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Series 3, Episode 1

Transcript by: Sarah Falk

TRANSCRIPT

Stephen
Well, hello, hello, hello, hello, and welcome to QI, where, once again, we lurch off the information superhighway to ramble the bumpy byroads of bovinity. In the back of the bus tonight, we have: Bill Bailey . . . Rich Hall . . . Rob Brydon . . . and Alan Davies.

Alan
Hello. Hello.

Stephen
Well, if we
're all aboard, let's go and try our buzzers. Bill goes:

Bill
[presses buzzer, which dings twice]

Stephen
And Rob goes:

Rob
[presses buzzer, which chants,
"Feed me 'til I want no more!"]

Stephen
And Rich goes:

Rich
[presses buzzer, which howls as a werewolf]

Stephen
Er, how is that a bus?

Rich
It
's a dog being hit by a bus.

Stephen
Oh. A Greyhound, I presume. And Alan:

Audience in General
[groans]

Stephen
Thank you. And Alan goes:

Alan
[presses buzzer, which sings, as a group of schoolchildren,
"The wheels on the bus go round and round, all . . . day . . . long."]

Bill
[presses buzzer, complementing Alan
's buzzer with two dings]

Stephen
Very good. Well done.

And we start this evening with cartography. What
's quite interesting about the most detailed map of Britain?

Viewscreens: Picture of a political map of Great Britain.

Alan
That isn
't the most detailed map of Britain.

Stephen
No, that is . . . that is an example –

Alan
Surely.

Stephen
  – of a map.

Alan
'Cause I've seen maps, certainly, that have my road on, for example.

So, is it the Ordinance Survey?

Stephen
That
's very good. It is indeed the Ordinance Survey map.

Alan
So what you
'd need, then, would be a kind of real, life-size map.

Bill
No . . .

Stephen
Er, no. That would be –

Alan
Where would you unfold that? You
'd probably have to do it in Canada.

Bill
Is it a secret map? A secret map, which shows that Cornwall and Devon is actually a little bit further away? That it
's a big conspiracy with the tourist industry. Make it seem as if it's a bit nearer, but it's actually not –

Stephen
This is – all the portals and warm holes – wormholes in space. And the warm holes, as well.

Bill
The wormholes.

Stephen
They
're nice –

Rich
I like a warm hole.

Stephen
You like a warm hole, do you?

Bill
I love a warm hole.

Stephen
Yeah.

Bill
How
'bout you?

Rob
You know, there is . . . there is a map . . . there is a map which I think the MI5 have, which shows . . . which shows, not just Hadrian
's Wall, but you see Hadrian's, er, Conservatory, and . . . and . . . and Hadrian's Water Feature, which . . . which is very nice; it sort of cascades down over pebbles.

Stephen
Yes. Carlisle is, in a sense, Hadrian
's Sliding Patio Door, isn't it?

Erm
, now, this is an ordinance map, a ordinance survey map; it's c— . . . published in 2002. . . . What's really quite interesting about it, I think . . . We might focus on the price of it. How much would you pay for a copy of –

Alan
4.99.

Bill
Yeah.

Stephen
4.99
's amazingly close. It comes out on CD, actually, because it's very detailed. It shows pillar boxes –

Bill
Is this the sort of thing you get I satellite navigation, in cars?
'Cause I've . . . I've d— . . . when I was on tour, and we . . . and it's useless. You get to Milton Keynes; it just goes, "Turn left. Turn left. Turn left. Turn left. Turn left. Turn left."

Rob
Well, it
's not good if you're insecure, because she says, [lilting female voice] "You have missed your destination." And that can get you right there, you know?

I have a gun sight, [mimes holding a rifle] you know, a telescopic gun sight, and I don
't know what kind of message that's sending out; when you get to your destination, there's a gun sight! So, "You have reached your destination. Now, slaughter the family."

Bill
Yeah!

Stephen
"Kill them. Kill them all!"

Erm, well, it
's . . . it's very detailed; it's on CD-ROM, and what's perhaps surprising about it is its cost. It costs £4,990,000. . . . So when you said 4.99, you were oddly right.

Rob
Well, you don
't pay it in one go, Stephen. Surely. Don't they do it over easy payments?

Stephen
Yes!

Rob
You have to get each section of the map.
"It builds to this wonderful collection!"

Stephen
Absolutely!

Well, each . . . each town is
£30,000. And . . . and . . .

Rob
Port Talbot? They
're not gonna charge £30,000 for Port Talbot, Stephen.

