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Series 8, Episode 1

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

TRANSCRIPT

Stephen
Gooooood evening and welcome to tonight’s QI, and tonight we have a higgledy piggledy hodgepodge of things beginning with H.

And joining me tonight are the humongous Phil Jupitus, the hyperbolic Ross Noble, the hygienic Jack Dee, and ho-hum it’s Alan Davies.

So anytime you want to say “Hi”, give me a bell, and Jack goes: 

Jack

[presses buzzer, which plays the sound of a church bell] 

Stephen

And Phil goes:

Phil

 [presses buzzer, which plays the sound of a tea bell] 

Stephen

And Ross goes:

Ross

[presses buzzer, which plays a vocal harmony of the words “ring-a-ding”]   

Yeah, thank you. And Alan goes:

Alan

[presses buzzer, which plays the sound of the klaxons] 

Viewscreens: flash the words “MINUS 10

Alan

[laughs]

Stephen

I’m sorry. I’m so, so not sorry. So, let’s give this pudding a stir, gentlemen. Why do bankers like long haired men…

Viewscreens: Photo of a woman’s legs in a short skirt, with a man seated in the background, flanked by two identical photos of Ross Noble.

Ross

Ooh, ‘ello.

Stephen

…and short skirted women?

Ross

Oh god, is there any need for that, really? I mean, come on.

Stephen

[laughs] That’s charming.

Ross

And the scariest thing is; I’m wearing the same shirt.

Stephen

You are! How do they do that?

Ross

Look at that. That is appalling isn’t it?

Jack

I’ve got to hand it to you, Ross, you’ve got lovely legs.

Ross

Unfortunately, that suppository was the oddest shaped one I’d ever used. It was…

Stephen

[laughs]

Ross

…no wonder he’s not smiling.

Alan [to Ross]

Oh god, I’ve only just noticed you.

Stephen

The full question is why do bankers like long haired men and short skirted women?

Phil

Bi-curious.

Ross

Is it like when you’re in the bank, and you sort of like lean forward like that, and the hair just brushes off all the little receipt stubs? Like that, and the bankers are sat there going, “Brilliant, I don’t have to go around and clean that up.” Like a sort of a reverse Hoover.

Stephen

Right, OK.

Ross

Yeah.

Stephen

Fair enough. What do financiers look for? When are they happiest?

Phil

When they’re rolling in money.

Stephen

Yes, when do they earn more money?

Jack

In the summer?

Stephen

No…

 Alan

In the sixties.

Stephen

…what’s, yeah. What? Yes. What’s the word for a period of prosperity?

Jack

Boom.

Stephen

A boom, and as opposed to a bust or a recession. Now it just so happens that throughout the 20th century the length of women’s skirts in fashion was exactly correlated to the rise and fall of the stock market.

Viewscreens: A graph of the rise and fall of the Stock Market over pairs of women’s legs in varying lengths of skirt.

And as skirts got shorter and shorter, right up to the Wall St crash, the flapper skirts, and then instantly skirt lengths got longer again during the Depression.

Jack

And the, the long hair is correspondingly long hair means uh, a boom?

Stephen

Yes, it’s a negative correlation as it were, the further down the hair the further up the market. There are other indicators or at least things that go with boom and bust. Sales of things that go up.

Phil

Dogs in bags.

Stephen

Dogs in bags?

Phil

Dogs in bags, I imagine that’s a boom thing.

Ross

Isn’t that like an Essex delicacy? [Essex accent] “Can I ‘ave a couple ‘a Dogs in Bags, mate. Couple ‘a them.”

Alan

Is it like Chicken in a Basket?

Ross

Yeah, Chicken in a Basket. Dog in a Bag.

Stephen

Dog in a bag.

Ross

Lovely.

Alan

It’s a Korean delicacy.

Viewscreens: Photo of a busy stock exchange during trading.

Stephen

People buy more perishable foods during a boom, you know, meats, fish and things like that. And the more; pastas and things that you can store; during a bust.

But anyway, it seems that according to Hemline Theory, girls hemlines go up as the market goes up, and so when a banker looks at a girls legs his mind is strictly on business.

What starts with H and means that you’ll always be the bridesmaid and never the bride?

Viewscreens: Photo of a row of bridesmaids (still from the film ‘I Love You, Man’).

Phil

Hepatitis C.

Stephen

[laughs] Ohh! Oddly enough you’re surprisingly close… in a kind of way.

Phil

Oh. Herpes.

Stephen

Well, you got the right first and last letter.

Jack

Halitosis?

Stephen

Halitosis is the right answer.

Jack

Is that right? I could have come up with that and got the laugh in the first place.

Stephen

Aye! Halitosis was made up. It was made up by…

Phil

Listerine.

Viewscreens: Photo of Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse as ‘The Old Gits’.

Stephen

By Listerine, the company that made Listerine, Lambert Pharmacia. And they had this product that they named after Joseph Lister, the father of antiseptic surgery, who kind of made everybody wash everything.

Viewscreens: Photo of bottles of mouthwash.

And they used it first of all as an antiseptic, and then without changing the formula it was for washing floors, and then it was a cure for gonorrhoea, and then they thought, “We’ll call it a mouthwash.” The same thing!

Ross

Was there a point where that was combined, it was like a gonorrhoea thing and they went “Actually, my mouth’s quite… yeah. Ooh, my halitosis is gone there. Lovely.”

Stephen

Well, they invented essentially this new product, a mouthwash, it never really existed before, there’d never been any need for it. And so they had to invent a problem for it to solve.

And they started this campaign, saying you know “Hotel clerks say that one in three guests who checks in have halitosis” and “Dentists say 83 per cent of patients have halitosis” and people began to get very nervous about [exhales into his hand] about their breath. Of course people do have dog breath, let’s be honest, there are.

