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.

Christmas special coming up.
Series K, Episode 16 is repeated on Dave today at 9pm.

Series J, Episode 8 - Jumble

Further details

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Jo Brand, Stephen Fry, John Sessions, Dara O Briain. Copyright: TalkbackThames.


- This is a "General" show in Series J, covering a wide range of different topics beginning with "J".


- Jockeys use their whips / crops to "encourage" the horse. The main uses are for safety both jockey and horse, stopping it from veering, losing balance, backing off from a jump, or prompting it to change the length of the stride. The jockey cannot use it to coerce the horse. Recent rule changes on British racecourses say that on the flat you can us your whip no more than eight times, and another four in the final furlong. If they use it five or more times at that stage they forfeit their portion of the win. There is usually always a steward's inquiry if the whip is used more than eight times. According to a study by the RSCPAA in Sydney University, whipping does not make a horse speed up, but racing authorities criticise the study saying they studies too small a cohort (48 horses in five races). The whip used in British horse racing as an energy absorbing design which supposedly does not cause pain when used correctly.

- Tangent: John refers to the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe as an "arse jockey" once stuck his whip up his own arse and photographed it.

- A robot jockey rides camels. In the United Arab Emirates they use camels because they are lighter than people. Originally they used immigrant boys, mainly Sri Lankans and Indians, when the sport was reintroduced by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia in the 1970s. The robots which replaced them can control the reins, have GPS and whip the camels via remote control (the managers follow in a truck). They are designed to have human faces and wear hats and outfits so as not to frighten the camels. The robots cost $500 each and designed in Switzerland.

- Tangent: Jo tells the only camel joke she knows. A new soldier joins the army in the desert and asks and an older soldier what they do if they want sex. The older soldier says they have to do it with a camel. The two go to the camels and the older one runs quickly towards them. The new soldiers asks why he is running so quickly, to which the older one says, "Yeah, but you don't want an ugly one, do you?" Dara has a very similar joke but with a different ending. The new soldier has sex with a camel, tells the older one what he has done, and the older one says, "When I say, 'we've got the camels'; we normally ride them into town."

- XL Tangent: The camels used in camel racing are dromedaries, which have one hump. Bactrian camels, which have two humps, are very rare and are native to Mongolia and China. There are probably about 1,000 left in the wild.

- XL Tangent: Another sport using camels is camel wrestling in Turkey. It involves two male camels fighting over a female. When camels are in the mood for sex they urinate, used their tails to swish urine onto their own back, froth at the mouth, spit and dribble. It appears to be a deliberate waste of water to show to the female that they are the toughest because they show they do not need it in the desert.

XL: Joe Camel likes Nosmo King because he makes people think of smoking. Joe Camel is the mascot of Camel tobacco. Nosmo King was a British vaudeville act in the 1930s who took his stage name from a pair of doors which together read "No Smoking", with each door containing half the phrase. The reason why Joe Camel would like his name is because it has been shown that "No Smoking" signs make people want to smoke according to psychiatrists, because it puts the idea of smoking in your head.

- The panel are asked to imitate an expectant jackrabbit. This could be difficult, but possible, because it is possible to be pregnant when they were already pregnant. This was something first suggested by Aristotle, but people claimed it was nonsense until it was discovered that he was actually right. This is also possible with cats and even humans. In 2010 a pair of twins was born in Arkansas, which were conceived two weeks apart. This is known as "superfecundation".

- The panel are asked to complete the phrase, "Pregnant mothers should eat..." the correct ending being, "the equivalent of two slices of bread extra per day, and no more is necessary." This is also only in the third trimester. The idea that you should eat for two is totally wrong.

- Tangent: When his mother was pregnant, John's mother smoked her husband's pipe.

- Tangent: When Jo was pregnant her grandmother asked if she was eating for two, to which Jo replied: "Bog off, I'm not cutting down."

- XL: The thing they have done to the javelin to improve is to make it harder to go further distances. The main problem with the javelin is that people get so good at throwing it and the technology improves so much that every so often the IAAF have to make the design worse so the javelin is not thrown so far that it could hurt someone. 100m is the limit and we are currently getting close to it, with the current world record being 98.48m. Firstly they banned the "Spanish technique" which involved spinning your body round as you threw like hammer throwers. Miguel de la Quadra Salcedo used it to throw a javelin 112m. Then the IAAF had to ban special paint and dimples that were being used to make the javelins more aerodynamic. Almost a third of all javelin medals since 1908 have gone to Sweden, Finland and Norway.

- XL Tangent: Jo used to be the javelin champion at her school but she ruined her career at the very end. On the last sports day she was in the toilets smoking, using Swan Vestas. She blew one out and put it back in the box while it was still alight and the box blew up in her good right hand. As a result she had to throw with her weaker left hand.

- Out of a jactitator and a jactitator, the one you should avoid going to bed with is the second one, because it means someone who wiggles about a lot. The latter definition is someone with Willis-Ekbom disease, better known as Restless Leg Syndrome. The former definition means, "to maintain that you are married to someone, when you aren't." You can go to court for a, "suit of jactitation of marriage."

- Dancing around when you need a pee is the worst thing to do if you want to relax the anxiety. It is best just to keep as still as possible. The dancing is caused by confused signals between the full bladder and the brain. It creates a sense of urgency, resulting a conflict between the desire to take action and relieve the stress but you cannot given the circumstances.

