QI (B series)

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QI Series B
QI Series B DVD.jpg
The front cover of the QI series B DVD, featuring Stephen Fry (left) and Alan Davies (right).
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 12
Original channel BBC
Original run 8 October 2004 (2004-10-08) – 26 December 2004 (2004-12-26)
Home video release
DVD release date 17 March 2008 (UK)
14 September 2011 (AU)
Series chronology
← Previous
Series A
Next →
Series C

This is a list of episodes of QI, the BBC comedy panel game television show hosted by Stephen Fry.

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"). The following series 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).

B Series (2004)[edit]

Series B saw the first attempts to pay attention to a single theme within one episode, such as "Birds" in episode 2. The theme alluded to though, did not always begin with B (for example, episode 1 is announced as being about "Colour"), if present at all. As with series A, most of the titles below have been applied retrospectively to the episodes. In addition, extra footage was presented on the Series DVD, released in 2008. First-time panellists included Jeremy Clarkson, Fred MacAulay, Dara Ó Briain, Arthur Smith and Mark Steel. This series also saw the only appearances to date of Barry Cryer, Mark Gatiss, Phil Kay, Josie Lawrence and Anneka Rice, as well as the last appearance of Linda Smith before her death from ovarian cancer in 2006.

Episode 1 "Blue"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 8 October 2004 (BBC Two)
  • The Ancient Greeks claimed the sky was bronze as they had no word for blue. The Greeks never used colour to describe things. Homer believed that wine, the sea and sheep were red (Forfeit: Blue).
  • Rainbows happen when the sun reflects off the back of a raindrop at 42 degrees. In Estonia, it's believed that if you point your finger at a rainbow, it will fall off.
  • Urine used to be the third largest export from Newcastle after coal and beer, it was used to fix dye, such as that used in police uniforms.
  • Crushed insects are used in food colouring: Red E120 (cochineal) is made from bugs. 70,000 bugs are crushed to make one pound of cochineal. E122 is mentioned as an alternative, but also that it is bad for you if you have an allergy to aspirin and tends to make you hyperactive (Forfeit: Beetles).
  • A new type of beetle is discovered roughly every hour. Since 1700, the rate has been no more than 6 hours. There are around 2,000 coleopterists in the world and 10 million different species of beetle–around two thirds of all insects are beetles. If every species of animal and plant was placed in a row, every fifth one would be a beetle and every tenth one would be a weevil.
  • A ptiliidae beetle can pass through the eye of a needle, unlike a camel or the Sultan of Brunei (an example of a rich person).
General Ignorance

