QI (I series)

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QI Series I
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of episodes 16
Broadcast
Original channel BBC Two
Original run 9 September 2011 (2011-09-09) – 4 May 2012 (2012-05-04)
Series chronology
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Series J

The ninth series of QI, the BBC comedy panel game television show hosted by Stephen Fry, started on 26 November 2009. As each series of QI is based around a letter of the alphabet, all episodes in the series had themes beginning with the letter "i". This series aired on BBC Two, rather than BBC One as it had in recent years.

Episodes[edit]

A recurring element in this series was the "Ignorance" or "Nobody Knows" card. In each episode there was one question to which the actual answer is unknown; if a panellist correctly spotted it and played their card, they were awarded a sizeable amount of points. Most of the Nobody Knows bonuses were won by Alan Davies.

Guests who made their first appearance in this series were: John Bishop, Brian Blessed, Nina Conti, Prof. Brian Cox, Dr. Ben Goldacre, Sarah Millican, Al Murray, Frank Skinner and Henning Wehn.

Episode 1 "I-Spy"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 9 September 2011
Recording date
  • 7 June 2011
Panellists
Topics
  • The ai is a sloth native to South America; it only comes down from trees to defecate, and needs to bask in the sun to start its metabolism. The aye-aye, on the other hand, is an endangered nocturnal lemur native to Madagascar with an elongated middle finger which it taps on trees to draw out and eat grubs. It is considered a curse by the native Malagasy people, and often killed on sight.
  • In the Royal Navy, "aye" is an assent or agreement; "aye-aye" is an acknowledgement of orders.
  • If the subject of a painting is depicted as having a gaze fixed on the viewer, the subject's eyes will always appear to "follow" the viewer—that is, the eyes will always appear to be looking at the viewer, even if the viewer is not in a position that would expected to catch the gaze. Well-known examples of paintings exhibiting this phenomenon include the Mona Lisa and Laughing Cavalier. Similarly, if the gaze is depicted as cast downward, it will always appear this way, even from below.
  • In addition to tying one's shoes and dealing with rabid dogs, the all-time best-selling Scouting for Boys by Lord Baden-Powell contains entries on dealing with the following remarkable subjects:
    • Suicide
    • Slaughtering cattle
    • Stopping a runaway horse
    • Saving someone who's fallen in front of a train
General Ignorance
  • Nobody Knows: It's not possible to determine the age of a lobster, whose DNA contain a protease enzyme called telomerase which replaces lost DNA during cell division so that cells remain young after each replication. It's not known how large or how old lobster get; the largest lobster ever recorded, caught off the coast of Nova Scotia in 1977, was 3½ feet long. The vast majority of lobster are dark in color, but they are occasionally blue or red. Lobsters detach themselves from their old shells 25 times during the first 5 years of their life in a dangerous procedure which involves pulling out the lining of its own throat, stomach, and anus each time. They also communicate by urinating. Alan gets the bonus.
  • "Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe" would not have been pronounced much differently from modern English. It would be pronounced "The Old Pork Pie Shop" (forfeit: Ye Olde Pork Pie Shoppe).
  • Crime increased by 57% in London during the Blitz. Looters would sometimes pose as wardens, conning bystanders into helping them move stolen goods. Benefit fraud increased as well; one man claimed for bombing benefits 19 times before he was found out. Ordinary people also participated in black market trading of rationed goods.
QI XL Extras
  • A jackal will only be friendly if it is rabid. Docility is a symptom of rabies; animals don't always froth at the mouth.
  • It is not entirely certain how Grigori Rasputin died. Prince Felix Yusupov claimed, and for a long time was believed, to have been Rasputin's murderer when he poisoned, stabbed, and shot Rasputin—after which, when Rasputin was still alive, Yusupov threw him in a river. (Later, his dead body was burned, at which time he appeared to sit up.) The original postmortem claimed Rasputin died of drowning; however, an [unpublished] autopsy revealed this not to be the case. Rasputin was notoriously promiscuous (due to his peculiar theological belief that the more he sinned, the more holy he became), and among his rumored lovers was Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, over whom he held great political influence. Rasputin went to great lengths to influence Russia to withdraw from World War I, which there were many parties with a vested interest in preventing—including the British government, who needed the German army to remain occupied with the Russians on the eastern front. It is now known that the last bullet to enter Rasputin's head was from a gun which could only have come from an MI6 officer, suggesting a British plot played a part in ensuring Rasputin's death.
  • "Durable" Mike Malloy was a remarkably tenacious murder victim in New York City during American Prohibition. He was befriended by some speakeasy owners who attempted to effect a life insurance scam using alcoholic clients, by coaxing them to take out policies benefiting the owners and then offering their marks free drinks to induce death by alcohol poisoning. They coerced Mike to take out three insurance policies totaling $2000, but after offering him free drinks for several weeks, seeing that he was in no danger, the conspirators became impatient. Initially they tried to poison him, adding antifreeze to his drinks; after this didn't kill him they tried turpentine, horse liniment, rat poison, rotten oysters in wood alcohol, and sardines mixed with carpet tacks. When none of this worked they got him drunk, stripped him naked, dumped him in a snowbank in bitter cold, and poured 5 gallons of cold water over him. He returned the next day, having been found by police and hospitalized. They then paid a cab driver to run him over; after two attempts and weeks of hospitalization, Malloy returned. At this point the speakeasy owners got him drunk again and actively gassed him to death. A few months later the conspirators began to fight amongst themselves and were found out, eventually being executed by electric chair at Sing Sing.
  • There are a vast number of insects in the atmosphere. Using radar it was discovered that in a square kilometer of sky, at all times, there are billions of insects. The record height at which an insect has been found was a termite at 19,000 feet.
  • In the US, there are laws determining the maximum acceptable amounts of unsavory materials and insect matter allowed to be contained in everyday food items. For example, peanut butter is allowed to contain up to 30 insect fragments, and one rodent hair, per 100 grams. Tomato juice is allowed to contain ten eggs or two maggots from the Drosophila (fruit fly) per 500 milliliters; ginger is allowed 3 milligrams of "mammalian excreta" (i.e., feces) per 100 grams; fig paste can contain 30 normal insect heads per 100 grams; ground marjoram can contain 1,175 insect fragments per 10 grams.
General Ignorance

Episode 2 "International"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 16 September 2011
Recording date
  • 11 May 2011
Panellists
Topics
  • If you were on an aeroplane in which both the pilot and the co-pilot had fallen ill, it would be incredibly difficult for anyone else to land the plane down safely. Simulations have been carried out in the US with people with civil private pilot licences. In these cases one person could not move the seat that moved them towards the control, another turned the radio off, and another turned off the autopilot and crashed the plane immediately. One of the first problems is getting into the cockpit, which is much more secure these days following 9/11. If the plane was on autopilot you could continue to fly level, and once you began to land people would talk you through the procedure, but there are so many variables that it is really difficult. The chances of an intelligent person landing the aircraft in such a situation are 1 in 10 if it is in autopilot, and 1 in 100 if it is not in autopilot.
  • In the state of Madhya Pradesh policemen are paid 30 rupees more for growing a moustache. They believe that policeman with moustaches are less intimidating, get on better with the local community and are more respected by the public.
  • Mussolini wanted Italians to eat risotto to make them big and strong. He had a national propaganda day devoted to risotto, and wanted Italians to stop eating pasta. The Italians resisted this, but he did have the support of the Futurists, an art movement akin to the Dadaists. One, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, said pasta made Italians lethargic, pessimistic and sentimental.
  • The international head of state who snubbed Jesse Owens after his triumph at the 1936 Berlin Olympics was the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt (forfeit: Hitler). Owens claimed in his autobiography: "When I passed the Chancellor, he arose, waved his hand at me and I waved back at him. Hitler didn't snub me; it was FDR who snubbed me. The President didn't even send me a telegram. When I came back to my native country, I couldn't ride at the front of the bus, I had to go to the back door, I wasn't invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I certainly wasn't invited the White House to shake hands with the President either." Owens won four gold medals at the Games.
  • Nobody Knows: Nobody knows where the water in the North Two Ocean Creek in Wyoming flows. Water on one side of it will flow into the Pacific Ocean and on the other side will flow into the Atlantic. However, no-one knows where the water goes when it lands in the creek itself. Alan gets the bonus.
General Ignorance
  • The world's largest pyramid is Cholula (forfeit: the one in the middle), which is an Aztec pyramid. Although it is not as tall and has a flat top, it has a bigger cubic capacity of 4.3 cubic kilometres, as opposed to the Cheops' 3.36 cubic kilometres.
  • The First World War was first named as such in 1918 (forfeit: 1939; after the second world war; during the second world war). Lt. Col. Charles à Court Repington wrote in his diary on 19 September 1918 that he met with a Major Johnstone of Harvard University to discuss what the war should be called. Rejected names included The War and The German War. Then Repington suggested The World War, and they mutually agreed to call it The First World War. It had also been known as "The Great War", but before that the other Great War was the Napoleonic War.
QI XL Extras
  • Out of a Vickers machine gun, a tomato and a jellyfish, the jellyfish is the odd one out because it is the only one not improved by adding urine. The idea that jellyfish stings can be cured with the use of urine is an urban myth. Human urine is a very good fertilizer for growing tomatoes. The Vickers machine gun would often overheat so it was cooled using a water-cooled jacket. The water is poured from the top and collected in a jerry can at the bottom so it can be used again. However, in places where there was very little water, urine was used to keep them cool. The International Brigade often used the phrase Pass the piss.
  • In 1953, Italy's biggest export was accordions (forfeits: urine; pasta). They mostly came from the town of Castelfidardo, which still makes them.
  • The Italians have rules about what sort of sauce goes with what sort of pasta. A stronger sauce would go with shell-shaped pasta to contain it. Hollow pasta is usually given a tomato like sauce because it runs through the tube and fills it.
General Ignorance
  • The country with the fattest people in the world is Nauru. Out of a population of around 10,000 97% of men and 93% of women are obese or overweight. The people are offended at being called obese and claim that they are a stocky people.
  • The colonel-in-chiefs of the Royal Dragoons and the First King's Dragoons Guards failed to turn up for duty at the start of the First World War because they were leading the German forces. Kaiser Wilhelm was colonel-in-chief of the Royal Dragoons and Franz Joseph Habsburg was colonel-in-chief of the First King's Dragoons Guards.
  • The stiff arm salute as used by the Nazis was originally used by the Olympic movement until 1936 and by American school children taking the Oath of Allegiance until it was dropped following the rise of Hitler. The idea that it was first used by (forfeit) the Romans has no evidence to support it. This idea was however used by French classical artists such as David who believed they did.