And dogs, as they say, have people breath.

Alan

How can you tell someone?

Stephen

It’s so difficult. That was part of, that was one of their campaigns actually.

Alan

That’s why packets of mints were invented.

Stephen

Yeah.

Alan

I always feel like when someone’s offering me a mint that’s definitely what they’re saying.

Stephen

[laughs] It’s true, I mean, you know, these were the kinds of things they used as advertising slogans. They went from a tiny company to a vast one.

Jack

By inventing a name for something that was quite, that was...

Stephen

Kind of, calling it a disease, and people thought “Oh, I’ve got halitosis and this is like a medical product that will sort of deal with it”

Jack

I see.

Stephen

And no one before, people have probably eaten things to sweeten their breath before, but uh, it just…

Alan

I had a picture taken once with a koala…

Stephen

Mmm…

Ross

You could just leave that there.

Stephen

[laughs] You could!

Alan

[mouths] Leave that there.

And it was eating eucalyptus leaves, like they do, which are poisonous, but they’ve got a 48 mile intestine or something and they can digest it. But its breath was amazing.

Stephen

It’s sweet. It’s lovely, isn’t it?

Alan

It was amazing. It was pure eucalyptus, it was like Olbas Oil.

Stephen

And even their fur smells lovely, it is gorgeous.

Alan

It was really amazing. It looked at me and went [exhales].

[mimes surprise and delight] You’re great, koala!

Ross

Is that the excuse you used when you started putting the moves on it?

[sticks out tongue lasciviously]

Hey, koala started it! It was cuddling me, next thing you know, beautiful breath, I thought I’d have a go.

Alan

None of that happened [laughs]

Ross

You say it didn’t happen.

Jack

So if you had a really bad throat could you get yourself a koala bear and put it in a big bowl and a tea towel and [mimes leaning over bowl, inhaling koala scent] That’d be a way to cure it.

Stephen

You wouldn’t want your wife coming in and seeing that.

Jack

No, no.

Stephen

Oh, lord.

Phil

Why not buy one of my outback inhalers? They’re cuddly and gorgeous.

People just [inhales] suckin’ on a koala.

Alan [Australian accent]

Here he is, the little fella, here he comes now, the little [mimes inhaling the koala]

Phil

Oh, Australian asthmatics going “Oh no, dear, I’m getting the koala out.” [mimes inhaling the koala]

Ross

Wouldn’t that have been brilliant if…

Phil

[mimes tickling the koala]

Alan

[laughs] Tickle his feet! [mimes tickling] Little fella!

Ross

That would have been brilliant if in Star Wars when they’d taken off Vader’s helmet you just had a koala in there. [Exhales] “Oh, that’s better”.

Alan

His breath!

Stephen

Behave, now.

So there you are. Halitosis was invented by an advertising agency to shift mouthwash.

Now to handedness. Who might use a left handed motorbike?

Viewscreens: Photo of Alan hanging from the handlebars of a speeding motorbike.

Stephen

Aww…

Alan

Funny outfit I’ve got on.

Stephen

It’s, yeah, do you remember wearing that?

Alan

No.

Stephen

No.

Alan

I remember that motorbike ride though, it was exhilarating.

Ross

Is it uh, one armed men?

Stephen

No… I mean, I guess they would have a use for it. But there was a real market for left handed…

Alan

By which you mean throttle on the left?

Stephen

Yeah. 

Jack

[buzzes]

Stephen

Yessir?

Jack

Was it something to do with needing your right hand free for holding a gun, or I don’t know?

Stephen

Yes! Spot on. Holding a gun.

Jack

Where can I get one of these motorbikes?

 Stephen

[laughs] They turned the company that made them, the Indian Motorcycle company; ‘Motocycle’ in fact they call themselves, there they are, the Indians. It’s an American motorcycle company.

Viewscreens: Photo of an Indian motorbike.

Between the wars they were the largest motorcycle company in the world, and part of it was because they sold so many of these left handed bikes to…

Alan

Cowboys?

Jack

Cowboys?

Stephen

The police. Police all over America. So the police could drive and accelerate and decelerate and kill people with guns… at the same time.

Ross

Why didn’t they just fix a bayonet on the front?

Stephen

That would be…

Ross

[mimes driving and stabbing]

In fact, in fact, I’m thinking of getting one of those for my motorbikes for cyclists.

Stephen

Really?

Ross

Yeah.

Alan

A bayonet?

Ross

Not to stab them or anything, just to go “Cheeky.” [mimes gently poking]

Just a cheeky poke.

Alan

It doesn’t need to be a bayonet then.

Viewscreens: Photo of a two policemen in a motorbike with a sidecar and rifle.

Ross

Well, if you can use a bayonet, use a bayonet. And that’s what I think.

Alan

It could be something else. Like a…

Ross

A broom handle.

Alan

A cucumber or something.

Ross

[laughs]

Alan

[points to viewscreen]

You don’t need a right hander, look, if you just got a bloke in your sidecar with a tommy gun, you’re fine.

Stephen

I know, unfortunately that was the only photograph we could find.

I’ve got some left handed things here, some of which you can see the point of.

This is a left handed sort of Biro or pen. It’s a rather peculiar shape there.

Jack

It makes me feel slightly sick looking at it.

Stephen [hands Alan the pen]

Strange, I think the idea is so you don’t, so you don’t smudge.

Ross

Like, left handed people are like, naturally evil, that’s what they say isn’t it?

Stephen

[laughs]

Ross

No, that’s a well-known fact. Those pens, do all they write just like “I will kill again. I will kill again. I will kill again”.

Stephen

It’s a possessed pen, the left handed pen, is it?