Episode 2 "Birds"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 15 October 2004 (BBC Two)
  • At the start the panel were asked to draw a kiwi, paying particular attention to the position of the nostrils. Alan correctly drew its nostrils at the end of the beak. Officially, a bird's bill is measured from the tip to the nostril, so the kiwi has the shortest bill of all birds.
  • David Livingstone couldn't distinguish between the roar of an ostrich and the roar of a lion and claimed that the only difference was that the ostrich is seen during the day and the lion during the night.
  • The tongue of a woodpecker can extend to two-thirds of its body-length, has sticky saliva, is covered in vicious barbs and has an ear at the end of it. The tongue goes around the back of its head when it's not outside its mouth. They can also beat wood 15 times a second, which is 250 times the force that astronauts are subjected to. It has lots of cartilage around its head as well. Woodpeckers are very popular on creationist websites, as it is argued that the animal is so well-designed for its purpose that it could not have evolved and must have been created.
  • Since they have only 20–30 taste buds, birds can't distinguish the taste of chocolate, which is toxic to them anyway. Humans have 9–10,000 taste buds, but new ones are grown every 5 days.
  • Skin, the largest organ in the body (Forfeit: Speak For Yourself), weighs 6 lb (2.7 kg) and covers 18 square feet (1.7 m2) on average. A single square inch of skin has 20 feet (6.1 m) of blood vessels, 1,300 nerve cells and 100 sweat glands. 50,000 cells are lost every second. A person will get through around 900 "skins" in a lifetime.
  • Sperm can "smell" the aroma of Lily of the Valley. It has long been a mystery of how the sperm can swim so fast to the ovum, and whether there is a scent trail, so German scientists how tried all kinds of different scents, including Lily of the Valley. There are proposals to place it in maternity clinics.
  • Chang and Eng Bunker were Siamese twins. Chang was once convicted of general assault on a member of the audience during one of the twins' variety acts. However, the judge in the case could not hold Eng in prison as well, so he set them both free. The Bunkers created the term "Siamese twins" for people who are conjoined, because they were originally from Siam. They lived till the age of 63 and married a pair of sisters and had 21 children between them. On the journey from Siam, one of the twins wanted a cold bath and the other didn't, so the captain had to placate them. Chang was a drunk and died first, so Eng woke up waiting for a doctor to separate them. Eng then died an hour later as he wrapped himself round his twin. It is believed he died from a broken heart, because he had no reason to die.
General Ignorance
  • The loudest thing in the ocean is the shrimp layer. All the bubbles that come out from them clapping their claws make the noise. It travels at 30 feet per second (9.1 m/s) and then pops. It can wake people up on coastal communities. They can white out the sonar of a submarine and deafen the operators through their headphones. A blue whale can hear another blue whale 10,000 miles (16,000 km) away, but in terms of amplitude, a normal person can't hear that. (Forfeit: Blue Whale)
  • Which is more likely to happen–Being killed by an lightning or by an asteroid? – Despite the shows assertion that "statistically in the United Kingdom, one is more likely to be killed by an asteroid than by lightning", this is not strictly the case. The statistic in question refers only to the chance of dying as a result of said event. Id est; dying as a result of being struck by lightning against dying as a result of a meteor impact. The facts presented are correct in as much as it is true that if struck by lightning one has a higher chance of survival than if a meteor struck the Earth. It is not the case that at any given moment one is more likely to die from an asteroid impact. (Forfeit: Struck By Lightning)
  • Camels originated from the continent of America, 20 million years ago. They spread across to other continents, because back then Bering Strait was land, rather than sea. They became extinct in North America during the last Ice Age. (Forfeits: Africa, Asia)
  • Despite being pink, the Flamingo eats blue-green algae to get their pink colour. Flamingos fall over if they stood on both legs. (Forfeit: Eating Shrimps)
  • Fry tells the story of Stephens Island Wren, the only flightless perching bird ever recorded, which was supposed wiped out by a single individual: the pet cat of a lighthouse keeper, Tibbles. However, this has since been discovered to be untrue, as there were some specimens found at a time when the island was home to numerous feral cats.

Episode 3 "Bombs"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 22 October 2004 (BBC Two)
General Ignorance
  • Is this a rhetorical question? (No!)
  • Technically there are only 46 states in the US, because Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are commonwealths. (Forfeit: Fifty)
  • During World War II, the only six Americans to lose their lives on home soil did so on a church picnic in Bly, Oregon. They were killed by Japanese fugosballoon bombs. They were hard to detect on radar, because they were mostly made by schoolgirls who didn't know what they were making out of a paper called washi. They also used the jet stream to make the balloon go faster, the interesting thing about that is that no-one else knew about it at the time. The fugo should not be confused with the Fugu fish. Between 30–100 people in Japan are poisoned by fugu and half of those die. It is believed that most Japanese people are daring enough to eat the fugu, but there are always traces of poison left, so you have to be an expert filleter. Japanese restaurants have lanterns outside with fugu skin, to show that a trained fugu filleter is inside. Part of the training involves eating the fugu that you have sliced up.
  • Penguins will live near the magnetic north pole in the event of a magnetic pole reversal.
  • The panellists are shown a picture of Saturn and have to recognise that it is actually shown upside-down. Alan answered it correctly, but he revealed that he actually thought it should have been sideways, probably thinking it was Uranus.
  • The Boy Scout salute is almost identical to the Polish army salute. The Polish army's salute is believed to originate from a Polish hero who had three fingers blown off.

