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 2am.

Series K, Episode 10 - Keeps

Further details

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Bill Bailey, Stephen Fry, Sarah Millican, Jason Manford. Copyright: TalkbackThames.


- All the buzzers are songs with the word "Keep" in them. Alan's is "We'll keep a welcome on in the hillsides" sung by a Welsh male voice choir, because Alan has a Welsh name and is presumabled to be descended from the Welsh. Stephen references this in a Welsh accent which Bill claims sounds more Pakistani, Northern Europe, Cape Town and then street slang.


- The unit that modern science uses to measure weight is the Newton, because it is influenced by gravity, unlike kilograms that measure mass. The kilogram is still the only metric measure normalised on a physical object, called the International Prototype Kilogram. The original is kept in Sevres, France, and a replica is kept in Britain's National Physical Laboratory, which Stephen has in the studio and is lent by Dr. Ian Robinson who is in the audience. The replica however only has a mass of 400g. The original is made out of platinum iridium and people worry that it has put on more mass, about that of a grain of sand, since it was made in 1879. A plan to change it in around 2014 so we will instead use Planck's universal quantum constant. (Forfeit: Kilograms)

- Tangent: Jason's digital bathroom scales only display three digits, so when it displays an error message Jason just thinks the scales think you are so heavy it is giving a straining "Err". Sarah only has kitchen scales which she has measured parts of her on. She claims: "The left one's heavier".

- Tangent: Bill asks is light weighs more than sound. Muhammad Ali once said that he was so fast he could get into bed before the light went off, to which someone joked that he should just get a bedside light. Sarah suggests a clapping light. Bill claps and Stephen jokes that by doing that he has turned the camera off, so Bill has to clap twice in order to turn it back "on" again.

- A kilobyte is 1,000 byte big. It used to be defined as 1,024, which is 2 to the power of 10. According to the International Electrotechnical Commission is has since been changed. 1,024 bytes is now known as a "kibibyte", which is now IEC Standard 6027-2. (Forfeit: 1,024)

- It is not "finders keepers, losers weepers". If you find something and do not take reasonable steps to find who it originally belonged to then that is, "theft by finding" and a criminal offence. For example, in 2009 a Wiltshire couple got an 11-month suspended sentence because they found someone else's winning lottery ticket and tried to claim the winnings for themselves. However, if property is deliberately abandoned then you can claim it for yourself if you then find it. (Forfeit: Yes)

- XL Tangent: In 2003 a Coventry family made repeated visits to a faulty ATM and managed to withdraw £134,410. Three members of the family were imprisoned as this was theft by finding.

- Tangent: Sarah used to work in a cinema and the policy there was that if it was something like an umbrella it would go to lost property, whereas if it were a pound coin whoever found it got to keep it. One day someone at the cinema found a pair of used pants, which they took out of the cinema on a stick. Two weeks letter a letter came from a man saying: "I was in the 11.20 showing of Titanic in Screen 6 on the 23rd of February and I appear to have left my pants. Could you return them to me in the jiffy bag provided."

- XL Tangent: 90% of archaeological finds are discovered by amateurs with metal detectors. Possibly the most famous metal detector is Bill Wyman, who has his own brand of detector. In 2009 one David Booth discovered four Iron Age gold neck bands worth £1million during his first ever attempt at metal detecting. He found them seven paces from where he parked his car. Metal detectors who work without permission and/or at night are known as "Nighthawks" and are looked down upon by the rest of the metal detecting community.

- The panel play a game called Keep Still or Scarper. The panel are shown pictures of dangerous animals and are asked whether it is best to flee them or stay where they are in order to avoid being attacked.

- Snakes: Keep still - If you stand still it will forget you are there. They also detect vibration, so it is best to have your mobile phone turned off.

- Wolves: Keep still - They are coursing predators that tear and eat things on the run. You should stand your ground, shout at them, throw stones, and then slowly back away.

