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


  • TV panel show
  • BBC Two / BBC One / BBC Four
  • 2003 - 2024
  • 312 episodes (21 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 N, Episode 5 - Not Nearly

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Gyles Brandreth, Sandi Toksvig, Jimmy Carr, Victoria Coren Mitchell. Copyright: TalkbackThames

Preview clips


- The correct answer to the question: "Alan, don't you not want some points or not?" is "Yes", although arguably you could answer the question in both the positive and negative as it is not a yes/no question.

- Tangent: English is the largest language in the world, with over a million words. German has only 150,000 words and French has less than 100,000 words.

- XL Tangent: The difference between "no" and "nay" is that the former was used in response to questions asked in the negative, while the later was used to questions asked in the positive. The same is true of "yes" and "yea".

- XL: Is it clear that Sandi will be docking points for anyone who uses the words "yes", "yea", "no" or "nay"? The answer is "yea", because they question was positively phrased. (Forfeit: Yes)

- The panel are shown a photo of two men in military uniform on horseback and are asked why the man on the right is such a loser. The man in question, Sgt. Gehnall Persson, took part in the 1948 Olympics for the Swedish Equestrian Team and won gold in the dressage, but his medal was taken away because the French runners-up spotted Persson was wearing a Sergeant's cap. At the time, Olympic Equestrianism was only open to officers and gentlemen, as it was an amateur sport, and the other ranks were considered professionals. Persson has been given a bogus promotion up to lieutenant in order to take part, but he forgot to change his hat and so was caught out. However, the rule was later changed and Persson won gold in the next two Olympics in his old rank.

- XL Tangent: The very first substance abuse case in the Olympics was American swimmer Eleanor Holm, who was suspended from the team in the 1936 Olympics drinking too much champagne.

- XL Tangent: The first time Victoria went dog racing she went with a friend who was always betting on the second favourite, arguing that normally someone has slipped the favourite dog a pie.

- The panel are shown another photo, this time of two Olympic rowers and a boy, and are asked what they did when they found out their cox was too big. The answer is they borrowed a child from the crowd. The Dutch cox pair in the 1900 Olympics found that their cox, Hermanus Brockmann, was overweight. Worried they would lose, they spotted that the French were using children as coxes, so they borrowed a 7-to-10-year-old child who had already been turned down by the French. No-one knows the boy's name, but with him the Dutch won gold. However, the boy vanished back into the crowd before he could be presented with a medal, so the boy's gold went to Brockmann, and to this day the boy remains the only anonymous gold winner in the Olympics.

- Out of three bottles of wine, the first priced £5.50, the second £5.99 and the third £6, the one that people are most likely to go for is the £5.99. This is known as psychological pricing, and is akin to the practice of buying the second cheapest bottle of wine in a restaurant. People tend to prefer precise prices to round ones. There is also the "left-digit anchor effect", where people are more willing to buy something ending in 99p because it is still in the £5 bracket.

- XL Tangent: A friend of Alan's who knows about wine told him that he should pay attention to the duty of the wine. If the duty is £4 a bottle and the bottle is £5 then you are actually paying for a £1 bottle of wine. If the duty is £6 then you are buying a £2 bottle of wine and is thus twice as good.

- Tangent: The Official Monster Raving Looney Party once had a manifesto pledge to create a 99p coin to save change.

- XL Tangent: Sandi thinks that in restaurants you should always order the house wine, because a restaurant should always stand by it. If the house wine is not good, then neither will the food.

- XL Tangent: People are more like to pay £900 for luxury handbag than £899.99, because the later price sounds a lot cheaper and thus feels like less of a luxury.

- XL Tangent: When the Queen moves her handbag from one wrist to the other, that is the signal to her equerry-in-waiting to move you on.

- Tangent: In The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams and QI creator John Lloyd, a "kibblesworth" is defined as: "the footling amount of money by which a price is less than a sensible number". It is named after a village in Tyne and Wear.

- There are many unfortunate names to have on the internet. One is Christopher Null of Texas, because when he enters his surname into certain websites, the site thinks "Null" means "Null and void" in the sense that the space is intentionally left blank and thus won't allow him to register. Hundreds of people in China have had to change their names because computers don't have the right characters to register their names properly.

- Tangent: One unfortunately named website on the internet is a stationary site called penisland.com (Pen Island). Gyles worked for a comedy promoter called Bound And Gagged Comedy, and the words "Bound and Gagged" might lead to problems when looking them up.

- XL Tangent: Christopher Null, who is a tech journalist, claims that the easiest way of getting about the problem of entering the name "Null" is to add a full stop at the end.

- Tangent: In 1979, British feminist Margaret Sandra dropped her surname because she was irritated by the fact that she couldn't buy a tumble dryer unless her husband signed the form. If you don't have a surname, then it makes it hard to claim benefits or book things online.