Episode 3 "Imbroglio"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 23 September 2011
Recording date
  • 17 May 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (–21 points)
  • John Bishop (Joint winner with 4 points) 1st appearance
  • Sean Lock (–14 points) 25th appearance
  • Frank Skinner (Joint winner with 4 points) 1st appearance
Topics
  • The French for innuendo is double entente or double sens (forfeit: double entendre). Double entendre is an example of a French phrase which the French do not use but the English do.
  • The songs I'm Leaning on a Lamppost and When I'm Cleaning Windows were not written by George Formby, but his wife and manager Beryl insisted that he was credited as a co-creator so that he could get royalties. Many of Formby's songs were ridden with innuendo.
  • How Ironic is That?: A series of situations are given and the panel are asked how ironic they are and why. There are various kinds of irony. These include verbal irony, which include phrases like, "As clear as mud"; comic irony, like the famous line in the Peter Sellers film Dr. Strangelove, "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here, this is the War Room"; dramatic irony, in which the audience knows what is going to happen but the characters do not; and Socratic irony in which you are pretending to be dumber than you really are. Examples given are:
    • John Kendrick, an American sea captain, pulled into Honolulu Harbor in 1794 and was killed by the cannon that was fired to salute him - is comedic irony.
    • Clement Vallandigham, an Ohio lawyer, died in 1871 while defending a man who was accused of murder during a barroom brawl. In order to show the jury how his pistol might have gone off accidentally, Vallandigham took a gun, put it in his pocket and re-enacted how the event might have occurred. During the re-enactment he fired the pistol, shot himself and died of his wounds. The defendant was acquitted before Vallandigham died - an example of situational irony.
    • Abraham Lincoln was shot in Ford's Theatre while John F. Kennedy was shot in a Ford Lincoln - not ironic, just a coincidence.
    • In 1989 convicted murderer Michael Godwin had his sentenced reduced from death to life imprisonment, after waiting five years to go to the electric chair. He died after being accidentally electrocuted by sitting naked on his steel lavatory seat. He was trying to fix his TV set and bit into a wire - is ironic.
  • Stephen shows the panel a nut and asks what is inside it. The answer is Brazil nuts. Brazil nut trees cannot be cultivated, so only wild trees give nuts. Brazil nuts have a complicated system of reproduction. They can only be pollinated by a particular bee, and the bee will only be able to pollinate it if there is a particular orchid in the area. The Brazil nut also has a unique feature, in that it is the only nut allergy that can be transmitted sexually. If a man has eaten Brazil nuts and then makes love to someone with a nut allergy, he might provoke their allergy.
  • Nobody Knows: No-one knows why in a packet of mixed nuts the Brazil nuts always rise to the top. Alan gets the bonus.
  • Nobody Knows: The signal bars on your phone mean nothing. Different networks use different frequencies. No-one gets the bonus.
General Ignorance
  • An inflatable anchor is used when you wish to anchor in sand. Liquid is inflated into the anchor and it lodges into the sand.
  • The animals which Richard I had three of on his shirt were leopards. At the time the English were not aware of the difference between lions and leopards.
  • The only animal in the world whose taxonomical name is exactly the same as its common name is the boa constrictor (forfeit: gorilla). The scientific name for a gorilla is Gorilla gorilla and is not the same as it is repeated twice. Several plants also have exactly the same common and taxonomical names such as aloe vera.
  • Bananas grow pointing upwards, not downwards as we usually see the in shops. Bananas are faintly radioactive, but luckily the isotope in bananas is present in our bodies and is harmless. The half-life of the radioactive element of a banana is 1.25 billion years.
QI XL Extras
  • Stephen gets both the panel and the studio audience to shout out their favourite colour at the same time, and then gets the panel to ask what the favourite colour of the panel member sitting next to them was. The problem is that it is very difficult to listen to someone else talking when you yourself are also talking. Alan though managed to get the colour that Sean shouted.
  • An interrobang is a punctuation mark which is a mixture of a question mark and an exclamation mark (‽), but is normally represented by the two marks following one after the other.Other marks included the sarcastrophe, which uses the caret accent around the word or phrase ^like so^.
  • The panel are shown a picture of a sheep which has been sheared and is now wearing a woolly jumper - is ironic.
General Ignorance
  • The country which produces the most Brazil nuts is Bolivia (forfeit: Brazil).

