QI (A series)
|QI Series A|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||12 + unbroadcast pilot|
|Original run||11 September 2003– 23 December 2003|
|Home video release|
|DVD release date||6 November 2006 (UK)
14 September 2011 (AU)
The first series started on 11 September 2003. Although not mentioned at the time, all of the questions (with the exception of the final "general ignorance" round) were on subjects beginning with "A" (such as "arthropods", "Alans" and "astronomy"). Every series since has continued the theme: the second series' subjects all began with "B", and so on.
The dates in the lists are those of the BBC Two broadcasts. The episodes were also broadcast on BBC Four, generally a week earlier (as soon as one episode finished on BBC Two, the next was shown on BBC Four).
- 1 Pilot
- 2 A Series (2003)
- 2.1 Episode 1 "Adam"
- 2.2 Episode 2 "Astronomy"
- 2.3 Episode 3 "Aquatic Animals"
- 2.4 Episode 4 "Atoms"
- 2.5 Episode 5 "Advertising"
- 2.6 Episode 6 "Antidotes & Answers"
- 2.7 Episode 7 "Arthropods"
- 2.8 Episode 8 "Albania"
- 2.9 Episode 9 "Antelopes"
- 2.10 Episode 10 "Aviation"
- 2.11 Episode 11 "Arts"
- 2.12 Episode 12 "Advent" (Christmas Special)
- 3 Appearances
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The pilot of QI was never broadcast on television, being released as an extra on the Series A DVD. While the basic format of the show was in place, there were a few significant differences when compared to the standard format. Not the least of these was the more generic set, which didn't contain the large video screens behind the panellists (although the lighting did cause it to change colour throughout). In addition, the electronic buzzer system had not been in place, forcing the panel to call attention to themselves with various props including a squeak toy and a miniature horn. This was also the only episode to have specific sections within the programme (except General Ignorance), and the only in which the scores were read after each round as opposed to only at the end of the programme.
The theme tune on the original tape that was passed to BBC commissioning editors was the Herman's Hermits version of Wonderful World. However, the regular theme tune subsequently composed by Howard Goodall is present on the DVD version after the show's makers were unable to obtain the rights to the song.
- Alan Davies (118 points)
- Bill Bailey (Winner with 132 points)
- Kit Hesketh-Harvey (125 points)
- Eddie Izzard (131 points)
- Bobo Fing is a language spoken by 10,000 people in Mali. Not to be confused with Bobo (a language of Burkina Faso) or Gogo (spoken by a million in Tanzania).
- King Arthur's lance was called Ron, short for Rongomyniad. His helmet was named Goosewhite, his armour was called Wygar and his war cry was "Clarence!" His sword "Excalibur" isn't actually called "Excalibur, the original name is "Caliburn".
- 'Butter hamlets' are small tropical fish which can be found in 10 different colours. Ichthyologists and unsure of whether these different colours belong to various species of the fish, or whether there are a fewer number of species that simply come in a range of colours. They are also simultaneously male and female and mate by intertwining with one other.
- Tim is the 6th most popular name for a baby boy in Germany. In 1992, the French Government relaxed the laws on what children could be legally christened and the following year, the most popular name for a French baby boy was Kevin. (Forfeit: Adolph — because Stephen's card was spelt like that and Alan who said the answer was thinking "Adolf" as in Adolf Hitler, the penalty was reduced to -8 points)
- Richard Gere's middle name is Tiffany. (Forfeit: Gerbil)
- The name of the Director of Planning and Strategic Development at Aberdeen City Council was Peter Cockhead.
- Scores at the end of the first round: Alan - 25, Bill - 15, Kit - 35, Eddie - 31
- When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1838, there were no bathrooms in Buckingham Palace, and instead had a portable tub in her bedroom, to which she added whiskey.
- William Huskisson, the first person killed in a rail accident, had previously escaped death after a horse fell on his head during his honeymoon.
- The bones from penises of badgers were used by Victorian gentlemen as tie clips. Every primate except humans, and almost all mammals, has a penis bone known as the baculum. Badgers are nocturnal and their hair used to be used in the making of shaving brushes.
- Rectal inflation was an old method of blowing tobacco smoke through the rectum as a means to resuscitate the drowned.
- Victorians who could not afford chimney sweeps would drop a goose down the chimney or make it fly up through the chimney to clean it instead.
- Until the Public Health Act 1875, sewage was poured untreated into rivers. Queen Victoria, early in her reign, was standing on a bridge over the River Can and asked the master of Trinity College, "what are all those pieces of paper in the water?", to which the schoolmaster responded, "Those, your majesty, are notices saying that bathing is forbidden".
- Scores at the end of the second round: Alan - 45, Bill - 68, Kit - 80, Eddie - 46
- The Finnish word for "bad news" is "jobinposti", while the Dutch for "hippopotamus" and "toque blanche" are "nijlpaard" and "koksmuts" respectively.
- Guessing the meanings of Dutch words.
- Pronk - Flaunt
- Sloot - Ditch
- Kloof - Gap
- Lonk - To Ogle
- Oog - Eye
- Wanklank - A discordant noise
- "Tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog moesten veel Nederlanders tulpenbollen eten", is Dutch for, "During the Second World War, many Dutch people had to eat tulip bulbs", which is a true fact.
- The Greek for bread and lavatory seat are the same: kolóura.
- The word "Thespian" means "Awful" in Greek, as in "Awe inspiring". It also means, "Divine".
- Scores at the end of the third round: Alan - 77, Bill - 107, Kit - 95, Eddie - 96
- General Ignorance
- The largest mountain in the world is Mauna Loa. Mount Kilimanjaro is higher than Mount Everest because it raises straight out of the African plain, whereas Everest is just one mountain on top of lots in the Himalayas. Also, as Kilimanjaro is on the equator, it is further away from the centre of the Earth as it is an oblate spheroid. (Forfeit: Mount Everest)
- Black boxes are orange. They were black until 1955, when people realised that they were never able to find them in a wreckage.