Stephen
Talbot. Is that –

Rob
They
're not gonna get that.

Stephen
Is that –

Rob
Come on. No, no, no, no.

Stephen
Is that on the south Wales coast, by any chance?

Rob
Yes. Yes. No, you
'd be lucky to get fifteen quid for that, in all honesty.

Stephen
The hometown of such great actors as Rob Brydon, and Anthony Hopkins, and –

Rob
Richard Burton.

Stephen
  – and Richard
"Behr-ton"

Rob
Burton.

Stephen
  – and Michael Sheen. . . . Richard
"Behr-ton".

Rob
Burton!

Stephen
"B—behr-ton."

Rob
Burton!

Stephen
Sorry,
"Burton".

Rob
Burton! Burton!

Stephen
Sorry, thank you! Will you stop saying
"Burton" at me, please?

Rob
Sorry.

Stephen
It
's beginning to frighten me.

Er, yes, well, Port Talbot may be less than
£30,000. But it's like that old joke, isn't it? About the atomic bomb going off in Cardiff and causing £7 worth of damage. Erm . . . 

Alan
I would like something you take . . . you put on your computer, and it shows you where everybody is.

Bill
Yeah.

Alan
And all the animals . . . all the little foxes . . .

Bill
I want to focus –

Alan
You know, all the rats in England all face the same direction at any given time?

Bill
Yeah.

Stephen
Oh, come on.

Bill
Yeah, that
's right.

Alan
It
's true.

Bill
'Cause they're magnetic, aren't they, rats?

Alan
Yeah.

Bill
Yeah.

Alan
Spend so long in lead-lined sewage pipes, they move – [turning around] – with the curvature of the earth.

Bill
Yeah. Hence the phrase,
"There's rat and true rat". And "absolute rat".

Rob
It
's very hard for . . . for rat couples who . . . who have that, kind-of, reversed polarity going on. You know, when you can't put two magnets together? And there are rats who fall in love, and . . . and they are destined to be together, and they can't . . . they can't kiss.

Stephen
They jump away.

Rob
They get to about that close, and they – schwoop! [uses hands to indicate magnetic rats flipping away from each other] And they
're staring in the arse.

Bill
They
've got all iron filings up their whiskers. Yeah.

Rich
For five million pounds, I would want a map that showed me looking at the map I just bought. Show me standing there, looking at the – [looks wonderingly up into the air].

Stephen and Bill
"You are here!"

Stephen
It does seem pricey, I grant you.

The word
"map" comes from the Latin for . . . ?

Alan and Rob
"Maps."

Rob
[points knowingly at Alan]

Stephen
It comes from the Latin word mapa, as in mapa mundi –

Bill
Yeah.

Stephen
  – but it actually meant
"a napkin". They would draw maps on cloth, on a napkin. So it became known as a mapa, and then it just extended to . . . to a "map".

Rob, what
's the difference between a Carlisle Surprise, a Reverse Canterbury Pleasure, and a sheep tied to a lamp post in Cardiff?

Rob
Now, this is another example of the institutionalised racism

Stephen
That
's true.

Rob
  – which is accepted when it
's directed towards . . . the Welsh. As it has . . . Is this a reference to the joke about the . . . about: "What is a sheep tied to a lamp post in Cardiff? . . . It's a leisure centre." Now, because . . . because –

Stephen
It
's awfully good –

Rob
[pointing to the audience, who is laughing] No! No! No! No! No! [points at Stephen] And . . . and you, no!
   
Stephen
[puts on stern face and pushes glasses to face] No.

Rob
[still pointing] You, no –

Stephen
Mm. No.

Rob
[points to Alan] And you . . . no! No.

"What is the difference?" The only thing I have knowledge of is the sheep ti— . . . no, no, I  me— . . . sorry, I have knowledge of Cardiff! I don't . . .

Well, I
'm not really aware what . . . what a "Carlisle Surprise" is, other than the shock of finding yourself at Carlisle, erm . . . 

Alan
Sounds like, sort-of, an ice cream, I
'd have thought –

Rob
  – which, surely is more of a delight, than anything else –

Stephen
Yes, a total delight.

Rob
Erm, a Reverse Canterbury . . .

Stephen
The full name is a
"Reverse Canterbury Pleasure Place Double". It's an ancient English pastime.

Bill
Erm . . .

Rob
A Morris dance. Is it . . . is it a type of Morris dance?

Stephen
It
's not Morris dancing, no. It has musical nature –

Rich
Break-dancing.

Stephen
It
's not a dance. It's really big . . . as big a musical instrument as you could ever find.

