Byter Graham told me of something that panellist John Sessions had said on a recent episode of that marvellous show with Stephen Fry called QI (which apparently stands for Quite Interesting). John Sessions is the stage name of Scottish actor and comedian John Gibb Marshall who is best known for comedy improvisation in shows such as another marvellous show called Whose Line Is It Anyway? (This show originated in 1988 as a radio show with Stephen Fry and John Session as regular panelists and Clive Anderson as host. The title is a combination of the name of a radio show, What’s My Line?, and a play Whose Life Is It Anyway? When the show went to television, Fry, who had been scared doing the show on radio, bailed out but encouraged Session to continue. Fry was often a guest on the TV show, which lasted for 10 series/136 episodes between 1988 and 1998. The British version inspired Drew Carey’s American version which ran for 8 seasons between 1998 and 2004). Back to John Sessions, as a regular panelist on the British QI, he has amazed at his effortless recall of the birth and death dates of various historical figures.
John Sessions, QI
Stephen Fry, QI
The following anecdote comes from the QI episode mentioned by Graham, it is Sessions talking about Richard Attenborough and his directing of the film Gandhi, which won 8 Oscars including best pic and best actor:
... he was directing the great Ben Kingsley in Gandhi, which you probably know . . . I think they were maybe a million, possibly even two million extras, er, in . . . during Gandhi's funeral, and the first assistant, the very famous, redoubtable David Tomblin, was told by Sir Dicky Attenborough to instruct the crowd as to how they may react. And he said to David Tomblin, he said [as Attenborough], "I want you to convey to them, David, that Gandhi's died, and it's an extraordinary event, darling . . . extraordinary event in the whole history of India, darling! That . . . The . . . That Gandhi is gone; their god, their national hero is gone." So David Tomblin turned to the crowd and he said, "Right, listen up! Gandhi's dead and you're all fucking sad!"