- Dolphins are eaten in Genoa - which is not true anymore. The dish called "Mosciamo" is made of tuna, as dolphins are protected species in Italy for many decades.
- Scuba diving is illegal off the coast of Greece, mainly because most of the country's antiquities are underwater.
- The Greek for "lifebelt" is also "kolóura".
A Series (2003)
The first series consists of 12 episodes. Except for the Christmas special, all of them are composed mainly of questions on topics beginning with A. No episode pays specific attention to one theme (again, save for the Christmas special). The titles presented below have been retrospectively applied. In addition, extras and bloopers were provided on the Series DVD (released in 2006). Besides the two regulars, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies, series A saw the QI debuts of Clive Anderson, Bill Bailey, Danny Baker, Jo Brand, Gyles Brandreth, Rob Brydon, Jimmy Carr, Dave Gorman, Rich Hall, Jeremy Hardy, Phill Jupitus, Sean Lock, John Sessions and Linda Smith, as well as the only appearances to date of Jackie Clune, Howard Goodall, Richard E. Grant, Hugh Laurie, Julia Morris, Peter Serafinowicz and Meera Syal.
Episode 1 "Adam"
- Broadcast date
- 11 September 2003 (BBC Two)
- Alan Davies (-5 points) 2nd appearance
- Danny Baker (winner with 18 points) 1st appearance
- Hugh Laurie (11 points) 1st and only appearance
- John Sessions (10 points) 1st appearance
- Adam's navel and the Archbishop of Canterbury's left ear are both purely decorative. Adam couldn't have had a navel, because he was created, not born, so there would be no umbilical cord. The Archbishop of Canterbury was born deaf in the left ear, so it has no function. The Creation of Adam was painted by Michelangelo, who John informed the panellists was born in 1475 and died in 1564.
- God allowed Noah to eat animals, a right he had previously denied to Adam. Previously, they were vegetarians and told by God to just eat fruit and vegetables only. Some theological authorities believe the "forbidden fruit" that was eaten in the Garden of Eden, which isn't specified in the Bible, to be a banana, not the apple as popularly thought.
- Christopher Plummer once said of Julie Andrews that working with her was like being hit on the head with a Valentine card.
- Andrew Graham-Dixon discovered that Caravaggio, who died in 1610, accidentally killed Ranuccio Tomassoni on a tennis court... he was merely attempting to cut off his testicles. (Forfeit: New balls, please)
- Finocchio (fennel) is Italian street slang for a homosexual.
- If a Burmese man said that "your department store is open, even on weekends", it means that your fly is open. This was revealed in Andrew Marshall's writings on Burma in The Trouser People which describe Burmese idioms and quote from the diary of Victorian adventurer Sir George Scott.
- Edward Woodward has four 'd's in his name to prevent it becoming 'Ewar Woowar'.
- Actor John Barrymore regretted not being able to see himself perform on stage. He also famously said "Love is the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering that she looks like a haddock."
- Young giant anteaters indulge in 'bluff charging', when they jump up and down like a cat and raise one front foot and hop menacingly side-to-side with all the fury of a clogged drain.
- Anteaters have sixteen-inch (406 mm) tongues, but have mouths as narrow as a pencil.
- A giant anteater's claws are sharp enough to eviscerate a human.
- Dwarf anteaters are the size of squirrels and are a delicacy in parts of South America.
- General Ignorance
- The country with the highest suicide rate is Lithuania (forfeit: Sweden). It has 52 suicides per 100,000, which is more than 13 times higher than the United States and 6½ times higher than Britain.
- Caravaggio's real name was Michelangelo. He took the name Caravaggio, because his father, Fermo Merisi, was the chief architect to the Marchese of Caravaggio, Italy. Derek Jarman famously made a film about Caravaggio.
- The steam engine was invented by Hero of Alexandria, (this is debatable) and was named the aeolipile. The railway was invented seven hundred years earlier by Periander of Corinth. The modern steam engine was invented by Richard Trevithick. When Stephenson's Rocket was introduced, people were concerned that travelling at such high speeds could cause irreparable brain damage, so fences were erected so people wouldn't hallucinate at the "terrible sight".
- The twenty-third tallest tree in the world is a Giant sequoia called 'Adam'. It's one of the 30 tallest trees found in the Giant Forest in California.
Episode 2 "Astronomy"
- Broadcast date
- Alan Davies (-30 points)
- Bill Bailey (5 points) 1st appearance
- Rich Hall (Joint Winner with 20 points) 1st appearance
- Jeremy Hardy (Joint Winner with 20 points) 1st appearance
- The number of people killed by sharks since records began is equal to just five per cent of the number of toilet-related injuries in the US in 1996.
- Both tigers and weasels make a 'fuff' sound when they attack. Contrary to popular belief, tigers never roar when they attack, they only roar to tell other tigers where they are. They are mainly solitary animals, who only come together when mating.
- The best way to escape from a polar bear is to remove one's clothing, leaving items of clothing on the ground while backing away. Polar bears can run at 30 mph and have clear fur, but look white, because the fur reflects all light, and thus appears white, not because it reflects the snow, as Alan incorrectly stated.
- Rather than using a paper clip, a crocodile clip, a paper bag or a handbag, an alligator can be rendered helpless by placing a rubber band over its jaws. The muscles that are used to close the jaws add to a force of several tonnes per square inch, but the ones that open them are so weak, it can be stopped just by putting a rubber band over its mouth. Bill mistakenly claims that alligators have nipples, which is false, because they aren't mammals.
