Series O, Episode 15 - Occupations And Offices
- The entire panel dress in suits with ties, and the set is designed to look like an office, with a water cooler, stationary and the panel having their own desk name displays.
- The worst thing you can catch in the office is bad manners. A 2015 study showed that acts of rudeness spread around organisations like colds do. When rudeness starts it gets worse over the course of a working day.
- Sandi gives the panelists an occupation each: Deirdre is a sewage diver, Richard is the Queen's bagpiper, David is an ornamental hermit and Alan is the bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds. Out of the four of them, the one that is not real is the bailiff. The bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds is a non-job, as it was the position taken by MPs when they wish to resign. This is because MPs are forbidden from resign, so to leave the job you applied for a fictional crown office. MPs who have taken this job include Boris Johnson, David Cameron and Tony Blair. The divers go into the sewage to fix problems under the sewage. The bagpiper plays at 9am every morning underneath the Queen's window in all her palaces except Sandringham, because there is not enough accommodation. The hermits were employed in the 18th century to entertain wealthy landowners. If the landowner couldn't afford one, they would just build a hermitage and tell everyone the hermit was out.
- You shouldn't give a teenage boy your phone because he'll misbehave. In the 19th century, at the Bell Telephone Company, messenger boys were employed to operate the exchanges and connect the wires to transfer calls, because they were thought to be fit for the job. What really happened was that the boys drunk beer, wrestled each other, swore at customers, and connected strangers together as a prank. Thus the boys were replaced by women, and by the 1880s almost all phone operators were women, who were much better at the job, and were so good at it they could knit while working.
- An onion Johnny would bring tears to your eyes because they are the traditional stereotypical French onion seller. They travelled door-to-door, and there were 1,500 in the 1920s and 30s, who rode on bicycles and worked in the UK. However, while they are a French stereotype, they were actually from Brittany, so the French are baffled by our stereotype because most spoke Breton and not French. In 2008, only 15 onion Johnnies remain.
- XL: One of the ways you can get everyone to leave the office party, in particular one at in the Oval Office, is to offer free whisky. Originally it was tradition for the White House to be an open house to celebrate an inauguration. In 1829, Andrew Jackson had people over, and it became the worst house party in history. 20,000 people visited, with people standing on furniture, grinding food into the carpet, breaking crystal, and the carpet ended up smelling of cheese for months. In order to get rid of the guests they set up huge barrels of whisky on the lawn. Jackson however, didn't learn from this, and when he left office in 1837 he was given a half-tonne wheel of cheese by a farmer as a gift. He thus decided to have a party where he gave people the cheese. 10,000 people came, eating the entire cheese in two hours, and caused the White House to stink of cheese again.
- XL: The world's biggest troll is Troll A, a gas platform in the North Sea's Troll gas field. It is the tallest and heaviest structure ever moved by mankind. It weighs over a million tonnes and is taller than the Empire State Building. It takes nine minutes to take the lift from the top to the bottom. Katie Melua performed there, which earned her a Guinness World Record for the deepest concert ever given, performing at a depth of 303m below sea level. (Forfeit: Donald Trump; Katie Hopkins; Piers Morgan).
- The longest-lasting Soviet spy to work in the UK was Melita Norwood. She had a job in a metals firm that was involved in Britain's atomic programme, and every night she opened up her bosses safe, photographed the contents, and thanks to her the USSR was able to test its nuclear weapons sooner than the UK could. Norwood was not discovered to be a spy until 1999 at the age of 87, and the authorities decided there was no point in prosecuting her.
- The panel are shown a photo of a man and are asked what he is about to post. The man in question, Willie Reginald Bray, was about to post himself. "The Human Letter" was an eccentric who spent his entire life pushing the British post office to their limits. He started by sending unwrapped stamped objects to himself, like a shirt collar, onions and a half-smoked cigar. Almost all of this got through without trouble so he experimented. He sent letters addressed to "Any Resident of London", which was rejected; one where the address was croqueted by his mother, which was accepted; and one where the address was written in mirror writing, which was also accepted. He then tried to post himself to his father, and his irritated father received him. After all this, Bray then tried to build up the world's largest autograph collection, which resulted in him annoying Hitler because he kept asking for his autograph numerous times. (Forfeit: A letter)
- The person you see to get your eyes tested is an optometrist. An optician is the person who dispenses the glasses. However, you can train as both, so it is possible to be tested by someone who is both an optometrist and an optician. (Forfeit: An optician)
- The reason why poor eyesight may make a good impression is because many impressionist painters had poor eyesight. Monet's unusual colours may have been due to his cataracts; Degas probably had maculopathy; and Van Gogh is thought to have suffered from lead poisoning, which can make your retinas swell.
- If your surname is "Farmer" your early ancestors were probably tax collectors. They were able to earn so much money from this work, then purchased land and became farmers.
- The panel are shown some more surnames and are asked what job these people had:
- The greatest Wimbledon champion of all time is Prof. Bernard Neal, who won Wimbledon's croquet championship 38 times. In comparison, Martina Navratilova won the women's singles tennis nine times. Prof. Neal did not take up the sport until he was 40, and he won 37 out of a possible 40 titles. (Forfeit: Murray; Sampras)
- XL: Doctors do not swear an oath before entering practice. They do sometimes take an oath called the General Medical Council's Guidance on Good Practice. The Hippocratic Oath does contain in it rules about not having sex with patients and not removing kidney or bladder stones. People think that part of the oath is "first do no harm", but this comes another part of his work. It is also believed that he didn't even write the oath, as it appeared a century after he died. American doctors do take a more modern oath, called the Oath of Lasagna, written by Dr. Louis Lasagna in 1964. (Forfeit: Hippocratic)
Objectionable Object Prize
- David wins a milk jug in the shape of Queen Victoria.
- Friday 9th February 2018
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
- Friday 25th October 2019 at 1:45am on Dave (60 minute version)
- Friday 25th October 2019 at 7:00pm on Dave (60 minute version)
Cast & crew
|Sandi Toksvig||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|Deirdre O'Kane (as Deidre O'Kane)||Guest|
|James Harkin||Script Editor|
|Andrew Hunter Murray||Question Writer|
|John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE)||Series Producer|
|Kalpna Patel-Knight||Executive Producer|
|Justin Pollard||Associate Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|
|Nick Collier||Lighting Designer|
|Alice Campbell Davis||Researcher|