Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask. Alexander Armstrong
Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask

Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask

  • TV panel show / chat show
  • Dave
  • 2011 - 2013
  • 15 episodes (2 series)

Panel show hosted by Alexander Armstrong in which the guests don't just answer questions - they have to think them up too. Stars Alexander Armstrong and Dave Lamb.

Press clippings

On at exactly the same time and on the same day as Heading Out, Dave's panel show Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask returned for a second series this week.

The format's pretty much the same as before. Alexander Armstrong presents and all three of his guests, in this case Jo Brand, Stephen Mangan and Tim Vine, have to come up with the questions everyone will be asking. Amongst the questions that came up included the subject of the clurichaun (the "leprechaun's naughty cousin"), why the Aztecs were such unsuccessful warriors, and Adam's first wife...who wasn't Eve.

It's a good show, and while the fact it's on Dave means it will never get a big audience (much of it taken away thanks to Perkins's show on the other side) it still deserves a watch because it can throw up some decent moments. One example was a tangent which involved Manga talking about his upcoming role in the film version of Postman Pat - speaking parts only mind, the singing being down by Gary Barlow.

However, perhaps the best thing about this new series is that the idea of the "fact bunker" with Dave Lamb verifying the information has been got rid of. It never worked and I'm glad to see the change made. In fact, I pointed out this was the weakest moment when I reviewed the first series last year. Giz a job, Dave.

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 4th March 2013

The panel show that's like a postprandial version of QI returns with Stephen Mangan, Jo Brand and Tim Vine doing the job of quiz-show researchers and coming up with the questions themselves. This time, Dave Lamb's role as fact-checker has been done away with, leaving Alexander Armstrong in sole charge. Everything else remains the same. There are laughs to be had, especially when the guests stray from the topic at hand - a discussion about Mangan's role in Postman Pat: the Movie being particularly rewarding.

David Brown, Radio Times, 26th February 2013

Alexander Armstrong interview

The Big Ask and Pointless presenter talks Dad's Army, Doctor Who and getting back together with Ben Miller.

Ellie Walker-Arnott, Radio Times, 26th February 2013

It's hard to resist quoting from the press release announcing the return of this panel show, which described its host as "Pointless presenter, comedian and actor Alexander Armstrong". Unintended slurs aside, this series promises unscripted entertainment - tonight features Jo Brand, Tim Vine and Stephen Mangan.

Pete Naughton, The Telegraph, 25th February 2013

This comedy panel show offers a fresh twist by having its contestants ask each other questions. Dave Lamb, now best known as the voice of Come Dine with Me[/i], acts as the show's "fact checker" in case of disputes. But it's all made rather non-combative by seating the panel in laid-back armchairs. After a pilot last May, it's now launching as a series, with Graham Norton, Sandi Toksvig and Marcus Brigstocke as guests and Armstrong as head prefect.

Geoff Ellis, Radio Times, 6th February 2012

Dave TV in talks about full series of Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask

Following a successful pilot, digital channel Dave are in talks to order a full series of its new panel show, Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask.

British Comedy Guide, 15th June 2011

There are quite a few things to be said about this panel show pilot made for digital channel Dave. First of all, it's better than Compete for the Meat.

Hosted by Alexander Armstrong, the main hook of this show is that the panellists - in this case Robert Webb, Katy Brand and Griff Rhys Jones - have to come up with the questions and they score points if their opponents fail to get them right. It has already been described as QI without the researchers.

There were some interesting things that popped up during the course of the show, such as the fact that in Victorian times green dye contained arsenic, so people were being slowly killed by their wallpaper. Not all the questions were based on far-flung info through, as one round consisted of trying to come up with funny questions to ask famous people. There was one example by Webb towards Louis Spence which I won't repeat here, but I can tell you mentioned the f-word.

One aspect that grabbed my attention was Dave Lamb, who was in the show's "Fact Bunker" checking out all the answers, and who only appeared on a television inside the studio. The thing is, I reviewed his radio show last week, in which he played an agoraphobic conspiracy theorist, and now he's on a TV show with a studio audience, but not appearing in front of them in the flesh. Is this where he gets his ideas from?

In terms of intellectual comedy, I don't think you can top QI, but Big Ask is a decent attempt and is no doubt much cheaper, which is important to a digital channel facing competition from bigger broadcasters. On this show they don''need to spend money on researchers - instead they spend the money on electronic tablets for each of the panellists, because let's be fair it is a bit of bore just using your mouth.

Having said that, I still think that it was an entertaining pilot and I hope a full series comes out of it.

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 6th June 2011

Review: Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask

The format is essentially Alexander Armstrong presents a topic to a panel of three comedians and the panel must take it in turn to ask interesting questions to the other two panellists. Got it? To be honest Katy Brand, Griff Rhys Jones and Robert Webb didn't really get it either at first.

R. Green, Comedy Critic, 31st May 2011

Quiz show producers looking to make cuts: why not do away with researchers altogether? Alexander Armstrong invites Robert Webb, Katy Brand and Griff Rhys Jones to not only answer some QI-style questions, but to come up with their own questions too. As Webb, grabbing the hand that feeds and munching it like a corncob, says: "We all know where we are. This channel isn't called David." If the pilot doesn't grab your attention, the tossed-together studio set might: a derangement of union flag coffee table and skyline glimpsed through American chatshow blinds.

Ali Catterall, The Guardian, 30th May 2011

Like a more relaxed version of QI after sinking a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio, this new panel show asks its guests not only to provide the answers, but also to dream up the questions themselves from various "random" topics.

The money they've saved on employing researchers to do this must have been spent on guests because Robert Webb, Katy Brand and Griff Rhys Jones all look very happy to plonk themselves on the comfy armchairs and trot out the bizarre facts they just happen to know about Brazil or Captain Cook.

The show also boasts Dave Lamb (the voice of Come Dine With Me), who is criminally underused here as the fact checker in an underground bunker.

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 30th May 2011

Share this page