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


BBC Two and BBC One panel show focusing on quite interesting facts. 233 episodes (pilot + 16 series), 2003 - 2018. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Another series is in development.
Series N, Episode 3 is repeated on Dave today at 6pm.

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Bill Bailey, Sandi Toksvig, Phill Jupitus, Claudia Winkleman. Copyright: TalkbackThames.

Series O, Episode 1 - Ologies

In the first episode of the 'O' series, Sandi Toksvig sets out in search of 'Ologies' and 'Odoxies' - and finds out how an amusement arcade helped to win the Cold War, meets a lizard with three eyes, and much else besides. The guests are Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitus and Claudia Winkleman.

Further details


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


- A question on oceanography. The CIA attempted to win the Cold War using a claw crane machine to pick up submarines from the bottom of the ocean. They used the biggest claw grabber ever made to pick up a Soviet strategic ballistic submarine which had sunk in the Pacific Ocean. In 1968, Project Azorian was launched to retrieve the submarine K-129 using a special ship called the Hughes Glomar Explorer. It looked perfectly normal from the outside, but the hull opened to allow the claw, nicknamed Clementine, to be lowered. They grabbed the sub, but two-thirds of it broke away as it was raised. However, the section they retained hold of contained two nuclear torpedoes.

- XL Tangent: The reason why most claw-grab game machines don't work is because they are rigged.

- Tangent: In March 2017, a three-year-old Irish boy named Jamie Bracken-Murphy so wanted a dinosaur toy that was in claw crane machine that he climbed up the dispensing chute and got trapped in the machine. As he wouldn't come out without the dinosaur, he had to be rescued by a passing fireman. He was allowed to keep the dinosaur.

- Tangent: There are disposable submarines. Narco-subs are fibreglass submarines used to traffic cocaine. 80% of Colombia's cocaine is trafficked out of the country using these. The subs travel up the US coast, smugglers deposit the cocaine safely and then dump the sub.

- Tangent: Mexicans smuggled cocaine on pallets, and one such consignment once washed up on a beach in north Devon, and was found by a dog walker.

- XL Tangent: Examples of grand thefts include an entire 10-tonne rail bridge that was stolen in broad daylight in the Czech Republic in 2012. The thieves claimed they were clearing the bridge to make way for a new cycle path. Another example includes an entire beach in Jamaica that was stolen in 2008, taken by a rival hotel to improve its own seafront offering. A 400-metre stretch of white sand was stolen, which is about 500 truckloads. Nobody noticed until it was too late. In southern India, beach theft is so commonplace that there is a word for it in Tamil - manarkollai.

- The panel are given a list of other ologies and are ask what they are the study of.

- Enterology: The study of intestines, and also the name given to the practice of contortion. One man, Rick Maisel, combines enterology with escapology. One of his acts is to enter a washing machine wearing five pairs of handcuffs and two pairs of leg irons, get someone to turn the machine on, and escape while being tumbled in soapy water. There are also various kinds of contortionists: front-benders have spines that flex forwards; back-benders have spines that flex backwards; splitters have flexible hips; and dislocaters can dislocate joints at will.

- Tangent: Alan watched a dislocater who was able to squeeze themselves through the head of a tennis racket.

- Oology: The study of eggs. Since 1954, it has been illegal to possess a wild bird's egg, so the practice has died out in Britain.

- Agnoiology: The study of things we don't know. The term was coined by James Fraser, professor of moral philosophy at St. Andrews (1808-1864). He claimed that there is more ignorance than knowledge, so therefore ignorance needs to be studied.

- XL: Posology: The study of medical dosages.

- Autology and Heterology: Autological words are words that are self-descriptive, whereas heterological words are not self-descriptive. For example, if "misspelt" is British English as opposed to "misspelled" which is American English, then "misspelt" is autological in the USA but heterological in the UK.

- Piphilology: The practice of using mnemonics sentences to remember pi. You use words with the same number of digits to remember it. For example, a piphilogoical sentence that would review QI could read: "Now I need a think knowledge of clever ideas was aptly conveyed, including General Ignorance." The easiest sentence is: "How I wish I could recollect pi easily today." There is a 10,000 word piphilological novel, called Not a Wake, written by software engineer Michael Keith.