Episode 4 "Indecision"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 30 September 2011
Recording date
  • 14 June 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (–14 points)
  • Jimmy Carr (–1 point) 19th appearance
  • Rich Hall (–2 points) 23rd appearance
  • Phill Jupitus (Winner with 10 points) 25th appearance
  • The Audience (4 points)
Topics
  • John Lenahan exposed the secret of Find the Lady on an episode of Des Lynam's How Do They Do That?. The panel are given some fake money and are shown the trick, betting on the outcome. When Stephen collects up the money the panel has lost, a man runs onto the set and steals it.
  • Just about everyone expected Spanish Inquisition because you were given 30 days notice to prepare your case. It was set up in 1478 under the rule of Ferdinand and Isabella in order to find Jews who the Spanish believed had not truly converted to Christianity. You had to be Christian to stay in the country.
  • Given the choice the next best thing to having a Nobel Prize winner in the audience would be to have an Ig Nobel Prize winner. This is the award given to serious yet bizarre academic research. Stephen then reveals that they do have Ig Nobel Prize winner in the audience: Prof. Chris McManus, who won the Prize for his paper Scrotal Asymmetry in Man and In Ancient Sculpture, which was published in the journal Nature. McManus showed that most men have their right testicle higher than the left. In Ancient and Renaissance sculpture the left lower testicle is bigger, but actually it is the bigger testicle which is the higher one so they got the sculpture wrong.
  • If you have big decision to make in 40 minutes time the best thing you can do now to make sure you make the right choice is drink lots of water, because you are at your best at making decisions when urinating. You also make better decisions when you are angry.
  • The big decision that the driver of the No. 78 London bus had to make in December 1952 was jump over Tower Bridge. There was a mistake with the warning sign when Albert Gunton was on the bridge and he realised the bascule was already rising, so he made a snap decision, accelerated, jumped the gap, and managed to land safely on the lower, second bascule. No-one was injured and Gunton was awarded £10.
  • The problem with identity parades is that they are not always reliable. Today the police use a system called VIPER. To demonstrate how unreliable some identity parades are, Stephen organises a Never Mind the Buzzcocks style parade in which the panel have to identify the man who stole Stephen's fake money earlier on.
General Ignorance
  • The first person to go around the world in 80 days was American investigative journalist Nellie Bly (forfeit: Michael Palin). She worked for The World, the newspaper owned by Joseph Pulitzer. After the publication of the novel Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne in 1890, Pulitzer decided to see if such a trip was possible. Bly insisted that she should do the trip otherwise she would leave the paper. Pulitzer agreed and Bly completed the journey in 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes, from New York to New York.
  • You can tell if a chick is male or female by doing a slight squeeze and feeling for the differences in the ridges and bumps in the cloaca tract (forfeit: nobody knows). In 1927 at the World Poultry Congress in Ottawa it was announced that the Japanese had discovered how to sex chicks. The discovery reduced the cost of eggs worldwide overnight. At the Zen-Nippon Chick Sexing School the students were taught in such a vigorous way that only between 5-10% of students got accreditation, but when you passed you were paid very well. The best chicken sexers can work through 1,200 chicks an hour.
  • The Moon, like the Sun, rises slightly in the east and sets slightly in the west. (Forfeits: which moon?; the opposite)
  • Nobody Knows: If you are shown a picture of some mussels and asked how many different species were shown you could not say, because you cannot tell the difference just by looking. You have to use the genome. Jimmy gets the bonus.
QI XL Extras
  • Between a mouse and a hippopotamus the mouse is more mammaly, in the sense that it is faster for someone to categorise a mouse as a mammal than a hippo. This is because we consider a hippo to be less mammaly than a mouse because the hippo lives in water. Similarly, if you were to categorise different kinds of fruit, we would almost instantly recognize apples and pears to be fruits, would take a bit longer to recognize figs and raisins as fruits, and even longer to recognize olives and pumpkins as fruits.
  • What you would not call an Irishman with no nipples is King. In ancient Ireland one of the ways to show loyalty to the king was to suck his nipples. In order to become King of Ireland people would fight each other and if they were considered not suitable they would have their nipples cut off, meaning they could never be king.
  • The national colour of Ireland is St. Patrick's blue. The coat of arms of Ireland has a shield depicting an Irish harp on a St. Patrick's blue background, and the Irish Guards have a St. Patrick's blue patch on their bearskin helmets. The idea of green being the national colour comes from a rebellion in 1798. It became the colour associated with Irish nationalism and began to take over from St. Patrick's blue.
  • If one of two identical twins had committed a crime, and you had eyewitness reports, DNA testing and fingerprints, it would still be incredibly difficult to get a conviction because there is a danger of imprisoning the innocent twin. In January 2009 $6.8million worth of jewellery was stolen from Berlin's Kaufhaus des Westens department store. Two of the suspects were identical twins, Abbas and Hassam Qmurat, and they walked free despite there being DNA evidence, because although they could deduce that one of the brothers took part in the crime, they did not know for certain which one.

Episode 5 "Invertebrates"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 7 October 2011
Recording date
  • 31 May 2011
Panelists
  • Alan Davies (–1 point)
  • Jimmy Carr (–24 points) 20th appearance
  • Sarah Millican (2 points) 1st appearance
  • Johnny Vegas (Winner with 4 points) 5th appearance
Topics
  • Apart from making honey, the other thing that bees do better than dogs is smell things out. While it takes about 3 months to train a sniffer dog, it only takes a bee 10 minutes by putting it in a box and making them associate a smell with sugar as an award.
  • The best way to charm a worm is to vibrate the ground. It is believed that the worm thinks there is a mole nearby and the worm escapes by going to the surface.
  • The thing with the amazing eyes did not escape from a tank. The Mantis Shrimp is a crustacean from Vietnam that has split eyes so that they can see ultraviolet, infrared and circularly-polarised light. It is the only creature on Earth that can see circularly-polarised light, meaning it could see a 3D film without the glasses. They can accelerate through water at 10,000 times earth-normal gravity; so fast it makes the water in front of it boil. They can break out of aquarium glass with one strike of their claw. It can also punch prey.
General Ignorance
  • A vertebrate with no backbone is called a shark. Sharks are classified as vertebrates but their backbone is made out of cartilage. They do not have a spine or a rib cage.
  • The strongest creature for its weight in the world is gonorrhea, which is a bacterium that can pull 100,000 times its own weight. The original cure for gonorrhea was to put an umbrella up the urethra which would scrape the inside.
  • Nobody Knows: Nobody knows why moths are attracted to light. One theory is that they are attracted to moonlight and that other sources of light disorientate them. Alan gets the bonus.
QI XL Extras
  • Nobody Knows: No-one can tell if a dog has a guilty conscience. Owners think that they can but it is all in their mind according to various tests. No-one gets the bonus.
  • There are no vegan Venus flytraps because in order to trap their pray it needs to hit the trigger hairs at a certain time. Plant matter cannot do this but animals and insects can.
  • You would go out with a bucket full of ladybirds at night because they are used as a form of pest control as they eat greenflies. However, if you release them during the day they will just fly away. So you release them night, when they do not fly, and when dawn breaks they eat the nearby greenflies in your garden, then become full up so they do not fly off.
  • An ant mill goes around and around in circles until it dies. When ants lose the pheromone trail made by the leaders they start following each other in a circle constantly until they die.
  • The thing that you should not breathe in if you are a stink ant is the spore of the cordyceps fungus in the rainforests of Cameroon. If it does it gets into the brain, sending the ant mad, then makes the ant walk up the tree where the fungus lives, consumes the rest of the brain and the soft flesh of the ant, then a new spore grows out of the head.
General Ignorance
  • Oystercatchers mainly eat cockles and mussels, not (forfeit) oysters. An oystercatcher can consume 500 cockles a day.
  • The animal with the most genes is the water flea (forfeit: Jeremy Clarkson), which has 8,000 more genes than humans. They play an important role in the food cycle of sea creatures.

Episode 6 "Inventive"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 14 October 2011
Recording date
  • 25 May 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (1 point)
  • Bill Bailey (-3 points) 24th appearance
  • Nina Conti (Winner with 5 points) 1st appearance
    • Gran (4 points) 1st appearance
  • Sean Lock (3 points) 26th appearance
Topics
  • You should be glad that you did not invent the flying car, the parachute suit and the web rotary press because the people who did invent them were killed by their own machines. William Bullock, inventor of the rotary press fell into the machine's works and was killed by them. Austrian Franz Reichelt invented a suit with a parachute in it and tried to prove it would work by throwing himself off the Eiffel Tower in 1912, but it did not work and he fell to his death. Californian Henry Smolinski invented a flying car, in which you drove to an airport, collected the wings, attached them to the car, then flew to another airport, took off the wings and drove away. In 1973 one of the struts broke off and Smolinski and his co-pilot fell to their deaths.
  • The well known invention which lurks in the belly and deserves to dwell in the cesspool is ventriloquism. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Photius, who once excommunicated the Pope, used this phrase to describe it. The word means belly speaker and ventriloquism has a dark history. People originally would just throw their voice anywhere and people thought it may have been demonic possession or a divine utterance.
  • Imaginary friends among children are more common place than we may think. It is believed by some psychiatrists that having imaginary friends is a good thing because it improves social interaction with real people and their verbal skills.
  • Each member of the panel has an old invention from the Maurice Collins Collection, and is asked to identify what it is.
    • Bill: Has a wooden finger stretcher which was used by pianists to increase the range that they could play with one hand. Bill can play from notes C to E, which is a wide reach.
    • Sean: A glass water grenade which was once used by firemen to put fires out by throwing them into the middle of the blaze.
    • Nina and Gran: A wooden tube-like device which is inserted into the rectum in order to administer a solution to help with hemorrhoids. It comes with a screw lid which is turned and forces the solution out of the holes in the bottom.
    • Alan: A pair of glasses which allow the wearer to read a book while lying down, without having to hold the book up high.
    • Stephen: A policeman's Lady Reviver, which contained smelling salts and was used by the police in order to revive women who had fainted.
General Ignorance
  • Nobody Knows: Nobody knows how dinosaurs had sex. While the most common theory is that they did it like reptiles and birds do it today using a cloacal sack, no sexual organs survive because the flesh has all rotted away. We have only been able to sex dinosaurs in the last 15 years. Alan gets the bonus.
  • No diseases are spread by feral pigeons according to pigeon experts.
QI XL Extras
  • Edwin Beard Budding's invention affected an army of men with wooden blocks strapped to their feet because it put them out of work. Budding's most famous invention was the lawn mower. Previously, lawns were cut by scythe men who made sure the grass was level by wearing wooden blocks on their feet and matching the height of grass to the height of the block. Once the lawnmower was invented it put them out of work.
  • The man who invented the idea of having bacon and eggs for breakfast and the phrase Torches of Freedom was Edward Bernays, who it could be argued to also invented public relations. At the time American breakfasts were very light, but he collected 5,000 doctors and he made testament to the fact that a heartily breakfast was better for you and promoted the idea of having bacon and eggs. This worked and the dish became a staple. The phrase torches of freedom was created by him to promote cigarettes to women.
General Ignorance
  • The internet was invented by Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn (forfeit: Tim Berners-Lee), who were responsible for the internet protocol. The first internet was called ARPANET. The first communication took place in California, from Los Angeles to the Stanford Research Institute (over 400 miles), and read Lo. The full message was Login but the system crashed mid-way through the message. Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.
  • The right conditions for dry rot are that it has to be damp. According to architects rising damp does not exist, although it is mentioned in building regulations. It is believed that it is normal damp that comes from a leak.