Alan

It’s really hard to write with.

Viewscreens: Photos of left handed implements.

Stephen

This is a left handed, do you want to try that, try it with your right hand. [hands Jack a pencil sharpener]

Jack

It’s just going to drive me crazy.

Stephen

Yeah, I mean I don’t know if there are any left handed people in the audience have ever found that pencil sharpeners are a real bore, for right… in a right handed world?

Jack

See, that is… that has already annoyed me.

Stephen

Did it? That’s how a left handed person would feel with ours then.

Ross

Last thing you want to do…

Jack

Well, they should’ve just adapted when they were younger.

Stephen

[laughs] Whoa!

Jack

What’s wrong with having a stutter?

Stephen

It’s not a condition, being left handed! It’s not an illness.

Jack

Well, you say that.

Stephen

[laughs] Now left handed scissors, of course, are quite well known.

Ross

Oh, don’t give a left hand a scissor. It’ll stab you in the face. Stab you in the face soon as look at you.

Jack

It’s where the word sinister comes from, isn’t it? Isn’t that right?

Stephen

Sinister indeed is the Latin for left, yeah. If you’re ambisinistrous; what does that mean?

Jack

Um, left handed and left footed.

Stephen

It kind of means you’re crap with both hands.  Ambidextrous is you’re good with both hands. Ambisinistrous is you can’t write with either hand. [mimes being uncoordinated]

But this, this will annoy you then. A left handed can opener. [hands Jack the can opener]

There, you see. But then, just assume that all left handed people are just as annoyed by right handed things.

Jack

But, just assume…

Stephen

But they’re a minority so they should be punished, Jack is it?

Jack

At least they’re warned, you see, one of those could turn up in your kitchen with no warning. You turn up in the morning, you know “Argh…” [fumbles with can opener]

Ross

The only thing that could annoy Jack more now is if he opens that can and it’s all left handed peaches.

Stephen

[laughs] Just imaj!

Well, thank you, you can give them back now, 'cause I can see they’ve upset you.

Jack

There is a left handed shop where you can buy all these things, and my sister is left handed. And I actually thought one Christmas I will buy her something, you know, that’ll be a thoughtful thing. And there’s the shop, go straight, bang [mimes smacking face] right into it! And of course the door opened on the other side.

Stephen

That’s brilliant!

There’s another motorbike question there that might interest you. Why do you think motorbikes aren’t charged congestion fees in London?

Ross

[buzzes]

Stephen

Yes, Ross Noble?

Ross

You’re expecting us to say “'Cause they don’t cause congestion”.  And the thing will go [imitates klaxons], but it’s because of the cameras.

Stephen

Yes.

Ross

Motorbikes have a plate on the back, and they don’t have a plate on the front, so the camera only takes a photo from the front, so there’s no way of knowing who it is.

Stephen

You are absolutely right, and there are points in you for that.

Ross

Thank you very much. I’d just, thank you. I’d just…

Stephen

Very good.

Ross

I’d just like to point out; that is the only thing I know. The only thing. And it’s come up. I can’t believe that. In my brain, as you started saying that, I went “I know what he’s going to say here. I can use my one bit of knowledge.”

Stephen

Oh! Superb. Well done. Very good indeed.

Alan

They used to have a number plate on the front mud guard.

Stephen

They did, sideways on, sort of…

Alan

Absolutely lethal. That’s why all cars now are big, smooth, soft fronted things.

Stephen

Yeah.

Jack

It’s actually now safe to be run over.

Stephen

Yes!

Jack

Perfectly fine.

Ross

You know what would be brilliant, is if they had like external airbags so that as soon as you hit somebody, your car became a bouncy castle.  So it’d be like brilliant wouldn’t it, you’d be like, walking along and you’d go “Oh no!” and then bang! And then “Eyyy!”

Jack

Then you’d get collateral damage, you’d get a passer-by who’d just get shot into a shop window.

Ross

Even better! Or like, if you’re just about to be run over and go, “Oh, better take my shoes off.”

Stephen

[laughs] Thank you. Good, well.

Left handed motorcycles allowed right handed American policemen to shoot at people while they were chasing them.

Why would a hoplophobe be particularly nervous of a Sturmgewehr Vierundvierzig with a Krummlauf modification?

Viewscreens: Photo of a man clutching his face in distress.

Phil [buzzes]

'Cause he was French.

Stephen

Well, yeah, kind of true. It is of course a German something.

Phil

It is a…

Stephen

Sturmgewehr 44

Phil

Sturm… is it a firearm?

Stephen

It is a firearm.

Phil

Is it a machine gun?

Stephen

It’s not a machine gun. Funnily enough, I have one.

Audience member:

Assault rifle.

Stephen

Ooh, assault rifle. Somebody speaks German there.

Jack

Whoa. That was slightly scary wasn’t it?

Stephen

Yeah.

Alan

You know you said that out loud, didn’t you?

Jack

[monotone] It’s an assault rifle.

Phil

[monotone] I’ve got eight in my bunker. Can’t tell you where, it’s a secret location.

Alan

[holds up tin can] I’ve got hundreds of these as well.

Phil

[monotone] Come the day.

Stephen

Would you like to see one?

Phil

[monotone] Come the day.

Alan

Yeah, I would.

Phil

[monotone] Some of us will be ready.

Stephen

They’re very big, they’re very heavy.

Alan

[to the audience member] All your Christmases have come at once. Look at this!

[to Stephen] You’ve got no idea what you’re doing with that.

Stephen

There is the Sturmgewehr, which is a German Second World War assault rifle. The first assault rifle there ever was. But the Krummlauf is the interesting part…

Alan

Oh, I can see it.

Stephen

The Krummlauf is this modification here.

