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


BBC Two and BBC One panel show about quite interesting facts. 269 episodes (pilot + 18 series), 2003 - 2021. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Series S recorded.
Series I, Episode 6 is repeated on Dave today at 8:20pm.

Series J, Episode 12 - Justice

Further details

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Brian Cox, Stephen Fry, Jason Manford, Rhys Darby. Copyright: TalkbackThames.


- Stephen is dressed as a judge, while Alan is dressed as a robber with a bag marked "Swag" and an eye-mask.


- Tangent: Alan removes his eye-mask because it is rubbing the bridge of his nose. Stephen then says that Noel Coward once spotted an actor who thought he was picking his nose in secret. Coward shouted out to him: "Wave when you get to the bridge."

- The rules on a pirate ship were very strict. It was usually run by two senior officers: the captain and the quartermaster. The captain could be vetoed by the quartermaster on all matters except battle. The quartermaster would decide how treasure would be divided out, including the captain's share. The captain also had no special quarters. Other than this rule of two, ruling the ship was more-or-less democratic. The rules on Captain Bartholomew Roberts ship The Fortune there was no gambling, no smuggling girls into the dorm, no playing music on a Sunday and "lights out" were at 8 o'clock sharp. Captain George Lowther said concerning women on his ship: "If at any time meet with a prudent woman, that man that offers her to meddle with her without her consent shall suffer present death." In other words, rape was a capital offence.

- XL Tangent: There is an academic book called "Sodomy and the Piratical Tradition".

- XL Tangent: New Zealand did not have convicted felons transported to it like Australia did. It was more of a destination of choice for those seeking adventure.

- Tangent: As has been discusses on QI before, as is pointed by the audience, the pirate voice that everyone does comes from the actor Robert Newton when he performed as Long John Silver in a film version of Treasure Island. Tony Hancock started off his career as a Robert Newton impersonator. That accent almost ended up being used for Darth Vader because the actor who played his body was David Prowse, who has the same accent, but this was replaced by a voice actor.

- - XL: The difference between a Californian prison and a medieval dungeon is that while in both you had to pay money while you stayed inside, if you were later found to be innocent then the prison will refund you. Back in medieval times, prison where in a sort of way run like hotels, in the sense that you had to pay for your manacles, your foot gyves, your accommodation and so on. Often by the time the poorer inmates got out of the dungeon they had spent all their money, so they then instantly went to debtors' prison. When Fleet Prison was closed in the 1940s they discovered that some inmates had been imprisoned for 40 years. In Riverside County, California, they had reintroduced this paying scheme for their prisons. The country jail charges $140 a day to be in jail. Councillor Pamela Walls noted it may be hard to collect the payment because, "those defendants who are convicted of crimes and incarcerated typically have limited funds." The prison supervisor Jeff Stone believes the scheme can be a great source of revenue, turning between $3-5 million per year. However, in California you do get your money back if you are found not guilty.

- XL Tangent: When Stephen was in prison as a teenager one of his jobs was to paint toy soldiers, which he claimed was very relaxing work. Then he was later put on the corridor polishing duty which he did not like.

- There are many ways of saying that Alan has a very small penis. This is concerning the subject of deformation. To give an example, if Stephen were to write a fictional story about a panel show like QI, and the person seemingly based on Alan had a very small penis, the theory is that Alan would never dare file a lawsuit against it because it would mean him saying, "Hang on, that's me because I've got a very small penis! Oh, hang on..." So if wanted to slander someone, who put in things they would never admit to. There are various defences that can be deployed, these being:

- The truth: It is proven that Alan really does have a small penis.

- Parliamentary privilege: An MP could say Alan has a very small penis because no legal action could be taken.

- Tangent: There is also increased privilege in peer-reviewed scientific journals. So Brian could publish a paper about Alan having a very small penis and Brian would be relatively immune, unless Brian was being malicious about it. In America this is referred to "Absence of malice".

- Good faith: You really did think that Alan had a really small penis and the statement was not meant to be defamatory.

- Opinion: It is your opinion that Alan has a very small penis, in comparison to someone else's.

- Public interest: The public has the right to know that Alan has a very small penis.

- Consent: Alan agreed with you and had told you that he had a very small penis.