Episode 4 "Bible"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 29 October 2004 (BBC Two)
General Ignorance
  • The English Civil War resulted in the highest proportion of British soldiers dying, as all the people fighting were British. (85,000 on the battlefield, another 100,000 of wounds subsequently – 10% of the adult population) The Irish population was halved by Cromwell.
  • Less than 0.02% of the Earth is water. Seven-tenths of the Earth is covered in water. Earth can also go into the Eye on Jupiter. (Forfeit: Two-Thirds)
  • Andy Warhol always wore green underwear. The only funeral he went to was his own and he didn't dance.
  • Robert Burns never wore a kilt, since kilt-wearing was illegal in the 18th century, mainly because of the Jacobite Rebellion. He was never referred to as "Robbie" or "Rabby" Burns, but sometimes "Rab".

Episode 5 "Bears"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 5 November 2004 (BBC Two)
  • The panel's "QI Brainteaser" was to make interesting phrases from a collection of fridge-magnet letters. Answers included:
  • Other ones seen on the "QI Series "B" DVD" are:
    • Lady Bush Trap (Jo)
    • Koala Soup (Alan)
    • Golum Kix Habit (Bill)
    • Al-Quaeda Goose Pet (Bill)
    • Sex Up Fry (Alan)
  • Koalas make a kind of soup from their faeces for their young. It comes out of their bottom. They are the only animal that makes a kind of "soup" or "pap". Jo wonders why this soup hasn't been used as a bushtucker trial on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!. Koalas aren't bears, they are marsupials. Fry incorrectly stated that koalas do not drink water.
  • For the seven months that they hibernate, bears do not defecate anywhere in the winter. They recycle the urea as protein, so they don't need to urinate and they mix the hair and faeces to make a sort of plug that blocks the anus during winter. She-bears give birth during hibernation. They can also give birth to 4 cubs from 4 different fathers. (Forfeit: Woods)
  • Toothpaste makes bears go crazy with desire. You'd be safer carrying a butchered elk leg. Dogs also go crazy from toothpaste, but there are dog toothpastes available in flavours such as peanut butter and beef.
  • The animal with huge teeth and only one facial expression is the Giant Panda. It has the biggest teeth of any mammal and is a bear, but until 1996, it was thought to be a member of the raccoon family. The odd thing was that it was designated as a carnivore, but everyone knows it only eats bamboo and they're also the only bear that doesn't hibernate, because it has to eat bamboo for 12 hours a day to get enough nutrients. (Forfeit: Janet Street-Porter)
  • Bamboo has a tensile strength greater than steel and can grow up to 4 feet (1.2 m) a day. It is used as scaffolding for buildings in Hong Kong and other parts of Southeast Asia. There are over 5,000 uses for bamboo. It is also a grass.
  • Thomas Edison believed that 15 tiny people lived within the human mind. He also believed that when you die, they moved to another person.
  • Edison did not invent the light bulb, but he used bamboo as a filament for his prototype, although one of his letters contains the first written reference of the word "hello". He had 1,093 patents in his name. The original word, "Hullo", was intended as an act of surprise, rather than a form of greeting.
General Ignorance

Episode 6 "Beavers"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 12 November 2004 (BBC Two)
General Ignorance
  • Since 2003, only 11 points are required to win at table tennis. Also in 2003, the regulation size of a table tennis ball was increased by 2mm to make it slower and easier to watch on television. (Forfeit: 21)
  • A kangaroo has three vaginas, but only two wombs. Soon as a joey is born it crawls along its mothers body into its pouch. If the joey doesn't survive the year, another joey is triggered and comes from the other womb, but the third vagina is a mystery to most researchers. The male only has two penises.
  • There is nothing special about Julius Caesar's birth. The phrase is derived from the Latin word for cut. There was a form of Caesarean section back in Caesar's time, but the mother always died and his mother was alive well into his adulthood. Sean confused Caesar's birth with Romulus and Remus, who were famously pulled out by a wolf. (Forfeit: Caesarean Section)
  • There are no offences for which you can be put to death in the United Kingdom. The last capital punishments were outlawed in 1999 by Jack Straw. Arson in the Royal Dockyards was outlawed in 1971. (Forfeits: Arson In The Royal Dockyards, Treason)
  • Dead bodies are eaten by bacteria. Kitchen chopping boards contain 3 times more bacteria than toilet seats and dishcloths contain 1,000,000 times more than that. (Forfeit: Worms)

