Series J, Episode 7 - Journalism
- The sort of people who would live in the Daily Mail model village would be the residents of Welwyn Garden City. It was designed in 1919 after the end of World War One and the Spanish flu epidemic, but the plans were overambitious so it was taken over by the company that owned the land around it. It was completed in 1922. It was one of many publicity stunts created by the paper. Amongst the other stunts was funding Amy Johnson's flight to Australia. The paper was founded by Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe in 1896, who was a big showman who always held competitions in the paper concerning how the paper could be improved. Ideas suggested included perforating the articles so you could tear individual stories out, and that each page should have a different smell. Before founding the Daily Mail Harmsworth wrote a book called Answers to Correspondents on Every Subject Under the Sun, the first edition containing headlines such as "What the Queen Eats", "How to Cure Freckles" and "Why Jews Don't Ride Bicycles". One of his showman ideas was that if you died with a copy of the book on you £200 would go to your estate.
- If an obituary read, "He was a tireless raconteur, who gave colourful accounts of his exploits, but did not suffer fools gladly. An uncompromisingly direct ladies' man, he was affable and hospitable at every hour, but he did not uphold the highest ethical standards of the City" then you could tell the person who died was horrid. The terms used are all euphemisms. "Tireless raconteur" means "Crashing bore"; "Affable and hospitable at every hour" means "A drunk"; "Uncompromisingly direct ladies' man" means "Serial groper"; "Gave colourful accounts of his exploits" means "Liar"; "Did not uphold the highest ethical standards of the City" means "Fraudster"; and "Did not suffer fools gladly" means "Intolerant".
- The most expensive piece of shit to come out of a British bank is some fossilised dinosaur poo. This type of fossil is known as "palaeontofaeces" or "coprolite". A branch of Lloyds in York in 1972 found some human fossilised Viking poo that was 23cm long and 5cm wide. It was left by Andrew "Bones" Jones, who said "This is the most exciting piece of excrement I've ever seen. In its own way, it's as valuable as the Crown Jewels." Some T. Rex poo was also discovered in 1998 in Saskatchewan which measured 17 inches long and 6 inches thick.
- XL: The highly fortified building where most of the gold in America is kept is the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, the American version of the Bank of England. It has 7,000 tonnes of bullion, while Fort Knox has no more than 4,500 tonnes. Other than gold Fort Knox has also housed the Magna Carta and the crowd, sword, sceptre, orb and cape of the St. Stephen, King of Hungary (it was returned in 1978). (Forfeit: Fort Knox)
- XL: A way of promoting railways which is guaranteed to get into the papers is to get trains to crash. An American rail magnate called Crush tried to promote his line across Texas by getting two of his trains to crash head-on with each other. The trains were either end of a four-mile track, accelerated and then collided together with great cheers. However, the plan backfired. Both boilers exploded, metal flew, spectators ran around in panic, and two young men and a woman were killed, with another six seriously injured.
- The Famous Five had lashings of hard-boiled eggs. In Five Go down to the Sea Enid Blyton writes that did have a high tea consisting of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, radishes, mustard, cress, carrot grated up, and lashings of hard-boiled eggs. There is no mention of ginger beer in the original stories. That comes from The Comic Strip Presents... debut episode "Five Go Mad in Dorset". Enid Blyton wrote around 37 books a year. (Forfeit: Ginger beer)
- You have probably never heard of Harriet Quimby because she performed he most famous flying feat, namely being the first woman to fly across the English Channel, the day after the Titanic sank. As a result she was pushed out of all the newspapers. Quimby was also the first American woman to become a licensed pilot, one of the very first screenwriters, writing seven scenarios for the father of cinema D.W. Griffith. She died aged 37 at an aviation meet when she crashed. The first man to fly across the Channel, Frenchman Louis Bleriot, won £1,000 for his achievement in another competition that was organised by the Daily Mail. The French authorities however did not have a form so they signed him in as landing in yacht called Monoplane which was the best they could do.
XL: You can get a German on your side before they have even eaten their cornflakes by bombing their trains and leaving fake post. Operation Cornflakes was a Second World War operation in which the allies bombed mail trains. Then a second wave would drop fake mail bags containing fake letters and anti-German propaganda address to actual German addresses. The letters featured fake stamps on which Hitler's head was turned into a skull and the words "Deutsches Reich" (German Reich) replaced with "Futsches Reich" (Ruined Reich). A group in Rome created post for over 2 million names and addresses. The word for the operation came from the fact that they would be reading the fake post with their cornflakes at breakfast.
- XL: Dubious Theory - According to the Dutch writer Iman Wilkens, the Torjan War took place near Cambridge. The area that Homer calls Crete is in fact Scandinavia, Sparta is Spain, and Lesbos was the Isle of Wright. Reasons for believing this theory include that the fact that there is no mention of any Greeks. Troy's attacks are referred to as Danaeans and Achaeans, who could be Danes, or from the northern French kingdom of Argos. Also, the Troy Homer describes has a very un-Mediterranean climate. However, one of the problems with this theory is the lack of anything suitable regarding the archaeology in East Anglia. Most people believe that the Turkish city of Canakkale is Tory (also known as Ilium). For more, visit trojanschmojan.co.uk
- The kind of hat most commonly worn in the Wild West was the bowler hat, which in the USA is called a Darby. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were photographed in their Darbies, which was not a good idea because the photo was used to help track them down. (Forfeit: 10-gallon hat; Stetson)
- A jolly jape: The panel have shoot-out with some vortex cannons. These are just boxes or tubes with a circular hole cut at one end. When you band on the sides of cannon it shoots out a blast of air. The panel show this by blowing over piles of paper cups. They then fill their cannons with smoke and fire smoke rings across the set.
- Friday 26th October 2012
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Stephen Fry||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|James Harkin||Script Editor|
|James Harkin||Question Writer|
|Ruby Kuraishe||Executive Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|
|Andrew Hunter Murray (as Andy Murray)||Researcher|