Many are available on YouTube. Current and recent episodes may be streamable from the network web sites (BBC, ITV, Channel 4/5, etc). If they geo-block you, you can install a browser extension such as Media Hint to bypass the restriction.
My first recommendation is "Only Connect ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Only_Connect )," described as a game of lateral thinking. Player teams earn points by finding the connections between seemingly unrelated items.
The host (presenter) is PokerStars pro Vicky Coren:
Your first hint that the game is for intellectuals comes when calling for a question. These are the choices:
A puzzle thread inspired by the show was posted here:
You can play the Connecting Wall online at the official site:
... or at this fan site: http://www.puzzgrid.com/
One possible point of frustration for Americans is the emphasis on British culture, but that doesn't bother me because I don't know any of the answers anyway.
Interesting game. I like it. I would like it more if it was U.S. related since a good percentage of the items relate to U.K. Good concept though.
A board game I really like that is conceptually related is called Tri-Bonds. I highly recommend it.
Ok, I am an immediate addict, having watched one. Chalking up in advance 10 lost days of productivity. What a great format!
I'm enjoying both format and host (presenter). The vibe is slightly austere, but Coren is adept at the dry British humor that I find very entertaining.
The contestants seem to enjoy themselves, which is good because apparently there are no prizes. The BBC has a long tradition of insignificant or modest prizes on its game shows, partly because it obtains funding from licence fees collected by the government. (The nearest network equivalent in the USA would probably be PBS.)
With over 5000 episodes, Countdown is a British classic, although copied from an even more enduring original in France.
It's basically a simple game of anagrams, elevated nicely by the intelligence levels of all participants.
The wordplay is accented by an occasional "numbers round," showcasing the female assistant presenter with an aptitude for "maths." Currently she is the delightful Rachel Riley:
Here's an old clip of Riley in action:
Episodes are only sporadically available on YouTube, but Channel 4 posts at least two weeks of the most recent ones on its site.
'Name a John Cleese Movie'.
'A fish called Wanda' might have 50 respondents, while 'The Holy Grail' gets 60. The aim is to score as few points as possible. The best answers are 'Pointless'. A correct answer than no-one surveyed gave. For example 'Clockwise' might be a pointless answer.
I really enjoy 'Pointless'.
Oh yes thank you, I agree completely. It's a very clever format.
My only problem is that I haven't found a good source of episodes online. I may need to search more carefully on YouTube, but I'm only finding a few there. The BBC site only offers the five most recent.
QI is a panel game featuring comedians answering general knowledge questions. The incidental point system deducts for obvious responses that are wrong, but rewards responses that are "Quite Interesting."
The erudite moderator is Stephen Fry (center):
And the permanent class clown is Alan Davies:
A clip from series 2: Is this a rhetorical question?