Episode 7 "Biscuits"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 19 November 2004 (BBC Two)
  • Alan Davies (-20 points)
  • Rich Hall (2 points) 6th appearance
  • Dara Ó Briain (Winner with 4 points–however, on his second appearance it was discovered that he should not have won because of his statement about water's triple point below and as a forfeit had points deducted from his score on the second show to make up for his win on this show) 1st appearance
  • Arthur Smith (-18 points) 1st appearance
  • If someone said that the British Empire was built on diarrhea, they'd be talking rubbish due to the low incidence of diarrhea during the reign of the British Empire. They were the first imperial power to overcome diarrhea. Pringle managed to sort it for the army and Lind managed to solve it for the Royal Navy. They originally thought that if anything smelt bad it shouldn't be consumed. Lind also suggested that the Navy eat lemons to combat scurvy. Since every place that had lemons hated Britain, they got limes from the Caribbean. Unfortunately, limes were only half as effective.
  • Ballet is illegal in Turkmenistan, which is odd as Turkmenistan used to be part of the Soviet Union.
  • Digestive biscuits aren't an aid to digestion. Digestives were called digestive because they were said to be anti-flatulent. In America, it's illegal to call them digestives. The word cookie is derived from the Dutch word Koekje, meaning a cake. The Americans also have a savoury snack called biscuits and gravy. 450 digestive biscuits are made every second in the UK.
  • The difference between a cake and a biscuit is that when they go stale, a cake goes hard and a biscuit goes soft. A Jaffa Cake is a cake, despite many people thinking it's a biscuit. It was proven because in 1991, Her Majesty's Customs and Excise decided to re-classify the Jaffa Cake as a biscuit, but VAT was added to chocolate-covered biscuits as a luxury item. So, McVitie's baked a 12-inch (300 mm) one and proved that when it went stale, it was hard, so it was a cake.
  • Straight roads were invented in the Iron Age. Although, the Romans can rightly claim to have made longer road networks. Another proof that roads weren't invented by the Romans, was that there were many straight roads in Ireland, which was never invaded by the Romans. (Forfeit: Romans)
General Ignorance
  • A group of baboons is called a congress. A replacement word, a "flange", originates from the sketch Gerald the Gorilla, on "Not the Nine O'Clock News".
  • Aardvarks have the most bones in their noses, they have nine or ten. Elephants don't have any. (Forfeit: Elephants)
  • According to Anders Celsius, the boiling point of water is 0°C. He decided that water should boil at 0°C and that ice should melt at 100°C. (Forfeit: 100 Degrees)
  • What did Mussolini do? – The only train he made run on time was one carrying himself from Milan to Rome so he could become Prime Minister. All other improvements in the Italian transport system happened before he came to power. (Forfeit: Made Trains Run On Time)
  • Which eye did Nelson wear his eyepatch on? – He never wore one, he only wore an eyepatch in Ladybird Books. (Forfeit: Right)

