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Series 2, Episode 5

Transcript by: Sarah Falk
With especial thanks to: Kate and betise_mcmutton
--for their extensive beta skills where I was floundering.


TRANSCRIPT

Stephen
Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, and welcome to QI. Once again, we trawl the trackless ocean of knowledge, only to find that everything smells fishy. I'm joined on the seafront of understanding tonight by three winklepickers and a cocklewarmer. Bill Bailey . . . Jimmy Carr . . . Jo Brand . . . and Alan Davies.

Now, this evening's QI brainteaser is on your little podia beside you, uh, year five QI module, and the theme is "letters". "Letters."

Bill
Oh, right.

Stephen
Show the boys and girls . . . 

Alan
[holds up his magnetic letterboard, which already has the word "DOOM" spelled across the bottom]



Bill
[holds up his letterboard]

Stephen
There. Throughout the show, you have the time, we hope, to make up some interesting phrases from your letters. To keep you occupied.

Alan
What, just work on them as we go?

Stephen
That's right.

Bill
Oh, okay.

Stephen
To keep you occupied. Just something to do.

Alan
So when--when do we show them? Just whenever we f— . . . Whenever we've got one good?

Stephen
If you'd like, or towards the end.

Alan
All right . . . 

[All panellists are suddenly busy with their letterboards.]

Stephen
I've got one too, and I'll show you something I came up with earlier.

Alan
I'm trying to make "vagina" immediately.

Stephen
[shows his letterboard, which reads "QI IS A QUEER IDEA"]
There, you see?



Jo
That was good.

Stephen
"QI is a . . . " That came from my array of letters, you see.

Alan
[to Jo] "Quim"?

Stephen
It's a little play on the initials.

Jimmy
We've already got "quim".

Alan
Jo's done "quim".

Jo
[shows her letterboard, which indeed reads "QUIM"]



Stephen
Have you?

Jo
[to smattering of audience applause and laughter] Thank you.

Stephen
You put the "QI" in "quim".

Jo
That's the first--[laughs].

Stephen
Very good.

Jo
That's the first time my quim's got a smattering.

Alan
Look at that!
[shows his letterboard, which reads "VAGINA DOOM"]



Stephen
"Vagina doom." Oh, Lord!

Alan
It might get in the way of the game, but do ask a question immediately.

Stephen
I will do.

Alan
"Fox
!"
[shows his letterboard, which reads "FOX"]



Stephen
Very nice. Yeah. Yeah. I think we get the idea. . . . You must be a blast by the fridge. Erm, but first, we ought to do an equipment test. Jo, how do you go?

Jo
[presses buzzer, which honks alarmingly]

Stephen
Very good. Jimmy goes:

Jimmy
[presses buzzer, which plays the sound of a ship's horn]

Stephen
Bill goes:

Bill
[presses buzzer, which plays the sound of a foghorn]

Stephen
Alan goes:

Alan
[presses buzzer, which plays a sexy female voice saying, "Ahoy. Hello, sailor."]

Stephen
There you are. To please you. Right.

Well, we're gonna start with--

Alan
Hang on, hang on, hang on. Who was that?
[presses buzzer, which says sexily, "Ahoy. Hello, sailor."]
Hells bells!

Stephen
Anyway, let's start firmly on dry land. Question one: Would anyone like some koala soup?

Jimmy
[presses buzzer, which plays the sound of a ship's horn]

Stephen
Jimmy.

Jimmy
Presumably, a hungry koala.

Stephen
Of course it would be a hungry koala. It would be a hungry baby koala. 'Cause koalas are the only animals to make what is called a soup, or pap.

Alan
What, in a bowl?

Stephen
Mmm, they make it in a bowl of their body, and it comes out of their . . . ?

Alan
Mouth.

Bill
Ears.

Jo
Arse.

Stephen
Their bottom. Yes, their arse.

Jo
"Arse." Do I get a point for that?

Stephen
You get a point for knowing "arse".

Jo
Thank you.

Stephen
Yes, very good indeed.

Jimmy
They make soup with their arse?

Stephen
They make a soup for their young with their arse.

Jimmy
That's just . . . I mean, that's careless parenting, isn't it?

Stephen
It . . . well . . . 

Jo
I'd just quite like to ask why haven't they had that on the bushtucker trial in "I'm a Celebrity . . . "?

Stephen
A very good question!

Alan
They'd bring a koala out and hold it over your bowl.

Stephen
It lends a horrible--

Alan
"Here's your koala soup, sir." [blows raspberry]

Stephen
It lends a horrible new meaning to "Waiter, there's a hair in my soup!"

Viewscreens: Video of a koala chewing on a eucalyptus leaf.

Alan
[pointing at viewscreens] There's a koala there, behind you!

Stephen
Ah, yes, there you are.

Alan
They're not koala bears. They're not "bears".

Stephen
That . . . well done, they're not bears, are they?

Alan
They're marsupials.

Stephen
Yes, what are they most closely related to?

Alan
Kangaroos. Other marsupials.

Bill
The fish.

Stephen
A wombat, in fact.

Alan
A wombat.

Jimmy
Are they brothers and sisters?

Stephen
Wombats . . . Wombats don't have soup; they have cubical feces--

Alan
Do they?

Stephen
--rather oddly. Yes. Little . . . little dice.

Alan
Cubicular?

Stephen and Bill
Cubical.

Alan
[pointing to koala on screen] He can't get that leaf down, there, look, he's been chewing it for ten minutes.

