Analysis: Is Alan Davies Getting Better at QI?

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I’m a big fan of the quiz show QI. I was watching a later series of it recently on Netflix and I couldn’t help but notice that Alan Davies was winning quite a few episodes. This felt odd, because I was sure that when I first watched the show he routinely finished last, and certainly wasn’t winning any shows.

That prompted me to ask the question: is Alan Davies getting better at QI?

To sate my curiosity I tried to answer that question the best way I know how: with data.


The Data


The data comes from The British Comedy Guide, which has an exhaustive list of everything related to British comedy, including every episode of QI. There was a lot of laborious data cleaning involved, which you can see for yourself in the associated Jupyter notebook.

The final dataset includes every episode with its title, broadcast date and each contestant and their scores.


The Analysis


As with many data science projects, once the dataset was nice and clean the question was straightforward to answer. All it needed was a plot to show Alan’s win ratio over time. Here’s the accompanying Jupyter notebook.

Alan’s more or less consistently winning a quarter of shows now


So to answer the question: yes, Alan does appear to be getting better at QI, certainly since the first few series. It does however remain to be seen whether his win ratio will plateau at 25%, I guess we’ll see in a few years’ time.

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