QI (C series)

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This article is about the British show's third series. For the third season of Swedish QI, see Intresseklubben#Season C.
QI Series C
QI Series C DVD.jpg
The front cover of the QI series C DVD, featuring Stephen Fry (left) and Alan Davies (right).
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 12
Original channel BBC
Original release 30 September 2005 – 9 December 2005
Series chronology
← Previous
Series B
Next →
Series D

The third series of QI, the BBC comedy panel game television show hosted by Stephen Fry, started on 30 September 2005. As each series of QI is based around a letter of the alphabet, all questions in the series had themes beginning with the letter "c".

C Series (2005)[edit]

As with the previous two series, the episode titles below have been applied retrospectively. Series C saw the first appearances of Andy Hamilton, Doon Mackichan and David Mitchell, as well as the only appearances to date of Alexander Armstrong, Helen Atkinson-Wood and Rory McGrath.

Another notable first was the idea of the studio audience picking up or losing points for one of their number shouting out an answer. On this occasion - episode 9 - the audience received a forfeit. In later series though, the audience would be credited as the winners of some episodes. Rather ironically, series C is also the only series to date not to feature a Christmas-themed special.

Episode 1 "Campanology"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 30 September 2005 (BBC Two)
  • The 2002 Ordnance Survey map of Great Britain, the most detailed map of its kind, sells on CD-ROM for £30,000 for every town, or £4,990,000 for the whole country.
  • The connection between a Carlisle Surprise, A Reverse Canterbury Pleasure & A Sheep Tied To A Lamppost in Cardiff is that they're all types of "changes" in church bell ringing. In Campanology, there are 720 different possible changes in the traditional British line-up of six church bells. The origin of the word "Campanology" comes from the Latin for a part of the countryside called Campana. If there were 12 bells in the peal, there would be 479,001,600 different permutations, which would take 38 years to do. The Chinese invented the bell in 1200 BC.
  • The Isle of Wight was the last place in Britain to convert to Christianity in 686 AD, almost a century after the rest of the country. It was subjugated by Cædwalla (leader of the West Saxons), who killed most of the Pagan population to Christianise it. Alan got a point for knowing about The Needles. The North American gray squirrel has not made its way to the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight was the last place to be invaded by a foreign power, when it was invaded by the French. (100 point question asked to Alan. Bill answered it correctly.)
  • Custard can support a person walking on top of it because it is a non-Newtonian fluid, as demonstrated on Sky One's Brainiac. The heavier the weight you put on it, the harder it becomes.
  • Name the teams at the Colosseum in Ancient Rome. (Forfeit: Lions v Christians) There is no evidence that any Christians were thrown to the lions in a colosseum. Among punishments given to Christians were being forced by Nero to make torches on the Appian Way.
  • In the Middle Ages, most people thought the world was spherical (forfeit: flat), although Christopher Columbus believed the world to be pear shaped. Terry Jones blames Washington Irving for making this "lie" about it. He says "The Greeks knew it was round, Chaucer knew it was round, Roger Bacon wrote about the curvature of the Earth in the 13th century." If the Earth wasn't round, planes couldn't fly properly. Since the 4th century BC, no-one believed that the world was flat.
General Ignorance
  • A taffy pull is an American social event where taffy is made as a form of social interaction (forfeit: Welsh chat-up line). Taffy is different from English toffee because it's chewy and soft all the way through, because it's aerated. Salt water taffy isn't actually made from salt water. The story goes that during the 19th century, there was a flood in Atlantic City (Fry refers to Atlanta but he is mistaken, probably because Atlanta is inland.) and the stock of taffy was flooded, so a friend told the owner to sell it as "salt water taffy". Some people believe the story, others don't.
  • There were seven (forfeit: two) sheep on Noah's Ark, because there were seven of every type of clean animal on board the Ark, with two of each unclean animal like pigs.
  • The archbishop murdered by Henry II was called Thomas Becket, with the "à" being a mistake, as described by historian John Strype in the "Memoirs of Thomas Cranmer". (Forfeit: Thomas à Becket)

