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 tomorrow at 2am.

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Jo Brand, Sandi Toksvig, Clive Anderson, Jimmy Carr. Copyright: TalkbackThames.

Series N, Episode 16 - New

Further details


- This is a "General" show in Series N, covering a wide range of different topics beginning with "N".


- The correct way to pronounce the Canadian island of Newfoundland is "Noof'nd-LAND". In 1876, a man was killed in a brawl over the correct pronunciation. Mill workers William Atchison and John Davis argued that was either pronounced "NewFOUNDland" or "NewfoundLAND". Atchison threw a punch, then Davis shot Atchison dead. Davis got away by going on the run for 37 years. On his deathbed in 1912, he admitted to his crime, but then he got better and had to go on the run again. At the time though, both Atchison and Davis were right as both pronunciations where accepted. (Forfeit: NEW-f'nd-lund; NOOF'UN-lund)

- Tangent: Alan had a great uncle who immigrated to Quebec, Canada.

- XL Tangent: Jimmy's partner is Canadian, and to him it seems that everything in Canada is pronounced a little bit faster than it should be. For example, Toronto is pronounced, "Trono". Sandi says she loved Toronto because there used to be a bar there called the Betty Ford Clinic.

- Tangent: Places in Newfoundland include the second-largest town of Conception Bay South, and the towns of Dildo and Eastern Tickle.

- Tangent: Newfoundland was the very first part of the British Empire, claimed in 1583 by Sir Humphrey Gilbert.

- When Europeans first arrived in New York they originally called New Angouleme. The city was founded by Giovanni da Verrazzano, who was a Florentine working for the French, who named it to favour the French king Francis I, who was originally Frances of Angouleme. Although there are many places in New York named after Verrazzano, they are all misspelt, because they miss out one "Z". (Forfeit: New Amsterdam)

- Tangent: Gotham City, which is partly based on New York, gets its name from a small village outside Nottingham that was inhabited by local idiots. Someone later wrote a book called The Merry Men of Gotham and 100 years later a writer compared New York to Gotham saying that everyone in New York was mad, which lead it to inspiring Gotham City. Meanwhile, Manhattan is a native Lenape American name. In 1609 Henry Hudson met the native Lenape Americans who were fishing. Hudson offered them alcohol for the very first time, and there was a warrior who swallowed the whole lot to test it and passed out, which everyone thought was marvellous. Hudson brought over more alcohol, everyone got drunk, and the native Lenape word "Manahactanienk" means: "the place we all got drunk". One story says that the land was sold for a few beads, but the joke was on the colonialists because the natives didn't even own the land in the first place.

- Tangent: In Coney Island, in 1909, there was a train system where one train could ride on top of another train going in the opposite direction on the same line.

- The place with the most pyramids in the world is Sudan. Egypt has between 118 and 138 pyramids, whereas Sudan has about 220, all of which are in the Meroe area, which was part of Ancient Nubia. Nubia was more of a meritocracy than Egypt, so less wealthy people could be put in pyramids. (Forfeit: Egypt; Mexico; Las Vegas)

- XL Tangent: There was an Italian treasure hunter named Giuseppe Ferlin, who in the 1830s, chopped the tops of some Sudanese pyramids to see if there was gold inside them.

- XL Tangent: Jimmy once went to Coba, Mexico, where you walk through a pine forest for about a mile and then you find a pyramid in the middle of the jungle. You can climb this pyramid (with no safety equipment) and if you reach the top you can get a few of seven other pyramids.

- XL Tangent: One Sudanese tribe is the Nuer people, who live on the Nile around Lake Nuer. Their lives revolve entirely around cattle, so the more cows you have the better off you are. They have rituals for sacrificing ox, but they are so keen to keep their oxen that they will replace the ox with a cucumber instead. Most knowledge people have about the Nuer comes from anthropologist Edward Evans-Pritchard, who worked in the area in the 1930s. However, the Nuer people didn't think much of him when he arrived as he had no cows, so they wouldn't help him with his luggage.

- The people who got married in the emperor's new clothes were New England women in the 1700s. These "smock marriages" were to do with debt. If the bride clearly has no assets then the groom is not liable for her debts, or if she is widowed she is not liable for her husband's debts. The woman didn't have to be visible during the wedding, just naked. In February 1789 Major Moses Roy married a widow named Hannah Ward who was naked inside a closet. She reached out through a hole in the door to clasp his hand during the ceremony. Roy had left some clothes inside the closet so she could come out fully dressed.

- Tangent: Jimmy tells the story that when a new pope is elected he has to be carried on a chair over the heads of the cardinals to make sure he is a man, because once a woman was accidentally elected pope. However, Sandi points out that this story is a myth.

- Tangent: If you have 17 guests at a wedding two tables of ten, then you have 131,702 different ways of possible seating arrangements. A wedding with 100 guests and ten tables has approximately 65 trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion possible seating arrangements.

