Series P, Episode 12 - Procrastination
- While this show is meant to have a theme, the Elves tell Sandi that the questions about procrastination haven't been written yet, so Sandi gets out a very dusty box containing the "emergency questions" - and a very old photo of Arsenal winning the Premier League. Alan responds by say it won't be a picture of Tottenham Hotspur winning it. Thus, it is a really a "General" show in Series P, covering a wide range of different topics beginning with "P".
- A question about parenting. The best thing to do about a crying baby, according to the American paediatrician Dr. Walter J. Sackett Jr., was to ignore the baby. In his 1962 bestseller Bringing Up Babies: A Family Doctor's Practical Approach to Child Care, he claimed that if you don't ignore the baby, they would grow up to be a socialist. He wrote: "If we teach our offspring to expect everything to be provided on demand, we must admit the possibility of sowing the seeds of socialism." 1962 was the year of the Cuban missile crisis, and thus the USA was paranoid about communism. Dr. Sackett also prescribed early feeding, suggesting that babies should be fed cereals at two days, vegetables at ten days, meat at 14 days, and at nine weeks: "Bacon and eggs, just like Dad." He also said that babies should not be fed milk, writing: "To my mind, the dairies of America constitute the number one health hazard", and that babies should be given black coffee from the age of six months. Dr. Sackett did have children himself.
- Alan is given a special hat to wear. It has a wide, thick netted brim on top, and the panel have to figure out what he is perfectly dressed to do. Alan is actually wearing a falcon sex hat that was made to save the peregrine falcon from extinction. The trainer wears the hat and encourages the birds to mate with his head. In the 1970s, the species was almost wiped out because pesticides were damaging their eggs, so a captive breeding programme was created. The problem is that falcons are normally more attracted to their owners than to other birds due to "imprinting", which is when a young falcon hatches, it becomes attracted to the very first thing it sees, which is often their carers. Thus, this hat was designed so that it would collect semen from falcons as they mated with the carers. In the 1970s, the population of the falcons was down to 324, but since then over 6,000 peregrine falcons have now been released into the US using this programme.
- The panel are shown a painting of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and are asked who is wearing the crotchless pants in the relationship. It was Victoria. Underwear was invented in Roman times, but it fell out of favour for centuries. In Britain, men wore underwear in the form of drawers and knickerbockers, but women didn't wear any underwear until the 19th century. When women did start wearing underwear, it was crotchless, consisting of two separate legs hanging open underneath and held together by a belt around the waist. The underwear wasn't sewn together until 1876, and it didn't become the norm to have a crotch in your underwear until 1910.
- A question on pronunciation. Sandi does an impression of Katharine Hepburn in the film On Golden Pond, and the panel have to figure out where the accent comes from. The accent is Mid-Atlantic, and strictly speaking the accent is not from anywhere at all. The Mid-Atlantic accent is so named because it is halfway between the USA and the British accent, and it was used in Hollywood films pre-1950s. It was designed to be vaguely British and aristocratic, and it was thought that it sounded appropriately posh. One Hollywood voice coach, the Canadian Edith Skinner, taught Mid-Atlantic as good speech. This accent was adopted by Hepburn, Betty Davis and Vincent Price. Kelsey Grammer also used it in Frasier. The Mid-Atlantic accent is also used frequently by villains such as Jafar in Aladdin , Curella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians, Darth Vader in Star Wars and the evil queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. (Forfeit: America)
XL: In 2009, a British Airways passenger plane due to flying from Heathrow to Mexico City was delayed because a vital component had gone missing - the ashtray. Despite smoking having been banned from all commercial flights since the end of the 1990s, planes still need ashtrays because passengers break the rules, still smoke, and you need somewhere to dispose of the cigarettes. The pilot suggested borrowing an ashtray from another plane, and even replacing the entire bathroom door that the ashtray is normally set into. The plane was not allowed to take off until an ashtray had been fitted. (Forfeit: Wings; Pilot)
- The panel are shown a photo of Pickering's Harem and are asked what huge discovery they helped to make. They helped to uncover proof of the existence of the universe. In 1923, Edwin Hubble found evidence that a universe existed outside the Milky Way, but he couldn't have done it without the help of the women that were dubbed the members of "Pickering's Harem", in particular Henrietta Swan Leavitt. She worked out how to measure the distance from the Earth with pulsating stars, and when Hubble spotted one of these stars he used her methods to calculate how far away it was, thus he learned it was much too distant to be part of the Milky Way, and it had to be part of another galaxy elsewhere in the universe. Leavitt was employed Charles Pickering, the director of the Harvard Observatory from 1877. He originally employed male staff to analyse all the data being collected from the observed sky, and he got so angry with his incompetent staff he declared that his maid could do better. The male staff asked him to prove it, so Pickering got his maid to do the work, and she was better than them. Thus Pickering hired what were known as "female computers", or more insultingly, "Pickering's Harem". The "Harem effect" is when a male scientist in a position of power predominantly hires female assistants, probably because he has to pay them less so you can hire more.