Episode 2 "Cummingtonite"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 7 October 2005 (BBC Two)
  • Opera: a 50-point bonus was offered to any contestant who could break a wine glass using only the power of their voice. It is almost impossible to achieve.
General Ignorance
  • How big is a platypus? - Alan used his hands to measure the size of a duck-billed platypus, which brought up the forfeit "about this big" on the screen. A platypus, technically speaking, is a genus of beetle, not to be confused with a duck-billed platypus. The latter has no nipples, but instead sweats milk. (Forfeit: about this big)
  • A dialogue does not have any limits (forfeit: two) to how many people can take part. Two people have to take part in a duologue.
  • The Queen's handbag contains some money, a comb, a handkerchief, a small gold compact and some lipstick.
Just before Stephen Fry read out the points, the contestants attempted to break their glasses. Alan Davies appeared to succeed, but Doon Mackichan revealed that he had cheated. Stephen then revealed that Alan was trying to break sugar glass, and smashed one over his own head. Arthur Smith threw his at Alan Davies and missed. It was fortunate he did, as his was real glass. (Doon threatened to sue jokingly).

Episode 3 "Common Knowledge"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 14 October 2005 (BBC Two)
  • The commonest bird in the world is the domesticated chicken.
  • John Napier, inventor of the decimal point and logarithms, kept a black cockerel which he used as a ploy to catch a thieving servant. He would hide the cockerel in a darkened room and ask all his servants to stroke it, but they didn't know he covered the cockerel in soot, so the innocent ones would stroke it and have dirty fingers, but the guilty one would pretend to stroke it and have clean hands. Napier supposedly invented the machine gun.
  • A chevin, or chavender, is a type of carp, better known as the European chub. (Forfeits: a chav called Kevin, a chav in EastEnders)
  • Fry stated that marsupials are not mammals, however this is incorrect.
  • The fingerprints of a koala are indistinguishable from those of a human.
  • 'Dermatoglyphics' and 'uncopyrightable' are the longest words in English language with no repetition of a letter.
  • The commonest metal in the human body is calcium (forfeits: iron, mercury)., mainly because the bones are calcium phosphate crystals. ("Genius" award - 100 points).
  • The "first" Prime Minister was Henry Campbell-Bannerman (forfeits: Walpole, Pitt the Elder); prior to this the official title was First Lord of the Treasury. He became Prime Minister in 1905, 5 days after becoming First Lord of the Treasury. Prime Ministers nowadays become both Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury. Campbell-Bannerman's last words were "This is not the end of me". Walpole never referred to his position as "Prime Minister".
General Ignorance

Episode 4 "Cheating"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 21 October 2005 (BBC Two)
  • The panellists were asked to keep their own scores. An extra 100 points would be awarded for any contestant who got their score exactly right. Alexander Armstrong accurately recorded his score (-7) and therefore received 100 points.
    • Jeremy thought his score was -29, John thought his score was -7 and Alan thought his score was -85½.
General Ignorance