- Tangent: Jo had a very small wedding and didn't want the guests to talk about it much. One of her guests stayed at a local hotel, called a cab to take her to the wedding, and when the driver asked where the guest wanted to be taken the guest said: "I'm not telling you."

- Tangent: In Swedish weddings, it is tradition that if the bride leaves the reception to go to the bathroom then all the women kiss the groom. If the groom leaves, all the men kiss the bride.

- The biggest news item ever was the Universal Yankee Nation, "The largest paper in all creation" published in 1841-42. This was the largest newspaper ever printed, consisting of one very large sheet of paper. There papers were known as "blanket sheets", "mammoth newspapers" and "leviathan newspapers", and were this size to avoid new taxes that charged on the number of pages each newspaper had, that were brought in to discourage people from buying papers that were critical of the government. Cylinder printing presses allowed such newspapers to be made. This tax ran in Britain from 1712 to 1855, meaning that only broadsheet papers were made, and then after the tax was abolished tabloids and popular press for the poor could be published.

- XL Tangent: During the time of the newspaper tax people would save money by buying second-hand newspapers, read them in coffee houses, people would club together to share them and buy bootleg newspapers. While Jo argues second-hand papers would not be useful, Sandi says that when people go on holiday years ago, people would read any English newspaper they could find. Sandi was once in Thailand for three weeks and she managed to find a copy of the Daily Mail which had an article in it by Norman Tebbit saying: "I can't be the only person who's noticed a rise in serious crime since same-sex partnerships were brought in." Sandi says that Tebbit can be the only person to see this. Today, people can just access English-language news online.

- XL: The panel are given a selection of genuine newspaper headlines and are asked what the story is.

- Man has sex with steam roller: In 1955 a man in New Guinea went for a swim and found a load of equipment that had been abandoned after the war. One thing he found was a steam roller with a bolt missing in a bolt hole, so he decided to have sex with it. However, he failed to notice the incoming tide, and he got stuck as the tide rolled towards him. He didn't want to call for help, but he was released by a doctor who said: "It came away all right, but was very badly torn."

- Oblong man weds Normal woman: A headline from American newspaper the Bloomington Pantagraph, referring to a couple in Illinois, coming from the towns of Oblong and Normal. Normal gets its name from the Illinois Normal State University, while Oblong chose their name in 1880 because they were tired of their original name of Henpeck.

- Church window nearly smashed: A 2008 story from the Arran Voice: "Northend Thistle football players on the Ormidale pitch last week held their breath as a wayward shot at goal from Ben Tattersfield sailed through the air towards the stained glass windows of Brodick Church. But, thankfully, the ball struck the surrounding sandstone frame and bounced harmlessly to the ground."

- Hunt for Worthing poo thief: From Brighton and Hove, a man on a bicycle stole a bag of poo out of the hands of an elderly dog walker. A spokesman for Sussex Police said: "The lady was not harmed and clearly the thief stole nothing of value. Anyone with information is asked to call Sussex Police."

- XL Tangent: Other unusual newspaper headlines include "Driver fails to find horn and shouts, 'Toot! Toot!'", "Black cat seen near M6" and, "Police called to pull up drunk's knickers".

- XL: The thing you would see on Camel News is people smoking. NBC's first daily news programme was sponsored by Camel cigarettes, and ran from 1949 to 1956. The show has a "no no-smoking" policy, meaning that they were not allowed to show "No Smoking" signs at all, and they were not allowed to show footage of real camels, because it was thought to be damaging to the brand. Other early sponsored US TV shows included the 1950s show Do You Trust Your Wife? hosted by Johnny Carson and sponsored by L&M cigarettes. One point in the show Carson ask the husband what is wife's star sign was and he said "Cancer", and this had to be redone as "Aries", because they couldn't have a wife with a Cancer star sign on a show sponsored by a cigarette company. The very first news programme was sponsored by Oldsmobile, a car maker. The Ford Motor Company sponsored a programme, but only agreed to it if the Chrysler Building was removed from the backdrop of the New York skyline. Programmes sponsored by Chevrolet were not allowed to use the expression "Ford a river".

- XL: The one thing Nigel has in common with Corbyn is that in 2014 there were 10 baby boys that were given these names. Other baby names that were given to 10 babies in 2014 include Timotei, Veena, Vishnu, Wilfred, Apollo, Sedrick, Barry and Gordon for boys. Nigel was most successful a name in 1963, with 5,529 Nigels born. In 2014 there 302 babies born called Alan and 14 called Arsalan, which is a Muslim name for "lion". Names for girls beginning with "N" in 2014 include Noreen, Nile and Non.

- XL Tangent: During World War One there were babies given the names of Verdun, Ypres, Passchendaele and Heligoland. There were also 84 babies called Peace, 120 named Victory and 44 called Poppy.

