Series K, Episode 1 - Knees & Knockers
- All the buzzers are of animals beginning with "K". Sara has a kestrel, Jack has a kookaburra, David has a killer bee, and Alan has an unusual sounding growl which turns out to be a koala.
- The panel are played the sound that a QI panellist hears when they get a forfeit. However, it turns out that it is not a klaxon, as a klaxon is specific brand name, like "Tannoy" and "Hoover", and belongs to Lovell-McConnell Manufacturing. The QI "klaxon" is thus a siren of some kind. The original klaxon was fitted to cars, and it was the first electric thing to be fitted to a car. (Forfeit: A klaxon)
- When cars were introduced to Pennsylvania there were pressure groups who tried to stop them coming into the state. The Farmer's Anti Automobile Association of Pennsylvania ordered that automobiles travelling along country roads at night must send up a rocket every mile and then wait 10 minutes for the road to clear. The driver may then proceed with caution blowing his horn and shooting off roman candles. If the driver sees a team of horses approaching then the driver must stop, pull to one side of the road and cover the car with a blanket or dust cover which is painted or coloured to blend into the scenery. If the horse is unwilling to pass an automobile on the road the driver must take the car apart as rapidly as possible and conceal the parts in the bushes.
- Honking the horn of your car has never been shown to help prevent an accident. You could argue that it would make drivers more aggressive. The British seem to have zero tolerance for horn hooters. In 1936 the Nazis were so anti-horn hooting that drivers were punished by having yellow dots painted on their cars.
- XL: Stephen pulls out some strips of sticky material normally used to fasten clothes together, however it is not called "Velcro" according to the company the makes it, Velcro Industries BV. They claim that there is no such thing as Velcro. Their website states: "'Velcro' is the name of our companies and the registered trademark of our products. It is not the generic name of that product that fastens shoes, pockets and hundreds of other things. That product should be referred to as 'hook-and-loop fastener'. This matters because many terms that we use frequently in our everyday language were once trademarks, like 'escalator', 'thermos', 'cellophane' and 'nylon' [Heroin was also a trademark but as Stephen points out the website does not mention this]. All these terms lost their distinction as trademarks because 'their owners allowed them to be MISUSED by the public'. So, now you know. You can't buy a piece of Velcro, but you can purchase all of the Velcro-BRAND hook-and-loop fasteners you need." After reading this, Stephen waves the hook-and-loop fastener around and shouts: "THIS is Velcro!" Despite all this fuss about the name of it, even the man who invented the material called it Velcro. Swiss man George de Mestral noticed that burs kept getting caught in his socks which he kept having to pull off, so he recreated the effect. The word "Velcro" comes from the French "velours crochet", meaning "velvet hook". (Forfeit: Velcro)
- The panel are given four parts of the human body beginning with "K" and are asked where they are and what they do.
- Doctors hit your knee with a hammer to test your reflexes because if you kick too much or too little it can be a symptom of various illnesses. The test is a real knee-jerk reaction, because the signal does not go to the brain, but to the spinal cord. If you kick too much it can be a symptom of a brain tumour, a stroke, liver disease, multiple sclerosis or tetanus. Too little reaction can be a symptom of botulism, a damaged nervous system or an infected spine. No reaction at all can be a symptom of syphilis.
- XL: McCartney's knees displeased the Chinese because he did not kowtow to the Emperor. The first Earl McCartney in 1793 was part of a British trade delegation to China, but when he met the Emperor he did not kowtow, which is the act of bowing before the Emperor so you head touches the ground. This act shocked the world and was later described as possibly the most significant act in world history, because it cost the country a trade deal. "Kowtow" means "to knock your head". However, Chinese historians and sinologists believe that now the Emperor was just not interested in any such deals. The year after McCartney saw a Dutch trader who kowtowed about 30 times, including to a biscuit or sweetmeat that was sent to him by the Emperor, but he too was refused a deal.
XL: The thing that happened to the botanist who could not tell heads from coconuts was that he accidentally ordered the killing of a boy. On the Indonesian island of Ambon in 1913 Canadian botanist Charles Budd Robinson asked the local villagers where they could get a boy to climb up a palm tree to chop down a coconut. In the local language this is "perong kelapa". However, he said "patong kepala" which means, "to find a boy and cut off his head". The locals thus thought he was a head-hunter, which existed on the island, so they obeyed the order. Since then the locals have made this incident a big part of their tourism. You can buy coconuts that have been carved into the shape of human heads called "kelapa kepala". There is an Indonesian tongue twister which is "Kelapa diparut, kepala digaruk", which means "Coconut being grated, head being scratched".
- A knocker-uppers' knocker-upper was a human alarm clock's human alarm clock. As the industrial revolution grew "knocker-uppers" were hired to go around the town knocking on people's bedroom windows with a pole to wake people up and get them to work. Thus the first knocker-upper needed their own knocker-upper to wake them up and keep the shifts going. One famous Limehouse knocker-upper called Mary Smith woke people up with a pea shooter, firing at the windows.
- XL: The panel are shown a picture of men dressed in long white robes with long pointed hoods and are asked whom they represent. These people are Spanish Catholic Penitents, who have hoods called "capirotes" and whose uniform looks just like those of the Ku Klux Klan, but they and been wearing it for centuries before the KKK came into being and want to reclaim it. The roots of the KKK may come from the horse-whispering societies of rural Aberdeenshire. There were six in Buchan who went to America, joined the Confederate Army, and afterwards formed a club of Confederate people in the South which was originally for playing pranks and larks. Then a man called Nathan Forrest joined the group and started to turn it into an excuse for burning black churches and lynching black people. The name comes from the Greek "kuklos", meaning "circle". Another idea is the Crann Tara, which was the way one clan declared war on another, which connects it with the idea of the burning cross. (Forfeit: The Ku Klux Klan)
- A red kite bird is coloured orange. The bird was named before the English language has a word for the colour "orange", so many things that were really orange were called red instead, although we did have the word for "orange" as in the fruit (the name for the colour comes from the fruit). The colour orange was not named in English until the 16th century. Other examples of orange things called red are a robin red-breast, a red squirrel, red-headed people and red deer. The red kites had gone extinct in Britain because under medieval law you had to kill them when you spotted them. They have since been reintroduced successfully, with 1,800 breeding pairs. (Forfeit: Red)
- Nobody knows how the monkey wrench got its name, but we do know that it was not named after anyone called "Moncky", as was stated on David's BBC Radio 4 panel game The Unbelievable Truth. An article written in the 1880s claimed that Charles Moncky was dying in poverty despite inventing it. However, the term "monkey wrench" was used in England as early as 1807. Most people believe that the face of the wrench reminded people of the jaws of a monkey, or that a monkey version of something in the navy refers to rigging up something. This question is really QI getting its own back at The Unbelievable Truth because TUT successfully pointed out a previous QI fact was wrong, namely that Rene Descartes believed that monkeys could talk, but did not in case they were asked to do any work. In fact Descartes just reported this fact from someone else. David gets -50 points are a result of his error. (Forfeit: Mr Moncky)
- Friday 6th September 2013
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Stephen Fry||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|James Harkin||Script Editor|
|John Mitchinson||Question Writer|
|Molly Oldfield||Question Writer|
|Andrew Hunter Murray||Question Writer|
|John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE)||Series Producer|
|Ruby Kuraishe||Executive Producer|
|Justin Pollard||Associate Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|
Stephen Fry asks unanswerable questions about topics beginning with the letter K.