QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Sandi Toksvig. Copyright: TalkbackThames


  • TV panel show
  • BBC Two / BBC One / BBC Four
  • 2003 - 2022
  • 279 episodes (19 series)

Panel game that contains lots of difficult questions and a large amount of quite interesting facts. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Episode menu

Series L, Episode 13 - Lucky Losers

Preview clips

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Jeremy Clarkson, Stephen Fry, Danny Baker, Sandi Toksvig. Copyright: TalkbackThames


- As the theme is losing, in this episode the person with the lowest score is the winner. Thus the panellists are encouraged to get as many forfeits as possible.


- The oldest you can be on a Club 18-30 holiday is 36. The oldest age you can leave the country with a Club 18-30 ticket is 35, but your birthday might occur during the holiday itself which takes it up to 36. (Forfeit: 30)

- The youngest you can be on a Club 18-30 holiday is 17. (Forfeit: 18)

- XL Tangent: Past Club 18-30 slogans include "Beaver Espana" and "It's not all sex, sex, sex - there's some sun and sea as well."

- XL Tangent: Chlamydia has no symptoms. Koalas suffer from chlamydia.

- Blue Whale Bonus: The mammal with the most cells in its body is the blue whale, because it is the largest animal in the world. This question is given especially to Alan, who for once gets a question about the blue whale right, which results in him scoring lots of bonus points which he does not want. A blue whale has 2,000 times more cells than a human, which has 30 trillion cells. Despite having more cells, blue whales suffer from cancer less. This is known as Peto's Paradox.

- Tangent: The whale in the picture used to illustrate the question is actually a humpback whale.

- XL Tangent: Sperm whales have a milky substance called spermaceti in their heads. Nobody knows what the whale uses it for, but one theory is to do with the huge depths sperm whales dive to. Spermaceti was used by NASA because it kept its viscosity at -400°F. The whole of the Industrial Revolution ran on whale oil and if it were not for John D. Rockefeller cracking crude oil then the whales would have gone extinct. So in a strange why oil and petrol saved the whales (much to Jeremy's delight).

- The good cause that benefited from Britain's first lottery was the English Navy during the time of Elizabeth I and Sir Frances Drake. In 1567 it was decided to raise money to boost England's naval defence. The average annual income in 1600 was about £9 and tickets were 10 shillings each (three weeks wages). The prize was £5,000, which is millions of pounds in todays' money. It was paid in cash, gold, silver, fine tapestries and a kind of "get of jail free card" which would excuse you of all but the most serious crimes.

- XL Tangent: The Mary Rose sank because they did not close the cannon portholes. They left off a broadside, the ship tipped back and the water went in. Around 500 men on board drowned. The failed to escape because they put netting on board to prevent people boarding onto the ship, but the same netting also prevented people boarding off it too. Sandi says that the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth is one of the best museums she has ever visited. There was some controversy about it because by using forensic artists they were able to depict what some of the victims looked like. Sandi says that she like that fact that despite these people were going to war they still had all their personal effects like musical instruments and chessboards. Thus the ship is like a time capsule.

- The thing that newsagents sell that makes people suddenly want to vote Tory is lottery tickets. Labour voters who suddenly win the lottery are likely to change their political opinions and become Conservative voters. This is known as "Sudden Wealth Syndrome". (Forfeit: Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Sun)

- Tangent: Some psychologists claim that if a loved one dies and you are not over the grief in six months than the person grieving is unwell. While saying this Alan gives off a massive sneeze. Danny then says that is a syndrome that occurs when you come out of the cinema, into bright sunlight and suddenly sneeze. The Elves reveal that this syndrome is known as a "autosomal dominant compelling helio-ophthalmic outbust", or "ACHOO Syndrome".

- Tangent: In 2001 the winner of the Zimbabwe Banking Corporation's jackpot was Robert Mugabe.

- Tangent: Clarence "Inaction" Jackson won $5.8million on the Connecticut lottery in 1995, but failed to hand in his winning ticket in time. He tried to sue, but lost and was not paid out. In 1980 Maureen Wilcox chose the correct winning numbers for the Massachusetts and Rhode Island lotteries, but she played the Massachusetts numbers in Rhode Island and vice versa.

- Tangent: As the next question is even more incompressible than usual all of the panellists are made to wear hats. Alan and Sandi's hats have got the word "Leader" with on tickets tucked into the brim of the hats.