- The Earth has two moons (forfeit: one). Cruithne, whose orbit was discovered in 1997, is a 3-mile (4.8 km) asteroid sometimes described as Earth's second moon. Cruithne orbits the Earth every 770 years. The name "Cruithne" has a Celtic derivation. (Note: This fact has, throughout QI's history, continually be revisited and recorrected, with the latest correction occurring in the K series).
- 90% of the universe is unaccounted for; it is believed to be made of dark matter, which is invisible. Even the Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees said it was embarrassing that 90% was unaccounted for.
- The colour of the universe is beige. In 2002, after observing the light from over 200,000 galaxies, American scientists described the colour as pale green, rather than black with white bits, as we'd see it. Using the Dulux paint range, the colour was a mixture of Mexican Mint, Jade Cluster and Shangri-La Silk. They then had to admit that they got it wrong and the colour was a taupe–beige colour.
- There are eight planets in the Solar System (forfeit: nine). Pluto, discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, does not meet the usual criteria for classification as a planet (although, at the time of broadcast, the International Astronomical Union still considered Pluto to be a planet). If Pluto were defined as a planet by any consistent definition, then all of the asteroids could be counted as planets as well. As of the year 2000, 71,788 were discovered with more discovered every year. Pluto is only twice as big as the biggest asteroid, Ceres, and it's also smaller than seven of the eight planets' moons.
- General Ignorance
- Krung Thep (forfeit: Bangkok) is the proper name for the capital of Thailand. Krung Thep roughly translates as 'City of Angels', like Los Angeles. The ceremonial full name for Krung Thep is the longest place name in the world. Los Angeles is also an abbreviation. Only ignorant foreigners call Krung Thep, "Bangkok".
- Brides do not walk down the aisle of a church; they walk down the central passageway. The aisle is down the side of the church.
- The earliest known soup is made from hippopotamus.
- No man-made objects (forfeit: Great Wall of China) on Earth can be seen from the Moon with the naked eye. Even the continents are hard to make out as well.
Episode 3 "Aquatic Animals"
- Broadcast date
- Alan Davies (-20 points)
- Clive Anderson (winner with 26 points) 1st appearance
- Bill Bailey (10 points) 2nd appearance
- Meera Syal (19 points) 1st and only appearance
- The longest animal in the world is the Lion's mane jellyfish (forfeit: blue whale), as described in the Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Lion's Mane. Its main body or "bell" is only 8 feet (2.4 m) long, but its tentacles can stretch for 200 feet (61 m). Its sting is only occasionally fatal. (Correction: This was later corrected in episode 10 of series C; the actual longest animal in the world is the Bootlace worm.)
- Blue whales have small throats and can swallow nothing larger than a grapefruit. Their diet consists of eating 3 tonnes of krill every day. Their penis is 16 feet (4.9 m) long and their testicles contain 7 gallons each, but they only weigh 22 lbs, which in equivalent terms, would make human's testicles weigh the same as a broad bean.
- An octopus can be taught to unscrew the lids of jars and bottles. Depending on how tough it is to open, it can take between a few seconds to an hour, but they have poor memories, so they have to be taught every day. Octopus's ink is used to make risotto, they mate with their 3rd right arm and have 3 hearts.
- The continent of Antarctica has six seas and no bees. The seas that border it are the Ross Sea, the Davis Sea, the Weddell Sea, the Bellingshausen Sea, the Lazarev Sea and the Amundsen Sea.
- AmIAnnoying.com ranks Clive Anderson as seventeen percent less annoying than Antarctica. Anderson is the 13th commonest surname in the English-speaking world. Unlike Hans Christian Andersen, Pamela Anderson and Gillian Anderson, he is not a vegetarian.
- John Henry Anderson, the Great Wizard of the North, was the first magician to pull a rabbit out of a hat. His other tricks include the "Inexhaustible Bottle", where he was able to produce any drink requested by an audience member and the "Great Gun Trick", where he seemingly caught a bullet being fired by a musket. Anderson left pats of butter with a stamp saying "Anderson Is Here" in hotels.
- Both Hans Christian Andersen and Joseph Stalin were the sons of a cobbler and a washerwoman. Andersen suffered from dyslexia, Agraphobia, was a vegetarian (as mentioned earlier), was gay (mainly based on the gay parable in "The Ugly Duckling"). Charles Dickens hated being around him and at one time Andersen refused to leave. He was buried next to a friend he fell in love with and the friend's wife, before it was removed. He also feared being burned or buried alive.
- General Ignorance
- In Greek mythology, Atlas was punished by Zeus and was forced to carry the sky (forfeit: the world). He is often pictured carrying the globe in atlases made by the Flemish cartographer Mercator, that became known as "Mercator's Atlas" and the name stuck along with the image.
- Over fifty percent of the world's oxygen is provided by algae (forfeit: trees). It's believed that up to ninety percent might be supplied by it. Mature trees actually give off less oxygen than they consume.
- The driest place on Earth is the Dry Valleys Region of Antarctica (forfeit: Sahara Desert). Even though Antarctica is virtually all ice and snow, the Dry Valleys Region has no ice or snow and hasn't seen any rain for 2 million years. The second driest place is the Atacama Desert in Chile, which hasn't seen rain in 400 years.
- The length of a day is not exactly 24 hours. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service is responsible for adding on occasional leap seconds.
Episode 4 "Atoms"
- Broadcast date
- Alan Davies (-24 points)
- Jo Brand (Winner with 36 points) 1st appearance
- Howard Goodall (13 points) 1st appearance
- Jeremy Hardy (7 points) 2nd appearance
- The main component of air is nitrogen, which accounts for 78% of air. Only just under 21% is oxygen and 3/100ths of 1% is carbon dioxide. (Forfeit: oxygen, Davies said this and lost 10 points. Anyone who said carbon dioxide would have got a forfeit of -3,000 points, although nobody did.)
