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


BBC Two and BBC One panel show about quite interesting facts. 267 episodes (pilot + 18 series), 2003 - 2020. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Next new episode is on Thursday at 9pm. Series R, Episode 2
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QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Jason Manford, Sandi Toksvig, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Jimmy Carr. Copyright: TalkbackThames.

Series O, Episode 14 - Oddballs

Tune in for the odd ball games, but be sure to stay for the vegetarian goatsuckers - you won't regret it. With Jimmy Carr, Victoria Coren Mitchell and Jason Manford.

Further details


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


- The panel are given a basket full of balls, and are asked to invent a new ball game and use their head. Here are some examples of odd ball games:

- "Headis", a German sport which is table tennis without a bat. Instead you hit a football with your head. It was invented by sport student Rene Wegner and the sport is now played internationally. It is on the official sports programme for 15 German universities. Players of the game include "The Sausage Seller", "Leek Face" and "Bob Da Headmaster".

- The Swiss game of "Hornussen", which has two teams of no size limit, and no limit to the size of the pitch. The players hit a ball up a ramp using something that looks like a bendy golf club. The opposite team have placards which they use to stop the ball. The game dates back to the 17th century and evolved from the tradition of hitting burning logs down the mountainsides to expel evil spirits. The ball can travel up to 306kmph.

- "Cycle ball", was invented in 1893 and became popular in Germany. The game was like polo, but instead you use the front wheel of your bicycle to move the ball.

- "Pushball", invented by Moses Crane. He watched a lot of American football back in the 1890s, but was confused when he couldn't see the ball during the scrums, so he invented a version using a 6ft ball weighing 50lbs. You had to get the ball across ether a line or a crossbar. There are also versions of the game on horseback.

- XL Tangent: Alan once did some filming for Jonathan Creek on a polo ground where he spotted an Argentinean player wearing jodhpurs, who came across as the sexiest man he and the crew had ever seen. Victoria says that in one of Julie Cooper's books there is a line: "Well, everyone looks sexy in jodhpurs." Victoria disagrees. Sandi says some people look like badly packaged sausages when wearing them.

- XL Tangent: There is a football club in Telemark, Norway, called the Odds Ballklub, better known as Odds. Its greatest claim to the fame is that the club holds the recorded for the longest headed goal ever scored. Jone Samuelsen scored with a header from within his own half, from a distance of 190 feet. It was so unbelievable that the people were called in to make sure it was real.

- XL Tangent: In the district of Khlong Toei, Bangkok, there is so little space that football pitches have been designed to fit odd spaces, so there are pitches there that go round corners or are shaped like trapeziums.

- Sandi can persuade the panel to do what she wants using only her thumb by using the "thumb of power". This is a gesture often done politicians to persuade voters to support them. The gesture involves a poked-out thumb resting on top of a clenched fist. "Chironoia" is the science of oratorical hand gestures, and it was set up in 95AD. One of the most common gestures reported at the time was to rest the middle finger on the thumb, and stick the rest of the fingers out. There also different ways to move the hand depending on the argument.

- Tangent: The rules of oratory are similar to those of comedy, in that they follow the "rule of three". Rules of oratory include "tricolon" which is where you make a statement in threes, such as "I came, I saw, I conquered." "Molossus" is where you use three stressed syllables, such as, "Yes, we can." "Epizeuxis" is where you repeat a word three times, such as, "Location, location, location." The rules of oratory are logos, ethos and pathos; ethos establishes the credibility of the speaker, logos is the logical argument, and pathos appeals to the emotions. These rules of oratory have not changed to this very day.

- XL Tangent: Sandi has given a TED talk on how feminism can save the world. The most successful TED talks tend to be the ones in which people use lots of hand gestures.

- Tangent: Examples of political hand gestures include one from Richard Nixon, on the day he was made to resign made two peace sign hand gestures to camera as he left the White House. Angela Merkel always holds her hands by her midriff with the tips of the fingers of one hand touching the other, and this is known in Germany as the "Merkel diamond". Donald Trump does a lot of pointing. Jimmy says: "When Donald Trump took to office, little did he know."

- XL Tangent: There is a conspiracy theory around the Merkel diamond shape, which is that some conspiracy theorists believe it is an Illuminati symbol. Jimmy once made the shape on a TV show for a split second, which lead to some people thinking that he was in the Illuminati. Jimmy jokingly says he is in it, but that isn't the reason he made the shape. There are lots of pictures on Google making the same sign.

