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


BBC Two and BBC One panel show about quite interesting facts. 269 episodes (pilot + 18 series), 2003 - 2021. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Series S commissioned.
Series O, Episode 10 is repeated on Dave today at 8:40pm.
Recording at Zoom (Virtual). Tickets

Series L, Episode 15 - Long Lost

Further details

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Graham McPherson, Stephen Fry, Claudia O'Doherty, Jimmy Carr. Copyright: TalkbackThames.


- Living in a tiny flat may stop you from losing your marbles because if you only have one room to live in then you are less like to go somewhere else and think: "Now what did I come in here for?" A study at Notre Dame University revealed that the key thing that makes you forget is crossing a threshold.

- Tangent: The idea of someone being alone in a place is a well establish sub-genre of horror movies, like being in a remote log cabin or out camping. Stephen stresses that is not "camp" as in an effeminate man, although he does like the idea of that sort of "camp horror".

- Tangent: Suggs says that B&Q stores are one big room, and indeed you tend to forget everything once you enter.

- The world's longest living thing is lichen. Lichen lives with fungi and algae: the fungi provide a good environment and the algae provide the equipment for photosynthesis. Some lichen in Lapland has been found to be 9,000 years old. Lichen is the dominant vegetation on 8% of the world's surface. One form of lichen, caribou moss, is used by model railway enthusiasts to make model bushes and trees. (Forfeit: Bruce Forsyth)

- Tangent: Some scientists discovered a clamp that had lived for 500 years, but the scientists accidentally killed it.

- XL Tangent: Stephen claims that Bruce Forsyth is a fan of QI. Stephen has invited him on, but he has turned it down saying that he does not know anything.

- Tangent: When talking about model railway enthusiasts Stephen tries to give the famous example of Pete Waterman, but he wrongly says Pete Townsend.

- Tangent: Nobody is sure on the correct pronunciation of "lichen". The performance poet Rory Motion said: "You call it liken, I call it lichen, let's call the whole thing moss."

- The thing that is long, begins with "L", and gets you horny, sleepy and pregnant is lettuce. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, described the opiate properties of lettuce, as did Beatrix Potter in Peter Rabbit. Lettuce is soporific, and Peter nearly ends up in Mrs. McGregor's rabbit pie because he falls asleep after eating too much lettuce. Lettuce has seen been bred to be less soporific. Wild lettuce however contains tropane alkaloid, which is also in cocaine. Americans did try to sell this lettuce under the names of "L'Opium" and "Lettucene", but most of it was made out of ordinary garden lettuce. Lettuce should not be fed to rabbits because it upsets their stomachs. Victorians picnickers wrapped lettuce around butter to keep the butter fresh.

- XL Tangent: Hippocrates lived on the Island of Kos, which is named after cos lettuce, "cos" being the Arabic word for "lettuce".

- XL Tangent: Alan criticises the story of "Peter Rabbit", saying that it was stupid for Peter to go to the garden where his father was killed. Stephen says that Peter should have said in a Spanish accent: "Hello, my name is Don Peter Rabbit. You killed my father, prepare to die."

- Tangent: Mothers put lettuce leaves into their bras to help their cracked nipples.

- The world's longest experiment is the Clarendon Dry Pile in Oxford. It is believed to have started in 1840, although it could be 15 years earlier. It consists of two large pile batteries, below which are two dome bells and a clanger. When one clanger hits a dome it causes an electrical charge to go into the other battery, thus ringing the other bell and so on. It has rung 10 billion times since it began. It is in a dome jar so the bells are quiet. It is believed the batteries will last for another 350 years.

- Tangent: Scientists in Israel have developed what you might call a biological battery. It can fully charge a phone in 45 seconds. It is expected to go on sale within a few years.