Bill
A whale. See, with a whale, you just put your hand over the blowhole; You – [mimes playing a whale, with whistling and bass noises].

Stephen
He
's making jokes about Wales!

Rob
[points at Bill in an "
I've got your number" way]

Stephen
Erm, no.

Bill
Cheeky.

Stephen
The name for this pastime comes from, originally, the Latin for
"countryside", but a particular part of the Latin countryside called Campana. And so it's –

Bill
Oh, bells, bells.

Stephen
  – called Campanology.

Bill
Ah, it
's bells.

Stephen
Absolutely right. It
's bell-ringing.

Bill
Yes.

Alan
Bell-ringing . . .

Stephen
Bell-ringing. It
's bells. Well, and there are tunes or other "methods", as bell-ringers call them. They're uniquely English. And if you have six bells, there are how many different permutations of six bells? Well, six, times five, times four, times three, times two –

Alan
Lots and lots and lots.

Stephen
720.

Bill
Oh. Right.

Stephen
And if you play through each one of those permutations, that
's called a peal of bells.

Bill
Yeah.

Stephen
And it
's also called . . . an English phrase we use quite a lot . . . ? Ringing the changes. 'Cause those sequences are called changes. That's where the phrase "to ring the changes" comes from.

Alan
Quite interesting.

Stephen
'Cause if you have twelve bells, there are 479,001,600 variations, so that would take 38 years to ring a peal of twelve bells.

Alan
Wow.

Bill
Ah.

Stephen
Amazing thought.

Rob
When I was growing up, if my dad hit his thumb with . . . with a hammer, which . . . which he didn
't do often, but occasionally, just for a bit of . . . something a bit different, you know, he'd do it.

Stephen
Yeah.

Rob
He would say,
"Hell's bells and buckets of blood."

Stephen
It
's a good phrase, "Hell's bells and buckets of blood." It sounds good, doesn't it? It's a good way of getting it out of your system. . . . I say "fuck". It's one of the things . . .

Erm . . . Anyway. I remember the first time I heard my mother say "fuck". I could not believe it, because my brother and I thought we
'd made the word up, for some reason.

Rich
I remember the first time I said
"fuck". My dad heard me. He walked by my bedroom door. And I said, "Dad, shut the door. I'm trying to fuck in here."

Stephen
Well, no. Pealing bells was considered, in the 17th century,
erm, something of a vice. John Bunyan denounced it, along with dancing, playing tipcat, and reading the history of Sir Bevis of Southampton.

Bill
What . . . what was that?

Alan
Tipcat.

Bill
"Tipcat"?

Stephen
Tipcat.

Bill
Where you just . . . tip the cat.

Stephen
It was denounced.

Alan
It goes onto its side, like that. [leans over with a blank expression]

Bill
[follows suit]

Alan
Then tip it back up again. [straightens up]

Bill
Yeah.

Stephen
All right.

Alan
[tips himself again]

Stephen
    Well, it was the Chinese who gave us bells, you know? 1200 B.C. Three thousand –

Alan
The Chinese claim to have invented absolutely everything.

Stephen
They did. Yeah.

Alan
And all I say to the Chinese is, Why didn
't you invent the camera 1200 years ago, so we could prove it?

Stephen
Which brings us back to . . . Alan. And maps.

Alan
What? What have I done?

Stephen
Well, now, there
's a question for you. There's a hundred points in this if you get it.

Bill
A hundred Nectar points?

Stephen
No . . . A hundred points if you can tell me which was the last place in Britain to convert to Christianity.

Alan
[covers face with hand] Oh. God, I know this. Oh, it
's got the – [raises hand from face and circles index finger in air for several seconds].

Stephen
Er . . .

Bill
Any . . . any –

Alan
No, no.

Stephen
Mm.

Bill
[makes noises as though he means to interrupt Alan
's train of thought]

Alan
[makes several more incoherent noises]

Stephen
[opens own mouth as though to prompt Alan
's response]

Bill
[presses buzzer, which dings]

Stephen
Go on, then.

Bill
The summit of Ben Nevis?

Alan
The tube. The underground.

Stephen
No . . .

Bill
Two guys . . . 
"Ay? What's this 'Christianity'? It's a new thing!"

Stephen
Any thoughts on the other side of the table?

Rich
Is it a place called,
er, "Satan-Is-My-Master-On-Wye"?

Bill
It
's pronounced "Simster"!

Stephen
"Simster"! Absolutely.

