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


BBC Two and BBC One panel show about quite interesting facts. 266 episodes (pilot + 18 series), 2003 - 2020. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Returns Wednesday 23rd December at 9pm. Episode Guide
Series P, Episode 4 is repeated on Dave today at 9pm.

Series J, Episode 7 - Journalism

Further details

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Ross Noble, Stephen Fry, Shappi Khorsandi, Johnny Vegas. Copyright: TalkbackThames.


- 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.

- XL Tangent: On the Japanese Underground system, due to the delays caused by suicidal people stepping out in front of trains, the company responsible for the trains has started billing the families of the dead relative. The further out of the city the suicide takes place, the less you have to pay.

- XL Tangent: On the Clifton Suspension Bridge there is a sign on it with the phone number for the Samaritans. But despite this there is no telephone nearby to ring the number on.

- XL Tangent: There are many cases of people hanging around Beachy Head in order to prevent people from committing suicide there by talking them out of it. The problem however is that if you are going to Beachy Head just to sight-see people start to panic that you are a suicidal person.

- 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".

- XL Tangent: The longest obituary published in "The Times", running up to 60,000 words, was for Queen Victoria.

- XL Tangent: Frankie Howerd and Benny Hill both died on the same day. The papers rang up Benny Hill to get a quote from him about Howerd's death, but because Hill's agent could not get hold of him the agent made up a quote.

- XL Tangent: Alan's wife used to work for an agency. One of their clients, called Rory, passed away, but she mistakenly thought it was Rory McGrath. As a result, for about a week, whenever someone called for McGrath she mistakenly said that he was dead. Johnny knew another agent, whose not-so-sensitive ex-husband had been contacted about a death. He left a note on the fridge reading, "Mrs. Johnson, brown bread", but the agent thought that it was a shopping list and brought some bread.

- Tangent: Some people have read their own obituary. There is a myth that Alfred Nobel read his obituary and was described as being "a merchant of death" because he invented dynamite. The myth then goes on to say that he was so horrified that this resulted in him founding the Nobel Prize, especially for peace. One true story was Jamaican black nationalist Marcus Garvey, who died of a stroke as a result of reading his obituary in the Chicago Defender that said he was, "broke, alone and unpopular".

- Tangent: Alan was once driving through Islington and noticed a hearse slowing everything down. He said to his wife that when he died he wants the man driving the hearse to move quickly. When his body is consumed by the flames Alan wants to go out to the theme from The Sweeney. Ross would like the theme from Allo' Allo'! and the words "You have been watching" to appear as he burns.

- Tangent: Ross's late father was a big fan of sailing so when he died they decided to give him a Viking burial, by putting his ashes in a remote-controlled boat and setting the boat on fire. However, the boat would not light so they decided to fill the boat with all the ashes. They did not know if they should just tip the ashes in or fill the ashes in bags and put them on, but luckily Ross's mother had some sandwich bags that they filled. So the ashes were filled, and the boat was cast off into the sea.

- Tangent: When Hunter S. Thompson died he was fired out of a cannon across the valley he owned. Ross quite likes the idea that when he dies that his ashes should be put in a pepper spray and his wife should fire him into his enemies.

- 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.

- Tangent: Shappi once went to someone's house and found that had a picture in it made with elephant poo.

- Tangent: Ross's wife if found of using Lush products that are balls full of glitter that fizz in the bath, which Ross calls "Lass grenades". One Ross was in the bath after his wife had used it and some of the glitter went up his arse. Ross then went to the toilet and after doing his business looked into the bowl and noticed his poo was sparkling with glitter. For a minute he convinced himself that he had a magic arse.

- 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.

- XL Tangent: French playwright Honore de Balzac tried to promote his play "Les Rubriques de Quinola" by telling people that tickets had been sold out. This backfired because people thought there was no way they could get tickets for it if it was so popular.

- XL Tangent: In the novel "Fuunymen" by Ted Heller about a comic double act, during one of the act's shows someone has a heart attack. As a result they come up with a publicity scam where ambulances wait outside the theatre creating the idea that the show was so funny that someone would always have a heart attack and die. So people fake heart attacks and went off in the ambulances.

- XL Tangent: During a gig Ross performed, a woman had a bad asthma attack. For Ross this was a problem because he was worried for the woman but also pleased he made someone laugh so much.

- 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)

- Tangent: Ross's uncle had a dog named after the jazz musician Charlie Mingus, but due to his Geordie accent when he calls for the dog in the park it sounds like his shouting "Mingers".

- 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.

- Tangent: Other famous examples of people dying as someone more famous than themselves include Mother Teresa, who died on the same day as Princess Diana, and the novelists C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley both died on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

- XL Tangent: The actress Farrah Fawcett is also forgotten because she died on the same day as Michael Jackson.

- XL Tangent: Ross jokes that when the ambulance crew were driving up Michael Jackson's drive and heard he was not breathing, one of them said, "What are were going to try first?" and the other said, "I reckon the rollercoaster."

- XL Tangent: Alan was on a plane with Sting once in Australia. During the entire flight Sting knelt on his seat and talked to the person behind him, so everyone else on the plane could see him. He did not sing a single song.

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.


- Ross Noble: -5 points
- Alan Davies and Johnny Vegas: -6 points
- Shappi Khorsandi: -17 points

Broadcast details

Friday 26th October 2012
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Johnny Vegas Guest
Ross Noble Guest
Shappi Khorsandi Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
James Harkin Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
Piers Fletcher Producer
Ruby Kuraishe Executive Producer


Vortex cannons

The panel are given vortex cannons to play with.

Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Johnny Vegas, Ross Noble, Shappi Khorsandi.


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