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Series 7, Episode 11

Transcript by: Glenn Campbell
Notes: This transcript has not been edited for style or content, but I'm sure it's jolly good.

TRANSCRIPT

Stephen
Gooooooood evening and welcome to QI which tonight is a general grab bag of 'G's; gifts, gags, genetics, gaols and granaries so let's open the gifts first! And I have been given the most fantastic presents. First out of the box, Jimmy Carr!

[the audience responds with 'woo!']

And Jan Ravens…

[the audience responds with 'mmmm!']

And what about Clive Anderson?

[the audience responds with 'oh!']

And just what I've wanted, my very own puppy, Alan Davies!

[the audience responds with 'aah!']

Now what am I gonna get in the buzzer department, I wonder? Jimmy goes:

Jimmy
[presses buzzer, which plays "Gimme All Your Lovin'" by ZZ Top]

Stephen
Jan goes:

Jan
[presses buzzer, which plays "Give Me Just a Little More Time" by Chairmen of the Board]

Stephen
Clive goes:

Clive
[presses buzzer, which plays "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" by ABBA]

Stephen
And Alan goes:

Alan
[presses buzzer, which plays "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" by Patti Page]

Stephen
And here's a gift of a question to start with. Suppose you want to send a present to someone in the United States of America. What's the commonest item that is seized by the customs?

Jimmy
[presses buzzer, which plays "Gimme All Your Lovin'" by ZZ Top]
I was rather enjoying that.

Stephen
Yes?

Jimmy
Mexicans.

Stephen
A reasonable guess. Here's what I want you to do. I actually have a bag of items…

Jimmy
Of Mexicans?

Stephen [hands out paper bags to the panellists]
[to Jan] Can you pass one to Jimmy and keep one for yourself. [to Alan] and vice-versa. You know what I mean.

Jimmy
What's in the bag?

Stephen
That's what you have to see. These are all items that may or may not be banned by American customs if you try to cross the border with them.

[The panellists unpack their bags]

Alan
Pork and Ham.

Clive
Money. Dirty handkerchief.

Jimmy
There's some seeds and a lottery ticket.

Jan
Oh, a cigar!

Alan
Seeds, I bet you're not allowed to have seeds.

Stephen
In fact, you're not allowed to have anything that you've got there.

Jimmy
A shoe.

Stephen
But one of them is the most confiscated…

Jimmy
I definitely… I've been to American and I definitely remember wearing shoes. So I'm not sure if that's…

Stephen
It's a shoe that's been to a farm lately, in the last month. [to Jan] Yes?

Jan
It's got soil on it, the shoe.

Stephen
Yes.

Jan [holding up a cigar]
Is this because of Cuba?

Stephen
Exactly right, that is a Cuban cigar, on all Cuban…

Clive [handling the dirty handkerchief]
Is this indicate you've got 'flu or a disease – you can't go in – and then you're blowing into a handkerchief.

Stephen
If you've got a hanky that's covered in any amount of human disjecta, any fluids…

Alan [holds his hanky up by the very edges, disgusted]

Clive
Money is the most obvious one…

Stephen
Well it's actually not real money. That's counterfeit money, you may notice, and particularly…

Alan
I'm going to go with shoes.

Stephen
Shoes.

Clive
Lottery tickets?

Jan
Who tries to import lottery tickets?

Stephen
I don't know but you can go to prison for two years for bringing in lottery tickets.

Clive
Well it's worth it of there's a ten million pound prize.

Stephen
Yes. So anyway, which do you think the item most confiscated?

Alan
Spam!

Clive
Hessian bags!

Stephen
Hessian bags are also illegal you're right, the bag itself is, unfortunately…

Clive
Hemp, it's probably made out of hemp.

Stephen
You get an extra point for that. It actually rhymes with 'tinder egg'.

Alan
Kinder egg?

Stephen
Yeah, the egg with the secret surprise in it.

Jimmy
Is it because you could very easily open them and then fill them with heroin?

Alan
This is a crème egg.

Jan
Is it because a child… because of it…

Stephen
No, because it poses…

Jan
A child can easily choke on the small parts.