Alan
Is it, now, on the British mainland, or is it something that
's going to be out –

Bill
The Lake District.

Stephen
No, it
's not the Lake District. This is not on the British mainland.

Alan
Essex.

Rich
Not on the mainland!

Stephen
I repeat, it is not on the British mainland!

Alan
It
's not on the British mainland –

Stephen
Essex is not culturally on the mainland, but –

Bill
The Isle of Man.

Stephen
Oh – !

Bill
The Isle of Wight?

Stephen
Yes! It
's the Isle of Wight.

Alan
No! [slams head down and bangs fists on desk]

Stephen
Oh, well done.

Alan
[to audience] What are you clapping for? That was a total guess.

Stephen
It was, of course. Brilliant.

Alan
[starts clapping; no one else is anymore]

Stephen
Very good. No, it
's surprising, of course, because you would imagine, of course, that, er

Viewscreens: Aerial view of the Needles.

Alan
The Needles!

Stephen
  – the Isle of Wight was about the first place –

Alan
The Needles!

Stephen
  – the Christians would come to.

Alan
[presses buzzer, which sings
"The Wheels on the Bus"]
[points at Stephen]
The Needles!

Stephen
Yes, darling. Those are called
"the Needles". Very good. One point to you for knowing about the Needles.

Alan
[curls inward in deep satisfaction]

Stephen
Top work.

Erm . . . What do you know about the Isle of Wight?

Alan
All the clocks stopped in 1952. And all the shops are the same as they were then.

Stephen
Does . . . does seem a little like that, doesn
't it? Yes, there's one, er, species of animal that, er, still –

Alan
Dog. Cat. Rat. Mouse.

Stephen
  – hasn
't made it to the Isle of Wight.

Alan
Horses.

Stephen
No, there are horses on the Isle of Wight.

Alan
Fox. Fox.

Stephen
But most people are rather pleased this animal hasn
't made it. Not a fox.

Bill
Flea.

Rich
Snake.

Rob
Or the rat, because of the magnet.

Stephen
No, it
's often called . . . it's often –

Alan
Pigeons!

Stephen
It
's often called a kind of rat, like pigeons –

Bill
Ah.

Rob
Squirrel! Squirrel! Squirrel!

Stephen
The grey squirrel . . .

Rob
Squirrel! Squirrel!

Stephen
The grey squirrel.

Rob
Squirrel!

Bill
All right, all right! It
's all right!

Rob
[waving hand in air] Stephen! Stephen! Stephen!

Stephen
I was going . . . yes?

Rob
Stephen! Shut up Bill! Stephen! Stephen!

Bill
All right! The squirrel. You
've made your point . . .

Rob
The squirrel!

Stephen
The grey –

Rob
The grey squirrel!

Stephen
The grey . . . the North American grey squirrel.

Alan
[presses buzzer, which sings
"The Wheels on the Bus"]

Rob
[pointing threateningly] Don
't say "squirrel" . . .

Alan
The North American grey squirrel.

Stephen
Well done, Alan!! Very good! You
're the first person to get that!

Rob
Ah! No! No!

Stephen
No, we can
't . . . Oh, Rob. I wouldn't do that to you. Oh, look at his little face. . . .

Alan
This is Editing Master Class.

Rob
Editing Master Class, you say? All right. [turns primly to Stephen] The . . . North American Grey Squirrel?

Alan
Red squirrel! The red squirrel can
't live with the grey squirrel.

Stephen
Ebony and ivory are together on my piano keyboard, so why can
't they be?

Bill
Yeah.

Alan
What, do you mean a kind of squirrel-fur keyboard?

Bill and Alan
[mime playing keyboard on the desk]

Stephen
That would be nice.

Rob
That
's barbaric. Are you saying you want pianos clad in the pelt of a squirrel? Because if that's what you're saying, Fry: You should be stopped.

Stephen
Isle of Wight was the last place in Britain to be invaded by the French; by a foreign power –

Alan
How did they miss that, then?

Stephen
Sorry?

Alan
How did they miss it? Did they go onto the mainland and then straight up –

Stephen
Oh, Christianity.

Alan
Yeah.

Stephen
Yes, I don
't know; it's odd, isn't it?

Alan
When . . . when they came back, they – [bewildered tone]
"Hang on, what's all this?"

Stephen
"We've left this bit out."

Alan
[makes incoherent noises of surprise]

Stephen
It was in 686 A.D. Almost a century after the rest of the country. Subjugated by Caedwalla, who was king of the West Saxons, and who had to kill most of the Pagan population to Christianise it. [laughs shortly] Good old Christianity! [clicks tongue]

Talking of Christianity, Rich: Could Jesus walk on custard?

