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 9 - Jeopardy

Further details

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Julia Zemiro, Stephen Fry, Ross Noble, Sue Perkins. Copyright: TalkbackThames.


- You can go about 7-10 steps with a cup of Joe (an Americanism for coffee). This is the distance you can walk before you spill it, according to experts in fluid dynamics. The average human stepping pace causes an oscillation which results in a series of wave movements that will ultimately causes the coffee to spill out of the cup in that distance. This could be combated by using a flexible container with a series of annular ring baffles. This science has been put to other more practical uses. For example, Albert Bridge in London has a sign on it saying: "All troops must break step over this bridge." This is because if soldiers marched at the same time it is possible for the bridge to swing about and possibly collapse.

- XL Tangent: Another example of a bridge wobbling because of people is the Millennium Bridge in London. It had to be closed for two years while they fixed problems. It cost £5 million pounds to fix.

- The thing that is smaller than the Moon and keeps moving the sea around are jellyfish (and not blue whales). Jellyfish account for 40% of the biomass of the ocean. Scientists at Caltech discovered that they move by causing an enormous amount of water at the top, which is oxygen rich, to go down to the bottom, while the water at the bottom, which is full of nutrients, goes to the top. It keeps the circulation of the water healthy and may contribute a trillion watts of energy, which is as much as wind or tidal power. They mix cold and warm water on the surface too.

- Tangent: In 1982, a ship had in its bilge water had a jellyfish in it call Mnemiopsis leidyi, a comb jelly from North America. As there was no local predator, they took over the local environment and in less than a decade the population had reached a biomass of over a billion tonnes in the Black Sea. This is ten times the weight of all the fish caught globally per year. It destroyed everything, but luckily another jellyfish came which preyed on the first jellyfish and balance was restored.

- The panel are shown a picture of a Portuguese man o' war and are asked how many jellyfish are depicted. The answer is none, as a Portuguese man o' war is not a jellyfish. It is an example of a siphonophore, and is technically a colony of creatures. The helmet at the top is one creature that provides buoyancy and works as a sail. The tentacles are separate and carry coiled, spring-loaded harpoons that explode at 700 billionths of a second, which is the fastest known animal mechanism on Earth. Other creatures in the colony include gastrozooids that digest food, and gonozooids that are in charge of sexual reproduction. 10,000 Australians a year on average are stung by Portuguese men o' war, but it is not fatal. (Forfeit: One)

- The deadliest creature in Australia is the horse, partly due to injuries caused by the horse and partly due to riding accidents. Under the sample year the show is using, 128 people were killed by horses. In the same year one person was killed by a cat. Horses kill three times as more as the next deadliest animals. (Forfeit: Spider; Jellyfish; Shark)

- Tangent: When Ross lived in Australia his wife brought a horse which she tried to get Ross to ride. However, the horse itself came to the attention of Melbourne University because the horse in question was one of the few to suffer from narcolepsy. As a result his wife could not groom it because the horse would fall asleep on her. Instead of kicking the horse to make it go, Ross found himself kicking the horse to wake it up. It would also sometimes fall asleep next to an electric fence which would wake it up instantly.

- XL Tangent: Ross also has a friend with narcolepsy who never came to see him in Australia, which for him was a shame because he wanted his friend to ride the narcoleptic horse.

- XL Tangent: After the horse the deadliest animal in Australia (in the sample year being used) is the cow (20 deaths), followed by dogs (12), sharks (11, but it was a bad year), snakes (8, which is surprising when you consider the country has between 80-90% of all the deadliest snakes in the world), crocodiles and alligators (4), spiders (3) and lastly the fore-mentioned cat.

- XL Tangent: One woman had are buttocks bitten off by a shark so had to have a buttock transplant.

- XL Tangent: Spiders are aggressive and cannibalistic. If you put 10,000 spiders in a room with no food, you will eventually end up with one very big spider.

- The panel are shown a picture of a dinosaur and are asked how they would defend themselves against it. The easiest way would be step on it, because Fruitadens haggororum the smallest dinosaur known, at only four inches tall. It ate plants, worms and possibly frogs, and lived in the late Jurassic period 150 million years ago. The name comes from the place it was discovered - Fruita, Colorado - home to another quite interesting animal, Mike the Headless Chicken. No dinosaur as even been discovered as being as large as a blue whale.

- XL Tangent: Fruitadens haggororum comes from the family Ornithischia, meaning "bird-hipped" and the closest living relative is a bird. Recent experiments have shown that it is possible to trigger the dormant dinosaur genes in birds. A chicken embryo has been grown to have curved dinosaur fangs. Another has been grown with a small tail. Palaeontologist Jack Horner, author of the book "How to Build a Dinosaur" predicts the arrival of the world's first "chicken-osaurus" - a chicken with fangs, tails and arms.

- Tangent: Stephen once went to Madagascar and saw a brookesia chameleon (pygmy chameleon) which is so small that you can fit it comfortable on the end of your finger.

- XL: Blind King John of Bohemia found his way around the battlefield with two guides either side of him all lashed together. He became king as a teenager and loved war. However, he developed ophthalmia, became blind, but he still wanted to fight. He allied himself with King Philip IV of France during the Hundred Years' War. In 1346, during the Battle of Crécy, 30,000 troops of Philip, including John, were killed at the battle, while the English lost 200. The battle is often seen as the end of chivalry and the start of machine warfare, because the main reason the British won was because of superior technology such as the longbow and the cannons, while the French and Bohemians were used to hand-to-hand combat. Despite all the losses, John's son, Charles, managed to escape and had a much more successful live as a Holy Roman Emperor.