- The most boring place in Great Britain is a field outside Ousefleet, near Scunthorpe, according to the 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey map. It is the blankest square kilometre in the country, with only part of an electricity pylon in it. Alan suggested Salisbury Plain, forgetting that Stonehenge is on Salisbury Plain. Alan's uncle stood on a land mine on Salisbury Plain during his national service.
- In 1983, with the aid of a sofa and a hot water bottle, Barbara Cartland wrote 23 novels, which broke the record for the most novels written in one year. She was buried in a cardboard coffin beneath an oak tree planted by Queen Elizabeth I. At her funeral, all the funeral-goers were given a leaf of the tree as a memento. She also said, "I'll keep writing until my face falls off". Clive James once compared Barbara Cartland's face to two crows that had crashed into the White cliffs of Dover.
- The ozone layer is fifteen miles (24 km) above the Earth's surface. Ozone smells faintly of geraniums.
- Film critic John Simon described Walter Matthau as resembling "a half-melted rubber bulldog".
- Atoms contain mostly empty space. Ernest Rutherford described the centre of an atom as "like a few flies in a cathedral". The simplest atom is hydrogen, which has a nucleus of one proton, surrounded by one electron. If the proton was the size of a drawing pin, the electron would be the size of a pinhead and would be one kilometre away.
- A hydrogen atom has more frequencies than a piano has notes. The discoverer of the hydrogen atom and the inventor of the grand piano lived just 3 minutes away from each other in Soho.
- General Ignorance
- King Henry VIII technically had either three or four wives (forfeit: six), depending on the source. His marriage to Anne of Cleves was annulled, the Pope declared his marriage with Anne Boleyn to be void as he was still married to Catherine of Aragon, and the marriage to Catherine of Aragon was declared void by Henry himself (as the new head of the Church of England) as it was illegal to marry the widow of one's brother (Catherine had previously been married to Henry's older brother Arthur). After his death, while being moved to Westminster Abbey, the king's body swelled in the heat and exploded.
- The word silver rhymes with the English word 'chilver', which is an ewe lamb. (Forfeit: nothing)
- All diamonds are created beneath the Earth's surface, and brought to the surface in volcanoes. (Forfeit: in South Africa) Only 20 countries in the world make diamonds. South Africa is the fifth biggest behind Australia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana and Russia. Diamonds and graphite are both made of pure carbon, but appear at opposite ends of the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Diamond has a score of ten, while graphite's score is around 1.2.
- When travelling through sodium at -270 degrees, light slows to 38 miles per hour. The speed of light is only constant in a vacuum at 186,000 miles per second. Going through diamonds, the speed of light is only 80,000 miles per second.
- A chameleon changes colour depending on its mood, temperature and emotions like fear (forfeit: background). Their eyes can swivel independently, and it was once believed that they lived on air.
Episode 5 "Advertising"
- Broadcast date
- Alan Davies (15 points)
- Gyles Brandreth (Winner with 54 points) 1st appearance
- Rob Brydon (17 points) 1st appearance
- Rich Hall (35 points) 2nd appearance
- Gerber baby food was poorly marketed in Africa, leading customers to believe that it contained babies. (This is actually untrue) The tins bore a picture of the baby Ann Turner Cook, later a famous mystery author.
- The Toyota MR2 provoked much amusement in France, as "MR2" in French was pronounced as merde, which is French slang for "shit". The Ford Pinto is equally amusing to Brazilians, as "pinto" is Brazilian slang for a small penis.
- Irish playwright Brendan Behan was asked to devise an advertising slogan for Guinness. He came up with "Guinness makes you drunk." (Forfeit: "Guinness is good for you") He is credited with creating "Guinness is good for you", that was actually written by Dorothy L. Sayers.
- The Ancient Greeks believed that otters killed crocodiles by running into their open mouths and eating their entrails. Like many things said by the Greeks, it isn't true. Raphanizein was an Ancient Greek punishment for adultery that involved inserting a radish into the anus. In those days, radishes were wider, longer and pointier and were hammered in with a mallet.
- Plato's real name was Aristocles. Plato is the Greek word for "wide", and was given to him because of his broad shoulders. He taught Aristotle.
- Aristotle believed that buzzards had three testicles. The taxonomical name for a buzzard is "Buteo buteo". There is a sub species called a hobby, which is "Sub buteo". The man who created Subbuteo wanted to call it "The Hobby", but it was refused, so he named it after the Latin word for "hobby".
- The Ancient Greeks used blackberries as a cure for piles.
- Ancient Greeks voted for their leaders until they were invaded by Macedonia in 322 BC. Women didn't get the vote in Greece until 1952.
- General Ignorance
- A centipede has between 30 and 382 legs. None has ever been found with 100 legs. It always has an odd number of pairs of legs. The only exception to this is one found in 1999, which has 48 pairs of legs, the nearest to 100 that has been discovered so far.
- In 1994, 35,000 Americans insured themselves against alien abduction.
- Purple rhymes with 'hirple' and 'curple' (forfeit: nothing). Hirple means to hobble along, a sort of mix between a walk and a crawl. A curple is the strap that goes under the tail of a horse, which is then attached to the saddle to stop riders slipping forwards.
Episode 6 "Antidotes & Answers"
- Broadcast date
- Alan Davies (8 points)
- Danny Baker (Winner with 19 points) 2nd appearance
- Jo Brand (13 points) 2nd appearance
- Howard Goodall (17 points) 2nd appearance
- Danish physicist Niels Bohr hung a horseshoe on his wall as "I understand it brings you luck whether you believe in it or not." Bohr also said of quantum physics, "If you're not shocked by it, then you haven't understood it."