Rich
What? Maybe at one point, when he was a children
's entertainer, he might . . . It sounds like a sarcastic question you would ask Jesus. "Oh, water? Yeah, great. What about custard?"

Rob
It
's not so much a question of "could he?", Stephen –

Stephen
You
're saying he did?

Rob
He did. He did. I mean, it was . . . it was very hard to stop him, actually. This . . . this was one . . . this came out in research recently . . . this was one of the Lord
's favourite pastimes. Out with the bread; out with the fish; "Look what I've got for dessert; somebody hold my shoes." And he'd be – [mimes swimming] – you know, he'd be doing it . . .

Bill
He could turn anything . . . it was just . . . it was just water, wasn
't it? It was a lake. And he'd just go, "Bing!" And it'd turn into jelly, custard, Instant Whip . . . anything.

Alan
Did he walk on a lake of custard? Or did he have a . . . lots of bowls of custard, and – [walks hands across desk] – stepped between them, like that?

Stephen
Well, the fact is, not only could Jesus walk on custard . . . you can walk on custard; I can walk on custard –

Alan
I can.

Bill
Anybody could.

Stephen
  – all of us could walk on custard, as this experiment, by the Sky One programme
Brainiac, clearly shows.

Viewscreens: Video of a person walking across a pool of custard.

Stephen
There you are. That is not a fraud. That is absolutely real. It
's a non-Newtonian dilatent fluid. And it's . . . it's honestly true, this. It means that the more pressure you put on it, the more weight you put on it, the harder and firmer it becomes. You could – [mimes] – slowly put your finger through it –

Rich
Oh, boy. Here we go.

Stephen
[with fingers on forehead] This is raising images . . . [sucks in breath sharply].

Alan
[beckons Stephen to continue]

Stephen
Your finger slips in smoothly –

Rich
Wow.

Stephen
It
's . . . no, please, help me out here. But – [mimes with both hands] – if you slap it hard –

Alan
"Help me out?"

Stephen
No . . . [pauses and looks down] Oh, dear.

Rob
A normal bowl of custard, we know, would support a fly. And we know it wouldn
't support a man. You know. So somewhere . . . somewhere in-between those two examples . . . would it support, for example, a vole, or a mouse?

Stephen
Probably. I would expect it would.

Alan
Children, now, all over the country, will now be putting their hamsters –

Stephen
  – will be walking on custard!

Alan
  – in bowls of custard.

Stephen
[directly at camera] Children, whatever you do, please, please, try and walk on as much custard as you can. Erm . . .

We turn now to the darker side of entertainment. Name the teams at the Colosseum. In ancient Rome.

Rob
The Christians and the lions.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the phrase "CHRISTIANS V LIONS".

Stephen
Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear, oh . . . The fact is, no, there is no evidence whatsoever that lions –

Alan
There were no team sports.

Stephen
  – were put against Christians. Sorry?

Alan
There weren
't any team sports. It was every man for himself. I've seen it, in that film.

Stephen
And what film would that be?

Alan
The one about the . . . gladiator.

Stephen
Called
"Gladiator"?

Alan
Yeah.

Stephen
Ah, that one.

Alan
And,
er, the floor opens – [demonstrates with arms] – like that, and tigers come out.

Bill
Yeah.

Stephen
They spring out, don
't they?

Alan
Yeah.

Stephen
Do you remember the name of the emperor, played by [exaggerated accent] Jo-a-quin Phoenix in the film?

Alan
[to Bill] What was his name?

Bill
Augustus.

Rob
Oliver Reid.

Alan
Augustus?

Stephen
[to Rob] No.

Rob
Am I in the right area?

Stephen
No, not really, dear, no. Commodus.

Rob
Commodus. Commodus, Commodus.

Stephen
Commodus was –

Alan
Who
's really good at the Roman emperors? You?

Bill
No.

Alan
I don
't know anything about them.

Bill
No. I know me champagne names, but I don
't know the Roman emperors.

Alan
Piper-Heidsieck.

Bill
N—no!

Alan
That
's one, isn't it?

Stephen
You mean, the bottle names?

Bill
[to Alan] No. The bottle names. Salamanazar . . .

Alan
Oh, Magnum?

Bill
All that. They
're all –

Stephen
Rehoboam.

Bill
They were all ancient Biblical kings. Except Magnum, who was a 1980s detective.

