather than situations and that good producers are script editors with power, but he added that there’s no room for big egos. “Leave that to the talent,” he said.
The session ended with a screening of the “over the top” scene from the final Blackadder programme, pulled from potential disaster by a team who, said Lloyd “worked beyond the call of duty” to produce what has become an iconic piece of TV.