- Barbara Cartland, when asked whether British class barriers had broken down, replied "Of course they have, or I wouldn't be sitting here talking to someone like you". She also invented the aeroplane-towed glider. She also claimed to be haunted by a ghost of a young girl. Then weirdly, excavators came into her house and found a skeleton of a young woman in the walls of the house.
- When asked by a priest if he forgave his enemies, the dying Spanish Captain-General Ramón Blanco y Erenas said "I have no enemies, I've had them all shot".
- Pliny the Elder:
- believed that epilepsy could be cured by eating the heart of a black jackass, outside on the second day of the moon. Alternatively you could use lightly poached bear testes, a dried camel brain with honey, or fresh gladiator's blood. Tegretol is the common cure for epilepsy nowadays.
- suggested incontinence could be cured by touching the tips of the genitals with linen or papyrus. Alternatively, drinking a glass of sweet wine mixed with the ash of a pig's penis, then urinating in your (or your neighbour's) dog's bed.
- also suggested haemorrhoids could be cured with a cream made with pig lard and the rust from chariot wheels. Alternatively, swan's fat or the urine of a female goat.
- thought that headaches were supposedly cured by a fox's genitals tied to the forehead.
- claimed that choking on a piece of bread could be cured by placing pieces of the same loaf in the ears.
- died investigating the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79. He returned to Pompeii by boat with a pillow tied to his head with a napkin, creating a crash helmet-cum-gas mask combo, but he was suffocated in the fumes.
- Twenty four people every year are murdered by the Swiss Army, due to the relatively free availability of handguns.
- During the Vietnam War, the US Military prevented wounded soldiers from swallowing their tongues by pinning the tongue to their cheeks. More soldiers committed suicide after Vietnam than died in combat.
- Costa Rica has no army, it was disbanded in 1949. The constitution now specifically forbids the country from having an army.
- Alsatians are forbidden from serving in the Spanish Army, as they have an IQ of 60: an IQ of 70 is the minimum required.
- General Ignorance
- The Goliath frog of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea (the largest frog in the world) is mute (forfeit: "ribbit"). Out of the 4,360 known species of frog, the only frog to go "ribbit" is the Pacific tree frog, the species native to Hollywood and thus sampled for use on hundreds of movie soundtracks.
- An acre (forfeit: the Polish Army) is 40 poles long and 4 poles wide.
- The Chicago World's Fair in 1933 was opened by light from Arcturus, the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere.
Episode 7 "Arthropods"
- Broadcast date
- Alan Davies (0 points)
- Jo Brand (-38 points) 3rd appearance
- Jimmy Carr (-1 point) 1st appearance
- Jackie Clune (Winner with 5 points) 1st and only appearance
- Australia was discovered by the Chinese (forfeit: James Cook). When Cook arrived in 1770, he wasn't a captain, he was Lieutenant Cook. He wasn't the first European, as the Dutch had reached it 150 years earlier; he wasn't even the first Englishman, that was William Dampier in 1688.
- The term Aborigines comes from the Latin meaning "from the origin" and was first used to describe the pre-Roman people. For some unknown reason, the term "Aborigine" has stuck with the Aboriginal Australians, but there are Aboriginal Canadians and you could even call the Native Americans "Aborigines".
- The word Kangaroo means horse (forfeit: "I don't know") in the Baagandji language of New South Wales. When Cook's expedition arrived in 1770, the Aboriginal settlers there saw a horse, which they believed was what the English called a kangaroo. There is a story that when the first English settlers arrived, they pointed to a kangaroo and asked "What's that?" The reply was "kanagaroo" (sic), which means "I don't know". That comes from the Guugu Yimithirr language, spoken around Botany Bay and was first heard on Cook's expedition in 1770.
- Homo sapiens evolved from a common ancestor that hasn't yet been discovered, otherwise known as the "missing link" (forfeit: apes). Before that, they evolved from squirrel-like tree shrews, before that hedgehogs and before that starfish. Apes also evolved from this same ancestor.
- Tanzania's Hehe tribe got their name, because it was their war cry. They were also the best tribe to resist colonisation from the Germans.
- In Swaziland, there is only one museum and it is bad manners to shield your eyes with one hand and it's forbidden to point at the king's hut. National service consists of weeding the king's millet fields for 2 weeks of the year. The penalty for not showing up is a fine of one cow.
- The Speaker of the Swazi Parliament was sacked in June 2000, after he stole a cowpat belonging to the king, Mswati III. He took the item from the Royal Kraal, to make a magic spell to aid the people and the king personally, so he claimed in his defence. The King of Swaziland rules jointly with his mother, the Great She-Elephant and he must be greeted with rapturous admiration whenever he appears.
- Henry VIII wiped his bottom using the hand of the Groom of the Stool. The job was sought after by just about everyone in the Court, mainly for the amount of time spent with the King. Another slightly cushier job was warming his shirt in the morning.
- Arthropods means a creature with jointed legs. There are over 1,000,000 species of arthropod including butterflies, lobsters, woodlice, cicadas, bees, cockroaches, spiders, scorpions, prawns, praying mantises, crabs, beetles, centipedes, millipedes, crayfish, mayflies, mites, ticks, fleas, earwigs and ants.
- The male European earwig has a spare penis. It was discovered by scientists in Tokyo who were looking at two earwigs copulating and they noticed that the male's penis was left in the female, but they then saw the male grow an instant replacement. The male's penis is longer than its body.
- The name given to insects with piercing and sucking mouth parts is a bug.
- The highest number of legs seen on a millipede is 710 (forfeit: 1000) on the South African millipede.
- General Ignorance
- The colour of water is blue (forfeit: colourless).