Stephen
You know, there
's absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Christians were ever thrown to the lions at the Colosseum.

Alan
Then why do they say that?

Stephen
This has been tested by learned research.

Alan
But the Christians caused an awful lot of trouble for the Romans. I
'm . . . I'll bet they were tempted to chuck 'em in and have 'em eaten by the lions.

Stephen
Well, they did certain things. I think Nero had them making human torches lining the Appian Way for dozens and dozens of miles. So, I mean . . . they were certainly pretty nasty, the Christians, but then, the Christians won. They took over the Roman Empire.

Anyway, ah, back to cartography, our favourite subject, and an easy one for you. In the Middle Ages, what shape did people think the world was?

Alan
Flat.

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

Stephen
Oh, Alan . . . ! Stumbled into our little trap. I know we all think they did, but there
's absolutely no evidence whatsoever. They thought it was round; they all wrote about it as round; the Greeks knew that it was round . . .

Rob
Round and flat?

Stephen
No, they thought it was a sphere! Terry Jones, the Python, who . . . who is something of a medievalist, as you may know; he s— . . . he blames Washington Irving, the American writer, for . . . for one of those beings who started this
"lie", as he puts it. The Greeks knew it was round, he says; Chaucer knew it was round; Roger Bacon wrote about the curvature in the earth in the 13th century. So, apparently –

Alan
Wasn
't it majority of people didn't really . . . care?

Stephen
No. But . . . but they started –

Alan
As today, we don
't, now, actually care that it's round. If it was square, it . . . it wouldn't bother me. I'd rush to the edge! I think I'd wanna to go right to the corner.

Stephen
You
'd sit on the corner.

Bill
How do we know it
's round?

Alan
Uh-huh.

Bill
Around-the-world tickets?

Stephen
When it
's photographed. Photographing it was a very big help.

Bill
Heh-heh-heh . . .

Stephen
We took a photograph, and we saw that it was round.

Bill
Yes. But then, you could say that about anything. About people going to the moon. And we know they didn
't.

Stephen
If it weren
't round . . . All the flights of airplanes . . . if it weren't round, we . . . just nothing that we use would work.

Bill
How do we know that they just don
't fly and circle around for a bit, and let you think that you're going miles and miles and miles, and just come down, like, you know, a couple of hours away, and they've set Russia up a lot nearer than it is?

Alan
[spreading arms] It
's a really, really, really, really long oblong shape.

Rich
On a track, like a . . . like an electric bike, and they just move it around.

Alan
Just whizzing around.

Rich
The plane goes up; the plane doesn
't move.

Alan
Yes.

Rich
They move the countries for us – [brings hand down from air].

Alan
Are all the stars round?

Stephen
I can
't answer that. Erm . . . I think, probably, most of them –

Alan
[doubtfully] And yet you know what people thought 500 years ago.

Stephen
[starts to fold arms, then begins to innumerate on fingers] Can I read books? Yes. Have I visited every star in the universe? No. Is that something that you find difficult to understand?

Alan
[shrugs]

Stephen
You
've set me off. You've set Sir off again.

Rich
Don
't you think this series has reached the point, with so – with a dedicated following who trust us – that this could be the point where you could say just one thing in a show . . . You could say, just like this, "The . . . the world isn't round. It's been proven." Most people will now believe it, who watch this show.

Stephen
Well, I can say with some confidence, ladies and gentlemen – [leans into camera] – the world is not round. It is an oblate spheroid.

Rich
No, that
's not what I meant! See –

Stephen
No, I
'm sorry. I was being literalistic.

Rich
Pinecone. If you
'd said that the world is shaped like a pinecone. Just to see how many letters we get.

Stephen
Yeah, it
'd be interesting to see, wouldn't it? We'd get some, at last, anyway. Apart from the, er . . . [looks into camera] Well, you know who you are, don't you? And I tried it, and it was a disaster. Erm . . .

This . . . no. Since the 4th century B.C., almost no one in the world has believed that the earth is flat. It
's a common misconception, and indeed, the song lyric: "They all laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said the world was round." But he didn't think, er, that the world was round; he thought it was actually pear-shaped, funnily enough.

Which brings us, ladies and gentlemen, drifting safely home into the harbour of half-grasped truths that we call G
eneral Ignorance. So, fingers on your buzzies, please. What is a taffy pull?

Rob
[pause] Is this another dig at my forefathers? What is it –

Stephen
[quickly] You
've got four fathers! The Welsh are weird.

Rob
But . . . a taffy pull is when you . . . you try and pull a woman in Wales. It
's a Welsh –

Stephen
Oh, dear.