- Tangent: Sandi says it is difficult to know what to do with your hands if you are being photographed. Victoria once read that if you put one foot forward when having your photo taken you look thinner. Alan says you should just put your hands high up in the air, because then people will always remember you. Victoria says she was amazed about how Page 3 girls seemed to have photos of their tits and bum in the same shot, leading to Sandi to replicate the pose.

- XL: The panel are show some artworks and are asked which of them is awful. Nearly all of them are examples of "outsider art", except for one which is by a six-year-old named Eloise Fell. Many works of outsider art, also called "primitive painting", "art brut" or "raw art", is now worth a lot, although at the time they worked many of the artists were considered poor quality. The other paintings include Libre Mer by Spain's greatest abstract artist Antoni Tapies; one painting by L. S. Lowry who many people described as a Sunday painter, but he was actually a trained artist and said: "I'm a Sunday painter who paints every day of the week." There is also a sculpture by Jean Bubuffet, who rejected what he called beauty in art; and a painting by Grandma Moses, who didn't start painting until the age of 78. Moses was a friend of Norman Rockwell's and she was named Mademoiselle's Magazine Young Woman of the Year at the age of 88.

- XL Tangent: Boston Massachusetts is home to the Museum of Bad Art. They define bad art as anything that lacks both artistic inspiration and technical competence.

- XL Tangent: By the time Picasso was 18 he could draw anything to look exactly the way it was supposed to, and he claimed that he spent the rest of his life trying to draw like a child.

- The panel are shown a photo of a man and are asked how his bare bottom helped Britain win World War One. The man is William Lawrence Bragg, a physicist and the youngest ever Nobel laureate. In 1915, he was in Flanders trying to figure out a way of using sound to locate enemy artillery. One day, he was sitting on the latrine in the house where he was billeted, and noticed that when there was nearby gunfire his backside momentarily lifted off the seat, even if he didn't hear the explosion. Another physicist he was working with, William Tucker, was billeted in a tar paper hut, and noticed by his cot that there some little holes, and even on windless days little puffs of air were blowing through. The two compared notes, and concluded it was due to inaudible, low-frequency sounds of artillery. They thus began to build detectors, and by 1917 the Allies had really devastating advantage when locating and targeting enemy guns.

- XL Tangent: The technical name for the cleft between the cheeks of the bottom is the "intergluteal cleft".

- XL Tangent: Martin Luther suffered from terrible constipation, so when he was in his privy when he read the New Testament in Greek, and his idea of Justification By Faith came to him while he was sitting on the lavatory.

- Tangent: There are 40,000 outside lavatories still working in the UK. When people used to urinate up the side of buildings, some buildings had tilted metal bars fitted onto them so the urine would fall back onto the offender's shoes. The most southerly building in Britain is a public lavatory on the Minquiers (aka the Minkies), which has a sign saying: "This toilet has the distinction of being the most southerly in the British Isles. Please use with care as the nearest alternative is in Jersey, which is 11 miles away."

- The thing that takes their mother-in-law to a lunatic asylum would be you on a visit. It used to popular to visit lunatic asylums to see the inmates. In 19th century America people used to have grand tours where they visited asylums, prisons, homes for the deaf and dumb, and orphanages, and it was normal practice to take the in-laws with you. Other odd days out currently available include visits to sewage treatment works in Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia. (Forfeit: Les Dawson)

- Tangent: The panel tell some of Les Dawson's mother-in-law jokes. Jimmy says: "I was walking down the street with my wife, and I saw my mother-in-law being beaten and robbed by six men. The wife said: 'Aren't you going to help?' and I said: 'No, six of them should be enough.'" Jason says: "I knew the mother-in-law was around because the mice were throwing themselves on the traps."

- XL Tangent: Other odd days out include a tour of a halal abattoir in the West Midlands, a cigarette filter factory being demolished because of asbestos, and the council tip in Padworth, Berkshire, holds a free family fun day where children can sit in a bin lorry.

- XL: The people who keep cheese in a bank are cheese producers in Emiliano. Since the 1950s, regional banks have accepted wheels of parmesan as collateral against overdrafts. The bank needs to help the cash flow, so they accept young wheels as security. The banks have special climate-controlled cheese vaults, which have specialist staff who clean the cheese and hit the cheese with little metal hammers to make sure it hasn't gone soft. It is believed that without this the parmesan industry would have died, because the cheese takes so long to mature.