- More people have been killed by ducks than by atomic bombs, as they were responsible for the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish flu.
- No animals (forfeit: ostrich) bury their head in the sand. If ostriches buried their heads in the sand, they would suffocate like anyone else. This myth was created by Pliny the Elder.
- Rubber boots were invented by Amazonian Indians (forfeit: the Duke of Wellington), who stand knee-deep in liquid latex until it dries up.
Episode 8 "Albania"
- Broadcast date
- Alan Davies (-30 points)
- Clive Anderson (Winner with 37 points) 2nd appearance
- Sean Lock (25 points) 1st appearance
- Linda Smith (30 points) 1st appearance
- Elephants can become drunk by eating fruit which ferments in their stomachs.
- James Bond's Bradford is a cocktail that is shaken, not stirred. A cocktail with two olives in it is called a "Franklin" after Franklin D. Roosevelt. A cocktail with a cocktail onion on a stick is called the "Gibson". The vesper was invented in Casino Royale, because Bond had to give it a new name, because he put vodka in it, making it strictly not a martini. One of Bond's best sayings from Casino Royale was "To Bond, the best drink of the day, was the drink he had in his head before the first drink of the day." The opening line of one of the chapters in the book was "Bond lit his eightieth cigarette of the day."
- C. B. Fry held the world long jump record in 1913, could jump backwards on to a mantelpiece from a standing position without losing his balance, and after the First World War, was offered the throne of Albania, but turned it down.
- In Albanian, "Vetullushe" means "A goat with brown eyebrows". That is one of 30 different words for eyebrows in the Albanian language, which didn't impress Linda, because Albanian had one word for "very bushy eyebrow", but English has three. The language also has 27 words for moustaches.
- The pink fairy is a type of armadillo, whereas the green fairy is absinthe. Armadillos are the only mammals apart from humans that can get leprosy. The male armadillo's penis is two-thirds the length of its body.
- Benjamin Franklin thought it would be a great idea to find a way to stop flatulence from smelling so bad. Amongst his other inventions were bifocals and the fire brigade.
- The first processed food produced by H. J. Heinz in 1869 was horseradish (forfeits: tomato ketchup, baked beans). Ketchup didn't arrive until 1875 and baked beans didn't arrive until 1895. Supposedly, only 4 people know the secret baked bean recipe. Heinz never had "57 Varieties", they now have over 6,000 varieties. They are obsessed with the number 57 at Heinz, their telephone number ends with 57 57 57 and their address is PO Box 57, Pittsburgh.
- General Ignorance
- Fingernails and hair do not grow after you die. The skin tightens causing an illusion of growth.
- Bananas come from a herb (forfeit: trees), which unlike a tree doesn't have a woody stem. The banana fruit is technically a berry.
- A lili is the offspring of a liger and lion, and a titi is the offspring of a tiglon and a tiger. The statement that they of course have only been bred in captivity because lions are from Africa and tigers are from Asia, so they won't have encountered each other in the wild, is partly incorrect as there are Asiatic lions, although natural crossbreeds are not known to exist.
- The phrase "Survival of the fittest" was coined by Herbert Spencer (forfeit: Charles Darwin), inventor of the paper clip. Darwin adapted it for the "On the Origin of Species". Norwegians believe that the paper clip is a Norwegian invention by Johan Vaaler in 1899. Spencer had patented his design for paper clips almost 30 years before Vaaler in the 1860s, but his supplier went bankrupt and he became ill for 20 years of his life and never followed it up. Today more than 11 billion paperclips are sold annually, but a recent survey claimed that out of every 100,000 sold, only one in five are actually used to hold papers together. The rest are used as poker chips, pipe cleaners, safety pins and toothpicks.
Episode 9 "Antelopes"
- Broadcast date
- Alan Davies (10 points)
- Jo Brand (15 points) 4th appearance
- Dave Gorman (Winner with 20 points) 1st appearance
- Jeremy Hardy (15 points) 3rd appearance
- Apart from the obvious, a bongo is a rare type of antelope. They are prized by poachers and there only believed 100 left in the world.
- The bongo-player of T. Rex was Steve Peregrin Took. He was a hippie named after a character in The Lord of the Rings. Marc Bolan was obsessed with the novels, but he was dyslexic, so his wife had to read them to him.
- In South Africa, there is a pastime called Bokdrol spoeg, which is Kudu dung spitting. A kudu is a type of antelope.
- Alexander the Great:
- was a "short, left-handed, epileptic, Albanian bisexual with a very high-pitched voice". His father was Philip of Macedon, a Macedonian.
- introduced to Europe the banana, crucifixion, sugar, cotton and the ring-necked parakeet.
- washed his hair in saffron, which at the time was as rare as diamonds and more expensive than gold.
- was embalmed in honey.
- was taught by Aristotle, for three years in his teens.
- Note: This is an error. Alexander the Great was half-Macedonian and half-Epirotian. He had no (known) Albanian ancestry. There are no ancient historical sources that says that Alexander was left-handed, epilectic or that he had a very high pitch voice. Some historians believe that Alexander's height was around 5’7”.
- 85,000 to 140,000 Crocuses go to make a kilogram of saffron, and is still known for its high price. Top-grade mancha saffron retails for about £8,250 per kilogram.
- Aristotle thought that flies have four legs and that mucus was brain–matter.
- Note: This is also an error. While Aristotle did have erroneous views on the role of the brain he knew that the number of legs on flies were 6
- The word "auricle" refers to the ear, from the Latin auris. Vincent van Gogh, after cutting off half of his own ear, presented it to the prostitute that had spurned his affection.
- Butterflies have ears on their wings, grasshoppers and cicadas have ears on their abdomens, crickets have ears of their forelegs, but snakes do not have ears.