Episode 8 "Bees"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 26 November 2004 (BBC Two)
General Ignorance
  • Which has more caffeine – a cup of tea or a cup of coffee? – A cup of coffee contain 3 times more caffeine than a cup of tea. Weight for weight though there is more caffeine in tea. (Forfeit: Cup Of Tea)
  • The only ball game completely invented in the United States is basketball. Originally, the basket was a peach basket, but they didn't put a hole in it, so every time there was a score, they had to get a ladder to get the ball out. A woman then created netball, but she misinterpreted the rules and thought that you had to stay still when you received the ball. Volleyball was also invented at Springfield College like basketball and netball. Lacrosse was also invented in America, but it was before it became the United States. (Forfeit: Baseball)
  • Nelson's last words were "Drink, drink, fan, fan, rub, rub!" This was a request to alleviate his symptoms of thirst, heat and the pains of his wounds from battle. He was given lemonade, water and wine to alleviate his thirst, he was fanned by a fan and another person massaged his back. "Kiss me, Hardy" is what was actually claimed to be said, "Kismet, Hardy" is completely made-up.(Forfeit: Kismet, Hardy)

Episode 9 "Bats"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 3 December 2004 (BBC Two)
General Ignorance

Episode 10 "Bills"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 10 December 2004 (BBC Two)

A "Draw A Wigwam Contest": The panellists were originally asked to do it in the style of an artist whose surname began with "B" (the letter of the series).

Much to Alan's relief, they were then told that was a joke and they could do it however they wanted.

At the end, everyone revealed their drawings, but everyone accidentally drew teepees instead of a wigwam, except Clive Anderson, who twisted the competition by drawing the pop group Wham! wearing wigs. The main difference between a teepee and a wigwam is that a teepee is made out of buffalo hide and sticks and were mainly lived in by Indians from the Great Plains, whereas wigwams are mainly made of hay and were lived in by Indians from the Northeast.

  • There are over 200 folk names for a pansy, more than any other flower, including "jolly jump-up and meet me in the corner", "tickle my fancy", "love idol", "kiss me in the buttery", "pink of my John" and Heartsease. The word "pansy" originates from the French word pensée meaning "thought" or "idea", because they were believed to help with the memory. You can eat them in a tea that can be used to help the complexion and clearing the phlegm.
  • Bottomry is when the master of a ship borrows money upon the bottom or keel of it, so as to forfeit the ship itself to the creditor, if the money is not paid at the time appointed with interest at the ship's safe return.
  • Buffalo Bill did nothing with buffaloes, because buffaloes in America are actually bison. The bison aren't even related to the buffaloes. In 18 months, Buffalo Bill killed 4,280 bison, while he worked for the Pony Express as a boy. The advert that Buffalo Bill applied to says "Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily, orphans preferred. Wages: $25 a week." The Pony Express only lasted 19 months, so Buffalo Bill was then hired by the Kansas Pacific Railway to kill bison to gather food for the construction workers. In Dances with Wolves, the Native Americans just killed them for fun. The Native Americans preferred to lure them over cliffs, by causing them to stampede, because they can't stop stampeding. Cows eventually replaced the bison, but they created a dust bowl, so then bison were re-introduced by crossing them with the cattle. There were 60 million bison at the end of the 17th century, down to a few hundred at the end of the 19th century. There are now around 50,000.
  • Sitting Bull's (who defeated General Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn) real name was Jumping Badger. He inherited the name "Sitting Bull" from his father when he was a teenager. He killed his first bison when he was 10. He then took part in a rading on a pro-Crow Indian settlement. Bulls sit down when it's about to rain, like Ferdinand the Bull. His mother was called "Her-Holy-Door".
  • The BBC paid Hilda Wright 3 guineas for the 3 radio programmes of the Flower Pot Men. Since acquiring the rights, the BBC made £2 million from video sales of the series. She named Bill and Ben after her brothers. When they were naughty, their mother said Was it Bill or was it Ben?, which became the catchphrase of the show. Their little sister, Phyllis was Little Weed.
  • Billy the Kid and Ben-Hur are connected to Lew Wallace. He signed Billy the Kid's death warrant while he was Governor of New Mexico and wrote Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ in 1880.
  • As you go upstairs in a tall building, your thoughts in your head, your breathing and metabolism go faster, because time is slower, the weaker the gravity.
Note: This is incorrect. When gravity decreases, time speeds up.
  • The best floor of a building to throw a cat without killing it is the 7th floor. Researchers studied records for veterinary casualty wards, and found that the higher up to the 5th floor, the rate of injury increased. But, after the 7th floor, they can reach their terminal velocity of approximately 60 mph. Like a squirrel, they spread themselves out and parachute down. Cats have even survived from falling aeroplanes.
General Ignorance