- XL Tangent: Because it is so expensive, parmesan is the most stolen food in the world. Over 3% of the cheese produced in the world is stolen every year. The largest-scale theft of cheese was of parmesan in Italy. Between 2013-15, €6million worth of parmesan was stolen, most notably from bank vaults. In 2009, thieves tunnelled into a vault and stole 570 wheels of cheese weighing 40kg each. Parmesan is the most shoplifted food in Italy, and 10% of all shoplifting involves cheese. Some companies are now microchipping cheese to prevent theft.

- XL Tangent: The most expensive cheese in the world, pule, is made from donkey's milk. It is worth £1,000 per kilo.

- XL Tangent: Probably the weirdest and most disgusting cheese is casu marzu, which literally means "rotten cheese". It is a sheep cheese from Sardinia that contains life maggots. It has live insect larvae, and the locals consider it unsafe to eat once the larvae have died, so it is served while these translucent white worms, about a third of an inch long, are still squiggling. While some remove the maggots before consuming, others eat the maggots too. If you leave the maggots in while eating it, you have to cover the cheese with your hand because when the maggots are disturbed they can jump six inches in the air.

- XL Tangent: In the UK, people who are into hunting, shooting and fishing can use their guns as collateral. The guns are deposited at the end of the shooting season with their stockbrokers, and the owner buys shares. When the season returns the owner sells their shares and buys their guns back.

- XL: Out of ODD, ODD, ODD and ODD, the fourth one is the odd one out. All four are acronyms, but the fourth is for a medical disorder, while the other three are for services. The first is for One-Day Decorating, a service in California that rearranges your furniture; the second is for Outdoors and Dirty, a company dealing with outdoor pursuits like camping; the third is for Official Designated Driver, an idea that began in Scandinavia in the 1920s, but became popular in 1980s USA when the Harvard School of Public Health, in an attempt to stop one of leading causes of death between 15-24 year olds, got Hollywood script writers to put in lines about people being designated drivers. The idea worked and death figures dropped sharply. The fourth one is Oppositional Defiance Disorder, when children or teenagers exhibit an ongoing pattern of defiance. (Forfeit: 3; 1)

- XL Tangent: Jimmy asks if someone gets paid when the klaxon goes off. (Forfeit: Yes)

- Vegetarian goatsuckers eat fruit. Goatsuckers are birds named after an ancient belief that they lived nocturnally sucking the milk from goats. They are also called oil birds, and only eat fruit, while all other goatsuckers eat insects. They live in caves in the northern part of South America. They get so fat from the food they eat that there is an annual oil harvest, where the birds are harvested and their oil is used for fuel and cooking.

- Tangent: Alan says he would like to live in a cave, because he always likes being in one and feels relaxed.

General Ignorance

- There is just one time zone in China. The government ruled it is always Beijing time, no matter where you are in the country. The time was standardised in 1949, following the revolution and civil war there. In summer, there are places in China where the sun sets in the middle of the night, and in winter the sunrise might not occur until 10am.

- Tangent: Standardised time occurred in Britain due to the railway system. Everyone began to use it around the 1850s and then it became the legal time in 1880. There are however still some clocks with two minute hands. One at the Bristol Corn Exchange shows GMT on a black hand and the local Bristol time on a red hand, which was ten minutes behind.

- If your child has flat feet, it doesn't matter. Flat feet is an old wives tale, and no-one knows why the medical and military professions accepted it as fact. Flat feet is no longer an acceptable reason for being rejected from the army. The idea of arched feet might just be cosmetic.

- Tangent: In Dad's Army, Pike gets out of the army because he has flat feet. At least that is what Alan says. The person writing this guide knows that in the episode "When You've Got to Go", when Pike is called up he choses to be in the RAF, not the army, and he is eventually rejected because he has a very rare blood group, meaning that if he was injured there would be nothing to transfuse him with. In the wiped episode "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Walker", Jones tries to give Walker flat feet to stop him being called up, by getting him to jump repeatedly from a ladder and making him land flat-footed, but this fails and he does end up in the army. However, Walker is then kicked-out after it is discovered he is allergic to corned beef.

- When a boa constrictor squeezes its prey, the prey dies from a heart attack. The squeezing stops the blood flow to the vital organs. Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, discovered this by giving their boa constrictor dead rats with robot hearts, and the snakes didn't stop gripping until the heart beat stopped.


- Victoria Coren Mitchell: -4 points
- Alan Davies and Jason Manford: -8 points
- Jimmy Carr: -23 points

Objectionable Object Prize

- XL: Victoria wins some outsider art by a six-year-old.

Broadcast details

Friday 2nd February 2018
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Jimmy Carr Guest
Jason Manford Guest
Victoria Coren Mitchell Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
Mat Coward 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



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