Episode 7 "Incomprehensible"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 21 October 2011
Recording date
  • 18 May 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (2 points)
  • Brian Cox (Winner with 5 points) 1st appearance
  • Ross Noble (–6 points) 4th appearance
  • Sue Perkins (–17 points) 3rd appearance
Topics
  • The panel are played a recording of a prairie dog squeaking and are asked what it is saying. According to Prof. Con Slobodchikoff of Northern Arizona University it is saying that, "there is a human approaching wearing a yellow shirt." They can tell the difference between different types of predator, humans, badgers, geometric shapes and coloured shirts that humans are wearing, though they do not seem to be able to distinguish between gender of humans.
  • When the Pope's librarian, Leo Allatius, first saw the rings on Saturn he said that it was possible that after Christ's ascension into Heaven that the rings could be Christ's foreskin. Allatius wrote about his theory in a paper called "De Praeputio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Diatriba", which in English roughly translates as "A Discussion on the Foreskin of Our Lord Jesus Christ".
  • Nobody Knows: Nobody knows how the rings of Saturn formed. There are two main theories. One is that they are the remains of a moon that was destroyed, but as the rings are made of ice and moons are made out of rock this seems unlikely. The other theory is that it is something to do with the formation of the planet itself and something may have spun off it in some way. Brian gets the bonus.
  • The main use for the second commonest gas in the universe is for MRI scanners (forfeit: making your voice go funny). The gas is helium and is used in refrigeration. However, there is so little naturally occurring helium on Earth that the planet may run out of it by 2035.
  • According to archaeologists the present is 1 January 1950. It was decided that due to the atmosphere being messed up with due to nuclear testing no carbon dating after the point would be reliable.
  • Ingenious Interlude: Stephen performs an experiment. He takes a box containing candles and lights them. He then takes a jug and puts in it some powder and some liquid. This produces a certain gas. Stephen puts his hand over the jug to prevent it escaping, then "pours" the gas into the box. The gas "flows" in and puts the candles out. Stephen asks what is going on. What happened is that Stephen mixed sodium bicarbonate and vinegar, which produces carbon dioxide. As the carbon dioxide is poured in it pushes out the lighter air which is needed to burn, and thus puts out the flames.
  • Nobody Knows: We do not know what variety of lettuce (forfeit: Iceberg) was served upon the Titanic. There were 7,000 heads of lettuce saved from the ship. No-one gets the bonus.
  • The panel are asked to fill in the gaps in the following slogans.
    • County Donegal: Up here it's different.
    • Northumbria Police: Total policing.
    • Welcome to Northamptonshire: Let yourself grow.
    • Welcome to Tower Hamlets: Let's make it happen.
General Ignorance
  • Nobody Knows: There is no absolutely official definition of a galaxy. There are scientists trying to come up with one. They launched an online survey to which QI was the first organisation to be allowed to read the results so far. Based on the results there is already one new galaxy which fits their definition, which is a globular cluster, Omega Centauri. Sue gets the bonus.
QI XL Extras
  • Spacemen follow penguins around by looking at their trails of poo. Originally scientists used bands around the wings, but there was a 44% increase in the mortality rate of penguins that had these on. Then a German scientist discovered that penguins squeeze to defecate four times harder than humans, so they leave a streak of faeces 30 cm away from their bodies, which can be tracked up in space.
  • If you were on the bridge of the Titanic and see the iceberg to your right the command you should give to the helmsman to avoid it is: "Hard starboard" (forfeit: port). Until 1933 you gave the opposite command because at the time there were many ways of steering the ship, the wheel being just one.
  • The Scottish tourist board: Welcome to Scotland. The Scottish parliament and the Tourist Board of Scotland in 2007 spent £125,000 coming up with that slogan.
General Ignorance
  • Insects that spin webs include moths and web spinners (forfeit: spider). Spiders are not insects, but arachnids. Goats can also be made to webs by implanting a spider web spinning gene into them, causing the milk to contain silk.

Episode 8 "Inequality and Injustice"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 28 October 2011
Recording date
  • 1 June 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (–1 gazillion points)
  • Clive Anderson (7 points) 15th appearance
  • Sandi Toksvig (Winner with –54 points) 7th appearance
  • Henning Wehn (–60 points) 1st appearance
Theme

Stephen first claims that the theme of the show is: "inattention and ineptitude". He then asks Alan what the theme was and Alan repeats what Stephen said. He then gets an unfair forfeit because the actual theme is injustice. (Forfeit: Inattention and ineptitude) In a twist on the "injustice" theme, the points were unfairly given out before the quiz began (as the buzzers were "tested" at the beginning of the show), and Toksvig was named as winner despite having a lower score than Anderson. The true scores were not revealed at the end.

Topics
  • Sandi is asked what she can tell about the man depicted in a particular statue called "The Puritan". The answer is that he looks like the typical 19th century depiction of Puritans, which we still have but is totally wrong. During the 1600s they wore the same clothes as everyone else, but when they had their portraits done they wore their Sunday best, which tended to be black. (Forfeit: he's a puritan)
  • The key role that a Puritan pig played in the trial of George Spencer in 1641 was that it was a victim and a witness. Spencer was an ugly man who was bald and had one eye, living in New Haven, Connecticut. He was accused of breaking Leviticus 20:15; "If a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death, and ye shall slay the beast." One day a sow farrowed a litter of piglets, one of whom looked very similar to Spencer. He was brought to court and accused of lying with the pig. He denied it, but then the court said, "There shall be mercy shown, should you be open and honest." Spencer then thought he should pretend to confess and he did, but the court said that it would be God who would show mercy, and they took his confession seriously. However, in order for him to be executed the court needed two witnesses. One was Spencer, the other was the pig itself, who they brought into court and they claimed the pig confessed to the crime. As a result, both were executed.
  • The New Haven Puritans abolished trial by jury because juries are not mentioned in the Bible. Thus they thought they had no place in life.
  • The man who got the blame when the Prince of Wales misbehaved was the whipping boy. If the Prince of Wales did something wrong at school the teachers and elders needed to punish him, but because he was royal a common teacher could not harm him physically, so they whipped another boy instead. Charles I had a whipping boy who later became the Earl of Dysart.
  • The wood used in corporal punishment on the Isle of Man was hazel (forfeit: birch). Up until 1976 you could be birched for crimes, but they did not use birchwood. When the ban was first suggested people defending birching suggested that people could keep their trousers on while they were punished.
  • From 1875 to 1956 the next best thing to a first-class train ticket was a third-class train ticket (forfeit: a second-class train ticket). There was no second-class on British trains during that period. William Gladstone insisted that a third-class should be created for poorer people. The train companies hated this and thus ran useless third-class services known as Parliamentary trains just to apply to the law. Then they had a better idea which was to upgrade third-class to second-class, but still call it third-class.
  • In 1771 cricketer Thomas White invented a bat that was wider than the wicket. He noticed that there were no rules defining how big a bat could be, so he turned up with a huge one in a match between Chertsey and Hambledon which today would be Surrey v Hampshire. In 1774 a new law was brought in limiting the width of cricket bats to 4.5 inches. (Forfeit: The Googly)[clarification needed]
General Ignorance
  • The statue of Justice at the top of the Old Bailey is looking out (forfeit: she's blindfolded). There are several different statues of Justice, some of which are blindfolded, some of which are not.
  • Lepers carried bells to attract people and to collect alms (forfeit: to keep people away). It was not until after the Black Death when people viewed it as a warning and stayed away. Leprosy is not as infectious as people think it is. 90% of people are immune to it and limbs do not fall off.
  • Out of the panel, no-one has fewer hairs than any other member (forfeit: me). According to Dr. George Cotsarelis of the department of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, bald people have the same number of hairs on the scalp as everyone else; it is just that they are microscopically small.
QI XL Extras
  • A French book that could never be translated into German was written by Louis Pasteur, after whom the word pasteurisation is named. He was viciously anti-German following the Franco-Prussian War. After the war, the Germans discovered a new form of yeast which allowed them to store beer extremely well. It became hugely successful and annoyed Pasteur so much that he studied the science of brewing and came up with his own yeasts which made even better beer. He took his recipes to America, Belgium, the Whitbread Company and to Denmark's Carlsberg Company, but refused to take them to Germany. He then wrote a book all about it, ordering that it should never be translated into German.