- Vulgar abuse: Just being rude about Alan having a very small penis rather than defamatory. Similarly calling Alan a motherf***er is vulgar abuse, but claiming that Alan actually had incestuously sexual relations with his mother would be defamatory.

- XL Tangent: Writer Peter James was once snubbed by Martin Amis, so in revenge James created a character called Amis Smallbone whose manhood is compared to a stubby pencil.

- XL Tangent: Martin Amis once wrote a book in which there was an index. He know that Norman Mailer would always look himself up in the index so under "Normal Mailer" Amis wrote, "Hi, Norm." Stephen then tells a Jewish joke about a will being read which says: "To my brother-in-law Louis, who always wanted to be mentioned in my will - hello, Louis!"

- The reality TV show format that invented by Charlemagne's father was Touch the Truck. Pepin the Short was responsible during the Dark Ages of France for bringing in ordeals, like ordeal by water. One ordeal, the "Ordeal of the Cross" involved two people having to stand in the shape of a cross with the arms out stretched, like Jesus on the cross, and the one who could stay still in that shape would win the ordeal. One such ordeal involved the Archbishop of Paris and the Abbot of St. Denis, but they used nominated champions to do the ordeal for them. The Archbishop won. The TV show Touch the Truck, hosted by Dale Winton in 2001 on Channel 5, based on a Japanese format, involved contestants having to be constantly touching a car for the longest period of time. The winner touched the truck for 81 hours, although each contestant was allowed a 10 minute break every two hours and 15 minutes every six hours. You had to stay awake and consciously touch the car, so you could not just lay on it asleep. The winner sold the truck in order to raise funds to stand in the 2001 General Election in the constituency of Kingston and Surbiton. Out of 49,093 votes cast, he got only 54.

- Tangent: In Rhys's native New Zealand this kind of TV show format is popular on the radio. They interview people who are touching the car during the broadcast.

- The kind of sentence you would usually recommend during Jedward Justice would be unjust death. Originating from the Scottish border town of Jedburgh (originally called Jedward), it involves hanging people without a trial. The term "Lynch" is believed to come from James Lynch Fitzstephen, mayor of Galway, who hanged his own son from the balcony of his house after convicting him of the murder of a Spanish visitor in 1493.

- Tangent: Alan gets confused because he is hungry, think Stephen said that the James Lynch Fitzstephen hanged his son for stealing a bike, which is especially odd given the bike was not invented in 1493.

- XL: You should never leave a judge in a room on his own because it is against the law. In court the judge cannot be on his own. If you are the last barrister in the room then you could not leave if the judge is still in. This is known as "dressing the judge", although you do not actually put his clothes on him.

- XL Tangent: Jason used to work at Manchester Crown Court. His father and aunt both worked at the court as stenographers, so he helped them over the summer.

- XL Tangent: A High Court Judge's clothes costs up to £14,920. This includes the cost of two scarlet robes; one silk robe; a horse hair wig which costs £1,295; court britches with buckles at £665; and stockings. Barristers must wear two pairs of silk stockings because Queen Victoria disapproved of the hairs sticking out.

- XL Tangent: The wig is still kept because it helps to make the judges look more anonymous.

- XL Tangent: There is a tradition that barristers cannot shake hands with each other out-of-court.

- XL Tangent: If barristers are not properly dressed, then the judge cannot see you. If you try to communicate with the judge they will say that they cannot see or hear you until you put on the right attire.

- When the biggest miser in the world forgot his reading glasses it lead to a legal case lasting over a century. A man called Jennens was going to sign his will, but forgot his glasses so took the will home and planned to sign it later. However, he died before signing it. This resulted in the rest of his family fighting bitterly to collect the fortune, in a case called Jennens vs. Jennens. The case started in 1798 and did not end until 1915 because the entire estate ran out of money. This case was the basis of the Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce case in Bleak House by Charles Dickens, which was written in 1852.

- XL Tangent: Jason found the writing of his will depressing because he kept having to go through all the possible eventualities. So for starters if he died he wanted his money and house to go to his wife and kids. Then he was asked what he would do if his wife died, in which case his kids and Jason's brother would inherit the money and house. Then he was asked what to do if they died as well, to which Jason replied he would like the money to be spent on an inquest to find out what killed all of his family. When Brian did his will the people taking him through it kept using different words for death, so he was asked about himself and his wife the person writing up the will said: "And if you both... go."