Episode 5 "Cat's Eyes"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 28 October 2005 (BBC Two)
  • Women have been shown to be able to "smell fear". Animals can smell the fear of each other but not of another species.
  • "Cats Eyes" Cunningham shot down the very first plane by night in 1940 because he had airborne radar. Alan initially mistook Cunningham for the inventor of the cat's eyes, Percy Shaw. (Forfeit: [He ate] Carrots)
  • Marco Polo first heard the curious sounds that were created in the desert by sand dunes, which he claimed were the spirits of the desert. There are more molecules in a glass of water than there are grains of sand in the entire world.
  • Pliny the Elder and others believed that a giraffe was the result of a cross between a camel and a leopard. This creature was originally called a "camelopard".
  • Since 1982, a centenarian in the UK receives a 'telemessage' from the Queen, but only on application from the Anniversaries' Secretary at Buckingham Palace.
  • There is no word for a Roman who was in charge of 100 men (forfeit: centurion). Strictly speaking, centurions were in charge of 83 men, although it was normally between 60 and 80.
  • It is suggested that Nero played the kithara while Rome burned down (forfeit: fiddled while Rome burned). It was impossible for him to have played the violin as it didn't exist until the 14th century. He blamed the Christians for the Great Fire of Rome.
  • Elephants used to be caught by Ethiopian elephant catchers who would capture one, disable it and use it as a breeding animal. Methods used to frighten elephants included setting fire to oil-covered pigs and setting them at the elephants.
  • No animals are mentioned that have short memories. (Forfeit: goldfish)
General Ignorance
  • A Myoclonic jerk is a sensation of falling during the prestages of sleep used in early stages of evolution to prevent gravity from removing the creature from trees.
  • The largest lake entirely within Canada is the Great Bear Lake. None of the Great Lakes are entirely in Canada, so none of them count. The deepest lake in Canada is Lake Manitou, which has an island inside it, and in that island there is a lake. That makes it the largest lake that's in an island that's in a lake in the world. (Forfeit: Who cares?)
  • Botts' dots is the name for "cat's eyes" in California. They were created by Dr. Elbert Botts. Unlike Percy Shaw, he received no money because he was working for the California Department of Transportation at the time.

Episode 6 "Cockneys"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 4 November 2005 (BBC Two)

Pin The Tastebud On The Catfish: Each of the panellists was given a catfish and told to put stickers on where they thought the catfish's taste buds were. The answer is that a catfish has thousands of taste buds all over its body.

  • Criminals originally used cockney rhyming slang to obfuscate what they were planning when they thought they could be heard.
  • "Cockney" means "cock's egg".
  • In the Cherokee language, the word for Cherokee is "ah-ni-yv-wi-ya". The word Cherokee comes from Cree. The writing system of the Cherokee language was invented by Sequoyah, and within a year most of the Cherokee were literate. Rory gets points for knowing the name Tsalagi, which is actually the name for the Cherokee language.
  • Giant Sequoias have bark 4-foot (1.2 m) thick and need forest fires to clear the ground for them to breed.
  • The panellists are asked if they use coal to brush their teeth. The truth is that everyone uses coal when they clean their teeth (Forfeit: No), because it is present in the nylon bristles of the toothbrush, rather than the toothpaste.
  • Nylon was originally called "No Run". The name was given by its inventor, Wallace Carothers of the DuPont company. (Forfeit: New York & London)
  • The Laughing Cavalier was painted on cannabis (or more precisely, hemp) and the word "canvas" originates from the Greek word "cannabis".
  • Chelmsford:
General Ignorance

Episode 7 "Constellations"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 11 November 2005 (BBC Two)
  • Judge the Constellation Challenge: Join stars on a piece of paper to form a constellation. Rich drew "George Foreman delivering a powerful right-handed shot to the head of a parakeet", Sean drew a train, Jeremy drew the head of an old woman, Alan drew a smiley face. Actual constellations were: Taurus, Aries, Sagittarius and Cancer respectively.
  • It would take around an hour to drive to Outer space, as it is 62 miles (100 km) above the Earth's atmosphere.
  • The smallest recorded dog in the world was a Yorkshire Terrier that was 2.5 inches high and 3¾ inches long and weighed 4 ounces.
  • Chihuahua Cheese is a popular roasting (Asadero) cheese from the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
  • Flint is made of quartz from sponges.
  • The only survivor of the Crimean War is a naval tortoise called Timothy the Tortoise. It was born fourteen years before the war started in 1853 and died in 2004 and was the ship's mascot of the naval ship HMS Queen during the first bombardment of Sebastopol. The reason why it was the only survivor of the Crimean War was that the war between the United Kingdom and Russia only officially ended in 1966. This was because Berwick-upon-Tweed was officially rendered part of the British Empire, but not part of England or Scotland. Berwick-upon-Tweed was formally announced to be at war with the Russian Empire in 1853, but not included in the peace declaration in 1856, meaning that it was still at war until 1966. Since everyone who had "fought" in the war had died by 1966 except for the tortoise, it is recognised as the only survivor of the Crimean War.
General Ignorance
  • A luffa comes from the ground (forfeit: the sea), because it's a plant that you can grow.
  • The Ford Model T was available in grey, red or Brewster green (forfeits: black, any colour so long as it's black). In Manchester, you could only get them in blue. They were only available in black after 1913. There is no evidence that Henry Ford said that you could get them in any colour so long as it's black.
  • The Gatso Camera was invented by Maurice Gatsonides to monitor the speed of a car so he could find a way to make a car go faster around corners (forfeit: to raise money for the government).
  • Samuel Pepys buried a piece of Parmesan cheese (forfeit: diary) in his garden during the Great Fire of London.