- XL Tangent: According to the Guinness Book of Records the world's longest running experiment is the pitch-drop experiment at the University of Queensland, Australia, which began in the 1920s. It is an experiment to prove that pitch is not a solid, but a very slow flowing liquid. One drop comes off about once every ten years, but annoyingly no-one has actually observed any of the drops dropping. One drop was observed by a video camera, but the camera broke and thus the drop was not recorded. The most recent ninth drop did not count because it occurred when the apparatus was being adjusted.

- XL Tangent: Queensland has a big problem with cane toads, which are a major pest. You can lick cane toads which act as a hallucinogenic. Stephen was told as a boy that if took the earwax of a dog and rubbed it on a motorbike engine the smell would give you hallucinations. Stephen tried it and it did not work.

- Spending-a-Penny Bonus: A good use for half a copy of the Daily Telegraph is to flush it down the lavatory to see if the flush is powerful enough. This was a standard test up until the 1970s. Now a synthetic sludge stimulant (fake poo) is used, which is a mixture of yeast, water, seed husks, peanut oil, miso paste and shredded tissue. It was developed by Unilever for their Domex Toilet Academy in India. It is hoped that they will install 24,000 flush lavatories in India for World Toilet Day 2015, because the country has a shortage of flush lavatories. In India 90% of the population have mobile phones, but only 50% have flush lavatories. One-third of the world's population has no access to a flush lavatory.

- Tangent: In the days when footballers could tackle from behind players used to put newspapers and magazines down their socks to protect themselves.

- Tangent: Fish and chips used to be wrapped in newspapers because it was the cheapest way of getting a clean wrapper.

- XL Tangent: Suggs was told apocryphal fact as a kid that when you attending football matches, if you felt something warm down your leg it was urine from the person two rows behind you. Someone would urinate, holding a newspaper to protect their modesty, the urine would trickle down and the person one row behind would get the blame. Suggs however claims, as a Chelsea fan, they would not have used the Daily Telegraph.

- Tangent: According to insurance companies 800,000 mobile phones are accidentally flushed down the lavatory each year in Britain.

- Tangent: Alan says that the best replica poo you can get are vegetarian sausages.

- XL Tangent: Victorian gentleman George Jennings had a lavatory, known as his "pedestal vase" that could flush away 10 apples, 4 pieces of paper, a flat sponge and an apprentice's cap all at the same time. Jennings was the man who installed the world's first public lavatories, which were at the Great Exhibition in 1851. They attracted 827,280 visitors, and we know this because they counted the pennies that were spent using it, hence "spending a penny". For a penny you got a clean seat, a towel, a comb and a shoeshine.

- Nobody knows exactly what to do with the world's longest corkscrew, but it is believed it is used by narwhals as a form of showing affection by rubbing them together. The narwhal is kind of whale that has a gigantic unicorn-like horn growing out of its head, which is actually a gigantic tooth without enamel. Some people believe the myth of the unicorn comes from the narwhal. The name "narwhal" means "dead body" in Norse. Some people may think that because it is male narwhals that have this horn it is also used for fighting, but this has never been observed. Nobody knows why they are corkscrewed.

- Tangent: Male pigs have corkscrew-shaped penises. Jimmy jokes that it is not the only creature with a corkscrew-shaped penis and looks down at his crotch. Stephen asks if Jimmy is looking for someone who goes the other way.

- XL: The thing that has a long tail and loses long jumps is a woman with a ponytail. Belarusian long jumper Nastassia Mironchyk-Ivanova made a 6.9m long jump in the 2011 World Championship, but her long ponytail landed in the sand as well, and due to the rules the length of the jump was taken from the point nearest the starting position. As a result she ended up 4th in the competition.

- XL Tangent: Alan's two year old son once said to Alan: "I'm a dog." Alan asked if he could wag his tails, to which he said that he did not have a tail. Alan asked how could be a dog without a tail. Alan's son replied: "I'm not a real dog."

- XL Tangent: In terms of long jump development there has been very little change. One change that was later banned was somersaulting when jumping, but this was banned by the IAF. The big mistake made by the first people to do this technique was to do it off-season, whereas Dick Fosbury saved his famous high jump "Fosbury Flop" during the actual Olympics.