Bill
Well, that's . . . well, no, isn't that because they . . . they're . . . He's eating the leaves of the eucalyptus tree--

Stephen
He is eating them.

Bill
--which is, er, er . . . acts as a powerful hallucinogen--

Stephen
Mmm . . . 

Bill
--on the koala, so a lot of the time, they're just saying [as if stoned], "Eh-heh. Whoaaa . . . What'd I come up here for?"

Jimmy
Is that where they got the idea of making things out of their bums?

Stephen
Well, it's an analgesic, rather than a hallucinogen.

Bill
No, I've always got those two mixed up, you know, sort of, er--

Stephen
It makes them sort of numb. Sort of numb. A painkiller.

Alan
It's poisonous.

Stephen
Yeah. Well--

Alan
They have . . . they have an incredibly long intestine, about a mile long, to digest all that poison that would kill a human.

Stephen
Well, yes, what it is . . . it's really quite interesting, is . . . and that's what we're here for, to be quite interesting.

Alan
Exactly.

Stephen
Erm, they can tell, which scientists can't, the age of a eucalyptus leaf. It has to be between a year and eighteen months. If it's any younger, it has no value whatsoever to them--

Alan
They sleep for 20 to 22 hours a day.

Stephen
22 hours a day. I've gotta give you two points for that. You're absolutely right.

Jo
How did you--

Alan
I won a night out with a koala.

Bill
Did you?

Alan
Yeah, we were out all night. We went to a restaurant, then to a club . . . 

Stephen
An all night--

Bill
What did you have? The soup of the day?

Alan
And then . . . 

Stephen
What do they drink? What did . . . what did your koala drink?

Alan
[unconcerned, looking down at his letterboard] Becks.

Stephen
No, they don't drink that . . . Dha—In the Dharuk language, koala means "no water". But the main thing we have to remember about koala bears is that they are not bears. So that leads us to: Where bears do their business in the winter?

Alan
[presses buzzer, which says sexily, "Ahoy."]
In the woods.

Stephen
"In the woods," did you say?

Alan
[laughing] Yeah.

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

Stephen
I'm afraid it is. That's minus 20 points, Alan Davies.

Alan
20?! You're fucking joking!

Stephen
Well, yes, but--

Jimmy
[presses buzzer, which plays the sound of a ship's horn]

Stephen
Yes, Jimmy.

Jimmy
Is it the Cayman Islands, for tax purposes?

Stephen
No. Erm, the fact is, for the seven months of the year that they're hibernating, bears do not either urinate or defecate.

Alan
God, they must be busting to go when they get up!

Stephen
Well, you'd think! They have a very clever little device. Firstly, they . . . they recycle the urea as protein in the body, so they don't need to pee. And then their body makes a little thing called a tappet, which is composed of, sort of, faeces and hair and various other things, and it's a sort of butt plug that seals up their anus for the winter.

Jo
Are they available in the shops yet?

Stephen
She-bears give birth when they're hibernating.

Alan
When they're asleep?

Stephen
Well, they sort of wake up, rather briefly, to give birth--

Alan
They're like, "Oh, Jesus." [pretends to tiredly give birth]

Stephen
--and apparently forget about it . . . and sort of forget about it afterwards. They go straight back to sleep again. And . . . and they . . . they can give birth to up to four cubs, from four different fathers.

Alan
Sounds like the royal family, doesn't it?

Jimmy
Do they . . . do they live on an estate, by any chance?

Stephen
Do they . . . Did you just say, "Do they live on an estate?"

Alan
[looks nervously at Jimmy]

Bill
The white trash of bears.

Jimmy
Well, yeah. They do sound a little bit white trash to me.

Bill
Yeah!

Stephen
So, now. Bear in your bathroom: What shouldn't you squeeze?

Alan
Toothpaste.

Bill
Toothpaste.

Stephen
Yes! It will make it crazy with desire.

Alan
Crazy with desire. Lust!

Stephen
Well, a sort of lust for the toothpaste. You'd be bet— . . . you'd be safer carrying a freshly-butchered elk leg, in terms of . . . it would just . . . There . . . there was a recent--

Jimmy
In the bathroom?

Bill
Marks and Spencers. Six butchered elk legs--

Stephen
Yes. For some reason, bears go crazy for toothpaste. They trashed a . . . a tourist camp in the arctic, some polar bears, recently--

Alan
Toothpaste does something to dogs as well, gets them going.

Stephen
You're absolutely right. So, even though they're close relations . . . There are dog toothpastes to look after their, er, teeth, but they're flavoured in all kinds of odd ways.

Bill
Huh.

Alan
Cow flavour.

Stephen
Peanut butter, beef . . . things like that.

Alan
[mimes brushing his teeth]

Bill
Trouser leg.

Stephen
So, there you are. Don't go 'round the toothpaste near a bear.

What has huge teeth and only one facial expression?

Bill
[presses buzzer, which foghorns]
Janet Street-Porter.

Alan
Janet Street-Porter!

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the name "JANET STREET-PORTER".

Stephen
Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear!

Bill
[raises arms in triumph]

Stephen
Oh, dear, oh, dear. We've got that written up somewhere.

Bill
Oh, I knew that was . . . I took a fall, but it was worth it.

Stephen
Oh, there you are. No, it's an animal.

Bill
Oh.

Alan
Huge teeth and one facial expression?

Stephen
Hmm.

Jo
A shark.

Stephen
N—

Jo
That's just had a . . . quite a bad stroke.

Stephen
On both sides of the brain.