- The okapi can clean its own ears with its tongue.
- The enormous ear-like growths that Galileo discovered in 1672 were the Rings of Saturn, as he originally described the planet as having "ears", as he could not discern their true nature using a telescope of the time. The Rings are 170,000 miles wide and 328 feet thick.
- Note: While 1672 is the date that Fry gave during the episode, Galileo's first observations of the rings of Saturn occurred in the year 1610, and he died in 1642.
- General Ignorance
- The first King of England was Athelstan from 924 to 939 (forfeit: Alfred the Great). Athelstan was Alfred the Great's grandson. Alfred the Great was only King of Wessex.
- Aristotle claimed that hedgehogs had sexual intercourse face-to-face, with the female lying on her back (Forfeit: very carefully). This belief was held for many years, but it is now known that they mate in the conventional position used by nearly all animals, with the female hedgehog relaxing her spines so the male can climb on, although the male has to bite the female's neck as the spines become slippery. Male hedgehogs also have a barb on their penis.
- The most dangerous creature in history is the mosquito, having killed half the humans who have ever died (45 billion out of 90 billion). However, one could argue that in fact the human is most dangerous creature, since humans have certainly killed a sizable amounts of humans and caused the extinction of many different species, and the common housefly is also responsible for many human deaths.
- The Lords of Shouting are a group of 10,500,000 (in fact, it is 15,500,000) angels that sing to God every morning, according to the Jewish faith. They are led by Jeduthun, the "Master of Howling".
- Samson's hair was cut off by a servant of Delilah (Forfeit: Delilah).
Episode 10 "Aviation"
- Broadcast date
- Alan Davies (Winner with 23 points) 1st win
- Rich Hall (3 points) 3rd appearance
- Julia Morris (9 points) 1st and only appearance
- Peter Serafinowicz (-5 points) 1st and only appearance
- The aeroplane was invented by John Stringfellow of Chard, Somerset in 1848 (Forfeit: the Wright Brothers). It was a model aeroplane, but it had an engine in it. The Wright Brothers' flight covered less than half the wingspan of a Boeing Jumbo Jet.
- A person would have, "Mad, bad, fat, sad old git", on their luggage, because they are airport luggage codes.
- MAD is Madrid Barajas International Airport.
- BAD is Barksdale Air Force Base, Bossier City, Louisiana.
- FAT is Fresno Yosemite International Airport, California.
- SAD is Safford Regional Airport, Arizona.
- OLD is Old Town Municipal Airport and Seaplane Base, Old Town, Maine.
- GIT is Geita Airport, Geita, Tanzania.
- The code for Butler Memorial Airport is BUM, Sioux Gateway Airport is SUX, and Fukuoka Airport is FUK.
- Madonna plans to buy the prettiest airport in the world, Compton Abbas Airfield in Dorset and shut it down, because it's ruining her weekend place at Cranborne Chase, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- The largest aircraft carrier in the world was the USS Abraham Lincoln, with a deck area of four and a half acres, making it the largest vehicle of any kind. The smallest aircraft carrier in the world, however, was a Mitsubishi Shogun (Everywhere else in the world it's known as the Pajero, except in Spain, where 'pajero' means 'one who fiddles with himself for sexual pleasure').
- It was a bad idea to ban smoking on aeroplanes, due to companies saving money by using both fresh and recycled air. When smoking was allowed, the air inside the cabin was replaced with fresh air every three minutes, but nowadays airline companies only allow for half the amount of air needed for comfort, increasing the levels of carbon dioxide in the cabin, causing dizziness, nausea and increasing threats from viruses. The amount of air rage incidents after the ban was enforced has increased dramatically.
- Fry incorrectly attributes the quotation "Anything that's white is sweet. Anything that's brown is meat. Anything that's grey, don't eat" to actress Hermione Gingold. The actual author is Stephen Sondheim, and the quotation is from his lyric for "What Do We Do? We Fly", from the musical Do I Hear a Waltz?
- Alan was the eighth most popular male name in England in 1944, but by the advent of the 1990s had dropped out of the top hundred. It is often Celtic origin, and, like Peter, means "rock" (although Fry and Davies argue whether it means rock or pebble). Calculus and pessary also mean "rock" or "pebble".
- Most of the world's Alans live in on the Russian border, in the northern Caucasus, since the Huns drove them there in the 4th century. The Alans were known for the cavalry prowess, introduced chivalry to Europe, and may have inspired the Arthurian legend. Pliny the Elder, however, described the Alans as a race of "bastard degenerates".
- Edgar Allan Poe married his thirteen-year-old cousin, indulged in heavy binge drinking, and died in a gutter in Baltimore in 1849. However, he predicted the Big Bang, the theory of relativity, parallel universes and the structure of the atom in a prose poem called Eureka. Interestingly, the poem doesn't even rhyme.
- Alan Smithee is the Alan with the worst reputation in Hollywood. It is the name used when directors dissociate themselves from a film. His oeuvre includes Hobgoblins 2, Boggy Creek 3, Hellraiser 4 and Dune, where he co-directed with David Lynch. Tony Kaye is alleged to have tried to use Smithee's name for American History X.
- In Boy on a Dolphin, Sophia Loren had to stand and walk in a trench due to the shortness of Alan Ladd. Ladd said that working with Loren was like being "bombarded with watermelons".
- Alan Whicker's is Cockney rhyming slang for knickers.
- General Ignorance
- The first man to circumnavigate the globe was Juan Sebastián Elcano (Forfeit: Magellan). Magellan was killed in the Philippines halfway round. His ship, the Victoria, was the first ship to complete the voyage.