Stephen
Exactly. Or in that poetic phrase, "It poses a choking and aspiration..."

Jimmy [pointing to Alan who is lavishly eating his crème egg]
Ooh look, it's happening now, it's happening now!

Stephen
Oh!

Jimmy
Don't choke!

Stephen
That is a crème egg.

Alan [with mouth full]
Ye i a crème ek.

Jan [packing the items back in the bag]
It's tidy-up time now.

Stephen
You can tidy up, thank you very much. Well the fact is, there is the surprise toy egg which is the most confiscated item and all imports from Cuba … The bizarre thing is, for seventeen years in a row, the United Nations has deemed what illegal?

Clive
The United States boycott, is that what you're saying?

Stephen
Yes, the United States boycott on all things Cuban has, for seventeen years in a row, been deemed illegal by all United Nations countries except…

Jimmy
Cuba.

Stephen
No, Israel and the Pacific State of Palau. I'll tell you, bizarrely, what is legal to import is what Americans call a switchblade – we'd call a flick knife – but only if you can satisfy one condition. Only one type of person is allowed to…

Clive
It's a fisherman, isn't it?

Stephen
Nope.

Alan
Teddy boy.

Jimmy
A gang member.

Stephen
No, think about what distinguishes a switchblade or flick knife from any other kind of knife.

Clive
One arm, you're a one-armed person.

Stephen
Oh you've got a good brain, Clive Anderson, you're absolutely right.

Jimmy
So if you got caught with a switchblade and you're worried about getting into trouble…

Stephen
Chop you arm off.

Jimmy [motions rapidly sawing his arm with a tiny blade]
… hack your arm off, rrrrrrrrr….

Stephen
Yes, exactly, you got it. There you are.

Alan
You could put it in your hand luggage.

Stephen
Yes.

Alan
For re-attaching later.

Clive
Fishermen are supposed to use them – make sense of it – because when you're catching a fish you have to get a knife to cut the line or something… that was always a justification/defence we always used to use.

Stephen
Anyway, chocolate eggs with toys in them are the commonest items seized the U.S. Customs, followed by Cuban cigars.

Now, what would you call someone who never laughs?

Alan [pointing to audience member]
That bloke.

Stephen [leans forward for a better look]
You're right. He hasn't cracked a smile all evening, has he?

Alan
Might be dead. Nudge him.

Stephen
Yeah.

Clive
Are we looking for a sort of, like a phobia word?

Stephen
Yeah, agelastic meaning that they don't laugh, and there are people who don't… it seems, have no sense of humour…

Alan
You mean they can't laugh?

Stephen
Well who knows? I mean, there's a sort of epilepsy where you [yells] "Waaaaah!" a lot, which means an unusual… affect…

Alan [mimes nursing a bruised chest following Stephen's outburst]
Shock was shocking.

Jan
I've got an interesting, sort of, Greek-type word for something that I do sometimes, where I can't help the urge to do an impression of somebody and sometimes, if somebody's got a limp or a bit of a funny walk, I kind of want to go along with it. Which is a terrible thing to do and apparently when you do this thing – want to take on somebody's limp in an inappropriate way – it's called echopraxia.

Stephen
Oh, brilliant.

Jan
And if you do it with words – trying to imitate a person verbally – it's echolalia.

Stephen
That is very – points. Points!

Jimmy
It's also… I think, if I'm not mistaken, it's called taking the piss as well.

Clive
Well it almost defines being human, doesn't it, laughter. Because animals don't laugh, they don't have that capacity to, sort of, put these two things together…

Jimmy
It's very very social as well. It's a very social sort of… People tend not to laugh on their own – even watching a show as hilarious as this – at home on your own, you won't laugh in the same way as the studio audience. It's why people often think it's, sort of, canned laughter rather than you are genuinely laughing at bits.

Clive
Well they would if there was anybody here.

Jimmy
Because it's a very social thing, you're showing someone else that you get the thing and, you know, you understand.

