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Series 2, Episode 2

Transcript by: Dorothy Atkins, Sarah Falk, and Nick Kocharhook
--in about equal thirds.

TRANSCRIPT

Stephen
Hello, hello, and welcome to QI, the show which gives thoughts wings, flies in the face of convention, and goes "coo" in the chimney of knowledge. Roosting alongside me this evening are Rich Hall . . . Phil Kay . . . Jo Brand . . . and Alan Davies.

Now before we sort the owls from the orioles, let me introduce the QI "Spot the Nostril" competition. Your task tonight is to draw a picture of a kiwi, all right--a bird so odd that some think it's a missing link between mammals and birds--paying particular attention to the position of its nostrils. I will reward the best effort with a nest egg. [to Alan] you're staring at me with a kind of glassy look. You do know what a kiwi is?

Alan
Yeah, I've seen one in New Zealand.

Stephen
That's--

Alan
They're nocturnal. So you have to go in a little kiwi zoo thing. And they have them in virtually every town, and they'll be in someone's living room, and you'll go in and they'll be a dark room and a little glass thing and--

Stephen
Oh!

Alan
--and a--[does kiwi impression, lightly hopping on the desk with closed hands while furtively scoping the room]. National Bird.

Stephen
It is the National Bird.

Alan
Never see it; can't fly. Rubbish.

Stephen
But your task, whether you choose to accept it or not, Jim, is to draw one.

Alan.
Alan.

Stephen.
Alan! Sorry.

Alan
What's the National Bird of England?

Stephen
[makes puckering noise]

Jo
I'll tell you what it is for women: a thrush.

Alan
You know what it is for men?

Jo
Er . . . 

Alan
A cock.

Stephen
[stares pointedly at his desk]

Jo
[throws up her hands] Sorted!

Alan
Cock and thrush.

Stephen
Yes, good name for a pub, wouldn't it?

Jo
There is a relation, yeah.

Alan
Good name for a pub.

Stephen
There are pubs called the . . . the Cock Inn, aren't there? And it is one of the odd jokes in Carry On which is usually just saucy. Where Charles Hautrey is playing a . . . a detective, and he's following Sid James in Carry On Loving, I think it is, and, er, he's sort of saying, you know--[pretends to scrawl on his hand]--"Went for lunch. Er . . . Went to pub, the Cock Inn . . . had drinks with two other women. Left Cock Inn."

Alan
Well, that implies you have a left cock and a right cock.
[to the tune of the hokey cokey] Left cock in, your right cock out . . . 

Stephen
So cock, thrush, kiwi!

Alan
I've got to draw all three?!

Stephen
No, forget the cock and the thrush--

Alan
[spreads fingers to prepare himself for debauchery]

Stephen
--just draw me a kiwi; pay particular attention to the nostrils and where they are on the bird.

Alan
Imagine if your nostrils were just above your anus.

Stephen
It would be unpleasant.

Good. Before we go any further, we want to know how you sound. So Jo, sing to me.

Jo
[presses buzzer, which chirrups loudly]

Stephen
Rich.

Rich
[presses buzzer, which caws]

Stephen
Phil.

Phil
[pretends to press his buzzer and crows like a rooster]
No, no.
[presses buzzer, which . . . actually crows like a rooster]
[looks around in extreme shock]

Stephen
That's extraordinary!

Phil
Hang on! Hang on!

Stephen
I promise you Phil did not know that that was was the real sound.

Phil
Let's just check that again to make sure that we weren't all weren't having a hallucination.
[presses buzzer, which crows like a rooster]
That's a . . . Rise and shine. Good morning.

Stephen
It is extraordinary. And Alan goes:

Alan
[presses buzzer, which plays a charming a-capella jingle based around the word "fruity"]

Stephen
There you are. Didn't guess that one, did you?

Alan
No, I didn't.

Stephen
A little voice in my ear has just told me that the National Bird of England is the European Robin, apparently. So! Let's head south for the winter. So, Alan, what's the difference between an ostrich and a lion?

Viewscreens: Picture of the night sky.

Alan
Why the stars? What's going on with the stars? Is that a clue?

Stephen
Well it's a kind of clue to this rather weird story.

