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.

Next new episode is on Thursday at 9pm. Series R, Episode 16
Catch-up on Episode 15 on BBC iPlayer   Series K, Episode 6 is repeated on Dave today at 6pm.

Series J, Episode 17 - Jolly

Further details

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Tim Vine, Stephen Fry, Rob Brydon, Julia Zemiro. Copyright: TalkbackThames.

Extra Tasks

- The panel are asked to come up with limericks for the end of the show. No-one knows why limericks are so called, and it origin has nothing to do with the Irish town and county of the same name. The limericks given are:

- Tim: There was an old man from Limerick; who was completely unaware of the short, often humorous, poems that shared the same name as his hometown.

- Julia: I carouse in a style bacchanalian; but I sleep in a way marsupalian; I like to eat cheese; but I never say please; yes I'm French, but I'm also Australian.

- Stephen: There was a young man from Australia; who painted his arse like a dahlia; tuppence a smell; was all very well; but thruppence a lick was a failure.

- Alan: There once was a show on TV; that was always the smart place to be; I'm fully aware; you'd rather be there; but instead you're stuck here with me.

- Tim: There once was a man called Rob Brydon; whose favourite film was The Poseidon; Adventure, and he; would watch it regularly; that funny old man called Rob Brydon.

- Alan: It's easy to win on QI; You don't need an IQ that's high; Try not to be haughty; just be a bit naughty; and make sure you please Stephen Fry.

- Alan: Appearing one night on QI; I made up three facts on the fly; The first was untrue; the second was too; and the third was about the size of my cock, and it was no exaggeration, Julia.

- Rob: There was once a man called Tim Vine; whose punning was more than just fine; Sat on the panel; with no end of flannel; that lovely old chap called Tim Vine.

- Tim (which was originally from the Piccolo Book of Jokes): There was a young man from Devizes; whose ears were different sizes; One was quite small; and no use at all; the other was huge and won prizes.

- Stephen: There was a young chaplain from Kings; who talked about God and such things; but his real desire; was a boy in the choir; with a bottom like jelly on springs.


- Hapi was the Ancient Egyptian god who caused the Nile to flood. The river floods every July and make the surrounding area fertile. The whole of the Egyptian civilisation was based around the river. Hapi appeared to be a hermaphrodite and a harem of frogs.

- Tangent: Edwin Starr has a song called "H-A-P-P-Y Radio".

- Tangent: The screens show some Ancient Egyptian ruins, which Tim claims was the background for an old game show - "I'll Name That Tomb in One". The joke gets a mixed reaction and Stephen is slightly worried that might be reaction to all of Tim's puns. Tim says, "That's what you sphinx." When the subject of frogs comes up Tim tries to think of a frog joke. Rob says that if the frogs start to get it on with each other one of them might get a camcorder out to make frogs'-porn.

- The most jolly but dangerous thing you can buy from a joke shop is sneezing powder. Soren Sorensen Adams, father of the joke shop, started life at a coal-tar derivative company. One of the derivatives was a dye which also made people sneeze. The company isolated the ingredient that caused the sneezing and Adams took the powder. He founded the Cachoo Sneezing Powder Company in 1910, which sold $15,000 worth of Cachoo in the first year, then expanded into other practical jokes. 25 years later the FDA banned the powder as it was found to be toxic.

- Tangent: Tim says that he went to a joke shop once. He asked what they were selling and the shopkeeper said, "Nothing, we're not a real shop."

- Tangent: Stephen gets out a tray of practical jokes that you can get from a joke shop. Almost all of them were invented by Adams. The jokes include the snake nut can, the squirting lapel flower, the water pistol ring, fake dog turds, the finger guillotine, the electric shock pen (which Alan finds to be very powerful), the bendy pencil, the joy buzzer (three million of which were sold during the Great Depression by Adams), the false egg and the water-pistol camera. The fake dog turd the panel have is very realistic and squiggly. Alan puts it in his mouth. The tray also includes a whoopee cushion, but Adams thought it was too vulgar and did not sell it himself. Alan says that the best practical joke around these days the remote controlled fart cushion.

- Nothing happens if you put someone's hand into a bowl of water while they are sleeping. The idea that they wet themselves is a complete myth and has been proven so. It was experimented on an episode of Myth Buster but nothing occurred. (Forfeit: They wet themselves)

- Tangent: Alan says that a similar myth is that if you wet yourself while driving, you crash the car. Julia claims that someone shaved her eyebrows off while she slept.