Jo
That'd be quite interesting.

Alan
Yeah. Only on one side, so it just swims in a circle, like that. [leans to one side and circles his finger listlessly]

Bill
Or, a Botoxed panther.
[freezes his face up]

Stephen
That would do it. That would qualify.

Alan
What about a beaver? Beavers have big teeth, and they don't vary their face much.

Stephen
This has the biggest teeth of any mammal, actually. It's recently been dis—discovered to be a bear. It was thought for many years to be a member of the raccoon family, but it's not; it's a member of the bear family.

Bill
Oh. I don't know. Oh.

Stephen
It's a giant panda. And the giant panda's teeth are so enormous, and it . . . it constricts its face, which is as stiff as a board.

Viewscreens: Picture of a giant panda.

Stephen
You can see one there. A giant panda.

Alan
Ah.

Stephen
It was only in 1996 it was discovered to be a bear.

Alan
It was a cat! In a . . . bear suit.

Stephen
And this is where science goes very odd, because, erm, it was . . . it was designated a . . . a carnivore, although everybody knows that it doesn't--

Alan
Doesn't eat meat. Most living pandas are actually vegetarian by choice.

Stephen
Yes.

Alan
[rolling his eyes] They should be eating meat.

Stephen
They eat bamboo, as we know. Bamboo shoots. And they have to do that for twelve hours a day, because it's so lacking in any nutritive quality. They said, therefore, that they're the only bears that don't hibernate. Because they couldn't . . . they can't afford it, sort of, calorifically.

Alan
[forcefully] Why are they so cute?

Stephen
They are cute, aren't they? They're absolutely adorable.

Alan
You know, aesthetically, what's going on there that makes it so . . . is it . . . Look at the eyes. They're just pissholes in the snow, aren't they?

Stephen
They certainly are.

Bill
Have they ever been sort of successfully bred with other bears?

Alan
Why are they so un-libidinous?

Stephen
Oh, I don't know. Do you want to know about their penises?

Alan
Are they those barbed ones that--

Bill
Bifurcated?

Stephen
No.

Alan
--lock in and don't come out again?

Stephen
No. They point backwards.

Alan
They point backwards into themselves?

Stephen
Which may be--

Alan
They're ejaculating up into themselves?

Stephen
It may be--

Alan
"Ohh! Sorry, love!"

Stephen
Hence the old joke about "eats, shoots, and leaves". But it's, er . . . yeah. They . . . I don't know whether that is the reason for them--

Alan
In-growing genitals. That won't help breeding.

Stephen
Yeah. It won't help with breeding.

Bill
That's . . . that's obviously it. Surely, that must be such a turn-off. "Do you fancy . . . ?" [looks down] "No . . . not really, no. I don't really fancy it at all. In my species."

Stephen
What can you tell me about bamboo?

Alan
[raises index finger high above his head]
[lowers hand to daintily press buzzer, which shouts, in a male voice, "Ahoy!"]
[looks around, startled]

Stephen
Hullo!

Alan
Hang on!

Stephen
You've attracted someone else from the dark side!

Alan
Where'd she go?

Do you know, in Hong Kong, and probably elsewhere in Southeast Asia, they use bamboo as scaffolding.

Bill
That's right.

Stephen
You're quite right.

Alan
It's incredibly lightweight, but it's incredibly, extraordinarily strong. And they use it over vast buildings.

Stephen
You're right. It has a tensile strength greater than steel. In fact, over 5,000 uses of bamboo have been recorded, including desalination uses, diesel fuel--

Alan
Tarzan uses it for swimming away from people. [mimes using a piece of bamboo to snorkel]

Stephen
Exactly right. Yes. Breathing underwater. As a cane, to give people a damn good thrashing!

Alan
Have you been caned? Bamboo caned?

Stephen
I was . . . certainly. At prep school, I was caned almost daily.

Alan
Two uses of bamboo . . . [breaks off with a chortle]. That was just by yourself!

Stephen
[shaking hands madly] Never did me any harm!

Alan
[stands up and thrashes at his own behind]

Jimmy
Are we going for all 5,000 uses?

Stephen
No, we're not. . . . It grows incredibly fast. Some species grow up to four foot a day. You can actually watch it grow. Quite astonishing. It was used as a torture by the Japanese.

Alan
Four foot a day?

Stephen
Yes.

Jo
A torture in the sense that they would make someone sit on it while it was growing?

Alan
Yeah. And it would grow up--

Stephen
It would be a torture, yes.

Alan
They'd tie you down over a bamboo cane and it would grow into you.

Stephen
Yes. And you can imagine how horrible . . . Yes. But what is bamboo? What sort of . . . ?

Alan
It's a plant--

Stephen
What sort of plant?

Alan
--which is used for . . . growing other beans, feeding pandas . . . 

Stephen
Yes, what sort of plant? What class of plant?

Jo
Tree.

Alan
Tree, bark.

Stephen
No, it's a grass.

Alan
Wood, grass.

Stephen
It's a grass.

Alan
It's a type of a grass.

Stephen
It is a type of a grass. Well done. Well done. They flower.

Jo
[still laughing at Alan] Well done.

Stephen
Some of them flower only, you know . . . takes them 120 years.

Alan
Bill used to have a cactus--

Bill
Yep.

Alan
A huge cactus. A huge cactus thing that was all nobbly--

Bill
Yeah. Yeah.

Alan
--and it flowered . . . how often? Once every 25 years?

Bill
Once every 25 years.

Stephen
Yes.