Phil

They don’t like it up ‘em.

Stephen

So this is a genuine article, it’s brought to us by our very nice friends from the Royal Armouries in Leeds, it’s going to spend the night in the Tower of London tonight. And this is this extraordinary Krummlauf.

Alan

It can shoot over the trench?

Viewscreens: Photo of a soldier aiming a rifle over a wall.

Stephen

You shoot over a wall or around a corner, and this is a periscope and so if I’m here I can actually, I assure you, it has been deactivated, I promise you. There is no chance, it’s been checked and double checked. But I can see the audience in my, and I can see the sights as well, in the periscope.

Jack

Has this been converted into a waterer for flower baskets?

Stephen

I am pointing at the back row of the audience. And that allows me to do that, or as you rightly say, around a corner.

Ross

But there’s another gun isn’t there, there’s one that actually shoots round a corner?

Stephen

Yes. The Israeli army uses that, and we might even have a picture of it. It is a much more modern development. There it is.

Viewscreens: Photo of a First World War soldier and a present day soldier, both holding guns.

Ross

Yep.

Stephen

That really is extraordinary. And behind though is the first of its kind, a very simple invention, an Australian invention in the First World War, where you see a genuine rifle on top of the trench, and a thing holding it, and a periscope looking through the sight. Quite clever.

Jack

But much cooler just to go [mimes jumping out from behind a wall and firing a gun]

Stephen

Oh yes. So right. But there it is. It was in about 1943 it was invented, they started making them in ’44, it was too late, Jerry didn’t win the war as you probably know. We gave them a bit of an old spanking as a matter of fact.

But um, this was in great demand for you know, the Panzer people liked them in their tanks.

Phil

Please tell me on the other side of the desk you’ve got the left handed one.

Stephen

Yeah.

 Ross

That one that goes round the corner, do they have like ones that go that way, and ones that go that way? 'Cause that would really annoy you if you ran up and you went [mimes pointing gun] “Oh no…”

Alan

Got to go all the way round the block. [mimes running]

Stephen

It was invented by a man called Hans-Joachim Schaede who was a washing machine manufacturer, in fact. He invented it for…

Alan

So it’s got a spin cycle as well?

Stephen

[laughs] It’s got a spin cycle

Ross

So was he just trying to like, drum up a bit of business? On the adverts when they go “It gets blood out. Oh, I tell you what…” [mimes firing gun] “You’ll be needing a washing machine.”

Stephen

And I said a hoplophobe, and a hoplophobe is someone who hates weapons.

Phil

Really?

Stephen

Yep.

Jack

I thought it was someone who was scared of hoopla’s.

Stephen

According to Urbandictionary.com, this literally is their definition.

“An irrational fear of weapons, generally guns. Usually occurring as a result of a liberal upbringing, or the fact the person is just a wimp in general. Rather than deal with the fear, said hoplophobe will assign human characteristics to a weapon i.e. “Guns are evil.” or “Guns kill.” to justify the fear, rather than deal with the core problem of being a sissy.”

Phil

I tell you something; he wrote that [points to audience member]

Stephen

[laughs] He may have done. “Assault rifle.” Yep.

Ross

I tell you what; I bet he wrote it with a left handed pen.

Alan [gets out of his seat and goes under Stephens desk looking for the rifle]

Stephen

No, don’t play with it, 'cause they did ask that nobody else touch it 'cause it is very valuable, I’m afraid. 

Alan

Oh! I was going to make it go over the desk.

Stephen

[laughs] Yeah, I’m sorry.

Alan

[crawls back to his seat] I can’t believe I’m not allowed to play with it.

Stephen

I’m afraid I was given very specific Alan-not-to-touch instructions. It is very valuable.

Ross

I love the fact that somewhere there’s a memo that just says “Machine Gun – for Stephen Fry’s use only.”

Stephen

[laughs] Yeah.

Ross

[mimes reading memo] What? [laughs]

Stephen

Anyway, yes.

The age old problem of firing guns around corners has been solved by making guns that fire around corners. Time to inject a bit of humour and hilarity, I reckon.

So, why did the bomb disposal expert go to the joke shop?

Viewscreens: Photo of a man in uniform defusing a bomb outside a joke shop.

Alan

Something you can get in a joke shop that helps you with bomb disposing?

Stephen

Yeah.

Alan

Fake poos.

Stephen

Take me through the chain of…

Alan

I don’t know how that would work.

Ross

Is it eh, whoopee cushions? Put a whoopee cushion under to release the pressure plate on a…

Stephen

Oh that’s quite smart thinking, it’s not that actually. They’re called ammunition technicians, and they use a thing you might get in a joke shop or a party shop.

Alan

A flower that sprays water?

Stephen

It is something you spray.

Jack

Oh, is it that squirty stuff, the um…

Ross

Silly string?

Stephen

Silly string! Silly string. Now what use would silly string be?

Phil

Does it fill up the fuse area and block everything up?

Stephen

No, it’s not that. It’s in case there are trip wires, very invisible trip wires

Phil

Oh!

Stephen

And you spray it out and they fall on the trip wire without triggering it. And particularly they have of course fluorescent silly string, so in dark corners where you might be, there’s always the possibility because so many bombs are booby-trapped.

Phil

It’s nice that that’s a real thing, but I just prefer them leaning over a bomb going [mimes honking an air horn]

Alan

With a big Margaret Thatcher mask. With a rubber chicken.

Ross

I have to say, that would have improved that film ‘The Hurt Locker’.

“Eyyy!” [mimes shooting silly string]

Stephen

Yes it would have.

Phil

 [mimes honking an air horn] [imitates clown horn]

Stephen

Anyway, the army uses silly string to check for trip wires in booby-trapped houses.

