A bit of a different post today, as rather than reviewing a show I am instead going to give my view on a piece of news connected to one. Today Stephen Fry announced he was leaving QI at the end of this series, with Sandi Toksvig announced as his replacement not long after. So what to make of it all?

Well, firstly, although I am surprised, I’m also not at the same time. It was always going to be an ask for either Stephen or Alan Davies to last all 26 series, although I must admit I saw Davies as being the first to exit. Still, Fry will be missed, but not for his natural headmaster manner. Rather, it is his anecdotes that will be the gap that needs to be filled. Fry is the sort of man who has lived several lives whilst others have journeyed through just one. He’s met everyone, knows all the stories and is a true raconteur. You feel as if he has little left to experience, which makes him so good at hosting a show that is so all-encompassing in its subject matter.

Despite this, I am optimistic about the decision to replace him with Toksvig. For a start, she isn’t shy on life stories herself, having lived in several countries and also mingled with a good share of who’s who. She has a dryness and self-deprecation that is also rather Fry-like, and is also every bit as charming as her predecessor. Nor is she inexperienced as hosting – her 10-year-stint on The News Quiz will do her no harm, giving her a razor sharp edge to her humour. All-in-all, I feel the BBC have made a smart choice.

There is one final thing to address I feel, which is the question that has been buzzing round since the announcements were made. Why has it taken so long for a woman to get to regularly host a primetime British panel show? Perhaps the biggest barrier has been sheer numbers – even though female comedians and presenters are growing in volume and quality, men still outnumber them. Ensuring women are on the panel only goes so far, and it is giving more hosting opportunities to women that will truly begin to open doors.

The other factor to consider is that some panel shows can trip over all too easily into borderline misogyny. 8 Out of 10 Cats is one of the worst culprits, although again the growth of female comedians is challenging that. It is far harder to make a joke about rape when you are in the same room as someone like Sarah Millican who can, and will, cut you down to size. QI has suffered from this problem less, but it will still be interesting to see where the lines of ‘banter’ are drawn.

I expect there will be an outcry from some quarters over Toksvig’s role. It will be seen as political correctness gone mad, feminazism at its worst, and people will refuse to give her a chance just because she isn’t her predecessor. But I will. And I think she will be bloody brilliant.

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