British Comedy Guide

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Sandi Toksvig. Copyright: TalkbackThames.


BBC Two and BBC One panel show focusing on quite interesting facts. 217 episodes (pilot + 15 series), 2003 - 2018. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Next new episode is on Friday at 10pm. Series O, Highlights Special
Catch-up on Highlights Special on BBC iPlayer   Series L, Episode 11 is repeated on Dave tomorrow at 1:50am.

Series A, Episode 4 - Atoms

Full synopsis

Atoms - Hydrogen Atom.


- The main component of air is nitrogen (Forfeit: Oxygen)

- The most boring place in Britain is a field outside Ousefleet, near Scunthorpe, according to the Ordnance Survey map. It containing nothing except half an electricity pylon and some overhead cabling. It is the blankest square kilometre in the country.

- Tangent: Charles Dickens claimed that Chelmsford was, "The dullest and most stupid spot on the face of the Earth." He also invented the word "Boredom".

- Barbara Cartland holds the world record for the most books written in a single year, with 23 books. She was buried in a cardboard coffin beneath an oak tree planted by Elizabeth I.

- The ozone layer is 15 miles above the surface of the Earth and smells of geraniums.

- The film critic John Simon described Walter Matthau as resembling, "A half-melted rubber bulldog."

- Atoms are mostly empty space. Ernest Rutherford compared the inside of an atom as being, "like a few flies in a cathedral."

- The discoverer of hydrogen and the creator of the grand piano knew each other and lived locally. A hydrogen atom has more frequencies than a grand piano.

General Ignorance

- King Henry VIII technically had either three or four wives. He annulled is marriage to Anne of Cleves, the Pope declared is marriage to Anne Boleyn void because he was still married to Catherine of Aragon, and Henry declared his marriage to Catherine of Aragon void because it was illegal to marry his brothers wife, and she had previously been married to Henry's brother Arthur. (Forfeit: Six)

- Tangent: Hans Holbein, who once painted Henry VIII, once did a painting called "The Ambassadors", which can only be seen correctly from the correct angle.

- The word "Silver" rhymes with "Chilver", which is a female lamb. (Forfeit: Nothing)

- All diamonds in the world come from the Earth's surface, and are brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions. (Forfeit: South Africa)

- Tangent: South Africa is the fifth largest producer of diamonds, after Australia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Botswana and Russia. Diamonds and graphite are both made out of pure carbon, but appear on opposite ends of the Mohs scale of hardness.

- Light can travel at 38 mph, through sodium chilled at -270 degrees celcius. The speed of light is only constant in a vacuum.

- A chameleon changes colour depending on mood. (Forfeit: Background)

- Tangent: Chameleons can swivel their eyes independently. It was once believed they lived on air.

Deleted Scenes

- William Shakespeare invented the expression, "Vanish into thin air". Hamlet also contains several cliches still used today.


Jo Brand: 36 points
Howard Goodall: 13 points
Jeremy Hardy: 7 points
Alan Davies: -24 points

Broadcast details

Thursday 2nd October 2003
30 minutes


  1. Sunday 29th July 2012 at 2:40pm on Dave
  2. Sunday 29th July 2012 at 6:40pm on Dave
  3. Wednesday 14th November 2012 at 7:40pm on Dave
  4. Wednesday 14th November 2012 at 11:00pm on Dave
  5. Thursday 20th December 2012 at 2:00pm on Dave
  6. Sunday 26th May 2013 at 1:40pm on Dave
  7. Sunday 26th May 2013 at 5:00pm on Dave
  8. Wednesday 31st July 2013 at 11:00pm on Dave
  9. Thursday 1st August 2013 at 2:10am on Dave
  10. Saturday 2nd November 2013 at 7:40pm on Dave
  11. Sunday 3rd November 2013 at 3:20pm on Dave
  12. Thursday 8th January 2015 at 11:35pm on Dave
  13. Friday 20th March 2015 at 11:00pm on Dave
  14. Monday 13th July 2015 at 12:00am on Dave
  15. Wednesday 18th November 2015 at 2:40am on Dave
  16. Wednesday 18th November 2015 at 10:20pm on Dave
  17. Wednesday 27th July 2016 at 12:20am on Dave
  18. Wednesday 27th July 2016 at 9:20pm on Dave
  19. Saturday 3rd September 2016 at 10:20pm on Dave
  20. Sunday 4th September 2016 at 3:20am on Dave
  21. Wednesday 11th January 2017 at 3:20pm on Dave
  22. Tuesday 14th March 2017 at 2:00pm on Dave
  23. Wednesday 15th March 2017 at 12:20am on Dave
  24. Monday 15th January 2018 at 11:00pm on Dave
  25. Tuesday 16th January 2018 at 1:00am on Dave
  26. Tuesday 6th February 2018 at 11:00pm on Dave
  27. Wednesday 7th February 2018 at 1:00am on Dave

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Jeremy Hardy Guest
Jo Brand Guest
Howard Goodall Guest
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
John Lloyd Producer
Phil Clarke Executive Producer
Nick King Editor
Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
Howard Goodall Composer

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