- A question on ophthalmology. The thing that has a U, two Ts and three eyes is a tuatara lizard. It has a tiny third eye in the top of its head than can distinguish between light and dark. Most lizards have a third eye to a greater or lesser extent, as do many lampreys and frogs.

- Tangent: Claudia asks Sandi if a deal can be done so that the klaxon will not ring, because she worries that she will jump in fright towards Phill. Phill doesn't mind and turns to Claudia, waiting willingly. (Forfeit: OK).

- XL Tangent: The Tuatara lizard can move its two main eyes independently. One male tuatara lizard, Henry of Southland Museum, New Zealand, possibly became a father for the first time in 2009, at the age of 111.

- XL Tangent: The third eye is really a conduit to the pineal gland. All vertebrates have a pineal gland, but with humans it is inside the brain. The gland controls the production of melatonin. Bill claims that if you put a mobile phone next to your head while you sleep, it interferes with the gland's production of melatonin, and thus you don't get a proper sleep.

- XL Tangent: Bill was once asked to go on Strictly Come Dancing, but told them he wanted to do it in character. When asked which character, Bill said he wanted to be Abu Hamza. He was turned down.

- XL Tangent: The cockeyed squid has one huge eye pointing upwards towards the light and a smaller eye pointing downwards looking for prey. It is the only known bilaterally symmetrical animal in the world that has differently shaped eyes.

- XL: The panel are given another game to play with called "Cover the Spot", where they have five small metal discs and have to use them to entirely cover a large red spot. There is only one viable arrangement: put the first disc at the top, balance two more discs on top of the first, so they are left and right of each other but don't overlap, and then the last two can rest on the middle row next to each other.

- XL: The reason that manhole covers are circular is because they cover circular-shaped holes. People think they are round because they can't fall down the hole, but this is not true. Firstly, given a sufficient lip you can stop any shaped cover falling into a manhole; and secondly, in the UK most manhole covers are not round, but made up of two triangles that form a rectangle. It is the nature of a triangle to be inherently stable so the cover doesn't wobble. If it was just one single piece and a lorry ran over it then it might bend out of shape. Microsoft and Google often asked this question when testing their employees. (Forfeit: To stop them falling in)

- XL Tangent: There is a Korean arcade game called Boong-Ga Boong-Ga, which translates as "Spank 'em", in which the player has a controlling finger that they insert into the game's fake bottom. It is based on a Japanese childhood prank called "kancho", where you clasp your hands together with index fingers pointed, mimicking a gun, and attempt to poke your friend's anus whilst shouting: "kancho", which is Japanese for "enema". There is another arcade game from Japan where you have to hit a dummy and receive points for comic timing. There is also a Soviet arcade game called "Repka Silomer", which is literally the "Turnip Strengthometer", where you test your strength by pulling turnips out of a vegetable patch. You start off at mouse level, then it goes up to cat, dog, daughter and finally grandma.

- A question on oenology. The panel taste four different wines while blindfolded and have to guess what they are.

- Bill: A white wine served at room temperate. (Forfeit: Red wine)

- Phill: A chilled red wine, which most people would assume to be white.

- Claudia: A mixture of both red and white wine. (Forfeit: Ros

Broadcast details

Friday 20th October 2017
30 minutes


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    Cast & crew

    Regular cast
    Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
    Alan Davies Regular Panellist
    Guest cast
    Bill Bailey Guest
    Phill Jupitus Guest
    Claudia Winkleman Guest
    Writing team
    James Harkin Script Editor
    Justin Pollard Question Writer
    Production team
    Ian Lorimer Director
    John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
    Piers Fletcher Producer
    Kalpna Patel-Knight Executive Producer
    Nick King Editor
    Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
    Howard Goodall Composer



    Sandi asks the panel about various 'Ologies'.

    Featuring: Sandi Toksvig, Alan Davies, Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitus, Claudia Winkleman.

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