Stephen
Absolutely, it is a common enough thing. There are people in history who are said to be agelastic, including Isaac Newton who is supposed to have laughed once in his life, when someone asked him…

Viewscreens: Portraits of: I.Newton, J.Stalin, J.Swift, W.E.Gladstone, A.Trollope.

Clive
When an apple fell on his head?

Stephen
No… Someone asked him what was the point of studying Euclid and he burst out laughing at that.

Jimmy
That is a good one, 'though.

Stephen
That is a good one.

Jimmy
"What was he like?"

Stephen
According to Marshall Zhukov, Stalin – next door – he didn't laugh. And next to him…

Alan
I'm amazed at that, he seems such a chirpy chap.

Stephen
Yes – and behind him you probably spotted Jonathan Swift, William Ewart Gladstone…

Clive
Jonathan Swift is a very funny writer. So…

Jan
What is it that comedians don't laugh? You know, lots of comedians are quite miserable in real life, aren't they? Not us, obviously.

Alan [pointing to Viewscreens]
Bloke on the left and bloke in the middle are the same.

Jimmy
That's an advert for "The Chin Gym".

Stephen
The one on the left is Isaac Newton…

Alan
That's Newton, right.

Stephen
And the one in the middle is Jonathan Swift. Trollope, on the other hand, Anthony Trollope…

Alan
… couldn't stop laughing.

Stephen
Yeah, he died giggling, apparently he laughed a lot.

Clive
Didn't he work in the Post Office? That's probably what made him laugh. He went Postal.

Stephen
He did, he invented the Post Box…

Clive
Yes.

Stephen
… and lived to regret it, actually.

Alan
Once he was in, he couldn't get out.

Stephen
He was sorry for a very odd reason, actually. He was very old-fashioned about what women should and shouldn't do. And what he hadn't predicted was what the Post Office would… suddenly allow women to communicate with anyone freely. Because before the Post Box, they would have to go to their father - or a servant who would put the stamp on – it would be taken. And suddenly they were able to send their own letters and have relationships without their parent's consent. And he resented this.

Jimmy
"What has he done?"

Clive
The law of…

Stephen
The law of unintended consequences, exactly. Bizarre thought.

Jan
Good old Trollope.

Stephen
There are theories of laughter. There's the superiority theory which is the sudden glory we feel when someone sees someone suffer…

Jimmy
It's called the superiority theory because not a lot of people understand it.

Stephen
Very good. There's the incongruity theory, arises when the decorous and logical abruptly dissolves into the low and absurd. We wouldn't farting well want that. For example. Not that I would say that. The relief theory, which is Freud – the naughtiness of the joke liberates the laughter from inhibitions about forbidden thoughts and feelings.

Alan
That's watching Jackass for me, that is.

Stephen [to Jimmy]
You've written a book about… The Naked Jape.

Jimmy
The Naked Jape – yeah, I wrote a book with my friend Lucy about jokes, the nature of jokes…

Stephen
Did you come to a theory about…

Jimmy
Not really, they are all… You can analyse… There's all these, sort of, different…

Stephen
Now answer me this: Who is responsible for the oldest joke in the world?

Jan
[presses buzzer, which plays "Give Me Just a Little More Time"]
Ah, well, I don't know who was responsible for the oldest joke in the world but I can tell you something quite interesting about who was the first subject of the first impression that was recorded in the world…. Which was Socrates, in a play by Aristophanes called The Clouds. And the interesting thing about it was that this portrayal resulted in him being put on trial about twenty years later and put to death for being a corruptive youth.

Stephen
So they used the impression of him in the play as a kind of…

Jan
As evidence in this trial. So, you know, David Steele complains about his Spitting Image puppet ruining his political career, you know…

Stephen
That's very interesting, I didn't know that. Excellent. I mean, there are records of jokes… There's one here which is a pretty old Greek joke… "There was an absent-minded Professor on a sea voyage when a storm blows up and his slaves are weeping in terror at the storm and he says, 'Don't cry, I have freed you all in my will'." That's a joke apparently. Slave-related humour there.