- XL Tangent: There was a British student named Adam Armstrong who booked a flight on Ryanair, but it was booked in the wrong name. Ryanair was going to charge him a £220 admin fee to correct the error, but he didn't want to pay it. Instead, he changed his name by deed poll for free and got a new passport for £103, so changing his name was cheaper than paying Ryanair.

- The best person to invite to a "Don't come" party is someone with enough money who can afford not to attend. It is when a charity asks people to donate money so that they don't have to attend a party.

- Tangent: A "Never Event" is the official name given by hospital administrators to describe that are wholly avoidable and so should never occur.

- Tangent: Gyles once hosted the British Funeral Awards, which afterwards had a trade show. Also, the morning of the recording of the episode, Gyles received a letter asking him to become the new face of Stannah Stairlifts. His wife said he should consider the offer. Gyles rang the company and asked if they had considered giving the job to Nigel Havers instead. It turned out that they have, and Gyles was about 17th on their list. Gyles was also considered to the be face for alarms for people who have fallen out of chairs, which is currently being advertised by June Whitfield. Gyles does have one idea: in order to prevent the problem of forgetting why you have gone upstairs, stairlifts should be fitted with a small tape recorder so you can record a spoken message and play it back to yourself when you have gone up.

- XL: The panel are shown two very different pictures of George I and asked why they are different. The answer is they are of two different people, who are both George I of different countries. George I of England was one of 51 candidates to become king of England after the death of Queen Anne, and although everyone else was ahead of him in terms of lineage, George got the job because everyone else was Catholic. The other George I was originally Prince William of Denmark who became George I of Greece. Following the Greek War of Independence in 1829, reigning monarch King Otto was overthrown and a referendum was held to decide who should replace him. William was again Queen Victoria's second son Prince Alfred. In the referendum of 240,000 votes, William got 6 and Alfred got 95% of the vote. There were also 93 votes to make Greece a republic, and one to bring back King Otto. However, there was a treaty banning British royals from taking the Greek throne, so William got it.

- The panel are shown a picture of Queen Victoria's coronation and are asked what is not right about it. The answer is that many things went wrong during the coronation. First, the Archbishop of Canterbury forced the coronation ring on the wrong finger, causing great pain and they could not get it off afterwards (he would make the same error with Victoria's wedding ring three years later); the Bishop of Bath and Wells turned over two pages of the service book by mistake and accidentally missed out the bit in which Victoria is declared queen, meaning the coronation was invalid. She had already left Westminster Abbey before they spotted the error, so she had to come back and do it again; and the elderly Lord Rolle became globally famous for tripping over the steps leading to the throne and rolling all the way down. When he did, Victoria went to help him, which also helped her because she not popular at the time but her act of kindness made people warm to her.

- XL: You might use Nobel's Safety Powder to blow something up, because it was the original name for dynamite. Dynamite was safer the other explosives at the time. The name "dynamite" comes from the ancient Greek for "power".

- XL Tangent: There are many fake stories about Alfred Nobel, including the probably apocryphal story of him seeing his obituary saying that his invention lead to so many deaths, leading him to invent the Peace Prize, but there is no evidence for any such obituary. Another story is that the reason there is no Nobel Prize for maths is that it was a way of punishing all mathematicians because one had eloped with his wife, but this is not true because Nobel never married. A Nobel Prize of maths was just never considered. Also, there is strictly speaking no Nobel Prize for Economics. The Economics Nobel is given by the Swedish bank Riksbank who give it in memory of Nobel and it is at the same ceremony as the other Nobels.

General Ignorance

- The common Egyptian characters are the hieratic characters. Hieroglyphs were only used on special occasions. Hieroglyphs have multiple meanings, so they could just mean the thing they are drawing or something else. For example, the nose hieroglyph can mean, "smell", "joy", or "contempt". There are also no vowels used in hieroglyphs and thus we have no idea how the language sounded. (Forfeit: Eye of Horus)

- Tangent: In Victoria's quiz show 'Only Connect' they use hieroglyphics. Namely, the constants pick questions which are indicated by the hieroglyphs of water, lion, two reeds, twisted flax, the horned viper and the Eye of Horus. However, their originally used Greek letters. After the first series people wrote to complain that this was considered too pretentious. In the third series they began with an apology saying that they had listened, have got rid of the pretentious Greek letters... and replaced with just as pretentious (if not more so) Egyptian hieroglyphs.

- If you dropped a penny off the Empire State Building, the chances are it would land on one of the window ledges below, and the maintenance crews would scoop it up. The coins are too light to do any damage, and have too much air resistance to cause any damage if they did hit the ground, but most don't hit the ground anyway. Due to the design of the building most are blown on to the lower floors. However, if you dropped a pen off the Empire State Building, that would kill someone.

