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 K, Episode 3 - K-Folk

Further details

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Josh Widdicombe, Stephen Fry, Katherine Ryan, Phill Jupitus. Copyright: TalkbackThames.


- Meerkat cross roads by sending out the least important members of the family, the children, first to see if the road is clear. If it is, the rest will walk across. If not and the child meerkat is run over they wait. Meerkats are fierce animals. Rival families kill each others children. People buy meerkats as pets but they are often abandoned because they are smelly, aggressive and attack strangers. Meerkats know each other by their individual calls and you can send one insane by placing recording devices of one particular call all over the place to confuse them.

- Alan would never eat Stephen's noodles because the two will not marry each other. "When will I eat your noodles?" is a Korean phrase meaning, "When are you getting married?" It is like saying, "When are you going to tie the knot?" in Britain. Other Korean phrases include: "The other man's rice cake always looks bigger" which is akin to, "The grass is always greener on the other side." "If there are too many ferrymen on a boat, it will sail up a mountain" is akin to, "Too many cooks spoil the broth." "He worked as if he were tending the grave of his wife's uncle" is similar to, "doing bugger all" because in Korea it is your duty to tend to the graves of your family, but you are more likely to pay attention to the graves you close relatives like your father or grandfather than your more distant relations. "Showing off your wrinkles to a silkworm" is akin to, "Teaching your grandmother to suck eggs." "He disappeared like a fart through hemp pyjamas" means something awkward.

- XL: The Korean phrase "Pummelling a dead monk", is akin to the British phrase "Flogging a dead horse." "You wouldn't notice even if a friend at the same table died", means that the food you are eating is incredibly good. "My eyebrows are on fire" means you are in a really desperate situation.

- Tangent: Stephen gives out an annoyed remark about not being invited to Alan's wedding. Alan then quickly points out that Stephen was invited, but Stephen was out of the country at the time filming an episode of Bones.

- Tangent: In Katherine's native Canada the phrase "Shagging the dog" could be seen as similar to the Korean phrase "He worked as if here were tending the grave of his wife's uncle." The phrase means "Having an easy day" because with a dog you do not need to wine and dine it.

- A black-and-white photo of some rural men near crofts is shown and the panel are asked who they are and what they had for breakfast. They are the Parliament of St. Kilda, the most remote part of Britain, and they ate seabirds such as gannets, skuas and puffins. St. Kilda has the largest puffin colony in Britain and the largest gannet colony in the world. There is no person called St. Kilda. The name comes the Norse word for a shield which is "skildir". It was not until 1930 when the last 36 residents of the island voluntary left their ancestral home. These residents were given jobs by the British Forestry Commission, but St. Kilda had no trees for 1,500 years. It is so windy on St. Kilda that sheep were blown off cliffs, and everyone was deaf for a week afterwards.

- XL Tangent: The first apple arrived on St. Kilda in the 19th century and caused a huge wave of excitement amongst the locals.

- XL Tangent: Josh grew up in remote Dartmoor, around the area of the village of Widecombe. He had four relations in the same school year as himself (two girls, two boys). When a prisoner escapes from Dartmoor Prison they ring a large bell, but Josh never heard it during his time at school. Dartmoor ponies are a small breed of pony. You could certainly say Dartmoor is more romantic to where Phill grew up, which was Barking, or where Alan grew up, which was Loughton. Katherine comes from the town of Sarnia, Ontario, on the border between Canada and the USA. She says that Sarnia is three hours worse than Toronto, a city described as being like New York is run by the Swiss. Josh once visited Switzerland and found that a cup of Earl Grey cost £7.

- XL: If you want to go to Kiev Train Station, other than Kiev itself, you need to go to Moscow. It is the station that sends trains to Kiev, not from Kiev. Similarly, Moscow also has St. Petersburg Train Station which sends trains to St. Petersburg. It is similar to English towns that have a "London Road" that leads to London.

- XL Tangent: Russian customer service is famously terrible and no-one wants to help anyone. Alan was once in Red Square and asked someone who worked there, wearing a large peak cap and green uniform, to take a photo of him. The man just said, "No." Alan then took a selfie, giving a middle finger gesture to the man who was in the background.

- XL: There are lots of Kremlins in Russia. They are the fortifying walls around a city.

- If you follow a kulgrinda it will get you to the other side of a river or swam. In the Baltic states, especially in Lithuania and Kaliningrad, they would plant stepping stones under the water so that they would form a path that only they would know about. So if they were being attacked by an enemy, they could follow this path easily. You put the stones on the water when it is all frozen, and the ice thaws they will sink and leave the path underwater. Bigger paths can be laid so coaches can be sent across. The kulgrinda in the Sietuva swamp created by Lithuanian explorer Ludwik Krzywicki was navigated by coach in 1903. At the deepest point the water was up to the sides of his horse.

- XL: It is illegal to wear your seatbelt when driving over frozen Estonian lakes. This is because if your car should suddenly overturn you can find yourself trapped if you have your seatbelt on, so if it is off you can more easily escape. Also, you cannot drive between 25-40kph on the ice because at that speed the cars may cause an oscillation that could result in the ice breaking. Meanwhile in the US Antarctic Programme near McMurdo Sound, Alaska, they construct ice runways for planes every year.