But the Abderites were the characters who were stereotyped as incredibly stupid, and there's a really frustrating joke… It's joke 114 in the Philogelos, the joke book – an ancient joke book – "This Abderite asks a eunuch how many children he has. And the eunuch goes, 'Duh – none. I'm a eunuch.' So the Abderite says…" and the fragment is missing. So we don't have the punch line. So I'm inviting you to provide the punch line. Okay, "How many children have you got, eunuch?" and the eunuch says "I don't have any, I'm a eunuch." And the Abderite, who's thick, says…?

Clive
"How many grandchildren, then?"

Stephen
Oh, very good! Ah, excellent.

Jimmy
That's passable, gang.

Stephen
Passable.

Clive
I like working with old material.

Jimmy
The oldest joke… When I was researching the book, the oldest joke I found that still sort of works and is recognisable – and I've seen performed on stage – is an old Greek joke… and it was "A barber says to a man, 'How do you want your hair cut?' and the man says, 'In silence'." Still kind of… that's a passable joke, but that's an old one…

Stephen
But there's a much older one. There's a Sumerian one which is from 1900BC – which is really pretty old – which is a saying that "Something which has never occurred since time immemorial, a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap."

Jimmy
Don't open with it, Stephen, don't open with it. You can work it into the set somehow.

Clive
"Time immemorial" in those days was a week last Tuesday.

Stephen
Or, one of the oldest English ones is, "What is the most cleanliest leaf amongst all other leaves? It is Holly leafs, for no-one will wipe their arse with them." So humour, in those days, seems to be obsessed with farts and bottoms. We've moved on from there! Yeah.

Alan
The farting in the lap, I don't understand. Is she the only one doing it?

Stephen
"For the first time, a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap."

Alan
So women probably weren't allowed to have chairs, in those days. There weren't enough chairs, chairs were expensive, the man would have a chair and the woman would be on his lap and would fart…

Stephen
… all the time. And once there was a woman who didn't. That's worthy of report.

Alan [parodies]
Whoa ho ha ha.

Stephen
It's a very interesting joke. Anyway, here is a good gag. What sort of person wears one of these?

[Stephen produces a polystyrene dummy head encapsulated in a leather harness. He proceeds to remove the harness.]

Jan
Lawd.

Stephen
You can try it on yourself, if you like.

Clive
Oh this is a good idea.

Stephen [struggling with the straps]
It's got little…

Alan
The sound of polystyrene… Aaah!

Stephen
I know. [hands the harness to Alan] There you are, sorry. It has…

Alan
Oh this is a tongue thing. This is to stop, er… I can't remember what it's called but they've got one of these in the museum of torture down… near where the clinic is. Do you put it in…?

Stephen
You can open the side somehow, so that bit goes inside the mouth, you're right.

Alan
It stops the lady talking. I can't remember what they're called.

Clive
Would 'pony boy' come in there somewhere?

Stephen
'Pony boy'? Excuse me! That's it…

[Alan dons the harness]

Stephen
Oh I say, it fits you rather well.

Alan [removing the harness to adjust the straps]
It sounded like you were having an idea then. Quite disconcerting.

Stephen
Giddyup, giddyup.

Alan
"Now you've really… given me a thought there, Alan."
"Alfred Hitchcock, report to my room."
[he manages to get the device on]

Stephen
"Actually, don't bother to have him scrubbed."

Alan
Hwaaah.

Stephen
Is that a call, anybody know?

Alan
Uh qwick eh caygl…

Stephen
So close…

Alan
A wick en ah doan gno ani can't tork.

Clive
What's the answer, Alan? Let's do the letters, one for yes…
Is it 'A'?

Alan
Uh uh.
[removes the device with a relieved look]

Jimmy
Is it a device used for pigs when they're constipated; I'm pretty sure that's one of those.

Stephen
Awww. [groans]

Jimmy
Sorry, I probably should've said before. What they do is they strap it on then ram it home.

Clive
So it's a sort of chastity belt for the face.

Stephen
Yeah, it's known as a Scold's Bridle…

Alan
Scold's Bridle!

Jimmy
Ideally you've got to get it before he says it.

