Stephen Fry goes behind the lectern to host ‘Jeopardy! UK’

Stephen Fry at the 'Jeopardy!' lectern. Whisper North/Rachel Joseph

Jeopardy! has crossed the pond.

Yes, you read that right: the famous answer-and-question game show has added a couple letters to the end of its name. Dubbed Jeopardy! UK, the show will be hosted by Stephen Fry (The Morning Show, The Hobbit) and will air exclusively on BBC First in Canada starting Wednesday, Jan. 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Despite the big move, the show will for the most part stay the same except for one big change — the U.K. version will allow participants to play an extra round, increasing stakes for the players.

Fry is no stranger to hosting quiz shows, having hosted the popular British quiz program QI from 2003 to 2016.

“I am dizzy with delight and honoured to host,” Fry said. “I hope Canadians watching this endlessly rewarding game show will welcome me into their homes as they did the great and iconic Alex Trebek. Audiences should be prepared for a nostalgic and uniquely beguiling good time to grace screens on BBC First in Canada this January.”

Story continues below advertisement

Global News did a quick Q&A with Fry about the gig, and how British folks are taking to the “new” game show.

Global News: Do you watch the original Jeopardy!? And do you still watch it when you’re in North America?
Stephen Fry: Yes, I watch Jeopardy! whenever I can when I’m in America. I’ve become quite fixated with it because there are so many dramas involved, internal little narratives that change and shift over the weeks. It’s thrilling, and I think there is something magical about the format. I first saw Jeopardy! all those years ago, with the legendary Alex Trebek hosting the quiz show and the idea that I’m now in this position at the lectern in charge of the game, well, I mean, it makes me have to pinch myself.

How have the U.K. contestants taken to the quiz show?
The U.K. contestants have taken to the game like ducks to water. It’s been amazing to watch. A lot of them have seen it before, and even if they haven’t, it is a game that, like so many others, if you try to describe it and just lay it out in words, it sounds odd. But, as soon as you start watching it, you pick it up, and the little nuances become very apparent, and our contestants have been amazing.

They’ve really shown all aspects of this game. They’ve shown that it’s called Jeopardy! for a good reason. They take risks, you know, you have to take risks, and sometimes it can blow up in their face, and they can go from a high to a low money score in seconds. It’s very unpredictable, and it’s wonderful to watch. Our U.K. contestants are simply brilliant, and the range of their knowledge will blow audiences away.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Montrealer on Jeopardy'
Montrealer on Jeopardy
How do you think you would fare as a contestant?
[Laughs] Well, there are some subjects I feel reasonably confident in, and I think: How come they haven’t got that? But, I have to say I’d be very weak in some scientific, mathematical, and geographical categories. I’ve always been very bad at recognizing countries’ flags.

For example, I’m not naturally gifted with a good visual memory. I’m very bad at faces. Indeed, I have prosopagnosia, which is face blindness. So I’m pretty bad at those visual clues that show the face, but I think I would enjoy it because there’s something about the ride in Jeopardy!. There’s something about the peaks and the troughs that would give me pleasure. I’d probably sweat and fight for the buzzer. Maybe one day I will play Jeopardy!.

Story continues below advertisement

Can you give us an example of some of the great question-answers you’ve heard?
There was a very good question where the answer could also be a sport. For example, what was the insect that stood on Pinocchio’s shoulder? And the answer to that was cricket, which is also a sport. The one I really love was about a typewriter key between escape and shift, or however it was described, it was more accurate than that, and I was completely flummoxed. And of course, it was F1 the function key, which is also Formula One, the sport. So our clue setters as we call them are really brilliant. I mean, they come up with the most imaginative clues.

Tell us more about Jeopardy! and what makes this quiz show so iconic?
It’s not just boards of all these sums of money and pick them, get it right and the first one to score the most at the end is the winner. It’s actually much cleverer than that. It’s called Jeopardy!, as a repeating, for a very good reason. There’s a lot of risk-taking involved. There are a lot of sudden surprises, and it brings out the very best in all contestants, not just their knowledge, but also their quick-wittedness, because it’s not always a knowledge question. Sometimes it’s word games and puzzles, and also these contestants are prepared to back their own knowledge and judgement, that makes it really what it is, the greatest quiz game ever devised.

‘Jeopardy! UK’ premieres Wednesday, January 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, exclusively on BBC First in Canada. New episodes will air every Wednesday.


Sponsored content