- Tangent: Baby ducklings are so light the float down to the ground rather than just falling. Alan discovered this when some ducks moved into the pond on his roof terrace, and the ducklings threw themselves off the roof and they landed safely. Somebody rounded the ducklings and took them back up to the roof, which they threw themselves off again.

- Tangent: The hero ant, a cliff-dwelling ant from Madagascar, removes predators from the nest by grabbing them and then jumping off a cliff. The ant lands softly with the predator cushioning the blow.

- Everyone on the show is asked to put their hand up if they have not got haemorrhoids at the moment. Everyone should keep their hands down, because we all have haemorrhoids. They are cushions, made of veins, and are designed to stop stools leaking out of your bottom. The problems with them occur when they are enlarged or inflamed. The main cause of this is standing or sitting still for too long, because it strains the rectum. (Forfeit: Up where?)

- Tangent: Comic and ex-doctor Harry Hill once told Alan that you should, "never resist a call to stool."

- Tangent: There is a theory that Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo because he had piles on the day of the battle, meaning he could not sleep the night before. Meanwhile, David Livingstone is thought to have died on the banks of the Zambezi from burst haemorrhoids.


- Gyles Brandreth: -1 point
- Alan Davies: -5 points
- Victoria Coren Mitchell: -8 points
- Jimmy Carr: -21 points

Broadcast details

Friday 25th November 2016
30 minutes
  • Tuesday 10th May 2016 at The London Studios


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Friday 25th November 2016 11:05pm BBC2 Wales
Sunday 27th November 2016 10:30pm
45 minute version
Tuesday 13th December 2016 12:30am
45 minute version
BBC2 Wales
Tuesday 6th June 2017 10:00pm BBC2
Thursday 12th October 2017 8:00pm
60 minute version
Friday 23rd March 2018 10:00pm
60 minute version
Wednesday 20th June 2018 8:00pm
60 minute version
Thursday 21st June 2018 6:00pm
60 minute version
Tuesday 4th September 2018 10:00pm BBC2
Saturday 8th September 2018 1:05am
60 minute version
Friday 2nd November 2018 12:40am
60 minute version
Tuesday 19th February 2019 9:00pm
60 minute version
Friday 17th April 2020 9:00pm
60 minute version
Saturday 18th April 2020 1:20am
60 minute version
Monday 3rd August 2020 9:00pm
60 minute version
Sunday 13th September 2020 10:00pm
60 minute version
Tuesday 26th January 2021 9:00pm
60 minute version
Wednesday 27th January 2021 1:20am
70 minute version
Wednesday 27th January 2021 6:00pm
60 minute version
Sunday 9th May 2021 8:00pm
60 minute version
Monday 10th May 2021 2:25am
45 minute version
Tuesday 1st June 2021 10:00pm
45 minute version
Monday 9th August 2021 9:00pm
60 minute version
Thursday 31st March 2022 1:00am Dave
Thursday 9th June 2022 8:20pm Dave
Wednesday 22nd June 2022 8:20pm Dave
Tuesday 1st November 2022 7:40pm Dave
Wednesday 2nd November 2022 2:20am Dave
Thursday 10th November 2022 6:00pm
60 minute version
Monday 5th December 2022 7:40pm Dave
Tuesday 6th December 2022 2:30am Dave
Tuesday 24th January 2023 5:00pm
60 minute version
Tuesday 7th March 2023 12:40am Dave
Friday 31st March 2023 10:00pm
60 minute version
Wednesday 31st May 2023 12:20am
60 minute version
Wednesday 23rd August 2023 10:00pm
60 minute version
Wednesday 22nd November 2023 1:20am
65 minute version
Wednesday 22nd November 2023 9:00pm
60 minute version

Cast & crew

Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Gyles Brandreth Guest
Jimmy Carr Guest
Victoria Coren Mitchell Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
Will Bowen Researcher
Anne Miller Researcher
Anna Ptaszynski Researcher
Alex Bell Researcher
Stevyn Colgan Researcher
Ben Dupré Researcher
Andrew Hunter Murray Researcher
Mat Coward Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer
Sohail Shah Executive Producer
Justin Pollard Associate Producer
Nick King Editor
Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
Mike Sutcliffe Lighting Designer
Howard Goodall Composer


Gyles Brandreth on stair lifts

Gyles Brandreth has been asked to be the new face of Stannah Stairlifts.

Featuring: Sandi Toksvig, Alan Davies, Gyles Brandreth, Jimmy Carr & Victoria Coren.


Sandi Toksvig brings joy for looking like Mrs Doubtfire

The new host of QI gave viewers all the joy with her sartorial choices on tonight's show.

Carl Greenwood, The Sun, 28th November 2016

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