- XL Tangent: Ross suggests that blind people should use swords instead of white sticks to give them more respect while wheelchair users should have bladed wheels. Stephen suggests that instead of swords they could use light sabres. Stephen then says that when Alec Guinness converted to Catholicism he gave his eighth-year-old son Matthew a crucifix as a birthday present, saying to him: "You may not appreciate it now, but one day you will find this extremely important." Matthew just picked it up and pretended it was a toy aeroplane.

- XL Tangent: The victor of the Battle of Crécy, the Black Prince, was so impressed by blind King John during the fight that he took the kings motto, which was German for "I serve", translated as "Ich dien", which is still the motto for the Prince of Wales today. He also, more controversially took the three ostrich feathers as his symbol.

- The most dangerous fairground ride out of the Wall of Death, the Wheel of Death, the Death Slide and the Euthanasia Rollercoaster is the last of those. The Wall of Death was first seen on Coney Island in 1915. While there have been accidents there have been no fatalities. The Wheel of Death is a form of circus apparatus using a double rotation system with a beam attached to a tower, the tower roates around the centre while the wheel turns. The Death Slide is another name for a zip wire. However, the Euthanasia Rollercoaster, designed by a London art student from Lithuania called Julijonas Urbonas that only exists as a 1:500 scale model. The ride would last three minutes, which would consist of a two minute ascent to the top of a 1,600 foot peak, then for a minute you come down at 223mph, down into a series of loop-de-loops which pull 10 G's that would kill the rider through cerebral hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain. Urbonas claims it offers a humane and meaningful death. The ascent offers a chance for reflection and they still have the chance to pull out once they get to the top. If they go through with the ride death is quick, painless and supposedly euphoric.

- XL Tangent: The thing that keeps you to the wall in the Wall of Death is centripetal force.

- Tangent: Sue's father suffered from a detached retina that caused by a Wall of Death. Ross's sister went on while a kid next to her was carrying a goldfish in a bag which burst due to the forces.

- XL Tangent: The Wall of Death also occurs at heavy metal concerts. Before a song enters its main section, the crowd divides into two, leaving a passageway, and then the two halves charge into one another. This has caused at least one death.

- XL Tangent: There was once a Wall of Death where on it was a car with a bear in it.

- XL Tangent: The Wheel of Death was invented in 1933 as the "Space Wheel". There were some death on it and it was banned. Then it was brought back in 1970 as the "Wheel of Death" and no-one has died on it since the reintroduction.

- XL Tangent: The "Globe of Death" is mesh ball. On it one motor-biker rides around from side-to-side, while a second rides from top-to-bottom.

- Tangent: There is an attraction in Auckland which consists of a bungee strapped ball that you are placed in. However, riders have to wear surgical masks to muffle their screams. This is because the attraction is right next to some offices and the noise they were making was putting people off their work.

- XL Tangent: Alan once went to Alton Towers were there is a rollercoaster ride where you get to the very edge of a vertical drop. When you get to it, it till you forward just a bit to scare you, and then drops you down. However, there is a café next to it, and if you are in there every minute you here sudden screams as the ride stops.

- Tangent: One man once won a Darwin Award after trying to bungee jump using an ordinary rope. He jumped, his foot snapped off and he fell to his death.

- XL: The biggest dead body in the world is the Black Sea. Only the very top of it has any life. 90% of it is dead, it is much bigger than the Dead Sea, and has been dead for thousands of years. It consists of a very steep basin into which the upper and lower layers do not mix. The bacteria use up all the oxygen, leaving poisonous hydrogen sulphide. It is the largest reservoir of hydrogen sulphide in the world.

- XL Tangent: In Japan they use various household cleaners and pesticides to make hydrogen sulphide and it is a very common form of suicide. A single breath will kill you. There have been over 2,000 "detergent suicides" recorded in Japan since 2005. The other side-effect of this method of suicide is that you do not notice the first smell, because it kills the olfactory system, so it usually kills 80% of people who turn at the scene of the suicide who are also killed by the gas left over. (Forfeit: A dead blue whale; the Dead Sea)

- The thing that is not a blue whale but floats about in the sea and weighs as much as one is water. When it dives down and back up again its mouth is open, causing it to swell and it can take on 90 tonnes of water.

- You should not mess with the maxillofacial death pyramid because it could infect your brain. It is the area of your measuring from the bridge of your nose down to your mouth. Most of the time blood flows down it, but if you pick your nose or mess with spots around the area it can cause bacteria that block it, forcing it upwards and into your brain. This can cause meningitis and syphilis.

- XL Tangent: There is a DIY hard-core punk band in Sheffield called The Maxillofacial Death Pyramid.

- A jolly jape: Stephen performs a dangerous chemical experiment where he creates hydrogen using nails and drain cleaner. To do this Stephen (while wearing safety goggles and a face mask) puts some nails and zinc into a conical flask, he then pours into it some hydrochloric acid that causes a reaction which makes the hydrogen. He quickly bungs the flask with a cork with a pipe in it to cause the hydrogen to come out at a steady pace, but this also makes the flask hot. The hydrogen comes out into a separate glass containing the washing up liquid which makes it come out as foam. Stephen wets his hand first to protect himself, scoops up some of the foam, and proves it is hydrogen by setting fire to it using a lighter. Do NOT try this at home!


- Sue Perkins: -6 points
- Ross Noble: -7 points
- Alan Davies: -14 points
- Julia Zemiro: -16 points

Broadcast details

Friday 9th November 2012
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Sue Perkins Guest
Ross Noble Guest
Julia Zemiro Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
John Mitchinson Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
Piers Fletcher Producer
Ruby Kuraishe Executive Producer


Which Australian animal is the most dangerous?

The panellists discuss the most dangerous animal in Australia.

Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Sue Perkins, Ross Noble, Julia Zemiro.


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