Rob
  – chat-up line . . .

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the phrase "WELSH CHAT-UP LINE".

Rob
Oh, no!

Stephen
Word-for-word!

I suspect . . . that young Rich might know, because you know what taffy is –

Rich
Yeah.

Stephen
Which is . . .?

Rich
It
's, uh, long strands of sugary candy. And at, like, county fairs, and stuff –

Stephen
Absolutely. We don
't have it here, but it's toffee, really; "toffee" becomes "ta-affy" in America. [pronounced American accent] "Ta-affy." Er, but it is taffy. It's different to English toffee because it's chewy and soft and resistant all the way through. And one of the reasons for this is that they – [miming, with stretched arms] – pull, on metal hooks, and they kind of aerate it. They do this business, don't they? And it was a social event, I believe. It was a way of people meeting each other. At a taffy pull.

Rich
Yeah.

Bill
[flawless southern American accent] Yer mom an
' I met at a taffy pull!

Stephen
But it was often called saltwater taffy, isn
't it?

Rich
Yeah.

Stephen
Do you know why?

Rich
[stretching] That
's 'cause it's made from saltwater.

Stephen
It . . . isn
't. It doesn't have any saltwater anywhere near it. No, apparently, in Atlanta, in the 18-somethings, there was a shop that sold taffy, and there was . . . there was a flood, you know, and the tide came in. It covered all his stock. And someone came in and said, "Well, you should sell it as 'saltwater taffy'. Maybe people would buy it." And so, he did. In fact, it wasn't salt. The name just seemed to stick. Some people believe that story; some people don't.

Fingers still on your buzzies, please. How many sheep were there on Noah
's ark?

[Silence from all panelists.]

Stephen
[looks around from side to side expectantly several times]

Rich
[shaking head] Oh, no.

Bill
[draws hands and body away from buzzer]

Stephen
[coddling] Surely!

Rich
I smell a setup.

Stephen
Somebody . . .

Bill
[presses buzzer, which dings twice]
Okay, it
's a trick. None: They were floating on a raft behind the ark.

Stephen
No, there were sheep on Noah
's ark.

Rob
No, no, there . . . none, because they were walking on the custard that was being poured over the side!

Alan
Noah never built an ark! It didn
't actually happen!

Rich
Yeah. Yeah.

Stephen
Well, according to the Bible, how many –

Alan
[quickly] Two.

Bill
Yes, there were –

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

Stephen
Oh, dear!

Alan
Just get it over with!

Stephen
No. It
's a common mistake. People haven't read the Bible much these days, but I can read to you from Genesis, Chapter 7. "And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every – "

Alan
Why did they talk like that?

Stephen
Well, he spoke Hebrew, didn
't he, dear. This is a translation into English, you see.

Alan
[covers face with hand]

Stephen
Erm, they spoke like that when they really could speak English, Alan. I think in five-hundred years time, when they hear the things we
've said, and perhaps even things you've said, they might go, "Jesus – "

Alan
Don
't pick on me! You're quoting from a mythical being!

Stephen
No, I
'm just reading . . . but . . . 

Alan
There were two of everyone. They went in two-by-two –

Stephen
How would you know that?

Alan
  – even my nephew knows that.

Bill
Yes.

Stephen
How would you know? The only source of information that we have for Noah
's ark is the Bible.

Alan
Rubbish.

Stephen
And this is what it says! Listen! Just listen!

Alan
I must –

Stephen
Will you listen first, and then comment? Will you agree to do that?

Bill
I read it in Jane
's Fighting Ships.

Stephen
"Of every . . . Of every clean beast, thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth."

Alan
Yes.

Stephen
And sheep are accounted clean beasts.

Bill
Oh.

Stephen
So there would have been seven.

Alan
You
've obviously never lived with one.

Stephen
No. It
's really according to the kosher law. So, pigs there would not have been; camels would have been in twos; but the clean beasts w— . . . came in sevens. Maybe they could breed more, and so on . . . Anyway, I agree with you; it's a surprise. Everybody thinks, in the Bible –

Alan
[sings]
"The animals went in by two-by-two, hurrah, hurrah."

Bill
Hurrah, hurrah.
[sings]
"Except for the camels 'cause they were filthy, hurrah, hurrah!
And then the sheep, but not the den, and then came the amoeba: One. No, two. No, four. No, eight. No, sixteen. No, thirty-two
 . . . "

Stephen
Fantastic.