Stephen
The other punishment, the more common punishment was what's called a cucking stool – which is often called a ducking stool, quite wrongly, it is actually a cucking stool -

Clive
"Excuse me! It's the wrong word, argh!" … "… cucking stool…"

Jimmy
So who had to wear one of these, apart from Alan?

Stephen
Well nagging, the malicious, spiteful, gossipy women… The male equivalent of scolding and gossiping is barratry, a barrater was a male equivalent. But oddly enough, there are no real records of these being used. There are fifty of them in Britain at the moment, this is the replica of one that comes from Walton-on-Thames.

Viewscreens : Illustration of variations in the design.

Stephen
Ooh, there… more of them there, look at that. Extraordinary.

Clive
That one's been made to look like a dog as well just as a, sort of, additional punishment.

Jimmy
Yeah that second one's not very practical, is it? Is that sticking out the front or the back of the head?

Stephen
What's going on there?

Clive
It must be out the front so she can breathe.

Stephen
That's the male version, that's… the beard, you can see the beard… that must be for a barrater. There you are.

So, for a bit of fun with genetics now… What do you get if you cross a caterpillar with a butterfly?

Alan
Ooh. A butterpillar.

Stephen
Ow!

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

Alan
Caterfly.

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

Alan
I feel such a fool.

Jimmy
Can I just say I'm reading a book at the moment - I haven't finished it – about a very, very hungry caterpillar… 'cause I think I might know where it's going but I don't want to spoil it.

Clive
So are you saying there is some species that reproduces half-way through it's life cycle?

Stephen
There is a theory which a man has put forward. Which is that, actually, they are different species. I know this sounds insane…

Jimmy
Ah, what he's done there, is he's not understood. That's what happened 'cause, fair enough, it is complicated. Was it Alan that put this forward?

Stephen
I'll tell you his name. His name is Donald Williamson, formerly of the University of Liverpool. It's called hybridogenesis apparently. Now, it does seem pretty off-the-wall to say that they are two different species but he has some…

Clive
That's a fantastic idea though 'cause you're members of the same club.

Jimmy
You know, but sometimes you see an old guy like in St. Tropez with a really lovely beautiful blonde girl and you think, "Well… maybe." Maybe this is a similar thing, caterpillars had a lot of money.

Stephen
Yeah.

Jan
No such thing as an ugly rich bloke.

Stephen
Williams… His star witness in this was a starfish called Luidia Sarsi. Starts life as a small larva with a tiny starfish inside. As the larva grows, the starfish migrates to the outside, the larva settles on the sea bed and they separate. This is normal. But, in this one, something remarkable happens. Instead of degenerating, the larva swims off and lives for several months as an independent animal. It's as if the caterpillar and butterfly were alive at the same time.

And he reasons, the point is that, for millions upon millions of years – particularly in the sea – sperm and seed are being mixed from hundreds of thousands if not millions of different species, and just once every million years they happen to create a double species. Methinks it's not impossible. Well, we're not sure we believe it but we are intrigued by it's possibilities.

Now to something completely disconnected: Where are 1% of American adults?

Jimmy
Ooh, I imagine we could find out, couldn't we? Use Google Earth, 'cause some of them are quite big. "There's one. He's got his own postcode."

Stephen
1% of the population, which is… What's the population, about?

Clive
300 million, isn't it?

Stephen
So you're talking about two and a half, maybe three million.

Alan
Jail.

Stephen
Yes. 'G' for gaol – English spelling of jail, of course, but it is 'G' for gaol.

Viewscreens: Picture of inmates lined up.

Alan
Really? That many people? Three million people are locked up?

Stephen
Well, two point three, which is one in every 9.1 adults.

Jimmy [pointing to Viewscreens]
All of those guys there are innocent as well because they all were arrested for having switchblades but they've all only got one arm.

Stephen
Well spotted. Proportionally the Americans have more than twice as many as South Africans, more than three times as many as the Iranians, more than six times as many as the Chinese. No society in history has imprisoned more of it's citizens than the United States of America.

Clive
We've done pretty well, haven't we, we top the European league…

Stephen
We're also… we're ahead of China, Turkey and India with our 148 prisoners per 100,000.