- XL: The false memory diet works by putting people off certain foods. A study in 2011 involved telling people there was a questionnaire which could identify early childhood experiences with food. Someone would be told that certain foods made them unwell. For example, they might be told that they were sick after eating a carrot. This is false, but the participants would believe it and go off carrots. The researchers managed to put people off strawberry ice cream, white wine, peach yoghurt and dill pickles. The woman behind the study, Elizabeth Loftus, said that if you picture a food you don't want to eat and you imagine it making you unwell, then eventually you won't want to eat it anymore and the cravings will go away.

- XL Tangent: Examples of odd diets include one invented by 18th century doctor Malcolm Flemming, who suggested eating soap as a weight loss method. Elvis Presley tried the "Sleeping Beauty" diet, which involves drugging yourself so you sleep for several days, and you don't eat during your sleep. It didn't work.

- The thing that is so good about eye of newt is that it can constantly regenerate itself. An experiment was carried out where they kept removing the lenses of the eye of a newt for 16 years and the lens kept on coming back, and these new lenses are just as good as the old ones. The original name for "newt" was "ewt".

- Tangent: "Apple pie order" comes from the French "nappe pliee", meaning, "neatly folded linen".

- Tangent: In Macbeth the witches brew consisting of eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog actually references plants. It is most likely they refer to wild mustard seed, buttercup leaves, moss and hound's-tongue. Hound's-tongue is also known as "mice and rats" due to its awful smell. People used to put it in their shoes to keep dogs away from them.

- Tangent: There is a terrible decline in the world's frog population currently. It is now illegal to catch frogs for human consumption in France. India, which is the biggest exporter of frog's legs to France, has just ceased exporting.

- Tangent: The rough-skinned newt has enough toxins to kill 25,000 mice, and is so toxic that Native American tribes used to force-feed them to their enemies to kill them. If an animal eats the newt, the animal will die before the newt is dissolved in its stomach, so the newt can hop free out of the predator's mouth.

- Tangent: When threatened, the Spanish newt can shoot its own ribs from out of its body and stab their enemies with poison.

General Ignorance

- New Zealand's Ninety-Mile Beach is 55 miles long. One theory as to the inaccurate name is that missionaries knew that it took one day to walk 30 miles, and thus it took three days to walk along the beach. However, the missionaries forgot that people walk much slower in sand. (Forfeit: 90 miles)

- XL Tangent: The Maori name for Ninety-Mile Beach is Te Oneroa-a-Tohe, which means, "The Long Beach at Tohe".

- XL Tangent: Other misnamed places include Melbourne's Shark Bay, which has been renamed "Safety Beach", and the Thousand Islands archipelago actually has 1,864 islands. To be considered an island in the archipelago, the island needs to have at least one square foot of land, above water level for the whole year and has to have two living trees.

- The Newton's cradle was invented by Abbe Edme Mariotte, a 17th century French priest. The first modern Newton's cradle was created by actor Simon Prebble, who sold it to Harrods in 1967. To promote it, he made a giant version, but it had to be taken down when one of the giant balls knocked out a child. The chrome Newton's cradles were made by film director and sculptor Richard Loncraine.

- Tangent: Sandi once stayed at a hotel where she didn't realise that chocolates were left on the pillows. She woke up the next morning and thought she had a brain haemorrhage.

- Tangent: Alan made some red lentil and tomato soup which his daughter ate. However, there was a virus going around his daughter's school, and in the middle of night his daughter was violently sick, vomiting the soup over her white nightie and white sheets. Alan's describes it as looking like she had been disembowelled or like a scene from Carrie.

- Tangent: As a boy Isaac Newton came 78th out of 80 in his school. When he was 19 he made a list of his sins, which included, "making pies on Sunday night", "using Wilfred's towel to spare my own", "threatening my father and mother Smith to burn them and the house of them" and, "wishing death and hoping it to some".

- Tangent: Examples of large Newton's cradles include one made out of 15-pound bowling balls. The biggest ever was made for American TV show Myth Busters, which used five one-tonne steel and concrete wrecking balls hung from a steel truss. It was incredibly difficult to make and it didn't work.

- The name for the bit of Canada where Britain and America's most popular dog comes from is Newfoundland. The dog in question however is the Labrador retriever, which has held the top spot for 25 years. When the dog arrived in the UK there was already a different Newfoundland dog, also known as the St. John's water dog, so they needed to find another name. (Forfeit: Labrador)

- Tangent: Labradors have a genetic mutation which means they won't stop eating.

- Tangent: The mainland of Labrador is three times the size of the island of Newfoundland, but only 10% of the population of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador live in Labrador.


- Jimmy Carr: -5 points
- Clive Anderson: -16 points
- Jo Brand: -19 points
- Alan Davies: -25 points

Broadcast details

Friday 10th February 2017
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Clive Anderson Guest
Jo Brand Guest
Jimmy Carr Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
Anne Miller Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer
Sohail Shah Executive Producer


Newton's balls and Carrie style puking

A chat about Newton's cradle and Alan's daughter.

Featuring: Sandi Toksvig, Alan Davies, Clive Anderson, Jo Brand, Jimmy Carr.


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