- XL: The funniest thing to come out of a sewage plant is laughing gas, more accurately known as nitrous oxide. It is a waste product of the treatment process. It is a greenhouse gas which is 300 times worse than carbon dioxide. After sewage farms, agricultural waste and nitrogen fertilisers are biggest producers of it. It also pumped into bags of crisps in order to keep them fresh (and some might suspect to make the bags seem fuller than they really are). Laughing gas was first used as anaesthetic in 1844, but before that it was used as a recreational drug. Samuel Taylor Coleridge used it and wrote: "The first time I inspired [breathed in] the nitrous oxide, I felt a highly pleasurable sensation of warmth over my whole frame. The only motion which I felt inclined to make was that of laughing at those who were looking at me."

- XL Tangent: When the question is first asked there is film footage of raw sewage being pumped directly into the sea in Ghana. There are people swimming nearby.

- XL Tangent: Rob had a general anaesthetic recently, which was propofol, the same anaesthetic that killed Michael Jackson. It is injected into the back of your hand, makes the limbs limp, but your head states awake for a little while. Rob said to the anaesthetist: "Wow! My arms and my legs, they're like weights. But my head is completely..." then he fell under. Jackson used it to get to sleep. Tim jokes that he went out with an anaesthetist, who was a local girl.

- XL Tangent: The chapter in the original book version of "Mary Poppins" in which people float to the ceiling is called "Laughing Gas". The book was written by Australia P.L. Travers, who disowned the film completely and hated it. At the time of broadcast a film is being made about the relationship between Walt Disney and P.L. Travers. In the book Poppins has a darker side to her.

- The best flavour for an exploding sandwich is a squirting/exploding cucumber sandwich (and not as Tim suggests, "Cheese and ham-grenade"). A Mediterranean plant, it expels its seeds in a sticky mucus at over 60mph when it is touched or ripe, at a distance of over 30 feet. The scientific Linnaean name is "Ecballium elaterium" meaning the "squirting squirter". "Ecballium" comes from "ballistics" and "elaterium" from the fact it is a purgative. So not only does the cucumber explode, but it also gives you wind too.

- XL: The world's longest running gag dates back to the 13th century and is told between two tribes in Mali to stop them fighting each other. The Traore and the Kone tribes call each other "bean-eaters". You have to take an insult from a member of the other tribe which accuses you of being a bean-eater, then you find a member of the other tribe, give them the insult and so on.

- XL Tangent: The Africa-American community does something similar with "Yo mama" jokes. Something similar occurs in France. When Julia went back to her native France as an adult for the first time her cousin was driving angrily and shouting at passing motorists: "Ta mere!" which is French for "Your mother!" Mother jokes date back to Shakespeare. In "Titus Andronicus" one passage features two characters, one says, "Villain, what has thou done? That which thou canst not undo. Thou hast undone our mother. Villain I have done thy mother." The late American comic Sam Kinison, famous for his rage, involved mother jokes in his heckle put-downs. When someone heckled Kinison his reply was: "Yeah, that was the noise your mother made when I did her last night. You won't recognise her. When I was finished, I shaved her back!"

- XL: The thing that the first jukebox had to offer was prostitutes, as the term comes from "juke house" or "juke joint" and "juke" was originally a slang term used for a brothel in the southern states of the USA. The term most likely comes from the African word "juk", meaning "disorderly or unruly" (thus the car the Nissan Juke is actually the Nissan Brothel). When the first jukebox as we would recognise it became available people gave it the name because they thought it was like making their own private dance hall or juke joint. The makers of the machines hated the name, but it stuck. The first jukeboxes consisted of a speaking tube, say the name of the song you wanted, and then someone would find the record, put it on the player and attach the other end of the speaking tube to the horn.

- XL Tangent: Rob says that jukeboxes look beautiful but nearly everyone who has one has no taste. The only one that both he and Tim know that both has a jukebox and has good musical taste is Lee Mack. He has trouble getting his jukebox up the stairs because it weighs about the same as a small car.

- XL Tangent: Like jukeboxes, the term "Rock 'n' roll" also had rude meaning as it meant "to have sex".

- The worst place to be licked by a goat is the feet. It was used as a form of torture, where the victim would be tied to a tree so their legs and feet would be sticking out, the feet would be coated in honey and the goat would lick the feet. Because of the raspy tongue, while at first it tickles, it would then rip off layers of skin. Franciscus Brunus, a late medieval jurist and torture expert wrote in 1502: "I hear this is a very hard torture and totally safe." People in stocks were also tickles and tickling as a torture was used in China during the Han Dynasty.

