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 today at 9pm.

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Richard Osman, Sandi Toksvig, Lee Mack, Lolly Adefope. Copyright: TalkbackThames.

Series N, Episode 7 - Naked Truth

Further details


- Alan is weird and not normal. In fact, no-one is normal. This is due to the jaggedness principle, where if you collect lots of information about the averages of various people, you will find that there is no-one who fits all the averages perfectly. For example, in the 1940s the US Air Force tried to design a cockpit based on ten average body measurements of 4,000 pilots, but found that no-one could fit into the cockpit, so they had to create adjustable seats. The Australian Bureau of Statistics tried to use their statistics to find the average Australian and concluded that she is a 37-year-old woman, who had a six-year-old son and a nine-year-old daughter, the woman is 5'4", weighs 11 stone, has a three-bedroom house with about £200,000 left on the mortgage, and the family originally came from the UK. Then the Bureau found that no-one in Australia fitted that average. In 2014, a dating website surveyed 2,000 London men to find the ideal London woman. Their research concluded that she is 5'6", nine stone, 34C bust, drinks white wine, has no tattoos, supports Tottenham Hotspur (to the annoyance of Arsenal fan Alan), has brown hair, drives an Audi TT, works as either a nurse or a teacher, liked roast dinners, has an exotic foreign accent, loves the movie Dirty Dancing, and her favourite TV show is Friends. Again, no-one in London matches those criteria. Alan, and indeed all of the panel are WEIRD, which is an acronym meaning "Western educated from industrialised rich democratic" countries. This is a problem when doing sociological research, because 96% of the people who take part in these studies are normally WEIRD students, even though they only represent 12% of the world's population. (Forfeit: Normal)

- XL Tangent: Humphrey Lyttelton was the exactly the same height as Sandi, but only when he was kneeling. When kneeling, Richard is just a little bit shorter than Sandi.

- XL Tangent: Danish footballer John Jensen once went to a bookmakers that Lee worked at. Jensen put on a £50 bet, won £400, but never came to claim it. Bookmakers are not allowed to tell customers that they won a bet, in case they put the bet on accidentally when they wanted to put the bet on something else. Jensen scored a brilliant goal for Demark against Germany in the final of the 1992 European Championships, which Denmark won, so Arsenal signed him up as a player and he failed to score for the next three years.

- XL Tangent: The only thing Lolly knows about football is the chant "COYS COYS COYS", "COYS" meaning "Come on you Spurs". She knows a football joke: "I bet Ozil might have asthma now, because of all the dust on Arsenal's trophy cabinet."

- Neanderthals took nothing when they went clubbing, because no evidence has been discovered that they ever used clubs. There are no cave paintings of clubs, no club artefacts, and wooden clubs would have rotted in the ground. (Forfeit: A club)

- XL Tangent: Richard suggests that as clubs they might have used frozen legs of lamb and ate the evidence, leaving the bones behind. This is a reference to "Lamb to the Slaughter", a story by Roald Dahl later adapted for "Tales of the Unexpected".

- The panel are shown large caves and are asked who lived there. The answer is the giant ground sloth, a now extinct animal that lived between 2.8 million and 10,000 years ago, and were the size of adult elephants. These were made in Brazil and could be up to 70 feet deep with multiple chambers. The largest giant ground sloth, the megatherium, weighed up to four tonnes and was 20 feet long from nose to tail. Their living relatives today are the tree sloths. As a size comparison Richard would need to be 50 feet tall.

- Tangent: The largest burrowing animal alive today is the polar bear, as they did maternity dens in snow or earth. Although you could argue that humans are bigger due to us making huge tunnels like the Channel Tunnel.

- Tangent: In Nottingham, where coincidentally Sandi made her professional stage debut the Nottingham Playhouse and Lolly attended university nearby, the city centre that was once known as Tiggua Cobaucc, meaning "the place of caves". People in Nottingham were living in caves as early as the 11th century. Under the Nottingham Enclosure Act of 1845 it is still illegal to rent out caves to anybody in Nottingham. The act was brought in to stop unscrupulous landlords. Nottingham's original name was Snottingham, was named after a Saxon called Snot, and the name of town meant: "the homestead of Snot's people."