Episode 9 "Illness"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 4 November 2011
Recording date
  • 10 June 2011
Panellists
Topics
  • You would swallow a pill made from a poisonous metalloid as it worked as a morning-after pill. During the medieval period, people swallowed pills made from antimony as a morning after pill and also used it as a suppository for constipation. As it was made of metal you could reuse the same pill again, so after you used it you would rummage through your leavings, take the pill out and use it again. The same pill would also be past on from generation to generation as antimony is a rare metal.
  • Nobody Knows: Nobody knows how placebo sugar pills work, but they definitely do work, even when you tell the patient that it is a placebo. It is also shown that the more pills you take the better the condition gets and a fake injection is better than taking the pills. Andy gets the bonus.
  • The condition that astronauts suffer from which is measured on the Garn scale is seasickness. It is the most common illness that astronauts suffer from in space. 47% of all the medication used by shuttle astronauts is to combat it. The Garn scale is named after Senator Jake Garn, who was also an astronaut who suffered from it terribly in 1985.
  • Intelligent falling is a parody of intelligent design. Some schools, especially in America, believe that they should teach intelligent design alongside the theory of evolution because no-one is certain about evolution.
  • The last British monarch to be deliberately killed was George V in 1936 at Sandringham. On 15 January the king retired to his bedroom. On 20 January he was comatose and clearly dying. The King's doctor, Lord Dawson, was of the opinion that the world at large would be better served by hearing about the death of the King in the morning papers rather than living a bit longer and it being reported in the evening journals. So Dawson went up to the bedroom and according to his diary: "I therefore decided to determine the end and injected morphia and shortly afterwards with cocaine into the distended jugular vein."
  • You would call a man that eats literally anything a polyphagist (forfeit: Michael Winner). Sufferers will eat anything, including metal and soil. It also occurs in animals such as horses were it is known as a depraved appetite. The 18th century Frenchman known as Tarrare was a well-known case.
General Ignorance
  • You should not sleep with your dog because dogs carry illnesses, including bubonic plague. The illnesses you get from animals are often worse than the ones you get from people.
  • If you are having a panic attack the best thing to do is capnometry-assisted respiratory training or CART (forfeit: breathe into a paper bag), which encourages the sufferer to take shallow breathes rather than deep ones. Breathing into a paper bag or holding your breath are not recommended.
  • If you want to wash the bacteria off your hands the water would have to be at around 80°C. The temperature of the water is not what gets rid of bacteria, but the vigorousness of the washing.
  • Each country in the world has their own idea of how many portions of fruit and vegetables you should eat every day. The reason it is five in Britain is because doctors are of the belief that you cannot persuade the public to eat more than that. In Japan they recommend eating nine portions, in Denmark it is six, in France it is ten, in Canada it is between five and ten.
  • The thing that burns when you set light to your farts is hydrogen (forfeit: methane). Only a third of people produce methane in their farts.
QI XL Extras
  • The panel are asked to fill out the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, which is a questionnaire asking how likely you are to fall asleep in certain situations and thus if you have a healthy sleep cycle. They are asked a series of questions to which the panel rank a score of zero to three. A score of zero means: No chance of dozing, one means: Slight chance of dozing, two means: Moderate chance of dozing and three means: High chance of dozing. The results are revealed just before General Ignorance.
  • The symptoms of drapetomania and dysesthesia aethiopica tend to involve wanting your freedom and running away from your master, as these are conditions invented by white American doctors in the 1850s as reasons why black slaves wanted to escape.
  • The results of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale are handed in. The questions asked are how like you are to doze off during the following situations: "Sitting and reading", "Watching TV", "Sitting inactive in a public place, e.g. theatre or meeting", "Travelling as a passenger in a car for an hour", "Lying down to rest in the afternoon", "Sitting and talking to someone", "Sitting quiet. The average is 7-8, and Ben is closest to it with 6. A score of 6 or less means you are getting sufficient sleep. Jo scores zero. Andy scores 14 and Alan scores 19, having answered 3 to everything except "Sitting and talking to someone".
General Ignorance
  • If you are feeling angry the best thing to do is to try and relax, perhaps bottle up your anger. You should not let it all out by punching something, because that makes you more aggressive. The hypothesis is that blowing off steam may reduce stress in the short term, but it later acts as a reward mechanism reinforcing aggressive behaviour. According to psychologists at the University of California Santa Barbara it is best to make decisions when angry.

Episode 10 "The Inland Revenue"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 11 November 2011
Recording date
  • 3 June 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (-22 points)
  • Al Murray (-13 points) 1st appearance
  • Dara Ó Briain (6 points) 12th appearance
  • Sandi Toksvig (Winner with 11 points) 8th appearance
Topics
  • The world's most exotic tax inspectors are in Pakistan. If you refuse to pay your tax you are shamed into paying it by receiving a visit from a team of tax inspectors who are all transgender. They would then sing and dance in your place of business until you paid up.
  • The advantages of being a drug dealer in Tennessee compared to those of being a bank robber in the Netherlands is that the drugs cannot be charged tax, but the robber's gun can be claimed against tax. In Tennessee they attempted to put a duty on drugs, so when the drug dealers went to prison they also had to pay a tax on their drugs. However, constitutionally it was discovered that this went against the American Bill of Rights as this counted as double jeopardy so the state had to give all the money back. Meanwhile, a Dutchman was found guilty of holding up a bank at gunpoint, but the gun was an allowable expense and so it was deducted from the cost of the fine.
  • Some houses had windows bricked up to make the house look more symmetrical (forfeit: window tax). Not all houses with bricked up windows did it to avoid window tax, although some did. The window tax was repealed because it was damaging the glass industry and the poor were not getting enough light.
  • The best paid sportsman of all time was the Roman charioteer Gaius Appuleius Diocles (forfeit: Tiger Woods). He was a Lusitanian Spaniard who retired in 146 AD, having won 1,462 races, resulting in winning 35,863,120 sesterces in prize-money. Comparing this to the average wage of the day and using all the calculations, this means he won an equivalent of $15billion in today's money, compared to Tiger Woods who is the first sportsman to earn $1billion, which makes him the best paid sportsman of our age, but not of all time.
  • Nobody Knows: No-one knows what a fish's basihyal is for. No-one gets the bonus.
  • The smallest uninteresting number simply in terms of arithmetic mathematics is 12,407. However, the fact that it is the smallest uninteresting number does make it interesting culturally.
  • The MoD wanted the PM to join the AA so that he could use the telephone in case of a nuclear attack. Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister at the time, and the Ministry of Defence knew that US President Kennedy had a system, meaning he could retaliate against the Soviets if they should launch a nuclear strike, from anywhere in the country. The original idea was people to go around with radios, but this was too expensive. So they used the same system used by the Automobile Association, which involved sending a signal from the AA to the PM's car if the Soviets struck. Thus the PM could get to the nearest telephone and issue the order to counter-strike.
General Ignorance
  • The floating eye on the US dollar bill represents an All-seeing Providence (forfeit: Freemasonry). The symbol was not used by Freemasonry until after the dollar was designed. Benjamin Franklin was a Freemason, but he was not on the final committee.
  • A mute swan makes the same noise as all the other swans (forfeit: no noise); it just makes them quieter, hence their name.
QI XL Extras
  • Nobody (forfeit: Mary and Joseph) has to return to their birthplace for their census. The idea that Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem is nonsense, as is the whole idea of a census taken by Caesar Augustus of the entire Roman world. The story comes from Luke's Gospel. Out of the four Gospels, Luke was the one who tried to make the story of Jesus fit as closely as possible to the original prophecies, so he came up with the idea of the census to help fulfil it.
  • The 2001 census revealed that the fourth-largest religion in Britain was Sikhism (forfeit: Jedi). All the ones that were marked as Jedi were not counted and classified as being of no religion. 14 Scots marked their religion as Sith. When the census was published the press release joking read: "390,000 Jedi there are."
General Ignorance
  • Before the Europeans arrived the inhabitants of Mexico were called the Mexica (forfeit: Aztecs). Aztec was a reference to an island in the middle of the lake from which they traced their source. Among English words of Nahuatl origin are chocolate, tomato, avocado and chilli.
  • Prince Albert invented a lock for the bedroom door which he and Queen Victoria could operate from their bed. The myth about the cock ring grew up in the 20th century, because Albert wore very tight trousers. Thus he supposedly needed something to anchor his penis to one side of his body so that it did not show. (Forfeit: The cock ring)

Episode 11 "Infantile"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 19 November 2011 (XL edition)
Recording date
  • 8 June 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (6 points)
  • Ronni Ancona (-7 points) 5th appearance
  • Dave Gorman (Winner with 10 points) 2nd appearance
  • Lee Mack (5 points) 4th appearance

No normal-length edition was broadcast in this week due to the Children in Need telethon on 18 November. The episode was eventually aired 29 December 2011 on BBC Two, in the much later timeslot of 11:30PM.[1] It was thereby listed on iPlayer as the 18th episode of the series.