Clive
It's the 'three strikes and they're out' that's been the…

Stephen
That's been the real problem, yeah.

Jimmy
I mean, a legal system based on baseball just seems bizarre. You can't be expected to understand the law, it's all very complicated… what's simple? What do people like? Baseball. Right, then.

Stephen
Three strikes and you're out, yeah.

Jimmy
Mental.

Stephen
What it means is, the first two strikes – the first two crimes you're convicted of, if serious enough – the third one, no matter how trivial, will get a life sentence, twenty-five years or more. So, for example, Leandro Andrade is serving two twenty-five year terms, for shoplifting nine video tapes.

Jimmy
He took nine?

Stephen
Yes. Kevin Weber, twenty-six years for stealing four chocolate chip cookies. It's astonishing.

Clive
It's really stupid, isn't it? Because you know you're on this, sort of, deal…

Jimmy
Take five.

Stephen
That is the idea.

Clive
Do a double murder, do a bank job -

Stephen
There's no point in doing anything trivial, no, I know. It is a bit bonkers but their racial numbers are a bit worrying, out of the gender numbers it's one in thirty men aged 20-34 is behind bars, but for black males that's one in nine. There are more 17-year old black people in jail than in college. So 5% of the world are American, 25% of all prisoners are American.

Jimmy
And isn't the real controversy here the business… end of it?

Stephen
Well that's true, it's also – as you say, rightly – it is a business.

Jimmy
Because it's not just licence plates, they make loads of stuff.

Stephen
Well one of the things I should have said, when talking about contraband, is that you're not allowed to bring into America anything that's made by forced labour or prisons. But in America you could almost say, if you were so minded, that they've reinvented the slave trade. They produce, for example, 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bulletproof vests, ID tags and other items of uniform. 93% of domestically-produced paints, 36% of home appliances, 21% of office furniture. Which allows the United States to compete with factories in Mexico because, of course, the workers can't refuse to work for 25 cents per hour.

Jimmy
I'd very much like to say something hilarious but something must be done.

Stephen
It is a bit amazing, isn't it?

Jimmy
Extraordinary. It's slavery by the back door…

Stephen
Exactly.

Jimmy
… which is another video I've got.

Alan
In prison is there incentive for you to work?

Stephen
You get solitary confinement if you refuse to work. Yeah, more than one in a hundred American adults are in jail.

And now it gives me enormous pleasure to say that it is general ignorance time again, so fingers on buzzers if you would…

What mischief did Cornish Wreckers get up to?

Jimmy
Ooh I'd imagine it'd involve the gene pool, didn't it?

Jan
[presses buzzer, which plays "Give Me Just a Little More Time"]

Stephen
Jan.

Jan
The Wreckers lit fires and lured boats onto rocks by pretending…

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words "LURED SHIPS ONTO THE ROCKS"

Stephen
Ooh dear.

Jimmy [to Jan]
You're thinking of mermaids.

Alan
Sounded good, I was totally sold on that idea.

Stephen
Well the weird thing…

Jan
They did!

Stephen
That is the myth, but they didn't. There's no record of it ever happening. No contemporary source mentions the practice in Cornwall, there was one accusation in Anglesey but that turned out to not result in a conviction.

Clive
Weren't people hanged for this sort of crime?

Stephen
No, because there is no record of it.

Clive
It never happened.

Stephen
There's only records of it in novels like…? [he turns to Jan]

Jan
Jamaica Inn.

Stephen
Jamaica Inn, exactly.

Jan
By Daphne du Maurier.

Stephen
Which you know all about because I happen to know you won Celebrity Mastermind and what was your specialist subject?

Jan
It was Daphne du Maurier, curiously… yeah, yeah. But I'm very surprised at this, actually.

Stephen
It seems it was invented – many people believe – by Methodist preachers who wished to portray the Cornish as barbarous people in need of Chapel. It was taken up by Victorian romantic novelist Daphne du Maurier.

Clive
The stuff you learn on this program!