Episode 8 "Corby"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 18 November 2005 (BBC Two)
  • The panellists' names translated phonetically in Chinese:
    • 'Al-an Day-vees' — Lazy great slave child/2 dozen blue combs
    • 'Stee-fen Fry' — stiff fragrant husband come/private suite bend over pipe
    • 'Bil-lee Bay-lee' — Shabby plum shellfish texture/low hedge sad hedge
    • 'Fil-lee Joo-pee-tus' — vulgar dwarf skin couch/bend over hedge master ruffian foetus
    • 'Day-veed Me-chell' — Slack slave rotten dynasty/fry borrows narrow spoon
  • There are no inventions from Corby that begin with the letter "C" (forfeit: trouser press). The famed "Corby" trouser press was invented by a man called John Corby. Corby is also the largest town in Europe without a railway station. (Note, this was true at the time of broadcast, but a station has since opened on 23 February 2009.)
  • There is a crater on Mars named after Corby, in honour of a world-record attempt of consuming the most bowls of porridge that happened while the astronauts on Apollo 11 were heading to the Moon. The information was relayed to them from Houston.
  • All craters on Mars have to be named after towns with a population of less than 100,000, such as Cádiz, Cairns, Canberra, Charleston & Crewe.
Non sequitur: Stephen presents Alan with an Alan Potato Head.
General Ignorance

Episode 9 "Creatures"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 25 November 2005 (BBC Two)
  • Animals/Zoo
  • Difficult question bonus — one question is deemed "so impossible" that a correct answer would be rewarded with 200 points.
  • Spot the Cuttlefish - concealed somewhere in the show there would be a cuttlefish or part of a cuttlefish.
  • Out of the 4 animal buzzers, the chicken has the most chromosomes at 78. (or as they're counted in pairs, 39 pairs) (Forfeit: Gorilla)
  • Pygmy chimpanzees, or bonobos are highly sexed apes and if a pair of them see any mysterious objects, like a box, they have recreational sex.
  • Swimming through treacle is similar to swimming in water, because even though it's hard to use your arms, the legs are pushing on a harder surface, so you get a big spring from it, so the speed is virtually the same.
  • The material used in schools to write on blackboards is gypsum. (Forfeit: Chalk)
  • C6H12O6(S) + 6O2(g) -> 6CO2(g) + 6H2O(g), described as an "explosion in a custard factory"; is the oxidisation of glucose. (This question was worth 200 points and was answered correctly by Helen.)
  • The French word for custard is "Crème Anglaise". (Literally English Cream)
  • As well as being able to sing, the New Guinea Singing Dog (a type of canine), is the only dog to climb trees.
  • Octopuses pretend to be coconuts. (Forfeit: Cuttlefish)
  • Marie Curie who discovered radium together with her husband Pierre, was the first winner of two Nobel Prizes. One for Physics and one for Chemistry. She discovered radium, which had luminous properties making it extremely popular. It was used in toothpaste, watches, hair tonic, sweets, condoms and many other things. As a result, many people ended up dying from bone degeneration and general ill-health. The Radium Dial Company was a huge scandal in the 20th century. This question was also the answer to the 'Spot the cuttlefish' contest, as Marie Curie's photograph was tinted with sepia, which is the ink of the cuttlefish, but none of the panelists spotted this.
General Ignorance
Note: This 'fact' was later stated on the DVD release as false. The Scottish engineer William Playfair, first used the pie chart about 20 years before Florence Nightingale's birth. There is a dispute if Nightingale used the pie chart without the knowledge that it was used before.
  • Most tigers in the world are in private hands in the United States. (Forfeits: Asia, Zoos)
  • Silly, Billy, Chilly, Pussy, Pissy, Corny, Punchy, Misery, Messy and Prat are all places in France. (Forfeit: The Ten Dwarves, made by an audience member who lost 45 points according to Stephen, although unlike in future episodes, this wasn't mentioned at the end of the show.)