- XL Tangent: In "The Old Curiosity Shop", the only Charles Dickens book which Alan has ever read (not that he can remember any of it), and which features the death of Little Nell that was so over-sentimental it was described by Oscar Wilde as: "You would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing", there is a character called Mr. Jasper Packlemerton who killed 14 wives by tickling them to death. Dickens may have got the idea from the "Illustrated Police News" from 1869 which reported a wife being driven insane by her husband who tickled her.

- Some quick questions on J-related geography.

- The largest mountain in Japan really is Mount Fuji. It is an active volcano and but has not erupted in over 200 years.

- Tangent: Mount Vesuvius is overdue and there is no way of predicting when it will erupt. Alan was told this when he went on a school trip there. He was taken to the crater and to get to it you had to walk across a lava flow with a sulphur crust about 1-2ft deep. Along the route there were places where the crust had broken and fallen through. The guide told Alan and his class to walk in pairs, and forgetting the effects of reverse psychology, told them not to jump up and down.

- The name of the Caribbean island group beginning with "B" is the British Virgin Isles. The Bahamas are in the Atlantic. Barbados is a single island. (Forfeit: Bahamas)

- Tangent: Tim jokingly says that a man came up to him and said: "I'm going to dress up as a small island off the coast of Italy." Tim said: "Don't be Sicily."

- XL: The largest of the Great Lakes of North America is Lake Michigan-Huron. While originally it was taught in school that Lake Superior was the largest lake in the world, it is now accepted that the lakes of Michigan and Huron are one single lake because they are connected by Straits of Mackinac, lie at the same elevation, and rise and fall together. (Forfeit: Ontario)

- XL: The play by Shakespeare which is set in Verona is Romeo and Juliet. Two Gentlemen of Verona is set in Milan and the title characters come from the Verona.

- XL Tangent: Rob went to see a Broadway production of "The Merchant of Venice" starring Al Pacino that appeared to be set in Brooklyn. Tim once again jokes and said to a man that he was going to play Hamlet at the Globe Theatre. The man said: "Are you being facetious?" and Tim said: "No, Polonius."

- The country which crosses the most time zones is France, because of all its overseas possessions. The UK does not count because it does not count its possessions as all being part of the mother country, but France does, and thus crosses 12 time zones. The USA crosses 11 because of Hawaii, and Russia has 9 time zones. Correction: Since this episode went out, Russia has now gone to 11 time zones. This still however puts it behind France.(Forfeit: Canada)

- The longest thing about the jerboa is the tail. The tail is used for balance and can sit on it, while the ears control temperature. It lives in the Gobi Desert. The name comes from the Arabian word meaning "flesh of the loins", which is also the origin of the word "gerbil". (Forfeit: Ears)

- As humans get old the ears get bigger, or at least that is what we assume. The problem is that no-one has done an experiment yet where they have measured their ears when they were younger. It could be the case that having larger ears is a predictor of having a long life.

- Tangent: Tim can pull his ears back so they stick-out less. As a result he can mime going over the top of a roller-coaster, so as you go down the ears are pushed back. Tim's brother, the journalist Jeremy Vine, cannot do this. Jeremy once did a phone-in on his radio show asking anyone if there were scared by the sound of their own voice.

- The king of France would enjoy a naïve salad for starters because it is an anagram of "Alan Davies". Also, Alan's middle name is Roger, so "Alan R. Davies" is an anagram of "Anal adviser". French kings employed as a form of jester called an "Anagrammateur Royale", who would come up with flattering anagrams of your name. Famous anagrams of names include "Britney Spears" and "Presbyterian", "Virginia Bottomley" and "I'm an evil Tory bigot", and "Apple Macintosh" and "Laptop machines".

- Tangent: "Naïve" spelt backwards is "Evian", as in the bottled water.

- Tangent: In Japan they have a wordplay game where someone will compose a haiku, then you have to keep adding more lines to it to make the poem longer and more funny. It was called a "maeku-zuke", responding to the front line.


- Alan Davies: 12 points (Alan's 19th victory)
- Julia Zemiro: -3 points
- Rob Brydon: -6 points
- Tim Vine: -27 points

Broadcast details

Friday 11th January 2013
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Rob Brydon Guest
Julia Zemiro Guest
Tim Vine Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
James Harkin Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer
Ruby Kuraishe Executive Producer


Practical Jokes

The panel try out some vintage practical jokes.

Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Rob Brydon, Julia Zemiro, Tim Vine.


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