- XL Tangent: There is a man from Devon called Shaun Ellis who lived with a pack of wolves in Combe Martin Wildlife Park for a year in order to learn about what is was like to accepted as part of a wolf pack, to learn their behaviour and body language. This involved eating raw meat and snarling with them. Ellis's girlfriend wrote that the experience, "has put a little bit of strain on our relationship."

- XL Tangent: Sarah claims that she once shouted at a moth and it died because of it.

- XL: Shark: Scarper - Swim away as fast as you can. If you are near the mouth, blow bubbles. If you are caught by the shark struggle and try to get out. Do not play dead.

- XL Tangent: There was a Welshman who stopped a shark attacking some children by grabbing the shark's tail and flinging it away. This story made the news. However, when he got home and back to work he was given the sack because his boss spotted the news and the employee claimed he was sick rather than on holiday. His defence was that he was on holiday for stress.

- XL: Killer bees: Scarper - Run as fast as possible, at least 400m, preferably with your shirt lifted up to cover your face to protect from stinging, and do not stop to help anyone. Do not dive into water to hide from them as the attacking bees will simply wait overhead and will then sting you when you come up for water.

- Monkeys: Keep still - Bare your teeth at them, round your mouth and raise your eyebrows.

- Tangent: Bill has golden-handed tamarind monkeys as housetrained pets. Jane Goodall discovered that when you try and train a chimpanzee that their intelligence is of a different order. When one of her chimps pooed on the floor she would make the offender confront the poo, smack it on the bottom and throw the poo out of their bungalow window. The offending chimp pooed on the floor twice, and then on the third occasion the offending chimp smacked its own bottom and jumped out of the window. When one of Jason's twin four-year-old daughters (he doesn't say which one) is sent to the naughty step she gets so annoyed that she will slap her sister and then go on the naughty step herself.

- Cows: Scarper - Often a rambler's dog will annoy a cow, the cow will the chase the dog which will then chase the owner, so it is best to run away from both.

- You get an ant to keep still by giving it alcohol. Robert Hooke, a contemporary of Isaac Newton and Christopher Wren, was the first man to properly portray insects, most famously the flea which is illustrated on the cover of his 1665 book Micrographia. Hooke was also a scientist, town planner, the creator of Hooke's Law which is related to tension and springs, was responsible for much of reconstruction of London after the Great Fire and used microscopes to study insects. Hooke wrote that: "I gave it a gill [a quarter of a pint] of brandy, which after a while knocked him down dead-drunk. He struggled for a pretty while very much till at last, certain bubbles issuing out of its mouth, it ceased to move and remained moveless for a good while." Newton hated Hooke so much he tried to get him erased from history and as a result there are no authentic portraits of him. Because of this a modern painted called Rita Greer has set herself the task of making more paintings of Hooke, based on physical descriptions of him, than there are of Newton. There are now 20 paintings of Hooke while there are just 16 of Newton.

- It is very hard to be a nude model. There is a Register of Artists' Models (RAM) which looks after their interests. Keeping still for a long time is very hard, you get pins and needles as well as cramp. As a result who have to do one thing at a time. You start with short poses called "gestures" that are used as a warm-up, then you move to do longer poses which range from two to thirty minutes. There is more work for women than for men as the classes prefer them and there are more of them in the market. In 1998 male nude model George Bond took Northampton College to an industrial tribunal on the grounds he was not being employed because of his bender. He lost the case as he was not employed on personal reasons: he could not hold a pose, he fidgeted, he went to the loo too often, he had a background in erotic films that disturbed some of the A-level students including one 16-year-old whom he winked to while he was drawing, although he claimed he was squinting, and he also improvised a pose which involved sticking his bottom in the air which some students claimed resulted in, "an unfortunate view". Contentious issues described by RAM include raids by non-art students who just want to look at a nude person, a warning against passing window cleaners and a policy to suspend any member who gets an erection.

- XL: It is difficult to tell if you have lesbian sheep. If ewes want sex they just stand still, so it is hard to figure out if they are lesbians or not. Europe has also had problems with another kind of lesbian sheep - sheep from the Greek island of Lesbos, because in 1994 they were responsible for a foot-and-mouth outbreak when they were transported around the continent.