- XL Tangent: The original Jennens was considered the richest commoner in the country at the time of his death. He lived in Grosvenor Square, in a very grand house, but only in two tiny little rooms in the cellar. The other rooms were kept grand because he charged visitors to see them.

- You would find a precocious toddler, a fertile octogenarian and a moron in a hurry a rule against perpetuities. They are fictional types of people, the most famous example being the man on the Clapham omnibus, which simply means "the man in the street". This is based on the idea of the "reasonable man", which forms the basis of English common law. A moron in a hurry concerns product plagiarism. For example, if you made a drink that was very similar to Coca-Cola, but with tiny changes to the name, the issue is would the moron in a hurry notice the difference between the two. The fertile octogenarian presumes that anyone, including an octogenarian, can parent a child. The precocious toddler is like the fertile octogenarian, but at the other end of the scale.

- Tangent: Rhys claims to be not very observant. When he was in the army he did an observation trail where you walked through a bush and had to spot as many unusual things as he could. When he got to the other side and the Sergeant asked how many things Rhys spotted, he said three, but one of those was the cone which marked the exit. There were actually 17 things to spot, one of which was a tank. Rhys's excuse was that a lot of it was camouflaged.

- XL: It is possible for two people to have had sex on the Moon, if you can get hold of some rocks taken from it. In spring 2002 three NASA interns at the Johnson Space Centre in Huston claimed to have stolen a safe full of rock samples. The ring leader, Thad Roberts, and accomplice Tiffany Fowler, then claimed to have spread the rocks on the bed and then, so to speak, got their rocks off. Not everyone, however, believes this story.

- XL Tangent: Commercial flights out of atmosphere, such as those by Virgin Atlantic, only spend a few minutes in space. Brian would consider doing it. Brian has been on the "Vomit Comet" as part of one of his TV shows. While Stephen admired Brian for doing it, he admits to admiring the cameraman more for keeping Brian in shot.

- XL Tangent: There are other bits of Moon rock on the Earth because we get meteorites from the Moon and Mars. There is a possibly apocryphal story about a Martian meteorite hitting a dog and killing it. There is another story about woman whose leg was broken by a meteorite. She was in bed at the time and it came through her roof. The Moon does not have an iron core because it was blasted from the Earth during its formation. We know this because while the astronauts did not dig deep the rocks they collected are similar in composition to those on Earth.

- You would encourage a psychopath to eyeball your crotch if you were to practice naked psychotherapy. Paul Bindrim of California pioneered this idea in 1967 at a nudist resort. He invented discomforting exercises including "crotch eyeballing", where the participants were instructed to look at each other's genitals and disclose the sexual experiences they felt most guilty about, while lying naked in a circle with their legs in the air. Canadian doctor Elliot Barker conducted marathon nude-psychotherapy sessions at the Oak Ridge Hospital for the Criminally Insane. He did it with criminal psychopaths, who were fuelled with LSD. These sessions lasted for 11 days at a time. The average rate of recidivism, in which someone is likely to return to crime, is 60% for psychopaths, but amongst those who did Barker's programme it, went up to 80%. The panel then decide that they and the audience should carry out some naked psychotherapy with the audience and get everyone should get their genitals out. However, as the genitals are about to be shown a convenient technical fault (with voice over from producer Piers Fletcher) prevents anything rude being shown.


- Alan Davies: 5 points (Alan's 18th victory)
- Rhys Darby: 3 points
- Jason Manford: -2 points
- Prof. Brian Cox: -7 points

Broadcast details

Friday 7th December 2012
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Brian Cox (as Prof Brian Cox, University of Manchester) Guest
Jason Manford Guest
Rhys Darby Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
Justin Pollard Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
Piers Fletcher Producer
Ruby Kuraishe Executive Producer


Stealing a bike

Alan has trouble concentrating and is confused when he hears someone was lynched for the most peculiar reason.

Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Prof Brian Cox, University of Manchester, Jason Manford, Rhys Darby.


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