Episode 11 "Beats"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 17 December 2004 (BBC Two)
  • Snakes prefer to look at musical instruments, since they have no ears. Although it was recently revealed that they have an otic nerve. All you have to do is pretend you have an instrument and it will still move around as if it was mesmerised by the actions.
  • What have cats got to do with violins? – Nothing, sheep's guts are used for making violin strings. In Medieval times, it was considered unlucky to kill cats, so the people who had the monopoly on violins claimed that they used catguts, because their rivals would never kill a cat. The same rival families have been making them for over 600 years. Nowadays nylon and steel are added, but many claim the sheepgut is still the best. A cat's penis has barbs and a bone in it. (Forfeit: Catgut Strings)
  • Spiders like listening to classical music, according to research at the Ohio University. When listening to techno and rap, they made their webs as far away from the speaker as possible, but when listening to Bach, they made their webs as near to the speaker as possible. Huntsman spiders are the only spiders with lungs.
  • In 1995, NASA did an experiment on spider webs after the spider has had caffeine, LSD and marijuana. When subjected to LSD, they were more geometrical. When they had caffeine, they were all over the place and with marijuana, they slightly in between the other two.
  • Synesthesia is a term created by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, which is when you think of a colour when you hear a sound. Neuroscientist Julian Asher tried to explain it while he was a child, because when the orchestra played, the colour seemed to improve while the music was playing.
  • In 1988, Warner Communications paid $28,000,000 for the rights to the song "Happy Birthday To You". It was composed in 1924 by two women, but Irving Berlin first included the words to the music in 1933. Officially, if you sing it in a public place, you owe Warner Communications money. It was also the first song to be sung in space, by the Apollo 9 crew. The song was originally a song to be sung in class, referred to as "Good Morning To All".
  • Mike Batt's (who wrote the song for "The Wombles") worst compilation was the song "One Minute Silence", which he stole from John Cage's notable 1952 record 4′33″, which is total silence. He actually credited the song as "One Minute Silence (Batt/Cage)" and he also wrote the song for William Hague's 1997 leadership campaign.
  • During a news bulletin on Good Friday in 1930, there was no news, so the presenter played some music for a period of 10 minutes. Apart from football matches, the only main thing going on was a rebellion in Chittagong, India, but that didn't happen until after the news had finished.
General Ignorance

Episode 12 "Birth" (Christmas Special)[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 26 December 2004 (BBC Two)
General Ignorance
Davies insists that he will not be humiliated on Christmas, so Fry offers for the two to change place. Davies asks his own set of questions, most of them "just for Stephen Fry". (All Alan's questions still had pictures relating to them on the studio's big screens, indicating that the switch was thoroughly planned. As evidenced by his regular forfeits though, Stephen was still unaware as to what the questions would be.)


Name Appearances Wins
Alan Davies 12 (24) 0 (1)
Rich Hall 6 (9) 4 (5)
Jo Brand 4 (8) 0
Sean Lock 3 (5) 1
Bill Bailey 3 (6) 0
Clive Anderson 2 (4) 1 (3)
Phill Jupitus 2 (3) 1
John Sessions 2 (4) 0 (1)
Phil Kay 2 0
Linda Smith 1 (3) 1
Jimmy Carr 1 (2) 1
Dara Ó Briain 1 1
Jeremy Clarkson 1 1
Josie Lawrence 1 1
Anneka Rice 1 1
Jeremy Hardy 1 (3) 0
Barry Cryer 1 0
Mark Gatiss 1 0
Fred MacAulay 1 0
Arthur Smith 1 0
Mark Steel 1 0


External links[edit]