Alan
An ostrich is--

Stephen
Yeah.

Alan
--a flightless bird with a very long neck, runs about forty miles an hour, lays big eggs--

Stephen
Correct.

Alan
--and is, er, edible. Quite a delicacy. Farmed.

Stephen
Yes.

Alan
A lion: king of the jungle; big cat; kill you with a single blow. [pauses] There are many differences . . . Is there any particular difference you're thinking of, sir?

Stephen
One of the most famous African explorers was the Scotsman . . . ?

Phil
David Livingston.

Stephen
David Livingston. Thank you, Phil. And, er, he wrote that, "I can distinguish between them with certainty"--this is by sound--"only by knowing that the ostrich roars by day and the lion roars by night." He described the idea that lions have an impressive roar as mere majestic twaddle, and that they're identical to ostrich. So, let's demonstrate that, all right? This is the sound of a lion:

[Sound: A lion roaring fiercely.]

Alan
[puts his hand on his chest] Jeez!

Stephen
Yeah. And this is the sound of an ostrich

[Sound: An ostrich twittering sweetly.]

Stephen
[laughs and raises hands in non-comprehension]

Phil
[presses buzzer, which crows like a rooster]

Stephen
Yes, Phil.

Phil
David Livingston was a hard working Scot; he was working in the mines; his ears were damaged; he couldn't be blamed for this.

Stephen
Don't you feel that actually Stanley was lucky that when he said "Dr. Livingston, I presume?" he wasn't shot because he was mistaken for a . . . for a leopard or something?

Rich
If Siegfried and Roy had worked with ostrich instead of big cats, they'd probably still be working today.

Stephen
That's a very good thought.

Rich
Although, Johnny Cash was attacked by an ostrich. Did you know that?

Stephen
I didn't.

Rich
Yes. Very ferociously, yeah.

Stephen
Really?

Rich
Never quite recovered.

Stephen
Yeah.

Alan
They can kick you.

Stephen
Yes.

Alan
I saw one quick someone in the goonies on the telly the other day.

Stephen
Yes, I saw that as well.

Alan
Did you see that?

Stephen
Yes, I did.

Alan
He really caught him, didn't he.

Stephen
Yes, he did.

Rich
Do we get points for just being interesting?

Stephen
That's it. Yeah.

Jo
Yeah.

Rich
Did you know that in some countries, linoleum is a form of currency?

Stephen
Now that's interesting. Is it true, however?

Rich
[pauses] You said it was interesting, right?

Stephen
So, in fact, we have a question for you now, young Rich. Er, explain how to French kiss a woodpecker.

Rich
You would have to seduce it. You'd have to get it interested in you.

Stephen
Right.

Rich
Put a toothpick in your mouth.

Stephen
Wood pecker!

Rich
Say nice things to it. "Oh, that's nice plumage." Then you give it a date-rape drug.

Alan
Should all else fail! [primly uncaps his pen]

Stephen
Yes!

Alan
Does French kissing mean kissing with tongues, or--

Stephen
[waggles his tongue at Alan for several seconds]
Yes. [to a groan in the audience] Sorry . . . 

Alan
Are you seeing anyone at the moment?

Stephen
I'm sorry. Yes, with tongues.

Jo
I thought that was very attractive! . . . Erm, why--

Stephen
Yeah.

Jo
Why would anyone want to?

Stephen
They are very extraordinary things, woodpecker tongues. Let's have a look at the woodpecker tongue. You'll be astonished.

Viewscreens: Picture of a woodpecker's head.



Stephen
There you go.

Alan
Owh!

Stephen
One of the strangest things in nature. It's, er, an amazing organ. It can extend to two-thirds of its body length. It's covered in sticky saliva, vicious barbs, and has an ear at the end of it . . . with which it can listen to its prey. So, er, it uses the beak for . . . for pecking at, er, bark, and making a hole.

Jo
It has an ear at the end of its tongue?

Stephen
Well, a thing that detects sound.