Alan
And he only had it two weeks and it flowered! [suddenly laughs joyously, slapping the table]

Bill
Yep.

Stephen
Oh, you are a blessed man. A blessed man.

Bill
Yeah. I know. We . . . we took it--

Alan
I remember--

Bill
--we took it
. . . well, we didn't take it off an old couple; we bought it off an old couple . . . 

Alan
You left them laying in the passage, didn't you?

Stephen
You swine!

Bill
"Quick! Get away! They're coming around! Quick!"

Alan
"You bastards! It's gonna flower in a minute!"

Bill
"It's gonna flower!"

Stephen
"We've waited 23 years!"

And speaking of bamboo, how many Edisons does it take to change a light bulb?

Jo
[presses buzzer, which honks alarmingly]

Stephen
Yes, Jo.

Jo
[shows her letterboard, which reads "I LOVE A FRY UP"]



Stephen
Thank you. Very good.

Erm, well, the answer's very peculiar, erm . . . he had a belief that, in the human mind, there were little people. Fifteen to twenty.

Alan
Oh, for God's sake!

Stephen
He really believed that.

Jo
He did not.

Stephen
He did. And he believed when you died, they move into someone else.

Alan
[to Jo] When you were a psychiatric nurse, if someone came into you and said, "I believe there are little people living in me," what would you do?

Jo
Punch them to the ground!

Stephen
Very good. What a loss to the profession you are.

Edison did use bamboo as a filament--

Bill
Did he?

Stephen
--in his, er, in his light bulb.

Bill
[shows his letterboard, which reads "FRODO LAP SHAME"]



Stephen
Very good. Very good.

Bill
Middle Earth tabloids.

Stephen
So, Edison believed there were little people in the part of the brain called the "convolutions of Broca", where memory, amongst other things, was housed. And he believed that this is where fifteen tiny little people were.

Jimmy
I'm sorry; the fifteen tiny little people . . . did they have fifteen tiny little people in them?

Stephen
That's a very good question. I don't think Edison ever got that far.

Jimmy
And so on and so forth?

Stephen
Edison, erm, you know, was reckoned to be one of the great inventors, and he . . . There are 1,093 patents filed to his name.

Alan
Really?

Stephen
What did he invent?

Alan
I'm so ashamed; I don't know anything he invented. I thought the light bulb.

Stephen
No . . . that was--

Alan
It gives off more heat than light.

Stephen
The first light bulb was actually a . . . a long-forgotten German called Walter Globel.


Jo
Does Alan not get a point for that?

Stephen
For what?

Jo
'Cause that was quite interesting.

Stephen
It gives off more heat than light?

Jo
Yes.

Alan
Yeah.

Bill
That was a guess though, wasn't it?

Alan
[sits up, suddenly indignant] It was not a guess!
[presses buzzer, which says, in a nasally male voice, "Hello, sailor!"]
I learned that in physics!

Jo
What, "hello, sailor"?

Stephen
No, the point about Edison, which is, I think, quite interesting, is that he was like--

Alan
Typewriter!

Stephen
--he . . . he developed the typewriter--

Jo
Phonograph!

Alan
He developed the typewriter! [pumps both arms in glee]

Stephen
The phonograph is, again . . . he is credited with inventing the phonograph. But one thing . . . one thing--

Bill
Yes.

Stephen
--Edison did invent, for 100% genuine Edison invention, that we use every day, probably. Most of us. Er--

Jimmy
Is it nasal hair clippers?

Stephen
No, it's not even an object.

Jo
It's not an object.

Stephen
No.

Bill
So it's a way of being. Sarcasm.

Stephen
[sarcastically] Yeah, he invented sarcasm.

Bill
[sarcastically] Oh, yeah, yeah. Like . . . 

Stephen
[sarcastically] Suure! Oh, yeah.

Erm . . . it's actually a word.

Alan
A word?

Stephen
Yeah.

Bill
Erm . . . 

Jo
Is it "zugzwang"?

Stephen
No . . . the Germans had that, but very good.

Jimmy
Do people use that every day?

Stephen
You wouldn't use "zugzwang" every day unless you were a chess player.

Jo
I've used it four times today.

Stephen
Yeah.

Jimmy
Well, you're fine 'til Thursday, then, aren't you?

Alan
"Crikey."

Bill
Er, "crikey"?

Stephen
No, not "crikey". No. It's . . . it's . . . 

Bill
It's, erm . . . 

Jo
Floccinaucinihilipilification.

Stephen
He didn't invent that word, but well done for knowing it. Which means . . . ?

Jo
The act of assessing something as worthless.

Stephen
Very correct. Yeah.

Jimmy
Ooooh!

Stephen
Yeah.

The word is, er, is a simple word of greeting.

Jo
"Hello!"

Alan
"Hello"?

Stephen
That's the word.

Alan
Oh, he invented "hello"?

Jimmy
I heard a different story about that.

Stephen
He invented "hello". H-E-double L-O. The word had existed before as "hullo", H-U-double L-O, which never meant a greeting. It just meant an expression of surprise. [picks up his pen] "Hullo, what have we got here? Hullo, what's this?" We still use it in that sense.

Bill
Do we?

Stephen
"Hullo, what's that?" . . . Don't we, Bill?

Bill
Yes . . . 

Alan
"Hullo!"

Bill
Yes, when we . . . when we live our life like a 1950s detective film, yes! [puts pen in mouth as a pipe and pretends to suckle] I often go to my fridge and . . . "Hullo! We're out of milk! I say, mother, where's the milk?"

