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


  • TV panel show
  • BBC Two / BBC One / BBC Four
  • 2003 - 2022
  • 279 episodes (19 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 O, Episode 6 - Odds And Ends

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Romesh Ranganathan, Sandi Toksvig, Liza Tarbuck, Matt Lucas. Copyright: TalkbackThames
Sandi Toksvig considers various odds and ends. Ever wondered how to tell a schnauzerorgan from a paddywhack? With Matt Lucas, Romesh Ranganathan and Liza Tarbuck.

Preview clips


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


- The panel are show pictures of six devices and are asked what they would open with them.

- 1: A black box with a dial and two small prongs sticking out of it. It is a back-case cover opener for a watch.

- 2: Two metal bars that are hinged together. It is used to hold open the mouth during dentistry.

- 3: A small blue conical screw. It is an emergency mouth opener used to help victims of lockjaw by inserting it into the mouth and slowly screwing the mouth wider and wider.

- XL Tangent: Alan once did a secret Santa and he bought something called a "back door beginner" - a low-level sex toy.

- 4: A large metal contraption with straps. It is an equine mouth opener used to open the mouths of horses.

- 5: A metal pin attached to a wooden lever, mounted on a wooden block. It is an oyster shell opener.

- 6: A metal ring with teeth on the inside. It is an egg opener.

- XL Tangent: The best way to remove the shell from a hard-boiled egg is to tap both the top and bottom of it, then roll the egg, and then the shell comes off easily.

- You can find the largest collection of things that don't smell in Copenhagen. There is an art museum in the city called the Ny Carlsberg Glytotek which contains a "nasothek", a collection of noses. These are all noses that have been removed from statues. In the 19th century there would be collections of noses used to repair statues, but today people think it is best to leave the statues as they are.

- Tangent: 80% of the statues in the Vatican gardens have had their penises removed, mainly due to prudishness. There is legend of a secret room in the Vatican containing all the broken-off penises.

- XL Tangent: There is another nasothek in Scandinavia. The Nose Academy in Lund, Sweden, which contains a plaster casts of the nose of Carl Linnaeus and a cast of the silver nose of Tycho Brahe. There is also an unknown nose, which is a monument to the nose of the common man.

- The panel are given a selection of odd words beginning with "O" and are asked to use one in a sentence.

- Oojah-cum-spliff: All fine and dandy. The earliest used of it is in . G. Wodehouse.

- Ohnosecond: In computing, it is the moment you release you made a mistake.

- Obsolagnium: Waning sexual desire due to age.

- XL - Ottymotty: Lancastrian slang for being perplexed.

- XL - Oozle: Australian slang for moving slowly.

- Oppenchops: Lancastrian slang for a gossip.

- Octodesexcentenary: Something that lasts 592 years. It came about due to the lunar solar calendar created by 17th century mathematician Thomas Lydiat.

- Sandi shouts: "Brace! Brace! Brace!" Aeroplane face masks then drop in front of the panellists and Sandi asks them what is in the canister at the other end of the pipe. It contains a mixture of chemicals that make oxygen, not oxygen itself. It is an "oxygen candle", containing a fine white powder, and a spark is generated that sets up a chemical reaction that releases oxygen. These canisters take up much less room than a whole tank of oxygen. Oxygen candles typically last 20 minutes, which is enough time for you to get down to a level where it is safe to breathe the air. (Forfeit: Oxygen)

- XL Tangent: In the early years of commercial airlines, before the invention of the pressurised cabin, passengers sometimes had to wear oxygen masks all the way through the flight. Fighter pilots also breathe a mixture of oxygen and air depending on the altitude. Sometimes they breathe 100% oxygen if they are really high. To let that happen the pilot needs to relax their diaphragm to allow the oxygen to enter, and then they have to forcibly expel the air. Thus they can only talk while breathing in. Pilots and astronauts need to wear "MAGs" or "moisture absorption garments" as they can't use the toilet while flying.