Topics
  • The Pope's father said will you marry me to a baker's daughter. The father of Pope Benedict XVI was Joseph Ratzinger Senior, a Bavarian policeman, and he met his wife, 36-year-old Maria Peintner, via a lonely hearts advert. The ad read: "Middle-ranking civil servant. Single. Catholic. 43. Immaculate past. From the country. Is looking for a good, Catholic, pure girl who can cook well, tackle all household chores, with a talent for sewing and homemaking, with a view to marriage as soon as possible. Fortune desirable but not a precondition."
  • The Viceroy of India's daughter liked playing tiddlywinks, also known as flipperty flop or jumpkins. Emily Lytton, daughter of Lord Lytton, described an evening playing the game when she was 17: "I assure you no words can picture either the intense excitement or the noise. I always scream in describing it."
  • Rifle ranges inside pubs in Birmingham were banned because they were used as a form of gambling. Some pubs today still have shooting in open bars. Pubs which still have shooting games exist in Swindon, Devizes, Newport, Hinckley, Nuneaton and Worcestershire.
  • Nobody Knows: The rules to the games Milking cromock, Laugh and ly downe and Hanikin can'st abide it are no longer known to anyone. We only know about these games because they were made illegal as they were used for gambling. However, we do know that Laugh and ly downe and Hanikin can'st abide it are card games. Dave gets the bonus.
  • The longest-running attraction at the most popular entertainment venue in the world in its time was an incubator room containing premature babies. The Coney Island Amusement Park in New York had an attraction called The Infant Incubator with Living Infants. Premature babies were put in incubators there and the public would visit them, costing 25¢.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt considered herself a very modern mother, which may be surprising to us because she kept her baby outside in a cage. This idea was common in 1930s New York due to the limited space to build on, so instead of taking up rooms in apartments the babies were put in cages and hung out of windows.
  • The miraculous secret machinery the Chamberlain family used for delivering babies for 100 years was a pair of forceps. The family, who lived during the 17th and 18th centuries, were terrified by the fact that there were no patenting laws at the time, meaning anyone could copy the idea for free. So to disguise it they would carry a huge box covered in a cloth. They would then blindfold the mother, forbid anyone else to enter the room and then play sound effects to make people think it was a hugely complicated machine.
  • You can tell a French baby from a German baby by the accent, or to be exact their melodic cadence. The baby hears their mother talking in their mother tongue from inside the womb. Not only do they pick it up, but babies like their mother tongue so they will be able to recognize people from their homeland by their accent.
  • The best hugs last for three seconds. Any shorter than that then people think it was not a proper hug.
  • The panel are shown a photograph which is slowly zooming in on something and are asked what is interesting about it. The interesting thing is that it depicts an Alpine ibex standing on what is virtually the sheer flat Italian Cingino Dam wall to get a salt lick.
General Ignorance
  • Louise Brown was conceived in a Petri dish (forfeit: a test tube). She was the first vitro fertilised baby, which the press often report wrongly as a test tube baby.
  • Marsupials originally come from South America (forfeit: Australia). Despite what people say marsupials do exist in places other than Australia, the most famous examples being opossums in America, which are the mammals which give birth to the smallest babies.

Episode 12 "Illumination and Invisibility"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 25 November 2011
Recording date
  • 13 May 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (-45 points)
  • Chris Addison (-9 points) 2nd appearance
  • Jack Dee (-1 points) 6th appearance
  • Rich Hall (Winner with 3 points) 24th appearance
Topics
  • Each member of the panel is given a set of cards with different international symbols on them and they have to figure out what the symbols are for. The answer is revealed just before General Ignorance.
  • In the first Blackpool Illuminations in 1879 there were only 8 lamps, at a distance of 370 yards apart. Despite this it was visited by up to 100,000 from all over Britain and were so bright they were described as artificial sunshine.
  • The panel are shown a video of a man in a hooded overcoat and are asked what he is about to do. The answer is that he is going to disappear as the coat he is wearing is a sort of invisibility cloak, which projects what is behind him onto the other side of the coat. The man who developed it is Professor Susumu Tachi of Japan, and the coat is made out of retro-reflectum.
  • Ninjas did not wear black. The darkest clothes they ever wore have been blue. The idea of them wearing black dates back to a tradition in Kabuki Theatre that if anything is black then you cannot see it, so stagehands could dress in black and move furniture around. Then they had the idea that the stagehand could suddenly kill someone, because they were actually playing a ninja, who were secret assassins. (Forfeit: Ninja)[clarification needed]
  • The quite interesting thing about the original geishas was that they were all men. This was true up to 1751, then there was even numbers of men and women 100 years later, and now there are nearly all women.
  • Ingenious Interlude: The panel are asked to watch a video of a glass tank and are asked how many balls are in it. While it looks like (forfeit) five balls were dropped into a tank full of water, there are actually over 1,000, because it is not full of water, but of hydrogel beads, which appear to go invisible in a tank and look like water because lights passes through them at the same angle as water.
  • Nobody Knows: No-one knows why blindfolded people cannot walk in a straight line. This was first discovered in amoebas by Asa Schaeffer, and he wondered if it was the same in humans, so he blindfolded a friend and asked him to walk in a straight line in a country field. His friend just walked in a clockwork spiral until he hit a tree stump. No-one gets the bonus.
  • Colonel William Rankin got stuck for 30 minutes in something marked by a different version of one of the symbols shown at the start of the show. The thing that the symbol indicates is a cumulonimbus cloud. All of the panel's cards show symbols for different kinds of cloud. Colonel Rankin was an American pilot who ejected into one of these clouds. He was buffeted around for half-an-hour; his eyes and ears bled, and he was pelted with hail.
  • A morning glory is useful to a pilot because you can glide in it for ages. It is an annual event that takes place over Burketown, Northern Queensland. It is a cloud system that can be up to 600 miles long. According to pilots of gliders it is the most exciting thing you can experience.
General Ignorance
  • The largest black body in the solar system is the Sun (forfeit: a black hole). In cosmology a black body is one which does not reflect light, but just radiates. If a black hole were in the solar system it would destroy the entire system.
  • Light from the centre of the sun takes 100,000 years to reach the Earth (forfeit: eight minutes). However, light on the surface of the sun takes roughly eight minutes and twenty-six seconds to reach the Earth.
  • Not much of the alcohol goes away when you bring it to the boil. Flambéing only gets rid of a quarter of the alcohol. If you add alcohol to a recipe and leave the dish overnight and uncovered you get rid of more alcohol than by boiling it as it evaporates naturally. (Forfeit: it boils away)[clarification needed]
XL Extras
  • The Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa had to wait for the light because he was being filmed by the Americans. He took part in a three-part war against the Mexican government and another group of revolutionaries led by Emiliano Zapata. The American public were fascinated by the war and American film companies paid different sides the rights to film their battles. Villa took 20% of the box office takings from the Mutual Film Company, but he had to wait for all the equipment to be set up, including the lighting, before he could start the battle.
  • The Sun is closest to the Earth in the month of January (forfeit: July), due to the Earth's elliptical orbit.
  • The panel and the audience are asked to shut their eyes and point north-east (forfeit: wrong way!). However, the chances are that you are pointing north-east relative to you rather than the actual geographic north-east. One of the few people who can actually point north-east is an Australian aboriginal tribe called the Pormpuraaw, who speak the dying Kuuk Thaayorre language which has no words for left or right. Instead they refer to everything in relation to north and south.
General Ignorance