Alan
Sorry, can you say that again? [sticks out tongue in Stephen's direction]

Stephen
Absolutely.
[turns to Jo] Pardon? [sticks out tongue]

Stephen
How does it fit into its mouth, you may wonder. Well, it has to wrap it 'round its brain, through the back of its eye sockets. Funny enough, woodpeckers are very popular on creationists websites, because they argue, this is such a . . . an extraordinary creature designed, you know, so fit for this purpose and so on, that only a designer could have made it; it couldn't have evolved. Apart from everything else, when it moves, sometimes up to fifteen or sixteen times a second it beats the wood to make a hole, which is incredibly fast, and generates immense forces, two-hundred and fifty times more forces than an astronaut is subjected to. It's a thousand G's. And it has this extraordinary, kind of, little muscles and cartlages around its brain to sort of stop it from shattering. If the pecker's got wood, why go for tongue, you may argue. Erm . . . But it is . . . it is a pretty astonishing animal.

Alan
[looks around concernedly, with tightened brow]

Jo
Could we have . . . maybe have an offshoot of this programme called "Quite Unnecessary"? Can I be on that?

Stephen
Very good. Absolutely. I just can't quite see how different it would be, unfortunately!

Anyway. So, Phil, time for you. Does your bird like chocolate?

Phil
My bird?

Stephen
Yeah, does she like chocolates?

Phil
My bird likes chocolates. Yes, it's very popular, with--

Jo
Have you got a bird then?

Phil
I don't know. Say you had a parrot, they'd like chocolate.

Stephen
Would they?

Jo
Yes.

Phil
Yeah, their hooked beak's great for getting right into the toffee. If you had a pelican they . . . they don't like chocolate, they like toffee better, you know, and, if you had an owl, they quite like, er, chocolate behind them, 'cause then they can rotate. You know. They show off. If you give a crow a Malteser, he's like "No way", you know, so, er, my bird . . . No, you can't give animals chocolate, because it's got something in it that makes them depressed.

Stephen
Do you know that's right. It makes them--

Phil
You can't give chocolate to a dog, 'cause it's not right, and the dog . . . That's why you have to buy special chocolate for the dogs, which, if you wanna save money, you can still give it to the kids and tell them it's dusty and old, you know--like from, you know--February chocolate, you know--Christmas chocolates gone white and dusty.

Stephen
Oh . . . I've eaten dog chocolates.

Phil
Pet shop . . . Have you?

Stephen
Yes, yes, I have.

Phil
It's like a phrase, isn't it, "Oh, I've eaten dog chocolates". But it's different. It's apart of folklore.

Stephen
Yes. Eat dog chocolate.

Phil
"My bird don't like chocolate." It's different.

Alan
It's a website.

Stephen
He's quite . . . A bird doesn't like dog chocolate. He's quite right.

Rich
[faux-angrily] How many points does he get for that?

Stephen
Well he's c— . . . He's correct. He'll get some points, perhaps, from our scorers, if they're in the mood.

Erm, how good is their sense of taste, birds, do you imagine?

Phil
Absolutely minimal. There's no need. If it's a seed--"I don't care. Get it in."

Stephen
Yeah. Yeah. They only have about twenty or thirty taste buds on their tongue.

Phil
Yeah.

Stephen
They could never distinguish chocolate from--

Phil
I thought it was less than that, actually.

Stephen
Did you? Did you?

Phil
Yeah. I thought it was fifteen to eighteen.

Stephen
And humans have how many, would you say?

Alan
25,000.

Stephen
It's about nine- or ten-thousand. Something like that.

Alan
[loudly] Pretty close!

Stephen
But, er, they grow . . . new ones grow every five days.

Alan
Five days.

Stephen
They last about five days, our tastebuds.

Of course, they wouldn't be able to tell what chocolate is, but it would be toxic. It would kill them.

Alan
Kill them?

Stephen
Yeah, it's actually poisonous to us, but the lethal dose is quite high.

Alan
If you had a whole tin of Quality Street, would that kill you?

Stephen
About twenty-two pounds is the lethal dose for a human.

Jo
That's nothing!

Alan
Nothing.

Jo
Twenty-two pounds?

Stephen
Well, yeah. A little Smartie would kill a . . . a small songbird, for example.

Phil
[laughs suddenly]

Stephen
You sick . . . 

Alan
A friend of mine had a hamster, and it wasn't very well, so her dad gave it a bit of brandy.

