Sandi Toksvig, 1001 Things You Should Know

Sandi Toksvig hosts the new quiz show 1001 Things You Should Know. Aside from posing some of the questions, she also likes to find out information about the contestants. The Danish-born writer and broadcaster – and cousin of author Ian Rankin – can often be spotted on various panel shows, and also presents The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4.

How do you play 1001 Things You Should Know?
Well, contestants should know things like who the first man on the Moon was. But some questions are more quirky and I have to say there were a couple of things I couldn’t remember which I should have known.

Like what?
Like, what the name of the pub was in Only Fools And Horses.

The Nag’s Head?
Yes, so you’d be fine. And then you have to answer the thing that you should know on a particular topic before you can access the cash questions. So we’re just making sure that you’ve got some base knowledge before you can earn any money.

How many rounds are there?
There are three contestants and four rounds in total. So there are twelve topics that come up on a big board and they get to choose. So if they picked a question about history, we may then have a VT from Time Team’s Tony Robinson asking a question. It’s really fun. There are often long discussions about what people learned at school. I just hope that everybody who came on the show had a good time.

With you at the helm, that’s likely to be the case…
I hope so. I think there are too many things that are aggressive and competitive. But, of course, they are in competition for quite a lot of money.

How much can they win?
They’re each playing for £1001 - do you see what they’ve done there? So there’s £3003 available in each show, but that money can roll over and a person can be on again. You’re only allowed to return five times though, but the money can continue to roll over until somebody wins it. You could be answering loads of questions correctly, but end up with nothing and passing the money on to someone you’ve never met. Someone won a substantial amount of money and burst into tears. It was so sweet. So, in terms of the money, it’s hugely exciting.

Have you contributed any questions?
No! Good heavens that’s not my department. I do light bonhomie and keep every body cheering.

Do you think they’d make a celebrity version of 1001 Things You Should Know?
They haven’t said so yet. But in terms of me finding out about the contestants, everybody’s life is interesting. You’ll always find something. I’ve really enjoyed that part of the show. And if the person returns, they’ve got to keep telling me something new. So there have been a couple of people I’ve learnt quite a lot about by the end, but enough that it feels friendly and I can say, ‘Ah but you should know this because I remember that bit about your life.’

C4, weekdays

Elaine Penn