From houses to holes. You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole, so how would you make a square hole with a round drill? That’s the question, can it be done?

Viewscreens: Photo of perforated board and the outline of a square, surrounded by various drill bits.

Jack [ buzzes]

Stephen

Yes, Jack Dee?

Jack

I would drill four small holes that; don’t laugh before it’s happened; I might surprise you yet. I’m thinking while I talk. I would drill four small holes that would describe a square if I was to join them.

Stephen

By the corners?

Jack

Corners. And then with a hacksaw I would join them and knock the square through, thus creating a square.

Stephen

It’s a way of punching a square into the surface. But there is actually a way of using a round drill bit to…

Jack

Well, my way’s better.

Stephen

[laughs]

Ross

That would’ve been brilliant if it’d gone [imitates klaxons] and every word you said…

Stephen

[laughs] One day!

Ross

Even the bit where he says…

Stephen

“Don’t laugh before you’ve said”

Ross

… you’ve said it” was on there.

Jack

[laughs] Yeah, yeah yeah.

Stephen

There’s a particular shape, a sort of circular triangle, which, when it revolves, a part of it makes a square.

Ross

A circular triangle?

Stephen

Well, a rounded

Ross

'cause…?

Phil [to Ross]

Oh, no no no no no. This is your first time. This sort of thing happens all the time, right?

Ross

No, no.

Phil [imitates Stephen]

“It’s a sort of circular triangle.” [twiddles fingers deviously]

Alan [imitates Stephen]

“And it makes a square.”

Ross

It’s not the fact that I’m boggled by that, it’s the fact that I now realise there’s a possibility that you could have a Toblerone Rolo combo.

Stephen

[laughs] Yes!

Alan

Dreamt of that for years.

Stephen

Do you know the weird thing?

Ross

A Ro-blerone.

Stephen

Do you know what will freak you out completely, Ross Noble? Is the name for this form of triangle is a Reuleaux.

Ross

[stunned and delighted]

Stephen

It genuinely is.

Ross

I’m not joking…

Stephen

I think you have to have points for that, you somehow found a triangle that was a Reuleaux. It’s a Reuleaux triangle is what it’s called and it’s a very particular shape.

Alan

Have we got one and am I allowed to play with it?

Phil

We come on this show and we discover things, what I would like tonight is I’ve just discovered that the best three words to hear in a Geordie accent are “Toblerone Rolo combo”.

Ross

Thanks, now everyone I meet’s going to go “Could you say Toblerone, please?” “Go on Geordie man, dance for us.” [mimes poking]

Phil

You’ve got to form a band now.

Stephen

Yep.

Ross

Alright.

Phil

Called that.

Ross

Me and Cheryl Cole.

Phil

Yeah [laughs]

Ross

Her, me, and Jimmy Neil as a trio. “Ladies and gentlemen, The Toblerone Rolo Combo.”

Jack

And you’ve got to play the trombone.

Ross

The trombone.

Jack [imitates Ross]

The trombone.

Stephen

My God, yeah.

Right, OK. Do you want to see a picture of this Reuleaux triangle?

Ross

Yeah.

Stephen

You see, a Reuleaux triangle…

Ross

Is it only available in airports?

Yeah, no. Let’s roll it. There…

Viewscreens: Video of Reuleaux triangle drill bit rotating in a square hole.

Now you see there, that’s a sort of round ended triangle, there it is. And that, the drill bit, is describing a square, if you see? Exactly. Isn’t that crazy? How loony is that?

 Phil

You sicken me.

Stephen

[laughs] Now that shape maybe familiar if you like cars and bikes, it’s a type of piston, rotary piston. Which is known as a Wankel, or [pronounced V] Wankel if we prefer to say it that way.

Ross

Wankel was a bloke though wasn’t he? An actual bloke called Wankel.

Stephen

He was. Mr Wankel [pronounced V] was indeed a bloke.

Ross

That’s all you could do if your name was Wankel is go, what are you going to do with your life? Well, it’s going to have to be engines, isn’t it? Or sex toys.

Phil

And I, for one, looking at that, am glad that he went the engine path.

Stephen

Yeah. OK. So, you can make a square hole with a round drill. But this is something even more extraordinary in a way. [holds up an unusually shaped wooden object]

This is from an ordinary cylinder. And all you do is just cut two wedges off it, as long as the cylinder is as long as it is wide. You cut the two wedges, and you can do something, again, that you’re not supposed to be able to do.

Ross

Ah! Wedge the door open on a rabbit hutch?

Stephen

[laughs] No, it’s rather amazing, you’ve got the three Playschool windows.

[holds up a board with a round hole, a triangular hole and a square hole cut into it]

You’ve got the square, the triangle, and…

Phil

You can push it through all of them?

Stephen

That is a square now, see?

[Passes wooden object through the square hole as cheerful glockenspiel music begins to play]

See, square? Square.

Jack

Go on, put it through then.

Stephen

Also it’s… ooh hang on.

[passes it through the triangular hole]

Jack

Oh, I see.

Stephen

It’s also a triangle. And…

[passes it through the round hole]

…it’s a circle. Isn’t that amazing? Just one shape.

Ross

Can we just leave that like, at a playgroup, and watch the kids heads explode?

Stephen [to Alan]

Do you want to try?

[hands Alan the board and the shape]

Put the round into the square.

Alan [trying to pass the shape through the triangle]

No, doesn’t work now.

Viewscreens: Painting of a man hammering a round peg into a square hole.

Stephen

[laughs] It’s stopped working?

Alan

It’s stopped working. Broken, get the AA man.

Stephen

[laughs] Yeah, you got the circle.

Alan [passes it through the circle]

Circle, good, yes.

