Series J - Jingle Bells
- Beethoven put his Jingling Johnny in his orchestra for his ninth symphony. It is a large wooden poll decorated with jingle bells that was originally used by Ottoman Janissaries, their elite soldiers, as they marched. It is also used in Haydn's 100th symphony, and they were used by Berlioz and John Philip Sousa. Berlioz claimed: "The shaking of its sonorous locks added brilliancy to marching music." There is also a modern Australian version called the lagerphone that is made out of bottle tops.
- XL: The Minute Waltz lasts over a minute. It is actually the mi-nute waltz. The composer Chopin originally called it the "Little Dog Waltz", because it was inspired by watching a little dog watching its own tail. It is possible to play it in 60 seconds, but if you did it would be almost inaudible. Liberace did a version where he cut out "the boring bits" and played it in 37 seconds. (Forfeit: 60 seconds; About a minute)
- The first advertising jingle was sung by members of the public. They were published in newspapers, with the music written out with the words, so you could sing it yourself. This comes from 1870s-80s. Radio jingles started in the 1920s to get around NBC's rules on not being able to advertise directly, but you could sing songs which had the sponsor's name in. The show could also be named after the sponsor. One NBC show, hosted by someone called Rudy Vallee was called Fleischmann's Yeast Hour. The first radio jingle is believed to be the Sunshine Vitamin Yeast jingle.
- XL: "Jingle Bells" was originally written to celebrate Thanksgiving. It was written by the uncle of the great banker J. Pierpoint Morgan, once the richest man in America. He wrote it in 1857 in Massachusetts and called it "One-Horse Open Sleigh". (Forfeit: Christmas)
- XL: The first song ever to be sung in space was "Jingle Bells". Walter "Wally" Schirra Jr. and Thomas P. Stafford who flew on Gemini 6 smuggled a harmonica and sleigh bells on the ship, which added to their payload so it was something they should not have strictly speaking done. When the ship re-entered on 16th December and they calculated their angle of re-entry they sent a message to Houston which went: "Houston, we have an object. Looks like a satellite going from North to South, probably in polar orbit. Looks like he might be going to re-enter soon. You might just let me pick up that thing. I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit." They then took out their instruments and performed. For a second Houston was worried about what the crew had spotted.
- The Jesus Christ Dinosaur Hypothesis is a theory about a dinosaur that might have been able to walk on water. There is an intermediate dinosaur between dinosaurs and birds from 150 million years ago known as the Archaeopteryx. All the fossils of it have been found in places where there was once a sea, but no evidence of any trees, so the theory is that they flew by starting to run along the water, like swans do today. Other animals that can run on water include the Jesus lizard which can travel 20 metres on the water, and the Jacana, or Jesus bird of Jamaica, which was written about by the ornithologist James Bond, (after whom the 007 is named, because Ian Fleming had a selection of books about Jamaica where he once lived, one of which was Bond's The Birds of Jamaica.
- The chances are that you can remember a lot more white Christmases if you live in the north. The Elves have researched into white Christmases from where the panellists come from. For example, Danny is from London can remember one from 1970, but Alan is from the South East and thus cannot remember any. Sarah is from South Shields which has had more, and is believed to have had them when she was one, three, four, five, six and nine-years-old. In the whole of the 20th century there were only four white Christmases in London and the nearby area (1927, 1938, 1970 and 1981). However, between 1812-1820 there were eight white Christmases in a row. 1812 was also the year Charles Dickens was born, thus he always associated Christmas with snow and it always snows at Christmas in his novels. He also lived during the Little Ice Age, where at times the River Thames was so frozen you could hold fairs and even light bonfires on the ice because the ice was so thick. The last such "Frost Fair" was in 1813-14.
- XL: There is really no such thing as a typical snowflake. Not all of them are hexagonal and symmetrical. They can also be needle-shaped or more blockish.
- XL: A jolly jape - Stephen adds a small jug of water to some white powder called sodium polyacrylate, which is the stuff in nappies which absorbs fluid. It can take on water between 200-300 times its own mass. Stephen pours the water into the powder, which expands into a huge size but remains dry and becomes cold. This stuff is also used as artificial snow. The world's best artificial snow maker for the movies is a British company called Snow Business, which produces a wide range of different kinds of snow.
- The best thing to do with an old Christmas tree is to contact your local zoo and see if they want to give it to their animals for food. In Germany they often feed Christmas trees to elephants, which can eat five of them for lunch. In Dresden Zoo they also give Christmas trees to giraffes, rhinos, camels, deer and sheep.
- A quick-fire round about Jesus:
- The panel pull some Christmas crackers, but instead of the normal jokes they are given the punch-lines, from which they have to figure out what the original joke was.
- Friday 21st December 2012
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Stephen Fry||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|James Harkin||Script Editor|
|Justin Pollard||Question Writer|
|John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE)||Series Producer|
|Ruby Kuraishe||Executive Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|