- The train on which the Murder on the Orient Express took place was an orient express, but not THE Orient Express. In the 1930s, there were several train services which included the phrase "orient express". The one which featured in Agatha Christie's novel was the Simplon-Orient Express, which was named after the Simplon Tunnel. The service took people from Calais, Paris and Istanbul every day. A different service, commonly called "THE Orient Express" only went from Paris to Istanbul three times a week. (Forfeit: The Orient Express)

- Tangent: Sandi once went on the Orient Express with her mother. It is very expensive, but you get your own butler. The butler introduced himself as Tybalt, which they automatically associated with Romeo and Juliet.

- XL Tangent: On the Orient Express there is a little hook by the beds. Sandi asked Tybalt what it was for, and he replied: "That's for your pocket watch, madam."

- XL Tangent: There was an actual murder on THE Orient Express. In 1935, a year after the novel was published, a wealthy Romanian woman was robbed by a man she was sharing a compartment with and the woman was pushed through a window. The killer was traced due to a silver fox scarf that he had stolen from her.

- XL Tangent: In 1920, a man staggered into a signal box dressed only in his nightshirt, claiming to be the French President Paul Deschanel, and that he had accidentally fallen from the train, Everyone thought he was insane, so the signalman replied: "And I'm Napoleon Bonaparte." However, it turned out it really was President Deschanel. He fell out because the sleeping compartments had sash windows, and he had taken some sleeping pills and accidentally fell out of the window. Deschanel once received the British ambassador to France completely naked except for is ceremonial decorations. Deschanel was eventually institutionalised in a place for the mentally infirm, but he was still re-elected to the Senate.

- XL Tangent: The Orient Express was developed by a Belgian businessman called George Nagelmackers. The Express made its first trip in 1883, and its first menu featured oysters, soup with Italian pasta, turbot with green sauce, chicken a la chasseur, fillet of beef with chateau potatoes, chaud-froid of game animals, lettuce, chocolate pudding and a buffet of desserts. When Sandi was on board she had lobster thermidor for breakfast, and among the cutlery was a flattened spoon, and when she asked what it was for, she was told it was a lobster gravy spoon, so you can scoop the gravy towards you. Lobsters are left and right clawed in the same percentage as humans.

- XL: Sticking with Agatha Christie, Sandi asks the panel "whodunit?" The one person who certainly did not do it was the butler, as no butler ever commits a murder in any of her stories. In The Three Act Tragedy the murdered appears to be the butler, but it is actually someone pretending to be a butler; in And Then There Were None the butler, Rogers, is himself murdered; in Murder On the Orient Express a valet is one of the 12 people who murder Samuel Ratchett, but a valet is not a butler. The difference is that a valet works on his own whereas a butler is the chief male servant. (Forfeit: The butler)

- XL Tangent: Butlers are now in demand, especially in China and Russia, due to the "Downton Abbety effect". It takes 10 weeks to train a butler. The word "butler" comes from the medieval Latin for a cask. Beer cellars in medieval times were called "butteries".

- The panel are shown a list of organs, and have to figure out which one they all own. The correct one is the "mesentery", which connects the intestines to the stomach, and was only recently discovered to be an organ in its own right. No-body knows entirely what it does, but you can't live without one. The other organs listed include the "sperm stomach" (the "bursa copulatrix"), which is a butterfly's reproductive system. It digests nutrients from the male's sperm package; the "smart vagina", which zebras can use to flush out semen of males that fail to live up to expectations, and the flushing can happen before the male has dismounted; the "paddywhack", which a load-bearing ligament in the necks of sheep and cattle, connecting the head to the spine; and the "mental glands", which is a pheromone delivery system in the male salamander's chin.

- Tangent: Sandi says she has a smart vagina, in that it's very tidy - she has a woman in it twice a week.

- XL Tangent: One of the earliest descriptions of the mesentery was by Leonardo da Vinci, so we have known of its existence for a long time.