Stephen
You beast, you beast, you utter, utter beast!

Alan
When they went to Jeffrey Dahnter
, and they found a human head in the fridge, they went, "Hullo!!"

Jimmy
It may be just a little camp, I think.

Stephen
Oh, is it camp?

Jimmy
[effetely] "Oh, hello . . . "

Stephen
No! Like that! That's . . . I said that was a greeting! When people say, "Hello, sailor."

Jimmy
Well, no, I think it's a bit surprised as well.

Stephen
"Oh, hullo."

Jimmy
Yeah, that's more "surprise" than "greeting" in there.

Alan
It's been appropriated by the gays, as one of those words. [effeminately] "Oh, hullo!"
[presses buzzer, which says sexily, "Hi, sailor! Hi, sailor."]

Stephen
Originally, it was the word "halloo"--

Alan
[foppishly] "Hullo! . . . hullo!"

Stephen
--originally . . . all right. Very good.

Alan
[giggles to himself]

Jimmy
Well, there was a story about "hello", though. There was a story that there was a competition in the Evening Standard, and they said, well, you know, "We wanna find out what's the thing that you're gonna say when you answer the phone" And they, you know, they had a competition; people voted on it, and "hello" came out number one. And what came second was "ahoy hoy"--

Stephen
It's--

Jimmy
--which, if you watch The Simpsons, is how Mr Burns answers the phone.

Stephen
Yes, absolutely. Actually, what it is, is that was Alexander Graham Bell's favoured method of answering the phone--

Jimmy
What, "ahoy"--

Stephen
--was to go "ahoy hoy!"

Jimmy
Which I still use!

Stephen
Do you?

Jimmy
Oh, yeah.

Stephen
Good for you. Whereas I get mocked for using "Hullo!" like that.

Bill
Not on the phone! No, that's perfectly acceptable. [shrugs]

Stephen
It's for when people are surprised! "Hullo, what's going on here?"

Bill
[as though into a phone] "Good Lord!"

Alan
Stephen, what was the last thing that made you go, "Hullo!"

Stephen
It was a genital wart.

Alan
Was it a genital . . . I knew! [slapping his thigh] I knew it would be something to do with genitals! I knew it!

Stephen
Yeah.

Bill
You see.

Stephen
No, "hello" happened to be one of, er, Edison's favourite words. When he first recorded sound, he shouted "halloo!", which is actually a cry from a . . . from the hunting fields. "View halloo." So "halloo" was the first recorded word. Erm, and he reckoned, Edison, that it sounded very clear. He discovered this while testing Alexander Graham Bell's prototype. So the first written use of "hello", spelt with an "e", is in a letter from Edison in 1887, actually, and Alexander Graham Bell preferred "ahoy hoy".

Alan
In our house, if you ring me dad, he answers it like that: [crossly picks up phone] "What?"

Stephen
Very good!

Alan
"Yes?" Like that.

Stephen
Well, actually, of course, a telephone is a fantastically rude thing. I mean, it's like going, [banging rhythmically on desk] "Speak to me now, speak to me now, speak to me now!" You know. If you went into someone's office and banged on their desk and said, "I'm . . . I will make a noise until you speak to me," it would be considered unbelievably rude.

Bill
Yes, and, of course, that's . . . that's what they had before the telephone, wasn't it? The--

Alan
[banging on desk] Speak to me now!

Bill
[banging on desk] Talk to me now! Speak to me now!

Stephen
Yeah. Exactly.

Bill
And then, the . . . you, you . . . It goes, "Call waiting! Call waiting!"

Stephen
Exactly. Oh. So, there we are. So. Edison's really useful invention, the word "hello".

Now, how do you know--

Alan
[shows his letterboard, which reads "SIT LOOK RUB PANDA"]
[nods solemnly]



Stephen
It's like . . . I dunno. It's like occupational therapy in an old people's home. Extraordinary.

Jimmy
[shows his letterboard, which is covered in ordered letters]

Stephen
Now. Oh, hullo. What have we got here?

Jimmy
[reading off his letterboard] "PUT SMARTIES TUBES ON CATS LEGS/MAKE THEM WALK LIKE A ROBOT".



Stephen
Brilliant!

[Jimmy gets a rare round of applause from not only the audience, but Stephen and the other panellists as well.]

Stephen
That is absolutely wonderful. He used all his letters!

Alan
[pointing at Jimmy's letterboard] That is unbe-fucking-lievable.

Bill
Yeah, that is.

Alan
It makes sense . . . 

Stephen
You're saying--

Jimmy
It doesn't make a lot of sense.

Alan
They would walk like a robot . . . 

Stephen
Yeah.

Alan
It's an idea; it's like giving people an idea . . . 

Stephen
Yeah.

Bill
It's fantastic.

Jimmy
I don't know if you saw, I was on Countdown last week.

Bill
It puts this to shame. It puts this completely to shame.

Alan
What?

Bill
[holds up letterboard, which reads "GAY ELF ROMP"]



Alan
"Gay elf romp!" . . . [to Jimmy] But I can't even imagine how you managed to do that!

Stephen
Yes. No, I'm sure you can't, Alan.

Bill
I'd like to try that!

Jimmy
It does work, actually. It's a l— . . . it's a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Stephen
Yes.

Jimmy
If you make them go down the stairs, it's especially good.

Stephen
It would make a very good splint for a broken cat's leg, wouldn't it? A tube of Smarties.