Episode 13 "Intelligence"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 2 December 2011
Recording date
  • 15 June 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (-16 points)
  • Jo Brand (-8 points) 27th appearance
  • Phill Jupitus (-4 points) 26th appearance
  • David Mitchell (4 points) 16th appearance
  • ASIMO (Winner with 32 points) 1st and only appearance
Topics
  • Geese do not recognise eggs on the basis of size, only by their blue and grey-speckled colour and general round shape. As a result, a volleyball could be painted to match a goose egg and a goose will still attempt to sit on and hatch it. It is an example of a phenomenon known as 'supernormal stimuli,' which occurs in many species and an analogy can be made between the lack of a goose's preference for egg size and the lack of any human upper limit for food intake.
  • Corvids have been determined to be the smartest family of birds due to their ability to solve problems and use tools. A film is shown featuring a crow deducing how to retrieve a bucket of food from a plastic tube by using a hook to hoist it out.
  • Job interviews only need to last 12 seconds, as most of the time people decide on appearance alone whether or not to give someone a job. If an applicant does not impress their interviewer in some way within this time frame, they are unlikely to be considered. There are a number of questions that interviewers are not allowed to ask, including: "Are you originally from the UK?"; "Do you have children which will need to be looked after?" and "Do you plan to have children in future?". Attempting to subvert any question about weakness by naming a strength (e.g. "I'm a terrible perfectionist") is transparent and likely to be seen past. A more successful strategy is to reveal a weakness which you are actively trying to improve.
  • Ingenious Interlude: Corn flour mixed with water forms a non-Newtonian fluid, which behaves as a liquid under standard conditions but changes viscosity and takes on the properties of a solid when put under pressure. To demonstrate, Stephen pours some corn flour paste into a bass speaker and turns it on; the corn flour begins to form odd patterns, which sustain their shape as if solid.
  • Robots exist which are designed to iron shirts; shirts are hung on the robot as if on a rack and the shirt is dried and decreased. ASIMO is then brought into the studio and then demonstrates his ability to run and dance (with Jo).
General Ignorance
  • Nobody Knows: There are no figures for number of piano tuners in the UK. Even the British Association of Piano Tuners has no idea, but they quote the number as being somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000. Since piano tuning is often a part-time job they are not counted on the census. Alan gets the bonus.
  • Time Immemorial refers to political and legal history before 6 July 1189 (the beginning of the reign of Richard I) and defines the boundaries of legal memory; legal claims before this are still valid. The enactment of Time Immemorial was the first statute of Westminster.
QI XL Extras
  • The Enigma code was first solved by a Polish mathematician named Marian Rejewski in 1932, who deduced how the machine producing the code worked. There is a statue of Rejewski in Bletchley Park to commemorate his contribution. The Germans later changed their method in the late 1930s, and were able to produce 364 possible settings, making it a challenge to break the code. The Lorenz code used for communications between German High Command and Hitler during the Second World War was so complex that it required the construction of the world's first super computer: The Colossus, which was the brainchild of Alan Turing. The breaking of the code was a combination of luck and espionage, as the crypographers at Bletchley relied on German officers being sloppy and using code words relating to their private lives.
  • It isn't possible for somebody to know that they are incompetent; incompetence requires you to be unaware that you have done anything wrong.
General Ignorance

Episode 14 "Idleness"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 4 May 2012
Recording date
  • 20 May 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (Winner with 12 points) 14th win
  • Jeremy Clarkson (1 point) 9th appearance
  • Ross Noble (4 points) 5th appearance
  • Dara Ó Briain (-15 points) 13th appearance

This episode premiere, scheduled for 9 December, was pulled following Jeremy Clarkson's comments on BBC's The One Show about the recent strike action earlier in the month. It was replaced by a repeat of Episode 1 of Series I. The XL edition was nonetheless available on iPlayer for a short period on the evening of 10 December.

Topics
  • The code for the American nuclear trigger between 1960-77 that was given to every president during that period was 00000000, this was to make sure that the President wouldn't forget it in a time of crisis.
  • Alfred's game was more successful than Alfred's other game because the first game was Scrabble. Alfred Mosher Butts invented Scrabble, but it was not a great success until the man who ran the Macy's department store got hooked on playing the game one Christmas. He promoted the game the following year and sold 4 million games. Butts then went on to design another game called Alfred's Other Game, but it did not take off.
  • If a dormouse had a gap year it would most likely sleep all the way through it. Dormice, can hibernate for up to 18 months in one go, so if there is not enough food in one year they can sleep all the way through it until next year.
  • The panel are asked to demonstrate the best way to sit on a chair, using some toy chairs and some dolls of The Stig. The best way is to sit tilted back by about 30 degrees.
  • Ingenious Interlude: The panel are asked to make a homopolar motor using a screw, a magnet, an AA battery and a piece of wire. What you do is attach the magnet to the flat end of the screw. The screw becomes magnetised so the point will attach to the flat end of the battery easily. Hold the battery up so the screw and magnet are dangling down. Then take the wire, place one end of it on the positive side of the battery and the other to the magnet. This will cause the screw to spin. Because the friction caused is so small, the screw can spin at around 10,000 rpm.
General Ignorance
  • Nobody Knows: No-one knows how many arms the Milky Way has. This is because no-one has ever taken a photograph of it from the outside, because the camera would have to travel hundreds of light years to get a shot.
  • The panel are shown a picture of Del Boy and Rodney Trotter from Only Fools and Horses along with their car, which is a Reliant Regal Supervan (forfeit: Reliant Robin). The Supervan also appears in Mr. Bean as it is the car which always gets in the way of Mr. Bean's Mini.
  • Out of doctor and veterinary training, training to be a vet takes the less time (forfeit: doctor). For a vet it is five years, for a doctor it can be between nine to twelve years.
XL Extras
  • There are many problems in trying to find the best person for a job in a hierarchy. One famous theory is The Peter Principle in which you constantly promote someone who is good at their job until they get to a job which they cannot do, at which point you stop promoting them.
  • The best way of electing MPs is using sortition which was a simple lottery. It guarantees that powerful interest groups can have no influence on the outcome; it does not favour people who are good at winning elections such as people who are charismatic, wealthy, well-educated or well-connected; and you cannot buy votes from people so it is impossible to be corrupt.
  • It might be a good idea to use your leisure time smoking 30 cigarettes a day, drinking explosives and eating dried blood if you want to get invalided out of the army. During World War II the Italians came up with the idea of sending boxes of matches to the Allies inside of which were secret instructions on how to make yourself look ill and thus send you back home. They also gave psychological advice such as acting as if hate being ill, sticking to one set of symptoms and not telling the doctor too much. The British then did the same trick of sending advice on making yourself to look ill, by sending fake German manuals which had the information in the middle of them. This had a double effect because the Germans knew about the trick, so sometimes they sent off troops who were really were ill back to the front where they could spread infection.
  • Strategically speaking, the best group of properties to get in Monopoly are the oranges, which in the standard British version of the game are Bow Street, Marlborough Street and Vine Street. This is because they are the places you are most likely to land on, due to them being so close to jail. If you role a double 3 or double 4 to get out, you will land on either Bow or Marlborough.
General Ignorance
  • Out of animals and humans, humans (forfeit: animals) get the most charity money in the UK. Most money goes to towards cancer charities, followed by the National Trust and then children's charities. The most popular animal charity is the RSPCA, but it has never been in the top ten.