Stephen
And it was repeated in the history of Cornwall by the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, who wrote Onward Christian Soldiers. And was the subject of a rather strange, typically Victorian story where he was at a children's party and met a little girl, and said to her, "Who's little girl are you?" And the little girl burst into tears and said, "Yours, Daddy." He did have fifteen children but it's still a bit shocking.

Alan
Nearly as bad as the comedian who had an act and an agent approached him… "I think you're very, very good. Do you have representation? Who's your agent?" and he said, "You are."

Stephen
Ooh dear. Edward James, the great art collector, wrote in his autobiography that his mother, shouting one Sunday morning, yelled "Nanny…. Nanny, I'm going to church. I want one of my daughters to go with me." And nanny said, "Very good, Mrs. James, which one?" and she said "Oh, the one with red hair – she'll go with this coat." That's parenthood! There you go. Anyway, it seems, sadly, that the Wreckers may have made a living salvaging stuff from shipwrecks but there's no evidence that they ever deliberately lured ships onto the rocks.

How could Archimedes have moved the Earth?

Viewscreens: Graphic of Archimedes with lever in one hand leveraging the Earth, his other hand held to his head in thought.

Jimmy
[presses buzzer, which plays "Gimme All Your Lovin'"]

Stephen
Jimmy.

Jimmy
I fear I'm going to say something… "He could have made love to me like a wild man."

Clive
[presses buzzer, which plays "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!"]
Didn't he say he just wanted a fulcrum big enough? And then he could use a lever to move the Earth. Is that him?

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words "WITH A LEVER".

Stephen
Yeah, but he couldn't have done it.

Clive
Well I'm only quoting him!

Stephen
Well he didn't say 'with a lever'. He said…

Jan
That's the best available source!

Jimmy
Surely the best way to move the Earth is some sort of montage with a Coldplay song? Sporting achievements and maybe Take That's greatest day.

Clive
You'll be saying next that Archimedes' screw wasn't up to much either.

Stephen
I'm sure it was. No, he did say, "Dos moi pousto kaikino tangain" – "Give me a place to stand and I will move the Earth." That is the point, he discovered the power of the lever.

Jimmy
Oh, he was big, wasn't he?

Stephen
One of our elves worked out that if he weighed a hundred kilograms – which is sort of reasonable – and he placed his fulcrum a kilometre away from the bottom of the Earth, in order to balance the planet he would need a lever six point five billion light-years long… and assuming he could find a lever stiff enough and he moved his end one metre, the Earth would move by a distance less than the diameter of a single proton.

Clive
He wasn't to be taken literally.

Jan
You lost me very early on with that one.

Clive
He wasn't to be taken literally, Stephen, for goodness sake!

Stephen
No but it is interest…

Clive
I feel like I've been penalised for the fact that you're taking his words as if he meant he was actually going to do it. He was merely…

Stephen
No but I'm asking how he could have.

Jimmy
Who's he on the phone to?

Clive
"Is that Socrates? I saw a play about you…"

Jimmy
Can we all move the Earth every time we walk around, in a literal… sense? Does it move a little bit?

Stephen
Well…

Jimmy
Because there's that fact about if everyone in China, at the same time, jumped up and down… they'd be livid.

Alan
He's saying, "Did you put my toga in with that red towel?"

Stephen
Well if you jump up – according to Newtonian insight – you could move the Earth by a tiny amount… But it would move back or cancel itself out in accordance with that law of motion. So the jumping up and down thing would cancel itself out. But in theory…

Clive
All that effort getting everyone in China to do that's a complete waste of time.

Stephen
It is, unfortunately.

Clive
Speaking literally…

Stephen
Archimedes would have moved the Earth more by jumping in the air and shouting " Eureka !" than by using a lever.

This is all we have time for this week so it's time to look at the scores… Oh my goodness, oh my gracious, oh my good heavens. Our winner is the first-time Jan Ravens with six points! And in second place with minus seven, Jimmy Carr… in third place with minus fourteen, Clive Anderson… I'm afraid that means this week's loser is Alan with minus eighteen…

So that's it from Jan, Jimmy, Clive, Alan and me. Good night.