Episode 10 "Cleve Crudgington"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 2 December 2005 (BBC Two)
General Ignorance

Episode 11 "Carnival"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 9 December 2005 (BBC Two)
  • One answer involved squirrels – if a panellist identified it correctly they would receive 50 points, with 10 points taken away for a miscall. Each of the panellists also have a swazzle for amusement purposes.
  • You have to swallow 2 swazzles to become a professor of Punch and Judy.
  • The difference between phobias & fears are that phobia are irrational and fears are rational. (Squirrel Forfeit — Alan)
  • Does anyone have a cuckoo in their pants? - Yes, the Greek for cuckoo is coccyx. (Forfeit: No)
  • Most animals wear Greek frocks, because the Greek for frock is chitin, which is a polymer, that covers all animals, plants and fungi. (Forfeit: Demis Roussos) (Squirrel Forfeit — Jo)
  • The Greek army wear kilts, that have 400 pleats in them, because there was 400 years of Turkish subjugation.
  • The Coconut crab can't swim or float in water, they can be the size of a small dog, can shin up trees, have claws that can open tin cans and can carry a load that is greater than the luggage allowance on an international flight.
  • A Cheeselog is another name for a woodlouse. (Squirrel Forfeit — Clive)
  • The Emperor Charlemagne had a party trick using a tablecloth made of asbestos, in which he threw it onto a fire. Asbestos means "inextinguishable". The town where the most asbestos is mined is called Asbestos.
General Ignorance
  • No-one goes gathering nuts in May, because hawthorn blooms. (Squirrel Forfeit — Alan, Clive & Phill)
  • A custard pile is another name for a cock. Cockfighting was Britain's national sport for nearly 2,000 years. Every village in Britain would have a cockpit. The word "cockpit" is derived from the word "cock". (Squirrel Forfeit — Phill)
  • Aeschylus was killed by a falling tortoise that was dropped by an eagle. (Squirrel Forfeit — Phill)
  • Robin Hood's tights were the colour Lincoln Graine, a shade of scarlet. In the original "A Gest of Robyn Hode", their clothes were mentioned very frequently.
  • In the version made by Charles Perrault, Cinderella's slippers were made of squirrel fur; this is itself disputed. (None of the panellists guessed at squirrel fur.)

Episode 12 "Combustion"[edit]

Broadcast dates
  • 16 December 2005 (BBC Two)
  • One fact would be incorrect – the "doubt card" can be shown by any player when they think they have spotted it.
General Ignorance
Doubt Card (Bollocks Answer): Neil Armstrong and the Mr Gorski story – told as a fact but then shown to be the fictional answer. Alan correctly used his doubt card for this.
  • The triple point of water is actually 0.01 °C, a correction from a previous episode as pointed out by viewers. (Forfeit: 0 °C)


External links[edit]