- XL: The most disgusting thing that a Liberal-Tory coalition has ever done is eat a dog in public. The Birmingham Gazette reported in the 1890s that some Liberal Party (not to be confused with the more recent Liberal Democratic Party) councillors not only roasted and ate this dog after celebrating a victory and rubbed the dog's limbs over the faces of their companions for fun. A few days later the Birmingham Post reported that one of the people involved in the scandal was a Conservative.

- XL Tangent: How disgusted you feel about eating something can reflect your political opinions. Conservative people are more likely to be disgusted than liberal people. Jeremy claims that this fact proves he is liberal because he will eat anything, but he has never eaten dog. Reportedly carnivores do not taste nice, hence why the animals we tend eat are normally herbivores.

- The things that Amy Freeze and Larry Sprinkle have in common with D. Weedon and A. J. Splatt is that they are all examples of nominative determinism - their names are akin to their jobs. Weedon and Splatt are both Australian urologists, while Freeze and Sprinkle are both American weather forecasters. Other examples include Mark Avery who works for the RSPB, William Wordsworth the poet (who actually studied mathematics at Cambridge), and two QI fans called Joyce Baker and Amanda Pastry who have made the panel biscuits. Alan and Jeremy are given a plate with three biscuits, as are Sandi and Danny. However Alan and Sandi eat two biscuits each while Jeremy and Danny only have one. This is because of their leader hats which psychologically make everyone think that they are entitled to have the extra biscuits.

- XL Tangent: Alan once went to see Bob Dylan in concert at the O2 Arena, but there were no screens during the performance, he wore a ten-gallon hat throughout the performance, and he never spoke, so Alan says it could have been anyone.

- Tangent: Many years ago there was a family called the Gauntletts and their Christened one of their children Victor. Victor Gauntlett became the head of Aston Martin. Jeremy claims that he was destined to run Aston because he was given the positive-sounding name of Victor.

- XL Tangent: Whenever Denis Norden and Frank Muir were bored when writing scripts together they came up with ideas for improbable TV shows. Danny thinks the best one was: "By day, she dispended justice on the streets of L.A. By night, she is the queen of the music halls. Join us at eight for Tara Raboom, DA."

- Tangent: Sandi once did a programme where she was sailing around Britain with John McCarthy. They both had to be fitted for life jackets at Crew Saver Life Jackets, and the man who fitted the life jackets was called Will Drown.

- XL Tangent: Other examples of nominative determinism include Bruno Fromage, who is the managing director of Danone UK; and the former Lord Chief Justice known as Lord Judge. Elizabeth Fry was a Gurney, the Frys were Frys and both were Quaker families. Stephen claims he was plagued at school by people singing the Fry's Turkish Delight jingle. Danny claims he was plagued by: "Dan, Dan, the lavatory man, washed his hair with a frying pan, combed his hair with a leg of a chair, Dan, Dan, the lavatory man" and "Danny Boy". Jeremy had people going up to him saying: "What sort of a fucking name is 'Jeremy'?"

- XL Tangent: New Yorker Robert Lane named his sixth child Winner and his seventh child Loser. Loser, known as "Lou" went on to become a fine pillar of the community working for the NYPD, and probably ended up arresting Winner who was busted for burglary more than 30 times.

- Tangent: Jeremy's father once went out to tea with someone and two cakes were delivered: one big, one small. The man Jeremy's father was dining with took the big one, and Jeremy's father had said that if he had first choice he would have taken the smaller one. His friend said: "You've got the small one anyway, so what are you complaining about?" Sandi thinks it is different between men and women. She once at a party and a slate with two small canapés was on it. She and two other women turned them down, and then a man walked past, put one canapé on top of the other and ate both in one go.

- The panel are shown a strange piece of furniture which has a seat with leg supports on top and a second layer below to lie down on, and are asked what Edward VII used it for. It was designed to allow him to have sex with two prostitutes at the same time. It was located in the Chabanais, a Parisian brothel and is called the "siege d'amour" - "seat of love".

- Tangent: Edward VII had a long afraid with Lillie Langtry, and there is a story, probably false, that he was cross with Langtry one day and said to her: "I've spent enough on you to build a battleship." She said: "You've spent enough in me to float one."