- XL: The present occurred just a little while ago when you started reading this sentence. It is not strictly speaking now, because by the time you have started it is already in the past. The time it takes for light to hit the eye and be processed by the brain is about 70 milliseconds, so you are always 70 milliseconds behind the present. This is not much normally, but if a tennis or cricket ball was coming towards you at 85mph it would travel 10 feet in that time. Researchers from the University of Tokyo have shown that humans are incapable of keeping up with this kind of speed by developing a robot hand that plays rock-paper-scissors which always wins, because it can predict from the small hand movements made by the human opponent what move is going to be made. (Forfeit: Now)

- XL Tangent: Alan played chess against a computer on a plane journey, and he lost so many times that eventually the computer started to put its king in the middle of the board to make it easier for Alan to win.

- XL Tangent: Currently no computer or robot has past the Turing Test, which is a test of artificial intelligence. In order to pass, a person needs to hold a conversation with a computer or robot without them realising that what they have been talking to is either a computer or robot.

XL: The panel are shown a picture of the departure board at Grand Central Station in New York. On it is says, "12.25 - White Plains". The image is then removed and the panel are asked when the next train for White Plains leaves. The answer is 12.26, because at Grand Central Station all the departure times are one minute after the time given. This allows a minute extra gate time to prevent passengers rushing and lessen accidents. (Forfeit: 12.25)

- XL Tangent: In Britain railway times seem to backwards from those of Grand Central, in that you need to get to the train even earlier. Alan and his then pregnant wife were rushing down some steps to get to a train, but the doors of the train had already shut. Alan asked if could allow the train doors to be reopened in order for his pregnant wife to make it to the train. They refused.

- XL Tangent: India's time zone is 5½ hours ahead of Britain. However, in order to change your watch so that you know the correct time, all you have to do is turn an analogue watch upside-down. So if it is 9.00 in Britain, you turn the watch upside-down and it would give the time in India, which would be 3.30. Stephen learnt this fact from the cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew.

- XL Tangent: Clocks go clockwise because on in on Northern Hemisphere sundials this was the direction the shadow past, so people were already used to the time passing in this direction.

- The quietest place in the world is an anechoic chamber, which is building using rows and columns of wedges to prevent any echoing of sound. There is one in the University of Salford which measures at -12.4db. There is a hemi-anechoic chamber with an echoing reverberation chamber which does echo back next to it in the National Physical Laboratory. Stephen has been to both and recorded on his iPhone the sound of him popping a balloon in both rooms. The one in the reverberation chamber echoes loudly while the one in the hemi-anechoic chamber makes a tiny pop.

- The thing with the world's biggest mouth is a bowhead whale. They are the second largest animals on Earth, live in the Arctic, and live for long periods of time. One was found to have a 1870s harpoon in it, as they were hunted for their blubber. They have more blubber on them than any other whale. The bowhead has a unique organ called the corpus cavernosum maxillaris it is mouth which is akin to a penis, in that it draws blood and becomes erect. This "mouth organ" is used to draw in cold water into the mouth to prevent the whale from overheating and is 12ft long. (Forfeit: A blue whale)


- Bill Bailey: -7 points
- Sarah Millican and Jason Manford: -9 points
- The Audience: -10 points
- Alan Davies: 27 points

Broadcast details

Friday 8th November 2013
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Bill Bailey Guest
Sarah Millican Guest
Jason Manford Guest
Ian Robinson (as Dr. Ian Robinson) Self
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
John Mitchinson Question Writer
Molly Oldfield Question Writer
Andrew Hunter Murray Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer
Ruby Kuraishe Executive Producer


How hard is it to be a nude model?

Is it hard to be a nude model? The Register of Artists' Models has some rules and tips to avoid cramp.

Can't see a video here? Watch this clip on bbc.co.uk

Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Bill Bailey, Sarah Millican, Jason Manford.


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