- The panel are given a tray of things and will score 20 points if they can use any of those things to start a fire. The tray has sticks, a lemon, some wiring, stones, wire wool, a magnifying glass, some pins and a can of fizzy pop. The answer is the can, because you can highly polish the concave base of the can it could reflect enough sunlight to cause a fire. This is demonstrated on a larger scale the comedy trio the Festival of the Spoken Nerd using the perfect shape, which is a natural paraboloid. 200 years ago, these paraboloids were used to make party tricks, where super-hot cannonball in one paraboloid and gunpowder in another. The Nerds instead use a heat lamp and flash cotton.

- XL Tangent: To make a fire using two sticks, you need to sharpen one into a point and then rub the pointed end repeated into the second stick. Sandi demonstrates how to make a fire using wire wool, which you do by putting it into contact with a nine-volt battery.

- XL: According to the British public, the top five bare necessities of life today are (in order of most to least important) an internet connection, a TV, a cuddle, a trustworthy best friend and a daily shower. A cup of tea was 7th, having someone say, "I've love you" was 8th, and a mobile phone came 19th, which was beaten by coffee, wine, chocolate and a night on the sofa.

- XL Tangent: Richard suggest one necessity is knowing when to put the bins out, especially on a bank holiday when one person puts their bin out causing confusion along the whole street. Lee likes to get up early, put the wrong coloured bin out, and see if anyone repeats him. When everyone has gone to work, Lee swaps his bin to the correct one.

- XL Tangent: When Sandi first came to Britain aged 14 she was baffled by locals wondering whether to put jam or cream on the scones first, and realised people actually cared about the subject. Alan says that when you get a scone it is a "socan", and once you have eaten it it's "sconn".

- XL Tangent: When Sandi got her first mobile phone she went to see an elderly friend when she got a call, and her friend said: "Who was that?" Sandi said it was her agent, and her friend replied: "Oh! How did she know you were here?" Richard once forgot where her put his phone and searched the house for it, and ten minutes later he discovered he was actually holding it for the whole time. Alan asks if anyone has tried ringing their mobile to find it, only to find that the phone they used is the mobile they were searching for.

- XL Tangent: Separation anxiety occurs when you are separated from your mobile phone. A study at California State University took a bunch of students, half of whom turned off their phone and put it out of sight, and the other half had their phones taken away from them. They measured the levels of anxiety every ten minutes. The anxiety of people who were heavy phone users went up every ten minutes for a whole hour, until their levels were incredibly high. This might be connected with FOMO - Fear of Missing Out - and FOBO - Fear of Being Offline.

- XL Tangent: In 2014, Timothy Wilson from the University of Virginia put people in an empty room, and they didn't have anything at all in there apart from a device attached to their ankle which they could decide to give themselves an electric shock with. 18 out of the 42 people did shock themselves at least once. Most of these were men. Lee suggests that this was because women didn't know how to operate it, to which Sandi reminds Lee that there has been a "regime change" on the show.

- The panel are shown a picture of a man and are asked what he does faster than anyone else in the world. The answer is running a mile downhill. Craig Wheeler's record is faster than the flat mile world record. In 1996 he ran the Meltham Maniac Mile in 3:24, which is a one mile down a hugely steep hill just outside Huddersfield, starting at the cattle grid on Tinker Lane. The course that drops 400 feet and the race has since been banned for health and safety reasons. The race was also run uphill and was known as the "Murder Mile". Footage of Wheeler on Record Breakers a year later shows him completing the course in 3:26, which meant that he didn't break his own record, but that he does hold the first and second top spots for the distance.

- XL: Sandi ask if the panel would like to see a very small lady completely naked. This small lady is a microscopic artwork or "nano-sculpture" by South African artist Jonty Hurwitz, measuring 100 microns tall, and stands in the middle of an eye of a needle. The statue is made using multi-photon lithography (a form of laser printing) and photogrammetry (taking measurements using photos). One nanometre is one billionth of a metre, and is the amount of length a fingernail grows per second. Hurwitz said: "The nano works that I present to here represent more than just a feature of science. They represent the moment of history that we ourselves are able to create a full human from on the same scale as the sperm that creates us in order to facilitate the creation."