- The human endurance record that gets broken every eight months is that for the world's oldest person. On average the oldest person in the world dies every eight months and so the title is taken up by next oldest. There are some exceptions. One woman, Jeanne Calment, died aged 122 despite being a smoker and held the record for two years. She once said: "The only wrinkle I have, I'm sitting on." Places where people seem to live unusually long are known as "blue zones". Examples include Loma Linda in California, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Sardinia in Italy, Icaria in Greece (where legend has it Icarus fell into the sea) and Okinawa in Japan. All of these places are by the sea, so it could be a seafood diet that helps.

- XL Tangent: Suggs asks if there is a reason why wine you have drunk on your holiday that tastes great ends up tasting awful when you bring it back home. Suggs was on holiday in southern Italy and had some wonderful chilled rose wine. He tried to ask the waiter in Italian what it was precisely, and the wait told him it was wine. Stephen was with a couple in Ischia and they had some wine which was called "Lachryma Christi". Stephen told them it translates into English as: "the tears of Christ" to which the couple said: "My goodness, we shouldn't be drinking this!"

General Ignorance

- XL: "Cryogenics" is the study of what happens to things at extremely cold temperatures. It is nothing to do with freezing people and bringing later reviving them, which is "cryonics". However, the online OED tends to go via usage, and because in sci-fi the term "cryogenics" is so mistakenly used to mean freezing people that this is now becoming the new definition. (Forfeit: Freezing people)

- XL: The most famous person to be cryonic preserved is Prof. James Bedford of the University of California, the father of cryo-preservation. He was frozen on 12 January 1967, and the cryonics community celebrate 12 January as "Bedford Day". As Stephen says in a Scottish accent: "Quite a few people believe in cryonic preservation, but Walt Disnae." Walt Disney died of lung cancer in 1966 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery. (Forfeit: Walt Disney)

- The dark side of the Moon is coloured turquoise. On a horned moon or a new moon you can see light reflected off the Earth.

- Tangent: Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" has sold over 50 million copies.

- The infamous question: how many moons does the Earth have? It looks like the answer could actually be none. What we call "The Moon" could actually be a planet, so it is possible that the Earth and the Moon are actually a binary planet system, similar to binary star systems. The International Astronomical Union in 2006 laid down the definitions for what count as a planet - these are the same definitions which ruled Pluto out as a planet. These definitions are that a planet has to orbit the sun, it has to be massive enough for its own gravity to make it round, and it has to have cleared its neighbourhood of smaller objects. The Moon comfortably fulfils the first two of these. On the third it makes more sense to say that the Earth and the Moon together have cleared its neighbourhood. The Earth has not cleared the Moon, so it is argued that they are therefore a binary system. The sun's gravitational effect on the Moon is twice as big as the Earth's effect. The Earth orbits the Moon and vice versa. (Forfeit: One; One, the Moon)

- Lab Lark Experiment: Stephen pours a bottle of water into a glass and then puts a sheet of paper over the top of the glass. He then turns the glass over and the paper sticks to the bottom of the glass so no water falls out. The panel do the same and all get it right. Stephen then is able to slide the piece of paper off the bottom of the glass and the water stays inside the glass, seemingly defying gravity. The panel try to remove their pieces of paper too, but fail and get all wet.


- Claudia O'Doherty: 9 points
- Alan Davies: -8 points
- Suggs: -16 points
- Jimmy Carr: -37 points


This episode's credits erroneously list John Mitchinson as the Curator of 'Lethal', rather than 'Long Lost'.

Broadcast details

Friday 16th January 2015
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Jimmy Carr Guest
Claudia O'Doherty Guest
Graham McPherson (as Suggs) Guest
Writing team
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
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer
Ruby Kuraishe Executive Producer
Suzanne McManus Executive Producer

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