Stephen
Lor, what happened?

Alan
[rolling his eyes] Guess what 'appened next? Severe alcohol poisoning!

Stephen
Did it get alcohol poisoning?

Alan
Oh, absolutely!

Stephen
Oh, dear!

Alan
"Is he better?" "Ahm . . . Go to bed. You'll see in the morning." [fierce whisper] "The shops! Get down to the shop!"

Jo
When I was a teenager, someone I know gave their dog . . . LSD.

Stephen
Oh, my Lord.

Jo
It went to Glastonbury!

Stephen
I went into a friend's house, and at the top of the landing of their house, they . . . they had this sort of football, and in a merry mood . . . and it was an open window, and I . . . and I kicked it out the window, very pleased. Converted it. And I had never heard of these things that people who have hamsters have . . . these little balls where the hamster--[scurries his fingers across the desk]. And I kicked the hamster right out the window, and it'd bounced on the . . . and gone all over the place! I felt absolutely awful.

Jo
Did it die?

Stephen
No, it survived. It seemed perfectly cheerful! I'd never heard of . . . [to Rich and Phil] Have you seen these--[makes shape of a hamster ball with his hands]?

Alan
[raises arms in the air, thrilled]--"Whooo-ooooo!"

Jo
I bet it thought, "God, that new ball I got for Christmas is bloody brilliant!"

It's a pity Bill Bailey's not here, actually. They had a dog . . . Bill's girlfriend used to take it to work in an old people's home, and it used to eat entire boxes of Daz, and it would eat . . . it would eat pants as well, and sort of, like, clean them.

Stephen
It might have had a washing machine inside!

Jo
I know.

Stephen
Pull out some white pants.

Jo
The pants would come out of its bum all--

Alan
You have to--[mimes pulling a ribbon of cloth out of a bum].

Stephen
Pearly white.

Jo
Well, -ish. You know.

Alan
You wouldn't pop 'em straight on. Let's put it that way.

Stephen
Probably. That's probably true.

Alan
We had a cat that could open the fridge. [leans back in his chair] It used to lie on its back like that with its paws under the fridge, and then yank it open.

Stephen
Really?

Alan
Oh, yeah. And then he was in! And he got the turkey out of the fridge and had it half-way to the catflap before we found him.

Stephen
That's like Tom and Jerry, isn't it?

Alan
And he was eating it really fast as we were running towards him. [mimes rapidly and savagely eating a turkey, looking up furtively]
We went to grab it and he just jumped straight out of the catflap, hissing. [hisses fiercely]

Viewscreens: Picture of a brightly-coloured floral pattern.

Stephen
So, now, what weighs six pounds, covers eighteen square feet, and has to be changed once a month?

Jo
[presses buzzer, which chirrups loudly]
Someone's gotta do it. "One of my sanitary towels."

Alan
Hey!

Audience in General
[groans loudly]

Stephen
[hides on desk]

Jo
Sorry. I just--

Stephen
Jo Brand!

Jo
I knew--

Stephen
Did you think everyone else was about to leap in and say that?

Alan
Yeah. [mimes being beaten to the buzzer by Jo]

Jo
I thought . . . I thought Alan might.

Stephen
Aww.

Alan
Is that one of your sanitary towels up there? Do you have, like, wallpaper?

Stephen
The William Morris range.

Jo
Yes, I have embroidered ones. You get them specially made by a lady in waiting of the Queen.

Alan
Erm, outdoors or indoors? A flag.

Stephen
It's something belonging to each and every one of us.

Alan
Skin!

Stephen
Very good!

Alan
[gasps]

Stephen
"Skin" is the right answer. The largest . . . the largest organ in the body.

Alan
It may be in your body. [rocks back in forth in chair] I've got a huge cock!

Stephen
I think we'll forfeit you for that . . . 

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words "SPEAK FOR YOURSELF".

Jo
Hurray!

Stephen
That's how predictable that was! You almost fell exactly into our trap. That counts as putting one foot into it, I reckon, so minus five to you. Erm, yes, the skin. Extraordinary chap, the skin. In a single square inch of skin, there are twenty feet of blood vessels. Just a single square inch of skin. Isn't that amazing? Thirteen hundred nerve cells. Yeah? And a hundred sweat glands. And the cells of the human body are constantly being replaced. We lose about fifty thousand cells a . . . ?