Episode 15 "Ice (Christmas Special)"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 29 December 2011
Recording date
  • 10 May 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (Winner with 9 points) 15th win
  • Brian Blessed (-2 points) 1st appearance
  • Sean Lock (-8 points) 27th appearance
  • Ross Noble (-3 points) 6th appearance
Topics
  • The country that takes the most days off work and has the biggest Big Macs in the world is Iceland. Per thousand people, they take off 367 days of the year, compared to around 20 in Britain and 1 in Switzerland, and the Big Mac is around twice the cost as it is in Britain, becoming so expensive that McDonald's has withdrawn from the country. With a population roughly the same as Croydon, it holds the record for the most Nobel Prize winners per capita of any country, four times more than the United States, having had one winner, Halldór Laxness. Despite using three times more electricity than any other country, its power is entirely renewable. It is also the youngest country in terms of forming, but has the oldest parliament.
  • Iceland's most recent volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, is similar to Genghis Khan in that they have been hugely environmentally beneficial. During the volcano's 2010 eruption, 150,000 to 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide was poured out, but the significant decrease in modern transport that resulted caused a saving of three million tonnes. Likewise, the building of the Mongol Empire resulted in the death of around 40 million people, meaning there was an opportunity for forests to grow back due to the lack of farming.
  • Eyjafjallajökull is pronounced [ˈeːɪjaˌfjatl̥aˌjœːkʏtl̥].
  • In Iceland, a pair of trousers can be made from the flayed skin of a friend who gives your permission, and worn as tights. If you then steal a coin from a widow and place in the scrotal area, say a written incantation, it is said that the scrotum will fill with money. Other exhibits such as these are on display at the Icelandic Museum of Witchcraft.
  • It is nearly impossible to pull two phone books apart if they have been interleaved, because there is such a large amount of friction between the massive amount of pages.
  • The World Eskimo Indian Olympics have been held since 1961 and involve traditional skills and practices that held with survival in the Arctic region. Sports include attempting to, without twisting or jerking, pull a lubed rod from another person, and an endurance in pain test involving wrapping a string around one's ear and pulling it off another's ear.
  • Nobody Knows: Nobody knows what John Franklin's last expedition in 1845 was trying to do. They set off across the ice with a sled-load of button polish, handkerchiefs, curtain rods and a writing desk. 128 men died during the expedition, and 35 different rescue parties were sent out to find them, making it one of the most disastrous in history. It was later discovered in the 1980s what had happened to them, and that their bodies were filled with toxic levels of lead, which has been known to cause mass delusions. Alan gets the bonus.
  • The best place to look for the Abominable Snowman is Canada, Russia, China or Sumatra, because they all have their own versions of such cryptozoological creatures.
General Ignorance
  • Igloos are usually made from reindeer hide. (Forfeit: Ice)
  • If you want a husky to make it go, you should say "go" in the language of whatever country they had been trained in. "Mush" hasn't been used for years. A seventy strong team of huskies one pulled a ten tonne truck.
XL Extras
  • The thing you shouldn't do with the Icelandic phone book is look people up by the surname, because they name each other according to their father (Alan's Icelandic daughter, for example, would have the surname Alandóttir) and thus there are such a large number of people with the same surname.
  • Captain Scott took a player piano with his expedition to the Antarctic, having brought a piano on one of his first expeditions and discovering that none of his men could play. On the Terra Nova Expedition, the player piano was equipped with 250 rolls of music.
  • Nothing happens when a penguin steps on a landmine because they are too light, which has been very beneficial to their population in the Falkland Islands. The Argentinians laid millions of landmines during the Falklands War, which means that their habitats are inaccessible to humans, such as whalers, who used to burn penguins in order to gather whale oil.
  • Queen Victoria got her ice from Wenham Lake, where it was cropped up and transported all over the world to rich people. There was a shop in The Strand with a huge block of ice and a newspaper behind to show its clarity. When refrigeration arrived, there were attempts at suggesting that the lake ice was better for you.
  • The 3rd Duke of Alba ordered seven thousand pairs of ice skates because after the Pope sentenced the entirety of the population of the Netherlands to death for conversion to Protestantism, and the Spanish invaded their country as a Catholic kingdom, the Dutch managed to slaughter hundreds of Spaniards on ice skates, being used to skating up and down their canals. The ice skates were never used.
  • The panel are giving a sample of what Stephen refers to as "Turkish fox testicle ice cream", but is actually made from Orchis mascula, an endangered orchid.
General Ignorance

Episode 16 "The Immortal Bard (Shakespeare Special)"[edit]

Broadcast date
  • 27 April 2012
Recording date
  • 24 May 2011
Panellists
  • Alan Davies (3 points)
  • Bill Bailey (-14 points) 25th appearance
  • David Mitchell (Winner with 6 points) 17th appearance
  • Sue Perkins (-10 points) 4th appearance
Topics
  • When David Tennant played Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Company, André Tchaikowsky (1935–1982) played Yorick. As well as being a composer and pianist, Tchaikowsky had been a keen Shakespearean and had requested that his skull be used as a theatrical prop on stage. There were health and safety issues and a human tissue license had be sought for his skull to be finally used, and while some funeral directors thought it might be illegal, Tennant eventually held it in his hand through the West End performances of Hamlet.
  • Leonard Bernstein's musical based on Romeo and Juliet and set in New York was originally called East Side Story (forfeit: West Side Story). When they were first writing it, it was based on an idea of gangs of Catholics fighting gangs of Jews in the lower East side, but five years later it was decided that they wanted Puerto Rican and White gangs instead, and thus it was instead reset at the lower West side. Other musicals based on Shakespeare's plays include Kiss Me, Kate, The Lion King and The Boys from Syracuse.
  • Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James, a Looney from Newcastle and the Holy Ghost all have in common that they are all Shakespearean sceptics. There a movement that started in the nineteenth century believing that Francis Bacon might have been the genuine author. Delia Bacon wrote a 625-page book about the issue in which she didn't even mention the name "Bacon", and when she died she believed she was the Holy Spirit. Other proposed true others include Christopher Marlowe and the 17th Earl of Oxford, despite the latter dying in 1604, many years before Shakespeare stopped writing plays. There is no real evidence to support the authorship question, and yet over 5,000 books have been written on the subject.
  • Shakespeare had a vocabulary of around 20,000 words, which is about half of an average modern comparison. David Crystal estimates that 6,000 words would be used in a complete issue of The Sun and the King James Bible had only 8,000, so the idea that modern people have a lower vocabulary does not appear to be genuine.
  • Shakespeare coined over a thousand new words but not all entered popular vocabulary, including "swoltery", "quatch", "wappened", "kickie-wickie", "carlot", "boggler", "cockled", "foxship" and "near-legged". Some that did include "accessible", "beguiling", "critic", "eyeball" and "Frenchwoman". It is impossible to be certain that he did invent them all, since they have been in use before, but he is the first printed source.
  • Shakespeare's bottom got to Norwich by morris dancing. William Kempe was a famous comedian, often called the funniest man in England at the time, who often worked with Shakespeare playing characters such as Bottom and Falstaff. However, he had a great falling out with Shakespeare's group and thus parted ways with them, but he decided that as a publicity stunt he would morris dance from London to Norwich. He did it over the course of nine days, and it from him that the term "nine days wonder" originated. However, it was a not a long-term success for Kempe; he died in Italy and his gravestone simply reads "Kempe, a man". Shakespeare wrote Henry V in which Falstaff died offstage, which may have been his symbolic "removal" of Kempe, to be replaced with Robert Armin.
  • A group of morris dancers is called a "side". No one quite knows where morris dancing comes from, although it is thought that it may have been a way of celebrating the Morisco Revolt. There are 150 sides now registered in the United States, and an Arctic morris group based in Helsinki.
General Ignorance
  • The character in the play Richard III had a hunchback, but there is no evidence that (forfeit) the actual king did. It was mainly put about by the propaganda of the Tudors that succeeded him, and historians such as Polydore Vergil. (Note: This episode was recorded and broadcast before the king's exhumation, where it was discovered that he did indeed have scoliosis).
  • There is no contemporary evidence to suggest that Cleopatra was physically beautiful, but it is known that she was very charismatic, and in that way seemed sexy and seductive.
  • Christopher Marlowe was stabbed, but he was killed in the house of Eleanor Bull (forfeit: in a tavern brawl), during an argument over a bill.
  • Lord Byron had a pronounced limp from birth that resulted from a withered leg, not from club foot. He was very athletic, and thus hated his limp. He was also constantly worrying about his weight and was possibly anorexic. In terms of his spending, he ordered batches, two dozen a time, of white linen trousers that he only wore once, and silk handkerchiefs in batches of a hundred which had an equivalent cost of an average man's yearly pay.
  • The thing that the Queen can do but an idiot can't is vote, although she has never chosen to as far as the public knows. Lunatics may only vote during their lucid periods.
XL Extras
  • The Scottish play that Shakespeare wrote is Macbeth. The play was often performed when the one before it suddenly closed, as it is the shortest of Shakespeare's tragedies and it was attracted a good audience. In the late 19th century Max Beerbohm wrote a review of Macbeth in 1898 and made the story up about the play being cursed. In a 1942 of Macbeth starring John Gielgud four people died. Actress Diana Wynyard once played Lady Macbeth and thought it would be more convincing in the sleepwalking scene to have her eyes shut. However, she walked off stage and into the orchestra pit (but did not die).
  • In terms of words that he wrote, there are very few surviving examples of Shakespeare's actual handwriting. His signature was spelt differently all the time and his handwriting was very poor. It could be the case that Shakespeare dictated the plays and someone else wrote them down.
  • Dangerous Dan Tucker cleaned up Shakespeare by killing all the criminals living in it and making it a ghost town (forfeit: He took out all the rude bits). Shakespeare, New Mexico, was a lawless town, before Sheriff Dan Tucker came in to clean it up. Before coming to Shakespeare he was city marshal in Silver City. When he came to Shakespeare, in a few months he shot dead a cattle rustler, killed a man who rode into a hotel riding a horse, arrested and hanged the outlaw Bill Tattenbaum for stealing a horse and hanged Sandy King for, "being a damned nuisance." The people who tried to take out all the rude bits from Shakespearean plays were Thomas and Harriet Bowdler, who published children's editions of the plays.

References[edit]