Jimmy
Sometimes, it's how they break their legs. You just leave it on. [shrugs]

Bill
[with pen as pipe] "Hullo, the cat's broken its leg! I say! Mother, do you have any empty Smartie tubes?"

Alan
What's with the Biro in your mouth, though? He's given up smoking, the bloke; he needs a substitute.

Stephen
It is one of my . . . one of my proudest facts that I am, possibly, the last ever Pipe Smoker of the Year.

Bill
That's right. I saw, actually . . . 

Stephen
'Cause new government rules have made it unlikely that there ought to be another one.

Bill
I saw . . . I saw a very interesting article, I think . . . I believe you were in it, and the . . . The Chap magazine. And you were talking about pipe-smokers, and the fact that, actually, the act of having a pipe does bestow a certain trustworthiness. Out of two builders, you would choose the builder who's smoking a pipe.

Stephen
Yeah. Somehow.

Bill
'Cause you look more, somehow . . . 

Stephen
There's a kind of classy, edgy . . . you'd want to--

Bill
[mimes holding a pipe and mumbling intelligent-sounding gibberish while gesturing to a house]
[changes in tone to sound stoned, while miming smoking a joint]
[changes back to the intelligent pipe-smoker, appealing to the audience]

Stephen
Absolutely right! Brilliant. You're brought it alive in a little tableau.

Bill
Thank you.

Stephen
Wonderful.

Now, our weekly report from the frontiers of knowledge, er, the round that those who ought to know better call General Ignorance. So, fingers on buzzers. Name a dinosaur beginning with "b".

Alan
[presses buzzer, which says sexily, "Ahoy."]

Stephen
Alan.

Alan
Brontosaurus!

Stephen
Oh, Alany, Alany, Alany!

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

Stephen
[holds up card which reads "BRONTOSAURUS"]
Brontosaurus.

Alan
Is a dinosaur!

Stephen
No, it isn't.

Alan
Was a dinosaur!

Stephen
It never was. It never was. A misnomer. There has never been a category of dinosaur called "Brontosaurus".

Alan
Well, where does Brontosaurus come from, then? This big story
. . .

Stephen
Well, it's a complicated story, and I'll try and take you through it. There was a skeleton who was once labeled with the name Brontosaurus, but it turns out to have been a misidentified Apatosaurus. The mistake arose in part because the Apatosaurus body was mixed up with the skull of a Camerasaurus.

Alan
What, do you mean they just got a load of bones in a crate . . . 

Stephen
Yeah. But but it was the Apatosaurus that had been named first.

Alan
Like this.
[shows letterboard, which reads "TIBERIUS CAN LOOK MAD"]



Stephen
"Tiberius can look mad." Very good.

Jo
[presses buzzer, which honks alarmingly]

Bill
[presses buzzer, which foghorns]

Stephen
Oh, hullo.

Jo
A Pterodactyl.

Stephen
That . . . A "Bpterodactyl!"

Alan
A Btyranosaurus Rex!

Stephen
I've got one here . . . [takes out a toy Brachiosaurus]. This is the property--



Alan
That's a Brontosaurus!

Stephen
No . . . 

Bill
That's a Brachiosaurus! A Brachiosaurus.

Stephen
A Brachiosaurus. Five points for you--

Bill
Thank you.

Stephen
--young master. It is a Brachiosaurus.

Alan
You brought your toys in to class.

Stephen
It actually belongs to young Luke Fletcher, erm, who is the son of one of our researchers, and, er, scriptwriters.

Jimmy
Isn't, er--

Alan
Little Lukey Fletcher's.

Stephen
And we thank you very much for lending it. Thank you, Luke.

Jimmy
Isn't Barney a dinosaur?

Stephen
Barney! Very good. I'll give you two points for Barney. Very good, indeed. Barney. The purple dinosaur on the playmat.

You could have had Barosaurus, Barapasaurus, Bagaceratops, obviously . . . 

Jimmy
Yeah, we didn't want to go for the obvious ones, did we? [rolls eyes]

Stephen
Becklespinax! Becklespinax, Byronosaurus, and my personal favourite, which is Bambiraptor.

Bill
Aww.

Stephen
Bambiraptor.

Alan
A savage baby deer.

Stephen
Yes. It's a sweet idea. A Bambiraptor.

All right, er, fingers, again, on your mushroomoids.

Bill
All right.

Stephen
How long can a chicken live without its head?

Bill, Jimmy, and Alan press their buzzers simultaneously, causing a cacophony of noise.

Stephen
Alan.

Alan
[with a straight face] Erm . . . 15 to 30 seconds. [breaks out in laughter]

Stephen
No.

Jo
[presses buzzer, which honks alarmingly]

Jimmy
Does it have private medical cover?

Jo
As long as it takes it to cross the road.

Stephen
The answer is surprising.

Jo
I know how long it takes a live chicken to become, erm, a Pret A Manger sandwich. Do you know that?

Stephen
No, tell.

Jo
55 minutes.

Stephen
Good Lord. That's fresh. Really. That is fresh. That's a fresh sandwich.

Bill
That is.

Alan
Don't you mean "hullo!"?

Stephen
Not always.

Alan
They run around for up to half an hour afterwards.

Stephen
No, you'll be amazed. You'll be amazed.

Bill
48 hours.

Jimmy
Is it about . . . is it about a week or two?

Stephen
No. Much longer.

Bill
Seven . . . years.

Stephen
Two years.

Bill
Two years?!

Stephen
Two years.

Jo
Two years?!