Stephen

Square?

Alan [passes it through the square]

Square, yes.

Stephen

Very good.

Alan

Triangle

[struggles with the triangle]

Jack

He wasn’t great at school, Alan.

Ross

You realise, if you get this through, a banana come out of a chute. [mimes a monkey]

Alan

[laughing, still struggling]

Ross

No bananas for you.

Alan

[finally passing through the triangle] Ayy! What a… I’m such a complete tool aren’t I really?

Stephen

Well done, don’t patronise me. [laughs]

Alan

Applause for getting a bit of thing through a hole.

Stephen

Excellent. So you can get a round peg into a square hole. ­And a square peg into a round hole.

Alan

[hands the board and the shape back to Stephen]

Let me play with the gun. I want to play with gun that shoots around corners.

Stephen

No, you can’t play with the gun.

Alan [muttering]

Special instructions “Don’t let Alan play with it.”

Phil

Police were baffled in London tonight by a series of murders committed round corners.

Stephen

Right, yes. Fact is, thanks to the wonders of geometry it’s quite possible to drill a square hole with a circular bit.

Viewscreens: Photo of a galaxy.

While we’re sanding and polishing, what is the roundest thing in the universe?

Phil

[raises hand]

Stephen

Yeah?

Phil

No, just saying. [raises both hands in an admission of roundness]

Stephen

Oh no! Phil… Oh, not at all.

Phil

You should see it when… no, um, the roundest thing in the universe?

Alan

Ball bearings?

Stephen

Ball bearings are quite round but…

Alan

I swallowed a ball bearing once.

Stephen

Did you?

Phil

You mean smoothest, most round…

Stephen

Well, yeah. The most purely, purely round, in other words. 'Cause if you, well…

Phil

The Earth is a thingy, isn’t it squashed, it’s not round.

Stephen

That’s right, it’s an oblate spheroid.

Phil

Woah, Nelly Furtardo!

Stephen

[laughs]

Phil

He’s got a word for everything.

Ross

Is it uh, a liquid drop, a water drop?

Stephen

They can get jolly round. They can be very round. Very nicely… We’re actually further out of space than Earth. Beyond Earth. It’s a cosmic phenomenon.

Jack

Is it a black hole?

Stephen

It’s that kind of a deal.

Ross

Oh it’s those um, space helmets, those big round space helmets with the things on the top.

Jack

Is it uh, is it the thing called the genius point, is it, the point at which everything goes to, ultimately?

Stephen

Not that, it’s when a supernova has a gravitational collapse it turns into something called a…? A neutron star.

Jack

Yeah.

Stephen

Yeah.

Ross

Oh, the neutron star!

Alan

They’re really round.

Viewscreens: Photo of a supernova.

Phil [shouting]

That’s not round!

Stephen

[laughs] No, that’s not round. That’s a supernova, I think. Going supernova.

Phil [shouting]

Then show us the round thing!

Stephen

[laughs] The recent… he’s very upset, aren’t you?

Phil [shouting]

Yes!

Stephen

It only has a diameter of about 15 miles or so, and there isn’t one near enough for you to be able to see it with the naked eye.

Jack

Have you ever noticed how we always have to take Stephens word for it?

Stephen

But what’s interesting is that if I had a thimbleful of a neutron star it would weigh more than a mountain.

Phil

Yeah, but you don’t.

Ross

I tell you what, imagine how confused the old woman darning your socks would be if you had a thimble full of it, and she was just trying to fix a hole and it goes [imitates sound of neutron star] and there’s all space and time coming out of a thimble. That’s no way to treat the elderly.

Stephen

You’re right.

Alan

You put a thimble down and no one could pick it up.

Stephen

Noone, no, not at all.

Jack

And when you’ve got a good cleaning lady you want to hang on to them, you don’t want to mess around. “I’m leaving Mr Dee.” Why? “Well, because of all this space business with your thimbles, I don’t like it.” 

Stephen

It might have double the mass of the sun but it’s only 15 miles across, roughly.

Alan

Wow.

Stephen

And the highest mountain on it is 5 millimetres. So it is superbly round. As opposed to the Earth, which although the Earth is jolly round, apart from the flat bits at the top. The point about the Earth is that it’s actually jolly smooth compared to say, a billiard ball.

Viewscreens: Photo of billiard balls and the Earth on a billiard table.

Phil

Smoother than a ping pong ball.

Stephen

Yes, now why is that? A snooker ball or a…

Phil

I’m sorry, I did not know there would be a follow-up question.

Stephen

Yeah [laughs]

Ross

Why is the Earth…

Stephen

If you were to scale up a snooker ball to the size of the Earth the mountains and trenches would be hugely greater than our highest mountains or deepest trenches, i.e. the little pits that you can see when you examine a snooker ball closely if scaled up to the size of the Earth would be gigantic, so the Earth in that sense is smoother than a billiard ball.

Which brings me round to a hypothetical question. What’s made of jelly and lives forever?

Viewscreens: Photo of a jelly and a spoon on a plate.

Phil [buzzes]

Shark infested custard. Wrong joke.

Ross

Oh, ah, is it a famous jelly?

Phil

Royal Jelly, bees?

Stephen

No, what lives and is made of jelly?

Alan

Jellyfish.

Stephen

A jellyfish. And what sort of jellyfish would live forever?

Ross

The Highlander.

Jack

Um, an eternal jellyfish?

Stephen

An eternal, or as it is known, the Immortal jellyfish.

Jack

The Immortal jellyfish, as I was about to say.

Stephen

Yeah, you were.

Viewscreens: Photos of the Immortal jellyfish.

Turritopsis, um, is its proper name and there it is, and the extraordinary thing about it is it doesn’t die. What happens after it sexes… [catches his mistake] After it sexes?