- XL: The panel are shown a bust and are asked what the Ancient Greeks used it for. However, they do not show the full picture. Below it is a carving of a penis. This is a "herm" and the Greeks would rub them in oil and then stroke the penis for good luck. In 415 BC, during the Peloponnesian War there was an incident known as the "Mutilation of the Herms" where the penises were hacked off.

- XL Tangent: It was around this period in history that it was discovered what the penis was for. It is argued that the fact that men discovering that the penis has a role in reproduction changed everything, because men thought that it was them that were responsible for creating new life. Before the discovery goddess cultures were revered because it was the mother who gave birth, but after the role of the penis was discovered these cultures fell into decline.

- Spending a Penny Bonus: The worst thing you can do with a gympie-gympie is to wipe your bottom with it. This is a plant in Queensland that has probably the most vicious sting in nature, and to make things worse it looks like a dock leaf. It is reported that brushing against it is like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time. One account a soldier in the bush during WWII was caught short, used the wrong leaf, and was in so much pain that he shot himself in an attempt ease the pain. In 1866 a surveyor reported that his pack horse was stung by the plant, went mad and died in two hours. Les Moore, a scientific officer with the Queensland government was stung across the face and ended up looking like Mr. Potato Head.

- Tangent: Sandi says that the gympie-gympie cannot be as bad as the shiny toilet paper they used at boarding school like Bronco. Sandi used to write airmail letter to her mother on Bronco.

- The football team that is the worst at losing major trophies, in the sense of misplacing the trophy that they had won, is Aston Villa. In 1895 their F.A. Cup was stolen from the window of a sports shop in Birmingham. 63 years later a man named Harry Burge admitted to stealing the trophy and turning it into counterfeit half-crown coins. The second trophy Aston Villa lost was the European Cup in 1981, which they lost a year later. Two members of the team took it to a darts match where the cup was stolen. A man called Adrian Reed admitted years later that he was the thief. It was taken to a local police station where the police played a match themselves to decide who got to keep it. The F.A. Cup also gets damaged so much every year that it has to get repaired every year.

- Tangent: In the 1964 F.A. Cup Final that was won by West Ham United their manager Ron Greenwood took it home on the London Underground and tried to discretely cover it using a cloth, but it still stuck out.

- XL Tangent: Danny talked to Jackie Charlton and said that after England won the World Cup in 1966 himself, Alan Ball and some other people went to the Talk of the Town. Charlton said that after this he woke up in a couple's house in Dagenham that he had never met before or since and the first thing he did was collect his jacket and check the pockets to see if his winner's medal was still there, which it was. Jackie's brother Bobby used to have a cigarette at half-time in every match. There was also a ladies football team called the Dick Kerr Ladies, which were the most popular football team in the country during World War II, and one of the players used to smoke Woodbines while playing.

General Ignorance

- The day that is added to a leap year is 24th February. The extra 24th February means that the original 24th February becomes the 25th February and all the other days get pushed down a date until 29th February. This is because the Romans divided the calendar into three, and when the Romans discovered that a year is 365.25 days they added the extra day to one of those three divisions. Evidence for the 24th February being the day that is added is that in Denmark the day for women to propose to men is the 24th February. (Forfeit: February 29th)

- The year in which the Second World War started is debatable. To say it is 1939 is a rather Anglo-French view. Before 1939 the Germany had been at war with other countries, and the Chinese had been at war with the Japanese. Thus it had been going on at least 1937, and possibly even as early as 1935. (Forfeit: 1939)

- XL Tangent: Sandi's father was a MEP along with Otto von Habsburg. Sandi's father was watching a football match in the common room and Habsburg asked who was playing. Sandi's father said: "Austria Hungary" and Habsburg said: "Oh, against whom?"

- XL: You could not beat a T-Rex in arm wrestling. A T-Rex could lift 400lbs while a human could only lift 150lbs. (Forfeit: Yes, easily)

- XL Tangent: Jeremy once lost an arm wrestle to Boris Johnson, after they were arguing about whom out of the two of them had vomited the most in an F-15 fighter jet. Stephen and Hugh Laurie were once both in Jaguar planes. Stephen thought that he was the one who was going to be sick, but it was Hugh who was sick for the entire journey. The smile however was wiped from Stephen's face when it was pointed out to him that because he is so tall, if the ejector seat had been activated, his knees would have stayed behind. Jeremy was the same because he is the same height as Stephen. When Jeremy was famously caught on camera being sick in the F-15 he was meant to be dropping a laser-guided missile, using three different screens, but he was so sick that the screens were covered in vomit.