Alan
Oh, please, Fry.

Stephen
I give you . . . no, it's famous. I give you Mike the Headless Chicken, from the town--

Alan
Where is he? [looks around] Mike?

Stephen
--the town of Fruita . . . the town of Fruita, in Colorado. He was on Time Magazine, Life Magazine; he traveled America.

Jo
Was he, like, a really big, like, six-foot chicken, that looked a bit like a bloke? You know?

Stephen
He's . . . no, no, he's . . . no. His head . . . his head was chopped off, but enough jugular vein and brainstem remained for him to stay alive, and he trotted around. There is still a website called www.MiketheHeadlessChicken.org.

Bill
[uncaps his pen] Oh, wait a second!

Stephen
I promise you. Check it out.

Bill
I'm just gonna check that out.

Stephen
Have a look. Do.

He was fed with an eyedropper.

Alan
Why didn't they just cook him?

Stephen
Well! He lived a happy and famous life!

Alan
Where Colonel Sanders was after him! All that time.

Bill
[looking at his mobile phone] You know what?

Stephen
He actually put on . . . Yeah?

Bill
On "Mike the Headless Chicken", the very first . . . the very first thing to come up in the search engine is MiketheHeadlessChicken.org, and it's "Mike the Headless Chicken for President!"

Stephen
There you are! He is . . . he is a cult. There's a song. There's a Mike the Headless Chicken song. "Mike the Headless Chicken--"

Bill
"Lived by the sea!"

Stephen
"--A Legend of the West/No farmer's axe could stop his heart/A-beating in his breast."

Fingers on buzzers. Who discovered penicillin?

[Jo, Alan, and Bill press their buzzers simultaneously, causing a cacophony of noise.]

Alan
Fleming.

Stephen
Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear!

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the name "ALEXANDER FLEMING".

Alan
Obviously, he did!

Stephen
No, he didn't.

Alan
He did!

Stephen
No, he didn't!

Alan
He did on mouldy bread, which you rub in your cuts in the Outback.

Stephen
[holds up card which reads "ALEXANDER FLEMING"]
No. Alexander Fleming--

Jo
[presses buzzer, which honks alarmingly]

Alan
[points at Jo]

Stephen
Yes.

Jo
Was it Bob Fleming from The Fast Show?

Stephen
It wasn't . . . it wasn't Bob Fleming. Nor was it Ian Fleming.

Alan
Alexander the Great.

Stephen
Nor was it any other Alexander, no. I want you to think of young Arab stableboys rubbing things into their inner thighs.

Alan
Mouldy bread! Lumberjacks, when they cut their fingers: Mouldy bread.

Stephen
Yeah . . . Ernest Duchemme, who was a Frenchmen, who liked watching Arab stableboys rubbing things into their inner thighs . . . 

Jo
But how would we have known that?

Stephen
He noticed that they . . . What they rubbed to get rid of saddlesores was the mould on the side of the saddle. The nomadic Bedouin of Arabia have been doing this for a thousand years, erm, and then they were observed by Ernest Duchemme, who wrote a very lengthy paper about it, submitted it to the Institute Pasteur, in Paris, who didn't even acknowledge receipt of it, and he died, erm, completely uncelebrated. But it was only in 1949, five years after Alexander Fleming, that, er, he was posthumously awarded with rediscovering it . . . so Alexander Fleming could only be said really to have re-rediscovered it.

Jo
What did he die of? Do you know?

Stephen
Ironically, he died of TB, which would have saved him had he had penicillin!

Jo
Ahh.

Stephen
So it's just one of those sad things.

There we are. Now. Here are some pictures for us, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen. Er, four famous brainboxes: Which is the odd one out?

Viewscreens: Four-way splitscreened picture of four men.



Stephen
We have, reading left to right, Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, of course; Niels Bohr, Nobel Prize-winning physicist; Dmitri Shostakovich, Russian composer; and another Nobel Prize winner, Albert Camus, the novelist. Who is the odd one out?

Jo
[presses buzzer, which honks alarmingly]

Stephen
Yes, Jo.

Jo
There's only one with glasses on.

Alan
Camus is the only one smoking?

Jo
No, there's two smoking. Is he the only one that played in goal for Algeria?

Stephen
Ah, now, you're in the right area. Not the only one, by any means. He was the only one who played for the University of Algiers . . . 

Jo
Didn't Shostakovich play in goal for Algeria as well?

Stephen
No, he didn't. Forget Algeria. They were all first team--

Jo
Sports.

Stephen
--goalkeepers. Three of them were.

Jo
Ohh.

Stephen
Conan Doyle--

Alan
Conan Doyle was the only one who believed in fairies.

Stephen
He also played in goal for Portsmouth.

Alan
Did he?

Jo
Did he?

Stephen
Yes, he did!

Bill
Yes.

Stephen
He was a . . . he was a proper goalkeeper.

Jo
So . . . so--

Bill
Did he have a stance, like that? [sits up and puts his fists to his hips, then mimes holding a pipe]

Stephen
Niels Bohr played in the University of Copenhagen first team--

Jimmy
[to Bill] Presumably, when the goal went in, he did.

Stephen
Albert Camus, as you rightly said, was goalkeeper as well, for the University of Algiers national.

Jo
Could . . . could that just be acknowledged that I got that?

Stephen
I will be giving you five points for raising--

Alan
Shostakovich was a centre-forward.

Stephen
No, he wasn't.

Alan
Banged in forty a season with Spartak Moscow.