- XL Tangent: The "schnauzerorgan" is on elephantnose fish. It is an extended chin, covered in sensors that can detect electric fields. It is so sensitive that the fish can tell the difference between living and dead bugs buried under the sea floor.

- XL Tangent: Anatomists have no clear definition of the word "organ". The Federative International Programme for Anatomical Terminology does not define an organ. The best definition we currently have is from a science historian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tom Broman, who defined it as: "Any solid thin in the body that does something."

- The animal that begins to "O" and is rescued more often by the fire brigade than cats is obese people. There were more than 900 cases between January-December 2016 of obese people needing to be rescued, which is up from around 30 cases ten years ago. (Forfeit: Ostriches; Opossums; Owls; Ocelots)

- XL Tangent: A man in Porthcawl who weight 38 stone was trapped on the third floor of where he lived, so a Sea King helicopter was scrambled from RAF Chivenor in Devon so he could be winched from a skylight.

- Tangent: Possibly the most famous obese person who needed rescuing by the fire brigade is Walter Hudson, who in 1987 needed help after he got himself wedged in his bathroom door. It is estimated that he weighed 1,400lbs (100 stone), but it is only an estimate because the industrial scales used to weigh him broke after 1,000lbs. Hudson held the record for the world's largest waist. Sandi gives a piece of ribbon long enough to be held by Alan and Liza across the desk to represent the length of Hudson's belt. Hudson's average daily diet included two boxes of sausages, a pound of bacon, 12 eggs, a loaf of bread, four hamburgers, four double cheeseburgers, five large portions of fries, three ham stakes or two chickens, four baked potatoes, four sweet potatoes, most of a large cake, additional snacks, and an average of 6.5 litres of soda.

- XL Tangent: The fattest animal in the world in terms of body fat percentage is the army cutworm moth. They can achieve 72% body fat, making them the fattest animals on Earth. They live in Yellowstone National Park and are eaten by bears. One bear can eat up to 40,000 moths in a day. They are nicknamed "miller moths" because the fine scales on their wings that rub off easily reminds people of dusty flour coverings on millers.

- XL Tangent: Tortoises do not hibernate.

- XL Tangent: The panel impersonate Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo. Romesh thinks both of them are pricks because while people treat them like heroes, they were just thieves. Alan says that Americans like that kind of humour and that they love a criminal. Matt says they love criminals so much they voted one in.

General Ignorance

- Your fattest fat cells are in your stomach. As people get obese the fat cells in the midriff do not proliferate, they just get fatter. Belly fat is biologically active, releasing hormones into your system that can increase your risk of heart disease. The NHS did a study that showed that 91% of mothers and 80% of fathers of overweight children mistakenly think that their children are a healthy weight.

- Tangent: Matt says her mother acts the opposite way to the NHS study, tell him to lose weight, although she still gives him a lot of food. Romesh's mother used to give him so much food when going to school, including jam sandwiches for break, that the school became concerned and phoned her. Romesh's mother told him to hide when he ate his sandwiches.

- The most featureless place on Earth is the Abyssal Plain, which is an undersea area of sediment in the Atlantic Ocean. The slope can be as much as 1 foot in a 1,000. The sediment washes off the land, and over time spreads out to form a smooth and level service. It is home to the world's deepest fish.

- XL Tangent: The deepest fish ever seen was in the Mariana Trench. There are some pictures of them, but nobody's been able to catch one because the fish are so deep down. It is believed to look a bit like a snailfish, but those who have seen them say it is really weird looking. A team at the University of Aberdeen found one, and Alan Jamieson said: "It's unbelievably fragile, and when it swims, it looks like it has wet tissue paper floating behind it. It has a weird snout, like a sort of cartoon dog snout."

- Tangent: Sandi gets out a blow-up globe with a stick through it. The stick enters the Pacific Ocean just of the coast of Vietnam. If you follow the stick, digging straight down, you would end up back in the Pacific Ocean again, at the Peru/Chile border, as the Pacific is so wide.