Alan
Second.

Stephen
Yes. People get through around 900 skins in a lifetime. So, now.

Alan
True facts.

Stephen
Here's a question. Does putting perfumed sachets in your drawers help conception?

Phil
It will help conception, yes.

Stephen
How so?

Phil
'Cause it'll give a meadow-like feel to the bedroom, and everyone'll be relaxed, and "Hahahaha . . . Ooh!" [suddenly grasps at an imaginary baby]

Stephen
Well, it will certainly in that sense, and there's an even more direct sense, which is rather astonishing. Because--

Alan
Lavender? Is it to do with lavender?

Stephen
It's not actually lavender. It's a very particular flower: the Lily of the Valley.

Alan
It helps your sperm count.

Stephen
Ahh . . . It's even weirder than that. Er, sperm can smell.

Alan
Sperm can smell you . . . whether you've got clean underwear on or not, and if you have, it will come out to play.

Stephen
Well, they can certainly smell, erm, the smell of Lily of the Valley.

Alan
Can they? Someone's . . . sitting in a lab somewhere, with sperm, going, "Now, here's something!" [sniffs delicately, then shrugs and shakes his head]

Stephen
Do you know what? There'll be people alive because of that research in a few years' time.

Alan
[pauses in thought] You have a great faith in science.

Jo
The thing is, right, is that . . . that the only people that wear . . . that smell of Lily of the Valley are, like, old ladies, aren't they?

Stephen
Yes, it's . . . it's a yardly fragrance, isn't it?

Jo
It is yardly.

Stephen
It is a little . . . Yeah.

Jo
So if you're an old lady: Weh-hey! I'm quite looking forward to it now.

Stephen
Yeah.

Jo
You'd have sperm chasing you down the bookies, and . . . Fantastic.

Stephen
See, it has long been a mystery how sperm can go so fast in the same direction at the same thing, and whether or not the ovum puts out a scent trail. The closest we've got to discovering--I say "we", or German scientists at Ruhr University--have got to replicating it, is this particular scent, called "bourgeonal", which is one that is used in the Lily of the Valley perfumes--

Jo
They've tried other smells?

Stephen
They've tried thousands of other smells. And this one makes them absolutely align and race towards them. Er, and there're going to be using it in fertility clinics.

Now, here's a thing. You have to work out what I'm talking about here. Two brothers. Two brothers, all right? Two brothers . . . They have a variety stage act. One brother punches a member of the audience on stage, and the other brother is arrested. Why would that be?

Alan
Two brothers--

Stephen
Yeah.

Alan
--are doing a variety act--

Rich
Ahh! They're Siamese twins.

Stephen
You're absolutely right. Give the man full, maximum points. Chang and Eng Bunker was the name they eventually gave themselves, and they are why conJoined twins are called "Siamese twins". Because they came from Siam and got on a boat to America, where they made some money as, er, as a sort of entertainment act. I mean, they lived 'til the age of 63. Er, they each married, erm, one . . . one of a pair of sisters, and, er, and had twenty-one children between them.

Alan
[looks around in extreme incredulity]

Stephen
Yeah, I know, it's hard to imagine, isn't it? It does . . . Instantly, the mind tries to conjure a scene of how it worked.

Alan
How many cocks did they have?

Stephen
All right. No, they were just joined at the tummy. They had one each.

Alan
One each?

Stephen
Yes, they did. They were not "joined at the cock", which would be most unfortunate. They got on incredibly well. Although they did, actually, on that boat journey from Siam, they . . . they had a fight about . . . One of them wanted a cold bath, and the other didn't, and the . . . the crew and the captain had to, sort of--

Alan
Separate them?

Stephen
--not, as it were, "separate them" . . . [laughs] Had to . . . Had to placate them. Throw a bucket of cold water over them, I suppose.

Alan
The one on the left looks really serious.

Rich
He was the straight man.

Stephen
Well, actually, one of them took to drink, and the other didn't. But their systems were pretty independent, so--

Alan
Ohh. Imagine that, your twin pissed. "Come on, I'm getting you home [gropes affectionately at his imaginary twin] "I love you!"

