Series L - No-L
- Stephen has gifts for all the panellists under a Christmas tree, which itself is very special because it is the oldest artificial Christmas tree in the world. It was valued by Christie's at £1,000 (although it is unique so the price is anyone's guess), and was originally brought for 6d in 1886 by Lou Hicks. This tree belongs to the same family and Hicks's descendant Paul Parker, a mathematician from Bath, inherited it in 2008.
- Carrie's Present: Carrie is asked to identify what her gift is and which imperial princess gave it. It is a brass tin, of which millions like it were sent to troops from all over the British Empire during Christmas 1914 by Princess Mary, daughter of George V. She wanted to send these tins, which included Christmas cards signed by herself and the king. The tins included tobacco for those who smoked pipes; cigarettes for those who smoked cigarettes; sweets and spices for the Indian army; and sweets and silver pencils in the shape of a bullet for troops who were too young to smoke and for non-combatants. Mary originally wanted these presents for every troop that was afloat or at the front on Christmas, which was 335,000 presents successfully delivered by the deadline. But then the eligibility was extended to everyone who was wearing the king's uniform on Christmas Day 1914, which took the figure up to 2,620,019 servicemen. This resulted in a brass shortage, so they had to import brass from Canada and the USA. One of the largest consignments of brass was on the Lusitania, which was sunk and held up production.
- The thing that St. Bernard got from the Virgin Mary was not just for Christmas that was the Virgin Mary's breast milk. She lactated into his mouth according to the Catholic Church, and this has been painted. The milk is supposed to represent wisdom. This was one of the few ways that painters could get away with painting more sexual scenes. The options open to them were either religion or myth. Three artists: Rubens, Vermeer and Caravaggio, all painted the legend of Roman Charity, which features Cimon who was sentenced to death by starvation, but was secretly breastfed by Pero, his own daughter. (Forfeit: A St. Bernard)
- XL: The least imaginative Christmas present that you can think of, and indeed the most popular one that women want in the USA is the gift certificate. $30billion of gift vouchers are brought in the USA, but only 75% are ever used. The original gift certificates were book tokens, which were invented in 1932 by a publisher named Raymond who was disappointed to see people giving each other Christmas presents but only three were books. He discovered that the problem was that people are not confident with buying books as presents because the recipient may not like it that book, so he came up with the book token so the recipient can get any book they like.
- XL: The best way of finding out that someone is drunk without using a breathalyser is to do sobriety tests such as walking in a straight line or getting them to say a tongue twister. Examples include: "The Leith police dismisseth us", "On a lazy laser raiser lies a laser ray eraser", "Pad kid poured curd pulled cod" and "Are you copper-bottoming 'em, my man? No, I'm aluminiuming 'em, Mum."
- Bill's Present: Bill's present is the most popular tool ever made: a flint axe-head / cutting tool, which is the oldest tool in the world, made by Homo Erectus, which is known as an "Acheulean" or "Acheu-layin". Bill's is a "Mode 2" which is more advanced version of it. The original "Mode 1" is called "Oldowan" and comes from the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, but similar axe-heads have been found in Clacton, Essex.
- Spending-a-Penny Bonus: The luxury that the Sybarites brought to dinner parties was chamber pots. The Sybarites, from whom we get the word "sybaritic" from, loved dining so much that they did not want to leave the room in order to use the lavatory, so they invented chamber pots so that they could stay in room where the dining was but still do their business. (Forfeit: Ferrero Rocher)
- Jimmy's Present: Jimmy is given a glass with a long beaded metal chain inside it, which he is able to siphon. Jimmy is told to stand up on the desk, and jerk one end of the chain out of the glass. When he does so, it appears as if the chain rises up from the glass and then falls back down onto the ground. This was discovered in 2013. Because the beads are so close together they act like a sequence of little rods. They try to rotate around their centre of gravity but they cannot because the bottom of the glass is in the way.
- XL: A detective is most likely to tell if someone has fired a gun due to powder that has come off from clothes. Fingerprints only work 5% of the time because guns are oily anyway, partly because guns are put in people's pockets so the prints get smeared off, and partly because the people firing them are normally very careful. (Forfeit: Fingerprints)
- XL: If you open the oven door while cooking a soufflé the soufflé will not collapse. It will fall if it gets cold, but it will re-rise if you heat it up. (Forfeit: It will sink)
- You should take down your Christmas decorations on Candlemas Eve, which is 1st February. This is because Christmas is a much larger feast than many people realise, and the length is due to the fact that people had so much stored, preserved food to last the winter. The Christmas season originally began on Martinmas on 11th November. (Forfeit: 6th January)
- Alan's Present: Alan is given a load of Ping-Pong balls, with which he and Stephen conduct an experiment so dangerous that the audience have to wear earplugs and the panel all wear ear defenders (Carrie's have been styled to look like Princess Leia's hair). Stephen places a bottle of very cold liquid nitrogen into an oil barrel full of hot water. The moment the bottle goes in Alan and Stephen pour in loads of Ping-Pong balls into the barrel and run away. The heat of the water causes the liquid nitrogen to turn into gas at such a speed and at such force that it causes the bottle to explode, firing the Ping-Pong balls high into the air and fall down as Ping-Pong snow.
- Thursday 25th December 2014
- 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|
|Anne Miller||Question Writer|
|Stevyn Colgan||Question Writer|
|John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE)||Series Producer|
|Ruby Kuraishe||Executive Producer|
|Suzanne McManus||Executive Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|