- The helicopter was invented by the Chinese (forfeit: Italian) in the 4th century, more than 1,000 years before Leonardo da Vinci. It was called the "bamboo dragonfly" and could fly 25 feet (7.6 m) up and down. The first modern helicopter was invented by the French.
- Nothing happens if you suck your pencil, as it is made out of graphite, which is the crystallised form of carbon. (Forfeit: lead poisoning)
Episode 11 "Arts"
- Broadcast date
- Alan Davies (-18 points)
- Bill Bailey (-2 points) 3rd appearance
- Richard E. Grant (Winner with 12 points) 1st and only appearance
- Linda Smith (5 points) 2nd appearance
- Pigeons do not like going to the movies, because they see the world ten times faster than humans. To them, a film is a slow slide show.
- It was once believed that a pigeon's arse could be used to suck out the poison from an adder's bite, even though the last death from an adder bite was in 1977 and more people die from peanuts every year than from adder bites every century. Pigeons are the only birds that can suck. Pliny the Elder had a different solution involving tearing open a live swallow.
- The ant (forfeit: human) has the largest brain in comparison to its body size; if a human were have a have a head of the same ratio, they would have be three times bigger. There are 8,000 species of ant.
- Soldier ants were used in Ancient India as stitches after operations.
- In Thailand, red ants are poured into open wounds, and they secrete an acid which acts as a pain killer and an antiseptic.
- A greasy butcher, a hog snout and Gene Pitney are all kinds of apple.
- Apples and a game played with headless goats both originated from Kazakhstan. It never says in the Bible, what the fruit eaten in the Garden of Eden was, but it is just assumed to be an apple.
- Both Ulysses S. Grant and John Prescott were charged for speeding. Lord Prescott was banned from driving for 21 days in 2001 after being caught doing more than 100 mph on the M1, where he was fined £200. He had previously acquired nine penalty points on his driving licence. His best excuse that he came up with was that he didn't want his constituents to catch cold waiting for him. "Three Buggy" Grant received a speeding ticket on his horse and buggy in Washington, D.C. in 1869 and was fined £20. He had to persuade the officer that he was guilty. They both also won unusual prizes. Grant won a prize for taming a pony in a circus. The Prescott family came second a competition searching for, "The most typical family in Britain", in Brighton in 1951, but he should have won because the winning family was discovered to be distantly related to the organiser of the competition.
- General Ignorance
- The largest living thing on the Earth is the honey mushroom, of which the largest specimen covers 2,200 acres and is between 2 and 8 thousand years old. It was originally thought to grow in separate clusters but is now considered one huge organism connected under the soil (Forfeits: blue whale, giant redwood).
- The first man to claim that the Earth revolves around the Sun was Aristarchus, born in 310 BCE, and who also worked the relative distances of the Earth, Sun and Moon, and believed the universe to be, rather than a celestial sphere, a universe of almost infinite size (Forfeit: Copernicus).
- The African animal which kills more humans than any other is the hippopotamus, other than other humans or mosquitoes, despite being vegetarian. A hippo's skin weighs a ton, is an inch-and-a-half thick and is bulletproof. The whole hippo weighs 4 tons. A hippopotamus breath is so bad, they use it as part of their weaponry. George Washington had hippopotamus false teeth.
- The telephone was invented by Antonio Meucci, who perfected it by 1871 but couldn't afford the patent. When it was being assessed, it fell into the hands of Bell who decided to patent it in his own name. Meucci took Bell to court, but died before the judgement was given (Forfeit: Alexander Graham Bell).
Episode 12 "Advent" (Christmas Special)
- Broadcast date
- 23 December 2003 (BBC Two)
- Alan Davies (-6 points)
- Phill Jupitus (5 points) 1st appearance
- Sean Lock (7 points) 2nd appearance
- John Sessions (Winner with 28 points) 2nd appearance
- The general theme of all the questions was Christmas, with the panellists asked to draw a Christmas tree. Alan Davies drew a traditional childlike portrayal of a Christmas tree – a triangular style tree showing (incorrectly) that the branches point downwards.
- A Gripple is a gripping device made in Sheffield. Thousands of gripples hold together the Great Dingo Fence in Australia, the world's longest fence.
- The first domesticated animal after the dog, was the reindeer. Another common name for a reindeer (in North America) is caribou.
- Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and all of Santa's other reindeer must be either female or castrated, because male reindeer lose their antlers during winter.
- In "days of yore" Yorkshiremen would gather around their beehives during Christmas because they believed that the bees would start humming at midnight (the time of Christ's birth), even when the calendars changed.
- In 1657, mince pies were banned by Oliver Cromwell because they symbolised Catholicism.
- From 1840 to the end of World War II, the German village of Lauscha in Thuringia provided the world with baubles, with 95% of US houses. Contrary to what Stephen Fry said, Lauscher is not near Nuremberg but more than 100 km north (likewise, Neuschwanstein Castle depicted on the wall screen is 250 km south) and it does not mean "eavesdropper" in German (which would be "Lauscher").
- In 1908, US insurance companies tried to ban the placing of live candles on Christmas trees, mainly because a fire from a Christmas tree that caught fire on a Santa's beard destroyed a Chicago hospital in 1895.
- During the Siege of Paris (1870–1871) by the Prussians, the Parisians ran out of food and one restaurant used rats in their cooking. As well as raiding the sewers, they raided the zoos for other animals, such as elephant and kangaroo.
- General Ignorance
- Christmas Island includes places called Paris, London, Poland and Banana.
- The youngest age that a child can drink alcohol in a pub, restaurant or beer garden in the UK is 5 years old (forfeit: 18), as long as an adult buys the drink.
- Santa Claus comes from (what is today part of) Turkey. (Forfeit: Lapland)
- The image of Santa Claus was originally noted in the 1823 poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas".
|Richard E. Grant||1||1|
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