Stephen
Chang, perhaps, er, not unnaturally, as a drinker, died first, and Eng woke up one morning to discover that his brother had died and gave a great howl of . . . of despair, and they ran to fetch a doctor to try and separate him from . . . from his dead twin, and they came back, and he coiled himself around his twin, and . . . and died within an hour of this, and . . . and the post-mortem revealed that it was really just . . . in its . . . in its day, it would be called kind of a broken heart, but it was a sort of nervous shock. He had no reason to die.

Rich
A lot of comedy teams have broken up, and they've done very well solo.

Stephen
Thank you for that tender remark!

Alan
I'm feeling much better about deformity now we've talked it through.

Stephen
Yeah. Absolutely! They had a genuine dignity about them.

There we are. What happened was, of course, er, that, er, Chang, who was the brother who landed the punch, the one who, of course, later became an alcoholic, er, was guilty of common assault, er, but the judge decided it would amount to false imprisonment to jail the other one, so he set them both free. There you are. Some advantage there in being conjoined twins.

Alan
License to whack people.

Stephen
So, onto our own version of this barbaric ritual that we call QI, and that's the General Ignorance round. Fingers on buzzers for this, please. What is the loudest thing in the ocean?

Alan
[loudly] The blue whale!

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words "BLUE WHALE".

Stephen
Blue whale? Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear. No, no. It's not the blue whale. It's nothing like as loud--

Alan
You can hear it for 10,000 miles!

Stephen
Another whale can . . . can hear it, but it's not actually, in amplitude, the loudest thing, in fact.

Phil
[presses buzzer, which crows like a rooster]

Stephen
Yes.

Phil
Must it not be the sea itself?

Stephen
Ahh. . . . No.

Phil
[nods rapidly]

Alan
[clapping] Crabs. Clapping.

Stephen
At least not . . . I mean, there's some kinds of crabs . . . Go smaller.

Jo
[presses buzzer, which chirrups loudly]

Alan
Crayfish.

Jo
Is it some sort of vibrating thing?

Stephen
Well, no . . . [points at Alan] You're doing exactly what . . . What Alan is doing is exactly right. The right animal.

Alan
[makes clawing motions with both hands] I am doing is exactly right.

Stephen
Yeah.

Jo
[mocks Alan's clawing and pulls a face]

Stephen
Yeah. Imagine a trillion things with snapping claws doing this. [makes clawing motions with both hands]

Alan
Crayfish.

Rich
Lobsters.

Alan
Lobsters.

Stephen
Smaller.

Jo and Alan
Shrimps.

Stephen
Shrimps, yeah.

Alan
They're the loudest thing in the ocean?

Stephen
Yeah.

Alan
Oh, it's quiet down there, isn't it?

Stephen
Yeah. That's right. It's called the shrimp layer. And there are trillions of them and they . . . they do this at the same time. And, er, it actually . . . It's not actually the claws banging together makes the noise; it's the bubble of air popping that is created by this very fast . . . 

Alan
[drawling, American southern accent] "Ahm gonna start a shrimp farm."

Stephen
it comes out at thirty feet per second, this thing. And it . . . Then it pops. And it can keep people awake; if they come inland, quite near the coast, it can keep whole communities awake at night. Trillions of them, though, I mean, really vast. They can . . . They can white out a submarine's sonar and . . . and deafen the operators, er, through their headphones. Subs below the layer can hear absolutely nothing above it and subs above it can hear nothing below it.

Alan
And they're floating in the water. [motions a layer by moving his flat hand back and forth in front of him]

Stephen
Yes. You can only hear by raising a mast through them. So, now, next question: What's more likely, being killed by lightning or by an asteroid?

Alan
[presses buzzer, which jingles the word "fruity"]
Lightning!

Stephen
Oh, dear.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words "STRUCK BY LIGHTNING".

Alan
No one's ever been killed by an asteroid; that's rubbish . . . Prove it.