Rob
A lot of the ferries and ships nowadays aren
't even allowed to take animals on them, which is . . . ultimate irony.

Stephen
[waving finger at Rob] That
's a good point.

Rob
You . . . you wonder what Noah would make of that!

Stephen
Yes, yes. Exactly. Exactly.

Rich
Why would they, uh . . . Why would they say seven animals?
'Cause that . . . that means three pair, and one animal –

Stephen
One to watch.

Enough. Enough. Now, we come full circle back to the beginning. What was the name of the archbishop murdered by Henry II?

Alan
Er, Thomas the . . . no, not him.

Rob
Yeah, that
's . . . erm . . .

Stephen
[coaxing] Have a go.

Rob
I
'm not going to fall into that trap.

Alan
It wasn
't Henry II who did kill Thomas à Becket –

Stephen
Thomas . . . ?

Bill
Aquinas.

Alan
À Becket.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the name "THOMAS A BECKET."

Stephen
Oh, dear. No. His name is not
"Thomas-a"-anything. The "à" is a complete error. John Stripe, in The Memorials of Thomas Cranmer, writes:
 
"It is a small error, but being so oft repeated deserveth to be observed into corrected. The name of that archbishop was Thomas Becket; nor can it otherwise have found to be written in any authentic history, record, calendar, or other book."

Alan
[yawns loudly]

Stephen
 If the vulgar did formerly, as it doth now, call him
'Thomas à Becket'" – [to Alan] Vulgar. Er – "their mistake is not to be followed by learned men."

Rob
Was it . . . was it just a pause? Was it
"Thomas . . . er . . . Becket"?

Is the same true of Simon . . . LaBon? Is he just
"Simon Bon"? I don't think he'd have the respect he has –

Stephen
"Lindsay . . . DePaul."

Rob
  – if he was . . . yeah.

Bill
"Whiskey . . . Go Go."

Stephen
Yes. Whiskey Go Go.

Rich
"Legs akimbo."

Stephen
It
's time now for the sorry-arse business of the scores. And a clear winner, leader, and victor tonight in Rich Hall with eight points, ladies and gentlemen! In second place, with minus five points, Bill Bailey! In third place, with minus sixteen, is Rob Brydon! But our runaway loser, with minus twenty-five: Alan Davies!

Well, that
's it from QI for another week. My thanks to Rich, Rob, Bill, and Alan. I leave you with this cautionary thought. Captain Cook may have observed the transits of Venus in 1769, but he never lived to see the Venus de Milo, which wasn't discovered 'til 1820. Will Rogers saw it, though, and observed to his niece, [American accent] "See what'll happen if you don't stop biting your fingernails?" [bobs eyebrows quirkily]


Episode Notes
  • Little foxes and Fox. Two instances of Alan's penchant for mentioning foxes.

  • Squirrel fur keyboard. Similar to the joke in 3x06, in which Stephen Fry suggests that one's toothbrush handle can be moulded out of ivory.
    • Stephen Fry: Oh, no, hang on . . . 
    • Alan Davies: Rhino horn.
    • Stephen Fry: Yes, or panda bear fur.
    • Bill Bailey: The beak of an osprey.
    • Phill Jupitus: "Stephen Fry's All-Endangered-Species bathroom cabinet."

  • Amoeba.
    • Bill's skill at doubling can also be seen in 2x06, when the subject turned to bacteria.
      • Stephen Fry: They divide and split, and . . . 
      • Bill Bailey: Yes. Like amoebas. 'How many amoebas does it take to change a light bulb? One! No, two! No, four! No, eight! No, sixteen! Thirty-two! One hundred twenty eight! Two hundred fifty six! Stop!
    • Wikipedia has this to say about Bill's early stand-up routines:
      Bailey began touring the country with other comedians such as Mark Lamarr and Phill Jupitus. [
       . . . ] It was here that Bailey began developing his own unique style, mixing in musical parodies with deconstructions or variations of traditional jokes ('How many amoebas does it take to change a lightbulb? One, no two! No four! No eight . . . ')
      It was, thus, actually a well-practised skill, but we're still impressed.

  • [bobs eyebrows quirkily] To date, this is the only QI ending in which Stephen doesn't sign off with some form of "good night" or "good bye".
References
  • I heard my mother say "fuck".
    • Moab is My Washpot - written by Stephen Fry - published 1997
      On the subject of his various recollections of Chesham Prep:
      "In my memory there is Mother at the typewriter (once she loudly said 'fuck' forgetting I was under her chair) and there is me, gazing into the blue and orange flames."