- Elf Anna Ptaszynski finally arrives with the procrastination questions, the first of which is when you should celebrate Procrastination Week. It is celebrated by the Procrastinators' Club of America in Philadelphia at slightly different times each year, normally the first couple of weeks in March. The club was formed in 1956 and membership costs $20. Membership buys you a licence to procrastinate and access to the monthly publication Last Month's Newsletter, which lists upcoming events that have already taken place. They celebrate Christmas in June, Independence Day in January and have a Be Late for Something Day on 5th September. The club's motto is: "Behind you all the way." In 1966, they went on a bus tour, brandishing a banner reading: "Excursion to the New York World Fair", which had closed a year and a half earlier. They also ran a campaign to get the late President James Buchanan re-elected, even though he died in 1868. QI wrote to the Procrastinators' Club because they were doing this question, but they didn't get back to them by time of the recording. (Forfeit: Caption to Come [When Holly says it should be celebrated after she's cleaned her house])
- If you are settling something mano-a-mano, you are doing it hand-to-hand. This is the literal translation from Spanish and dates back to the 1950s. It originally refers to bullfighting, with two fighters in a rink competing for the audience's attention by killing three bulls each, to imply they are on equal footing to each other. (Forfeit: Man-to-man)
- XL: The physical feature that distinguishes humans and apes from other animals is bringing our thumbs all the way across our hand. We can also flex our ring and little fingers towards the base of the thumb. This is what makes humans dextrous. Frogs, koalas, pandas, possums, opossums, some birds and many dinosaurs also have opposable digits of some kind. Great apes not only have opposable thumbs, but also opposable big toes. We also set ourselves apart from other animals by brain size. Gorillas are often larger than humans, but their brains are only a third of the size of ours. Some other animals have larger brains than humans such as whales and elephants, but the large brains of humans pose problems, namely make labour extremely painful. (Forfeit: Opposable thumbs)
- The poppy was used to represent the combatants of the Great War, where the main combatants were France on one side and the UK on the other. That is because the original Great War was the Napoleonic Wars. Scarlet corn poppies grow very well on the flat Napoleonic battlefields because the seeds rely on light in order to grow, so if the soil is disturbed tremendously, they emerge out of the dark earth and are exposed to the Sun. American professor and humanitarian Moina Bella Michael created the idea of using the poppy as a symbol of remembrance for World War One. She taught disabled servicemen at the University of Georgia and began to sell poppies to raise funds for them. In 1921, her idea was adopted by the American Legion, and then by the British Legion later that same year. Thus the poppy was an American idea from the Napoleonic Wars. (Forfeit: World War One)
- A question about love and partnership. Opposites do not attract. While 80% of people believe this to be true, an examination of people's digital footprints of over 45,000 people shows that it's really rare for opposites to attract. One study asked people to fill in a 100-question survey asking what they looked for in a partner, then sent these people on a series of speed dates, and created an algorithm based on the answers of the survey to predict how well the dates would go. They found that the predictions were no better than chance. (Forfeit: Attract)
- Friday 25th January 2019
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Sandi Toksvig||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|James Harkin||Script Editor|
|Anna Ptaszynski||Question Writer|
|John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE)||Series Producer|
|Justin Pollard||Associate Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|
|Nick Collier||Lighting Designer|
|Andrew Hunter Murray||Researcher|
|Alice Campbell Davis||Researcher|
|Sarah Clay||Commissioning Editor|
|Kalpna Patel-Knight||Commissioning Editor|