Stephen
No, oddly enough, I mean, I think it's rather unfair but, because you answered it in the UK, you are more likely . . . You are more likely to be . . . to be struck by an asteroid, but in the . . . in America it's more likely to be struck by lightning. This is . . . Research into NEO's, Near Earth Objects, as they are called, estimates that a large one strikes us once every million years. The resulting death toll is likely to be in excess of a billion. So the chances of you dying--

Alan
Oh, please, that's never happened.

Stephen
--are one . . . one in six million in any year. But . . . 

Alan
That has never happened!

Stephen
No, but it's gonna happen pretty soon.

Alan
No, it won't.

Stephen
Well, more than two kilometers wide is all the asteroid needs to be, and we've seen, certainly, craters which show there have been ones much wider than that. And, er, it's due at any moment, but, there are . . . 

Alan
Where would you like it to land? I'd like it to land in . . . 

Stephen
Wherever it wants. It's like hundreds and hundreds of atom bombs; it's gonna just destroy everybody.

Alan
 . . . Yorkshire.

Stephen
Yorkshire!

Alan
They wouldn't mind. They'd just be delighted it didn't land in Lancashire. [Yorkshire accent] "Aye, it come to Yorkshire."

Rich
Most people are struck by lightning on golf courses, right?

Stephen
I believe that's true, yes.

Rich
My aunt got struck by lightning on a golf course.

Stephen
You have an ant? [pause] Oh, your aunt! Sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Yeah.

Rich
[puffs out his cheeks with a "well, this is awkward" sort of face]

Stephen
I do apologize. I was . . . A little . . . ant! You might do.

Rich
That too. She had a pet ant. My aunt--[rolls eyes]--had a pet ant. She got struck between the first and second holes.

Stephen
[laughs] Oh, very good!

Rich
Something in her stance.

Stephen
Now, where do camels come from? That's my next question.

Phil
[presses buzzer, which crows like a rooster]

Stephen
Phil.

Phil
[with African accent, motioning in an ambiguous direction] "Over there." . . . You know. Usually out of the shimmering, mirage-y . . . you know, horizon.

Stephen
True. It's true. I don't know, you may be pointing in the right direction, actually, I can't quite tell whether to give you the points or not. Where do they originate from?

Jo
Oh, Africa.

Stephen
Africa?

Jo
Yeah.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the word "EUROPE".

Alan
Europe.

Stephen
Europe, did you say?

Alan
Yes.

Stephen
Not Europe, no. But that wasn't a forfeit one for some reason.

Alan
Asia.

Stephen
Asia, did you say?

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the word "ASIA".

Rich
Australia.

Stephen
You're desperate for those points, aren't you?

Rich
[presses buzzer, which caws]
Isn't it Australia?

Stephen
No, it's not Australia, even.

Alan
America.

Stephen
Yay! Well done, you got some points back.

Alan
Really?

Rich
No . . . 

Stephen
Yep. Yep. They did.

Rich
That--

Stephen
They did. They certainly did.

Rich
The cigarettes, maybe.

Stephen
Like horses and dogs. . . . No, the fact is, like horses and dogs, camels grew up in the grasslands of America 20 million years ago.

Alan
Rubbish.

Stephen
Fair enough. Fair enough.

Alan
[clasping his palms together] Oh, but the land masses would have been a-join-ed.

Stephen
Well, Bering Straight was land then, exactly. In those days, they were more like giraffes, or gazelles, in fact.

Alan
You know, the camel is the only other mammal apart from humans that smokes. It'll actually smoke a cigarette--[pretends to pull at a cigarette]--and enjoy it.

Stephen
[surprised] Oh!

Alan
They give them--

Jo
What about beetles?

Alan
The camel handlers will give them a puff and they . . . [to Jo] No, beetles hate it.

Jo
Yeah.

Alan
[takes a puff of an imaginary cigarette] And they inhale and exhale smoke.

Stephen
[makes noncommittal sounds of surprise]

Alan
I've totally made that up; that's rubbish. But it was quite a good one, and it got you going.

Stephen
It did get me going.

Well, they became extinct in North America during the last ice age, and unlike horses and dogs, haven't made it back there, except in zoos. Erm, so, next question: Why are flamingos pink?

Alan
Erm, it's what they eat.

Stephen
Which is . . . ?

Alan
Shrimps.

Stephen
Oh, dear.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words "EATING SHRIMPS".