Stephen
[laughing] No, he didn't! He was . . . an official official.

Alan
A referee.

Stephen
He was a qualified referee.

Viewscreens: A picture of Shostakovich's head on the body of a referee.

Jo
There he is.

Stephen
There he is, imposed upon the body of Pierluigi Collina, I think.

Alan
He's got tunes going 'round his head, 'round and 'round his head. Who knows a Shostakovich tune? Bill, I bet you do.

Bill
I could give you one of his goalkeeping moves!

Stephen
Even though he was a referee.

Bill
Oh, yeah, sorry.

Stephen
Yes. That's all right. Just keep up.

And so, for the final whistle. In . . . last place . . . 

Bill
Any reason for that hesitation?

Stephen
 . . . [pointedly looks at Alan] with minus thirty-five . . . 

Alan
[hides his face in hand]

Stephen
Alan Davies.

Alan
[to audience applause] Thank you.

Stephen
In . . . in third place, with minus five, it's Bill Bailey. In second place, with eight points, it's Jo Brand.

Jo
[shows her letterboard, which reads "OH BUM"]
[mouths "Oh, bum."]



Stephen
But thanks to his way with an anagram, in first place, with fifteen points, Jimmy Carr! Well, there we are.

And that's it from QI, this week, at least. To Bill, Jimmy, Jo, and Alan, there's nothing left to say but the words of the immortal Swedes. "The winner takes it all/The loser standing small." Good night.

Transcription Notes
  • Tappet. Wikipedia instead offers "tappen" as a synonym for a bear's "rectal plug". The word "tappet" was originally suggested by researcher Garrick Alder in this post on the QI Talk boards in 2003.

  • Jeffrey Dahnter. Alan would be referring to Jeffrey Dahmer, the American serial killer known for dismembering his victims and preserving their remains in the refrigerator.

  • Walter Globel. "Heinrich Göbel" is the name of the German credited with first inventing the light bulb. I hesitate to correct Stephen on the matter of names of historical persons, as his memory for such things is encyclopedic, but I cannot find anyone whose name approxmiates "Walter Globel".
Episode Notes
  • Fox! Another instance of Alan's penchant for mentioning foxes.

  • They're not "bears". First appearance of a subject brought up in 3x03, which raised this discussion:
    • Sean Lock: The thing about koalas is, they are the most law-abiding of all the bears.
    • Alan Davies: They're not bears.
    • Stephen Fry: Thank you.

  • Eating meat. As also discussed in 2x01 and 3x07, Alan is a vegetarian.

  • It's a grass. First appearance of a subject brought up in 3x06, which raised this discussion:
    • Stephen Fry: Bamboo isn't a tree, is it?
    • Phill Jupitus: It's a grass.
    • Stephen Fry: Well done, you've learned. You've learned, little one!

  • One of our researchers. That is to say, Piers Fletcher.
References
  • "Hello!"
    • Moab is My Washpot - written by Stephen Fry - published 1997
      "The very word 'Hello' only earned its sense of a greeting after the American phone companies hunted about for a new word with which telephonic conversations could politely, unsuggestively and neutrally be initiated[. . . .] In the case of telephony, the aim was to stop people saying 'Who is that?' or 'How do you do?' or even 'Howdy.' 'Good morning' and 'Good day' had a somewhat valedictory flavour, as well as being of doubtful use in a country divided up into so many time zones. Prior to the 1890s 'hello!' had simply been an exclamation of surprise and interest, with obvious venery overtones. By the turn of the century everyone was writing songs and newspaper articles about 'Hello Girls' and beginning to use the word in real life as salutation’s vanilla-flavoured, everyday, entry-level model." (pg. 25)

  • I was caned almost daily.
    • Moab is My Washpot - written by Stephen Fry - published 1997
      "The headmaster when I arrived at Stouts Hill was still the school's founder, Robert Angus. He kept a collection of whippy bamboo canes behind the shutters of his study and they were used with great regularity, most especially during the feared Health Week, a time when he made it plain that his arms and shoulders craved exercise and would look for the slenderest excuses to find it." (pg. 91)

  • Never did me any harm!
    • Moab is My Washpot - written by Stephen Fry - published 1997
      "Did it do me any harm being beaten? Did it do me any good? I really don’t know. Autres temps, autres mœurs — it is now considered barbaric, sadistic, harmful, disgraceful, perverted and unpardonable. As far as I was concerned it had at least the virtue of being over quickly, unlike detention, lines or the wearisome cleaning and sweeping errands that stood as lesser penalties." (pg. 92)

  • The Chap. Interview with Stephen Fry, 2003. Link.
    • Q: What signals would you say are given out by smoking a pipe as opposed to smoking a cigarette?
    • A: A pipe gives a man an air of authority and purpose. Unlike, say, the French, we British are ashamed to show any signs of individuality. Smoking a pipe marks one down as a dangerous eccentric, an image which most British people are not comfortable with. The French are unafraid of being perceived as bourgeois, so they will adopt external symbols of it such as pipes and hats quite readily.
    • Q: Can smoking a pipe be used as a seduction tool?
    • A: Indeed. Many ladies are drawn to the image of a pipe smoker as a trustworthy, dependable individual. The patron saint of pipe smokers, Sherlock Holmes, has created an association between smoking a pipe and possessing mental acuity. Not only that, but the pipe also has pacific connotations, which the ladies find reassuring. There is nothing aggressive about a pipe.

  • The immortal Swedes. Otherwise known as pop group ABBA and their song "The Winner Takes it All".