- Tangent: Enoch Powell claimed that he gave his speeches when he needed to urinate.

- The things that get the most use from Jacobson's organ are lions, deer, snakes, lizards, horses, camels, zebras and giraffes. They use it to detect pheromones of prey, predators and animals of the opposite sex for mating. It is a patch of specialised skin on the roof of the mouth. Humans have it but it is now redundant. Snakes and lizards can use it to tell where an ant has been a week earlier. (Forfeit: Mrs Jacobson)

- XL: Eight hours spent sitting on the lavatory is just as good as an hour's jogging in terms of burning up calories. The man who popularised jogging first was New Zealander Arthur Lydiard in the early 1960s. When he and his friends went jogging he would be stopped by the police because it was such an odd sight at the time. Jim Fixx was the man who popularised it America later on. Fixx later died of a heart attack while jogging. Jogging helps to grown brain cells in the memory-forming part of the brain. However, you can also do this by lying on a table that shakes the body several times a second.

- XL Tangent: A friend of Jo's used to work as a nursing assistant at a care home. Once the nursing assistant was dealing with an elderly man who was badly constipated, so to help him they gave him a powerful laxative and sat him on the lavatory. Some time later the nursing assistant came to check on him, and found him lying on the floor because he had expelled so much that he was forced off the loo.

- XL Tangent: Alan Bennett once heard a story about a man who had a light bulb stuck up his arse. His response to this story was: "What wattage?"

- XL Tangent: Jeremy Bentham, the father of utilitarianism who is stuffed in University College London, invented a form of trotting job which he called "ante-prandial circumgyration".

- XL Tangent: Bentham and his friend James Mill used the utilitarian hypothesis on Mill's son, John Stuart Mill, and bombarded him with facts, so when he was four-years-old he could speak both Greek and Latin. By his teens he had a terrible breakdown. The only thing that brought him back to sanity was reading the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge.

- XL Tangent: Jo tells a story which she claims is even worse than the toilet one. Her flatmate had a girl in their medical school who was really annoying, so as a prank they left a severed hand in her bed. Expecting shouts and screams when the girl found it, she had instead gone quiet. They went into her room to check if she was OK and they found her eating the hand.

- XL Tangent: A broadcaster went to interview a politician. The broadcaster saw a picture of whom he thought was of Ken Dodd on the wall. The broadcaster said how much he admired Ken Dodd to the politician, who then said to the broadcaster: "Do you mind, that's my wife."

- Cockroaches find humans and parasitic wasp to be totally disgusting. When they see a human the cockroaches run away as quickly as possible, and if they are touched by a human they wash themselves. The parasitic wasp, or jewel wasp, is even more disgusting to them however. The wasp goes up to the cockroach, impart a sting into the brain and turn the cockroach into a kind of zombie. The wasp then saws of one of the cockroach antennae and uses the other as a lead, pulling it into the wasp's nest, and wasp eggs are planted in the sealed nest. When the baby wasps are born, they eat the cockroach alive from the inside, in a special order, to keep it alive for as long as possible, because the meat goes off very quickly.

- Tangent: When Jo was a student nurse she lived in a flat covered with cockroaches. One night she came home from the pub, discovered she had left the TV on, and found two cockroaches sitting on the settee watching it. Another time she was painting the ceiling and a cockroach fell into her mouth. Jo also once went to a hospital kitchen at night, turned the light on, and for a split second the floor was brown, then the cockroaches fled and the floor became white again.

- We are all such arseholes because that is how we start off. It is the first part of the body that is created when we are in the womb. Creatures that start off like this are "deuterostomes". Most other creatures are "protostomes" and start off with the mouth.

- To finish, Stephen does something that no-one has even done before by any other human being in the history of the world - he shuffles a deck of cards into a unique order. We know this because the number of possible outcomes for the deck to be in is gigantic, and is known as "shriek". It is 52 factorial, which is written as "52!" The sum in question is 52 x 51 x 50 x 49 x ... x 3 x 2 x 1. The full number is 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,000. To get an idea of the scale of the number, if you were to imagine that every star in our galaxy had a trillion planets, each with a trillion people living on them, and each person had a trillion pack of cards, and someone were able to shuffle them all at 1,000 times a second, and they had been doing that since the Big Bang, they would only just now being repeating shuffles. For making the deck into a unique order, Stephen gives himself some points. Correction: The chances of a deck being shuffled in the same order by Stephen are not impossible, just highly improbable. It is possible that someone has shuffled it in exactly the same way, but it is so unlikely that it is most likely that Stephen is safe in saying that no-one has done what he has done before.


- Stephen Fry: 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,000 points (Stephen's first victory)
- John Sessions: 16 points
- Alan Davies, Jo Brand and Dara O'Briain: 1 point


For more information on the correction, see the QI Qibble Blog.

Broadcast details

Friday 2nd November 2012
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
John Sessions Guest
Jo Brand Guest
Dara O Briain Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
Andrew Hunter Murray Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
Piers Fletcher Producer
Ruby Kuraishe Executive Producer


Jacobson's organ

Stephen asks, 'who gets the most use from Jacobson's Organ?'

Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, John Sessions, Jo Brand, Dara O Briain.


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