Ross [American accent]

I’m gonna sex ya, I’m a sexy jellyfish, I’m gonna sex ya.

Stephen

After it’s had sex, is the more normal way of saying it, I suppose.

Alan

I have sexed.

Ross

Margery, shall we sex?

Stephen

[laughs]

Ross

We haven’t sexed for a good week.

Alan [mimes answering a phone]

Can’t talk now, I’m sexing.

Stephen

Why don’t we say that, it’s perfectly logical isn’t it?

Alan

Some of us do say that.

Stephen

But anyway, there you are. After it’s sexed it can then turn back into a child. Its cells change function, the muscle cells and the sperm cells and the egg cells change back, and it literally goes, as it were, back in time and just starts again. It’s the same creature.

Ross

That’d be a bit unnerving for its partner though. Do you know what I mean? You’ve just made love and then [imitates sound of jellyfish changing back]

Alan [child’s voice]

Can we watch Grange Hill?

Stephen

Of course they do die, because they get eaten or they get diseased, but they don’t actually die of old age.

Phil

I’m trying to work out which of those five phases is the Emo one that paints his bedroom black and doesn’t talk to you for weeks.

Stephen

Well, now what about human attempts to be immortal or to rejuvenate at least, what was the great popular one earlier in the twentieth century?

Jack

Cliff Richard?

Stephen

[laughs] True.

Alan

Being frozen. Cryogenics.

Stephen

Well, that doesn’t really rejuvenate, that’s just kind of waiting until there’s a cure isn’t there, but…

Phil

Monkey glands? Royal Jelly?

Stephen

Monkey glands. And what did they mean by monkey glands?

 Phil

The glands… of a monkey.

Stephen

They weren’t really glands though were they? They were…?

Phil

Oh was it…

Stephen

Testicles.

Phil

'Ave a… Ju… No!

Stephen

Yes. It started as human testicles, I’m sorry to say.

Alan

They’re perfectly round. Go and get a thimble!

Phil

A thimble.

Ross

And if you were to scale them up to the size of the Earth, they’d take hours to scratch. Chinese farmers with rakes [mimes raking]

Monkey balls?

Stephen

Monkey balls. There was a man called Serge Voronoff who was a Russian who lived in Paris…

Viewscreens: Photo of Serge Voronoff flanked by identical photos of a chimpanzee.

Phil

Woah! Hello, ladies. And I’m talking about the dude in the middle.

Stephen

It started as human testicles that he would inject parts of the human testicle in ah, and then they…

Ross

He was injecting parts of the human testicles? Is that what he told the ladies, was it?

Stephen

But it was very popular, in fact Wolverhampton Wanderers; they had a striker in the late ‘40’s called Dennis Westcott.

Viewscreens: a pair of stripy underpants has been added to the chimpanzees.

Stephen

And the manager, the manager of the Wolverhampton Wanderers, I rather like this period in English football where managers were called things like Major Frank Buckley. You don’t get many Majors manager-ing [shakes his head at his mistake] English football teams anymore.

Alan

Or indeed sexing.

Stephen

Or indeed sexing.

Ross

I love the fact that you did one impersonation of me, and now you can’t use grammar at all.  It’s like, next week’s QI has been cancelled; Noble has infected Fry’s brain.

Alan [imitating Steven-as-Ross]

Welcome to QI! Ha-hey! [mimes juggling]

Ross

Get the monkey balls out, we’re sexing it tonight.

Alan

[mimes juggling, with monkey sound effects]

Stephen

Major Frank Buckley insisted on his striker having been injected with monkey testicles, and amazingly he went on to score 38 goals in 35 games. And so then…

Alan

And he maimed hundreds of monkeys.

Stephen

Then the manager of Plymouth made his team inject themselves, or be injected with monkey, and so…

Jack

That’s got to be an interesting talk, hasn’t it? “What I want you to do lads”

Stephen

It was of course bollocks in every sense, but it was very fashionable. The search for eternal youth.

And now, look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair; it’s time for General Ignorance.

How do snakes manage when their lunch is bigger than their head?

Viewscreens:  Photo of a Corn snake eating a mouse.

Ross [buzzes]

Stephen

Yes, Ross Noble?

Ross

They dislocate their jaw?

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words "THEY DISLOCATE THEIR JAW".

Stephen

Oh, Ross you were doing so well! I’m so sorry. This is a common misapprehension; they don’t do any such thing. They just have very wide stretchy mouths. They have a special bone which in mammals has become our anvil and other ear bones.

Phil

So the choice was I could either hear very well or eat something bigger than my head.

Stephen

Yeah, essentially, yeah. Essentially, it’s this quadrate…

Phil [shaking fist toward the heavens]

Evolution!

Stephen

He can’t hear you.

Viewscreens:  Photo of snake skeletons with the quadrate bone circled.

Ross

Yeah but we’ve only got your word for it that that picture there is a snake eating a mouse. That might be a new mouse creature that has a snake head.

Stephen

[laughs] It might, it might. It’s a lovely thought.

Ross

I’ll have them points back, please.

Alan

Doesn’t it slip out or something?

Stephen

No, it’s a double jointed hinge.

Ross

Is that what we use on eh, snakeskin handbags to get the [mimes opening and closing handbag]

Stephen

Gosh, that would be a very impressive handbag wouldn’t it.

Ross

Fit more in.

Stephen

But sometimes they do overreach themselves; there was a case in 2005 in the Everglades of Florida, where a Burmese python attempted to eat a whole alligator.

Viewscreens:  Photo of a snake in a swamp, having swallowed an alligator.

And it got it into it [points to viewscreen] that is an alligator inside a snake. But the alligator was still alive inside the snake and tore at the… and the python exploded. So uh, isn’t that extraordinary?