Alan
[embarassedly cups his face in his hands]

Stephen
[laughs] You really didn't know that, did you? You really . . . You really were shocked by that one.

Alan
What are the chances of that? No, they do, they eat something that gi— . . . affects their pigmentation.

Stephen
They do, it is food, but it's so not . . . it's so not shrimps. It's actually, oddly enough, blue-green algae.

Alan
They stand on one leg, because if they stood on . . . 'cause they have to change legs. [motions switching legs with his hands]

Stephen
'Cause if they lifted the other one, they'd fall down.

Alan
They'd fall . . . And their legs . . . their legs would rot. So they have to change them, otherwise their leg would rot.

Stephen
Oh, is that right?

Alan
No, I made that up as well, but I'm doing that quite well. [continues motioning switching legs]I've made . . . Twice I've made you go, "Is that right?" like that.

Stephen
Despite the name, blue-green algae, er, as well as containing green chlorophyl, is rich in blue and red pigments. So its blooms are often red, violet, brown, yellow, even orange. Er, so from one silly bill to another: Artists, we need to see your kiwis and judge accordingly. So, go ahead and start at this end.

Phil
[holds up his drawing]
Yeah. Er, what I have here is a sequential drawing of the nostril itself, er, there in situ, and here, shedding, sneezing. So, as a flip of early movie footage, it's: [flips through his three drawings and sneezes lightly].







Rich
[holds up his drawing]
I've drawn the assembly instructions for a kiwi, like . . . like you find at Ikea. And, uh, this is where you screw on the beak, in C, with a Phillips head screw. [points to step D] And that's the completed project.



Stephen
Right, okay, very good. Jo?

Jo
I just sort of did colouring in. [holds up her drawing]



Stephen
Oh, that's so beautiful, though! Have you got the nostrils at the end of this crest?

Jo
I have.

Stephen
We did discover, didn't we, in an earlier round, that birds have no taste. Erm . . . 

Jo
[gestures to herself] This bird . . . [rolls her eyes and drops her clipboard uncerimoniously onto the desk, nodding knowingly]

Stephen
No! Oh, it's very charming. Erm . . . Excellent, so Alan, let's have a look at yours.

Alan
[holds up his drawing]



Stephen
Oh, yes. Yes.

Alan
There, I've done him. . . . Now, that's him with his shades on.

Stephen
Yeah.

Alan
Even though it's night. [points to his moon] Well, it wouldn't matter.

Stephen
No.

Alan
And his nostrils are on the end of his beak for sniffing.

Stephen
Well, that's extraordinary. Whether through some random act or whether through brilliance, you've got that absolutely spot-on.

Alan
[looks at Stephen in delight]

Stephen
That is where the nostrils are, at the very end of the beak. How about that.

Alan
[exhales in relief, holding up his drawing triumphantly]

Stephen
Officially, er, you measure a bird's bill from the tip to the nostril.

Viewscreens: Picture of a kiwi with its nostrils circled in red.



Alan
Why would you want to do that?

Stephen
Well that's . . . I know, quite. Well, they're measuring. So officially, the kiwi has the shortest bill of all birds. Anyway, it frequently gets clogged up, its little nostrils, but they're very good sneezers.

Alan
[sniffles delicately]

Stephen
Yeah. So, let's count our chickens. And the final scores are: In first place, with a proud three points, it's Rich. And in second place . . . In second place with one point, it's Phil! In third place, with minus eight, it's Jo.

Jo
What did I get a minus for?

Stephen
But a proud and flourishing last, with minus forty, it's Alan.

Let me leave you with one very extraordinary bird tale. Tibbles, the lighthouse keeper's cat, arrived on tiny Stephens Island in New Zealand at the beginning of the last century, and soon, piles of small bird corpses began piling up by the back door. And the puzzled lighthouse-keeper sent off some samples and what delighted to learn that Tibbles had discovered a new species, the only flightless perching bird in the world ever recorded. Er, but it was unfortunately too late; by the time that news arrived, Tibbles had tracked down and killed every last example of what is now known as the Stephens Island wren. It's the only case of a single individual wiping out every member of a whole species.

On that note, from Jo, Rich, Phil, Alan, and myself: Good night.