- The main thing to say about long-necked Karen is that they wear a lot of rings. The Padaung Karen tribe are the people who famously wear a large number of rings so it looks like they have long necks. However, it is not their necks that are getting longer, but their collarbones which are being moved down. Usually they wear the rings until they get married, but some choose to wear them for the rest of their lives. While it is believed to be a sign of beauty, it is also believed the metal rings protect them from tigers. The people are originally from Burma, but most have moved to Thailand. You can pay to see these people. Another local tribe also wear rings on their lower knees and arms.

- Tangent: A fact previously mentioned by Alan on QI is a Family Fortunes question which was: "Name a bird with a long neck?" and the contestant answered "Naomi Campbell".

- XL: A house-warming could go badly wrong in the tree-houses used by the Korowai tribe of New Guinea. They all live in tree-houses, which tend to last five years before a new one is needed. The only other people who live in tree-houses are the Kombai. Once the tree-house is built they celebrate by lighting a ceremonial fire in the wooden building. It is kept safe by suspending the fire over a hole in the floor. If the first gets out of control the fire is dropped down the hole. The Korowai tribe had no idea that other people existed until 1970.

- It is hard trying to find the best place for a load of old rubbish from the 1980s as no-one wants it. A ship from Pennsylvania called the Khian Sea had a 16-year-long voyage trying to find a place to dump 15,000 tonnes of non-toxic ash. Having set off in 1986 it first went to the Bahamas, but they turned it down. It was turned down by Puerto Rico, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guinea-Bissau and the Netherlands Antilles. They then re-classified the cargo as, "topsoil fertiliser" and got rid of 4,000 tonnes in Haiti before they were rumbled. They then tried to dump it in Senegal, Cape Verde, Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines. They then tried Singapore and the ship was found to be empty. The captain and ship executives then admitted that they just dumped all the ash at sea and they were jailed. Also, at the insistence of Haiti had to go back to pick up the 4,000 tonnes of ash they had dumped their. Eventually Pennsylvania took the ash back home in 2002 and was put in landfill, by train, that was just 120 miles away from their starting point.

- XL Tangent: Sweden uses so much waste to power the country's generators that Norway pays Sweden to take 80,000 tonnes of rubbish from them to use and then Sweden returns the ash back to Norway for landfilling. Conversely, Thilafushi, an island in the Maldives, is made entirely out of rubbish. It grows by one square metre a day.

- XL Tangent: Josh has been unable to recycle for the past month because someone stole his recycling bin from outside the front of his house.

- XL Tangent: There is a shop at the end of Katherine's road which pays to take your old clothes. She thought she could make a lot of money giving away her baby's old designer clothing, but it turned out they paid according to the weight of the clothes. Josh took some of his clothes to a charity shop and he is annoyed that none of his old clothes is displayed in the shop window.

- The nearest Third World country is the Republic of Ireland. The term originally coined by French historian Alfred Sauvy in 1952, meant states that were not politically aligned to either the USSR or the USA. So France was not in the Third World because although it was not in NATO it was allied to the USA. It was only more recently that term meant poverty, but this regarded as being non-PC and now such countries are now "developing countries". (Forfeit: France)

- XL Tangent: "The Fourth World" is a term given to dispossessed people, such as Kurds and Romanies.

- XL Tangent: It is legal for Irish people living in Britain to vote in British general elections, but it is illegal for British people living in the Republic of Ireland to vote in Irish general elections.

- XL: The country which has the "Land of the Free" as its national anthem is Belize. Belize is the only independent sovereign nation to have a flag featuring human beings on it, with two people on it chopping wood. One of the lines from the anthem is: "By the might of truth and the grace of God, no longer shall we be hewers of wood." The country was once a British possession and was formerly called British Honduras. The American national anthem is called "The Star-Spangled Banner" and was written by Francis Scott Key, who gave his first three names to a distant cousin, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, better known to the world as F. Scott Fitzgerald. (Forfeit: America)

- The Paris-Dakar Rally does not start or finish in either Paris or Dakar. It has been held in South America since 2007 because of threats from Al-Qaeda. (Forfeit: Starts in Paris and ends in Dakar)

- Tangent: The Mongol Rally, which starts in London and ends in Ulan Bator allows the drives to go whichever way they choose. India has a Blind Man's Car Rally in which the navigators read the instructions in Braille map across a course of 40 miles. The drivers must obey the instructions given to them, even if they know they are wrong.

- Knick-Knack Experiment - Stephen performs an experiment in which he blows up custard powder. You cannot just set fire to it with a match, so in order to make it work you need a pump to blow the custard powder towards a lit flame. This is true of all forms of powder, including metallic powder.


- Alan Davies: 7 points (Alan's 20th victory)
- Josh Widdicombe: -7 points
- Katherine Ryan: -8 points
- Phill Jupitus: -9 points

Broadcast details

Friday 20th September 2013
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Phill Jupitus Guest
Katherine Ryan Guest
Josh Widdicombe Guest
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


Long-necked Karen

The panel talk about tribal women with rings around their necks.

Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Phill Jupitus, Katherine Ryan, Josh Widdicombe.


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