- The length of an Olympic swimming pool is 50 metres and 2 centimetres. According to the Federation Internationale de Natation the oversized by a centimetre at each end to make room for the sensor pad which each swimmer presses to indicate that they have completed a lap. (Forfeit: 50m)

- Tangent: Olympic swimmers openly admit to urinating in the pool. Michael Phelps, who has won more gold medals than any other Olympian, says: "Everyone pees in the pool, it's kind of a normal thing to do for swimmers. When you are in the water for two hours we don't really get out to pee. Chlorine kills it."


- Danny Baker: -23 points
- Jeremy Clarkson: -5 points
- Sandi Toksvig: 3 points
- Alan Davies: 52 points

Broadcast details

Friday 2nd January 2015
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Friday 2nd January 2015 10:30pm BBC2 Scot
Sunday 4th January 2015 10:00pm
45 minute version
Thursday 28th May 2015 10:00pm BBC2
Monday 26th October 2015 10:00pm
60 minute version
Tuesday 27th October 2015 9:00pm
60 minute version
Wednesday 16th December 2015 12:00am
60 minute version
Wednesday 16th December 2015 9:00pm
60 minute version
Monday 25th April 2016 11:30pm
60 minute version
Tuesday 26th April 2016 9:00pm
60 minute version
Friday 29th July 2016 12:00am Dave
Friday 29th July 2016 9:00pm Dave
Saturday 17th September 2016 10:40pm
45 minute version
Tuesday 27th September 2016 9:00pm
60 minute version
Wednesday 28th September 2016 12:00am
60 minute version
Sunday 23rd October 2016 12:15am
45 minute version
BBC2 Wales
Friday 30th December 2016 12:00am
60 minute version
Friday 30th December 2016 8:00pm
60 minute version
Wednesday 22nd March 2017 10:00pm
60 minute version
Thursday 23rd March 2017 1:00am Dave
Thursday 23rd March 2017 8:00pm
60 minute version
Sunday 24th September 2017 12:50am
60 minute version
Wednesday 20th June 2018 11:00pm
60 minute version
Thursday 25th October 2018 1:40am Dave
Thursday 25th October 2018 9:00pm Dave
Monday 17th December 2018 1:00am
60 minute version
Friday 1st March 2019 11:20pm
60 minute version
Friday 10th January 2020 11:00pm Dave
Saturday 11th January 2020 1:00am Dave
Friday 19th June 2020 11:40pm
60 minute version
Friday 23rd October 2020 8:20pm Dave
Friday 19th March 2021 12:20am Dave
Friday 19th March 2021 8:40pm Dave
Friday 17th September 2021 8:20pm Dave
Saturday 18th September 2021 2:00am Dave
Tuesday 28th September 2021 2:50am Dave
Tuesday 11th January 2022 9:00pm
60 minute version
Wednesday 12th January 2022 12:40am
60 minute version
Friday 29th April 2022 12:40am
60 minute version
Friday 29th April 2022 9:00pm
60 minute version
Monday 6th June 2022 11:00pm
60 minute version

Cast & crew

Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Danny Baker Guest
Jeremy Clarkson Guest
Sandi Toksvig Guest
Writing team
John Mitchinson Question Writer
James Harkin Question Writer
Molly Oldfield Question Writer
Andrew Hunter Murray Question Writer
Anne Miller Question Writer
Stevyn Colgan Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer
Ruby Kuraishe Executive Producer
Suzanne McManus Executive Producer
Justin Pollard Associate Producer
Nick King Editor
Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
Howard Goodall Composer
Mat Coward Researcher
Will Bowen Researcher
Anna Ptaszynski Researcher
Alex Bell Researcher
Ben Dupré Researcher


Radio Times review

A slumbery round of the gently filthy information exchange, livened by a shake-up in the scoring system. We're playing Lucky Losers, this being Series L, which means klaxons are good, clever right answers are to be avoided and Alan Davies has to find a new way to come last.

With L also standing for lavatory this series, the best banter focuses on bottom-wiping: there's a terrifying lesson on which leaves to avoid when caught short in a Queensland forest, while Jeremy Clarkson and Sandi Toksvig bond over the impermeability of boarding-school loo roll. If that all sounds a bit vulgar, wait until you hear what Lillie Langtry once said to Edward VII.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 2nd January 2015

Share this page

Promoted video