Jack

And who lived, who survived?

Stephen

Well, I think the alligator probably was dead as well unfortunately by this time, he’d got… both dead. 

Jack

So, not a happy ending.

Stephen

There were no winners, no winners. What you may ask, what a Burmese python was doing in the middle of Florida.

Ross

It was on holidays.

Alan

It’s a very popular destination.

Stephen

[laughs] Is the right… it is a very popular destination. They’re very popular pets and that’s actually the reason they’re in Florida 'cause they escape and they find the Florida swamps very similar to the… "The Burmese swamp where the python romp" as Noel Coward put it.

So, yes. Snakes don’t actually dislocate their jaws to swallow big meals; they just have very stretchy mouths.

What does a judge do when he wants order in his court? Here?

Viewscreens:  Photo of a Stephen Fry as a judge in the film Spice World.

Phil

Oh…

Jack

Uh…

Alan

Ah…

Phil [buzzes]

Stephen

Yes?

Phil

He bangs his gavel.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words “BANGS HIS GAVEL".

Stephen

Oh, no he doesn’t. British judges have never had gavels, never. They do on some television programs, mainly because I think props people just think it looks good but they never have them. They never ever have them.

Jack

Sometimes if they’re conducting an auction at the same time, they do.

Stephen

If they were conducting an auction. It’s unlikely that’s going to happen. Auctioneers do have gavels, indeed.

Phil

So judges…

Stephen

Judges don’t have gavels. No.

Phil [motions to viewscreens]

You’ve got one there.

Jack

I was a judge in Kingdom, the, your…

Stephen

You were.

Jack

…and I had a gavel in that, so.

Stephen

Did you?

Jack

I think so, I seem to remember, yeah.

Stephen

We got that wrong.

Alan

Another reason why that show went tits up. [laughs]

Stephen

Cancelled! [laughs]

Yes, British judges have never used gavels, unlike American judges and auctioneers everywhere.

And finally, the notorious pirate Blackbeard has just given me a map, what does the "X" mark?

Viewscreens:  Photo of a treasure map.

Alan

The spot.

Forfeit: Klaxons sound. Viewscreens flash the words “THE SPOT".

Stephen

Oh! If anything I suppose he gave me a signature because he probably can’t write. Most pirates couldn’t. The fact is there is no case in history that anyone knows of pirates burying treasure and drawing maps with X’s on.

Jack

Does it mean the hole?

Stephen

It all comes from…?

Alan

Treasure Island.

Stephen

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Why would a pirate want to bury treasure, I mean they, you know…

Alan

To stop the other pirates getting it.

Stephen

Yeah but he’s got to spend it.

Phil

They can hardly go to the Bradford and Bingley, [pirate voice] “I’ve got a chest full of doubloons and booty.” [bank teller voice] “Yes, would you like fixed term or extended interest?”

Alan

“Oh, God, I went to the Bradford and Bingley and got stuck behind a bloody pirate. I was there my whole lunch hour.”

Viewscreens:  Photo of Robert Newton as Long John Silver in the film Treasure Island.

Phil [pirate voice]

“I’ve got twenty Portuguese whores.”

Ross

That’s why they brought in those pens on the chains 'cause they couldn’t get it with a hook. They’d be like that [mimes fumbling for pen] so they just hook a pen and go like that [mimes hooking the pen by the chain] and then they just do this [mimes writing with the dangling pen, ending in a flourish]

Stephen

There’s a lot of myths about pirates, there is no known pirate to have a…

Alan [looking at viewscreens]

That man’s face is the colour of a strawberry. That’s incredible.

Stephen

You know who that is.

Alan

No I don’t.

Phil

That’s Robert…

Stephen

Newton. Robert Newton, who really invented ‘pirate speak’ that “Oh. Arr. Jim-lad.”

Phil

That’s all from him.

Stephen

In fact Tony Hancock’s career started as a Robert Newton impersonator. That’s what Tony Hancock did, that was his act. There’s an ‘International Talk Like a Pirate Day’, isn’t there, in September.

Jack

Somalian.

Stephen

[laughs] Somalian, yes!

Alan

I met a kid from Somalia, he came up beside me on his pushbike, and he said “You is on TV, innit?” and I said “Yes, yes. Nice to see you.” “Don’t go. Don’t walk away, don’t walk away. You got to help me get into TV.” And I said uh, “OK, well.” “How do I get in?” “I said, well, you know, join your local drama group.” I don’t know what I said to him. He goes “I’m Somalian, but I can do Eritrean.”

Stephen

[laughs] That’s fantastic!

Alan

[laughs]

Stephen

There may be a demand for that, you know, somewhere?

Alan

I said I’ll see what I can do. I’ll speak to the producers of Jonathan Creek.

Stephen

On that bombshell, pirates very rarely buried treasure they preferred to spend it, and they never once used a map with an "X" on it to help them locate it.

So that’s it, we’ve hobbled our way through higgledy piggledy hodgepodge and all that remains is the humiliation of the final scores. My goodness, my gracious, my me. Um.

Holding his head high this week with a staggering plus 2 points is Jack Dee.

Jack

Dear.

Stephen

And holding his own in second place, a very creditable entry into the QI stakes is our newcomer Ross Noble with minus six.

Ross

Hello. Thanks.

Stephen

Oh well, a triumph here because holding out the hope of greater things, it’s Alan on minus eight. Well done.

Alan

Thank you.

Stephen

Which means, sadly hanging his head in shame on minus ten is Phil Jupitus.

That’s all from this heterogeneous edition of QI so it’s goodnight from Jack, Phil, Ross, Alan and me, and I leave you with this… Good night.