- The panel hear some dots and dashes and are asked who invented it and what it says. The code is _._. __._ _.., which is CQD, which is the Marconi Distress Message sent from the Titanic. Some people claim it means: "Come Quick Drowning", but this is a backronym. It really means "sécu distress", short for "sécurité distress". However, Samuel Morse did not invent Morse Code, and it is note a code anyway. It involved transmitting numbers that you translated in a special dictionary to find which word they represented. Morse's colleague, Alfred Vail, was the one created the idea of using dots and dashes to represent letters. This technically makes it a cipher, as a code replaces whole words with symbols, while a cipher replaces individual letters. Thus Morse Code is really Vail's Cipher. (Forfeit: Morse)

- XL Tangent: In January 1945, the people of Halifax, Nova Scotia, complained to the police that people were using their car horns to communicate, "vile and filthy language" in Morse code. The Ottawa Journal had a report saying: "Police are brushing up on their Morse code in preparation for a campaign against these swearing motorists."

- "How many Moons did the Earth have?" New research indicates that the Moon was formed of 20 moons that coalesced into one over millions of years. As both Earth and the Moon are made out of similar materials, it is thought that an object hit the Earth and sent debris into space that the Moon is made out of. Simulations have claimed that at least 20 moons needed to have had existed in order for the Moon to have formed. (Forfeit: Ten; None)


- Matt Lucas: -7 points
- Romesh Ranganathan: -29 points
- Liza Tarbuck: -37 points
- Alan Davies: -52 points

Objectionable Object Prize

- Matt wins the equine mouth opener.

Broadcast details

Friday 1st December 2017
30 minutes
  • Tuesday 23rd May 2017, 15:30 at The London Studios


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Saturday 2nd December 2017 10:05pm
45 minute version
Saturday 2nd December 2017 11:00pm
45 minute version
BBC2 Scot
Saturday 2nd December 2017 11:30pm
45 minute version
BBC2 Wales
Monday 16th April 2018 10:00pm BBC2
Wednesday 31st October 2018 8:00pm
60 minute version
Saturday 16th March 2019 10:00pm
60 minute version
Wednesday 1st May 2019 1:00am
70 minute version
Wednesday 1st May 2019 9:00pm
60 minute version
Monday 5th August 2019 12:00am
60 minute version
Monday 5th August 2019 9:00pm
60 minute version
Sunday 13th October 2019 11:40pm
60 minute version
Monday 14th October 2019 7:00pm
60 minute version
Friday 10th January 2020 6:00pm
60 minute version
Friday 10th April 2020 10:35pm BBC2
Sunday 14th February 2021 11:00pm Dave
Monday 15th February 2021 8:40pm Dave
Sunday 28th March 2021 11:45pm Dave
Wednesday 25th August 2021 8:20pm Dave
Thursday 26th August 2021 2:25am Dave
Tuesday 23rd November 2021 9:20pm Dave
Wednesday 24th November 2021 2:25am Dave
Tuesday 25th January 2022 9:00pm
60 minute version
Friday 6th May 2022 11:00pm Dave

Cast & crew

Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Liza Tarbuck Guest
Matt Lucas Guest
Romesh Ranganathan Guest
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
Kalpna Patel-Knight Executive Producer
Justin Pollard Associate Producer
Nick King Editor
Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
Nick Collier Lighting Designer
Howard Goodall Composer
Mat Coward Researcher
James Harkin Researcher
Will Bowen Researcher
Anne Miller Researcher
Anna Ptaszynski Researcher
Alex Bell Researcher
Ben Dupré Researcher
Andrew Hunter Murray Researcher
Ed Brooke-Hitching Researcher
Alice Campbell Davis Researcher


Animal rescue

Sandi Toksvig asks Matt Lucas, Romesh Ranganathan, Liza Tarbuck and Alan Davies what animal the fire brigade rescues the most. It's a bit of a trick question.

Featuring: Sandi Toksvig, Alan Davies, Liza Tarbuck, Matt Lucas & Romesh Ranganathan.

Share this page