- The best thing that has even been done in the nude is win the Second World War. Winston Churchill has a keen nudist and like taking meetings while in the bath. His minister and staff officers were nicknamed: "companions of the bath". The Chief Usher at the White House, J.B. West, wrote that Churchill was: "In his room, Mr. Churchill wore no clothes at all most of the time during the day." One story tells that while Churchill was staying at the White House, Franklin D. Roosevelt called on him when Churchill was naked. Roosevelt apologised and Churchill said: "The Prime Minister of Great Britain has nothing to conceal from the President of the United States." Roosevelt then said to his secretary: "You know, Grace, he's pink and white all over."

- Tangent: Other famous nudists include Enid Blyton, who liked playing tennis in the nude. Until 1938, it was illegal in the USA for a man to be topless in public, even on the beach. Women's bathing suits were also monitored. In the 1920s some New York beaches had special deputy women sheriffs called "sheriffettes", whose job it was to measure the distance between the bottom of a woman's swimsuit and her knees. When Sandi was at boarding school, at the start of every year the girls had to put their skirts on, kneel in front of the matron, and if the top of the hem of the skirt didn't touch the floor you had to get a longer one. Lee mishears this and thinks Sandi said the "pen" of the skirts.

- XL Tangent: Other famous nudists include Benjamin Franklin, who liked taking "air baths"; D.H. Lawrence, who claimed he found inspiration by climbing mulberry trees naked; and US President John Quincy Adams, who regularly skinny-dipped in the Potomac River. While doing this once, a tramp stole his clothes and Adams had to ask a passer-by to go to the White House and get some more.

- XL Tangent: In 1985, 42 topless men were arrested on a beach in Atlantic City. Those who did the arrests said: "We'll have no gorillas on our beaches."

- The thing that you can't do to a naked Osman in Kyrgyzstan is fish for it. The naked osman is a trout-like fish that was the most populous fish in Lake Issyk-Kul in North-Earth Kyrgyzstan. However, it was overfished and by 1986 it was almost entirely wiped out. Thus there is now a total ban on fishing them. Lake Issyk-Kul is the second largest mountain lake in the world, after Lake Titicaca, and has no outlets apart from evaporation. Thus, it is much deeper than it was in medieval times. It was popular on the Silk Road, and there is a 2,500 year old city at the bottom of the lake.

- XL Tangent: The name "Osman" is popular around the 'Stan countries'. It originally came from the Ottoman Empire, so it is actually Turkish. Thus there are many Osmans in the Middle East. Whenever Richard is visiting those parts of the world they find it funny that someone like Richard - white and really tall - is an Osman.

General Ignorance

- There are 104 shades of grey, according to the Pantone colour chart. It also lists 71 shades of white, and 110 of nude or naked - but all of those shades depict white skin.

- Tangent: Lolly once asked for some nude lip gloss, and she was given some that was coloured chalk white.

- XL: When fishing, the fish that you should throw back in the water are the big ones. This is because the population of larger, older fish is much more stable. If there is a lack of food then a few big fish will eat less and they will survive. The older fish also provide stability to the population, because they provide more and better quality offspring. (Forfeit: The small ones)

- There are no extinct animals that had teeth-like sabres. There is no such animal as a sabre-toothed tiger or a sabre-toothed lion. The sabre-toothed animals are not related to them, and are not even technically cats, being more bear-like. They ranged in size from a large pet cat to the size of a horse. There was a sabre-toothed trout that was 6'6" long. (Forfeit: Sabre-toothed tiger)

- The panel are played the sound of rumbling and are asked what it is. It is the sound of the small intestine cleaning itself in preparation for food, which people commonly mistake for a tummy rumbling. The noise is called: "borborygmus".

- 100 points are on offer to anyone who can pat their head while rubbing their stomach. The panel fail to do so because we all tend to rub far too low down the body. The stomach is just under your pecs. Stomach lining blushes when you blush. (Forfeit: Not there)


- Richard Osman: 1 point
- Lolly Adefope: -8 points
- Lee Mack: -20 points
- Alan Davies: -35 points

Broadcast details

Friday 9th December 2016
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Lee Mack Guest
Richard Osman Guest
Lolly Adefope Guest
Steve Mould (as Festival Of The Spoken Nerd) Self
Helen Arney (as Festival Of The Spoken Nerd) Self
Matt Parker (as Festival Of The Spoken Nerd) Self
Craig Wheeler Self
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
Stevyn Colgan Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer
Sohail Shah Executive Producer



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