Series P, Episode 16 - Post
- The panel try to fill in the blanks in a poster. It depicts Tony Blackburn and reads: "I USE _ _ _ _ _ _ Do you use your _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ?" It should read: "I USE W1A 4WW. Do you use your postcode?" Postcodes were invented by Sir Rowland Hill in 1857, by dividing London into postal districts. The modern postcode was not generally introduced until 1958 (the year Sandi was born), but people didn't really use them. Thus Blackburn appeared in this 1980s promotional poster.
- The three words that describe exactly Alan's current position are: "joke.proof.value", in that order. This is due to the British website what3words, which divides the entire world's surface into a series of 3x3m squares. This results in 57 trillion squares in total, all of which are uniquely described by a particular three-word code. To make the entire system work, only 40,000 words are needed. Launched in 2013 and operating in 25 languages, the website has been adopted by Mongolia and Cote d'Ivoire as their official address system. Codes in the system include "glitter.drummers.stepping" for a square in Bingerville, Cote d'Ivoire; "actors.asking.print" in San Francisco; "coffee.fever.cans" in California; "shut.tech.requests" for the Eiffel Tower; "sound.manual.lungs" for the front doorstep of Buckingham Palace; and "snake.removes.gymnast" for the top of Ayers Rock or Uluru. The advantage with this system is that if you need emergency services you can be very specific about where they need to go.
- You would give your postie a rocket as a way of sending post quickly. However, most attempts to do so have been failures. In about 1824, Sir William Congreve invented the Congreve rocket, a form of military artillery, and he attempted to use it to deliver mail from Tonga to Samoa by rocket, but it had limited success. The idea was dropped for 100 years, until the German engineer Gerhard Zucker returned to it in the 1930s. He toured Germany demonstrating his system. He planned to have rockets 5m long that travelled 400km at a height of 1,000m at 1,000m/s. However, it was just a large metal container attached to eight fireworks. No-one was interested, so in 1934 he came to Britain, announcing he would create a one-minute rocket post between Dover and Calais. The government liked the idea, so they tested it in the Outer Hebrides by loading a rocket with 1,200 letters, including one to George V, and firing it from the Isle of Harris to the Isle of Scalpay. The rocket exploded, with officials watching burning parcels rain down on the beach. As a result, Zucker was deported back to Germany as he was considered a threat to the income of the Post Office and the security of the country. The Germans detained Zucker for co-operating with the British, and he ended up serving with the Luftwaffe in WWII.
- The most useful thing you can do with Izal medicated toilet paper is write airmail letters on it, because it is lighter than normal paper. This was used by Sandi when she was in boarding school, because she couldn't afford airmail letters to send to her parents in New York.
- If you posted yourself to No. 10 Downing Street you would probably be returned. In 1909, two suffragettes, Miss McClelland and Mrs. Solomon, posted themselves to No. 10 because they couldn't get an appointment to see Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. They posted themselves from the East Strand post office, were escorted by a messenger boy named A.S. Palmer, but the human letters were refused and they were returned to their office at the Women's Social and Political Union. They did however get the photos of them at No. 10, so still got some publicity from the stunt. The Post Office played a big role in the suffrage movement, with members of the WSPU including the Pankhursts smashing post office windows, pouring acid into pillar boxes, setting fire to postboxes, and putting pepper into letters which they sent to anti-suffrage MPs.
- The panel are asked to impersonate a 19th century poster girl. In this period, poster girls were called "banner ladies" and were used as human billboards, advertising businesses by wearing things the business sold. For example, one woman advertising a baker's wore a dress covered in bread products. Another advertising household goods wore a dress with cutlery and a funnel for a hat. Others wore light bulbs, dolls, bed springs and pretzels.
- XL: The thing to do with a dead astronaut is to turn them into powder. Dead bodies cannot be ejected into space because a UN charter considers this to be littering. Thus, in 2005, NASA commissioned a Swedish company to solve the issue, and they created the body back bag. You place the bag around the body, put the package into an airlock, the body freezes solid in space, then a robot arm takes the bag, and shakes and vibrates it until the corpse is turned into powder. The bag of powder is then folded up and stored. (Forfeit: Eject the body into space)
- A question about the posterior. The man who gave Adolf Hitler a kick in the backside was his doctor, Theodor Morell. Dr. Morell gave Hitler daily injections in his bottom throughout the course of his career. It started off as basic vitamin supplements, but over the years it became a vast cocktail of drugs, and Hitler became very reliant on this complex and potent cocktail. One of the products was Vitamultin, that Hitler once gave to Himmler, and Himmler secretly ordered a SS physician Ernst Gunther Schenck to test it in his lab, leading him to discover it contained crystal meth. Dr. Morell's record of the drugs he gave to Hitler lists among other things belladonna, caffeine, cocaine, adrenaline, morphine, testosterone and E-coli bacteria extracted from human faeces. It reportedly kept Hitler fresh, alert, active, immediately ready for the day, cheerful, talkative, physically active and tending to stay awake for long hours into the night. Eventually, the Allies bombed the factories making the drugs, so Hitler was not only losing the war, but also he was coming off his drugs at the same time.
- The country that invented the queue was France. Wolfe Tone, an Irish revolutionary and father of Irish republicanism wrote in his 1796 diaries about the poor queuing for bread: "the petty princes of Italy are, as the French say, 'en queue pour fair la paix.' It is an excellent metaphor taken from a crowd who stand one behind another in order to be served in their turn as the poor of Paris, for example, are at the bakers."
- XL: The person who holds the highest post in the US military is George Washington. Washington was in the army, ranking as a two-star general, although after his presidency he was promoted to a three-star general by his successor, second President John Adams. However, on 4th July 1976, the 200th anniversary of American Independence, he was posthumously promoted to General of the Armies of the United States. A law was then enacted saying: "Whereas it is considered fitting and proper that no officer of the United States Army should outrank Lieutenant General George Washington on the army list, the President is authorised and requested to appoint George Washington posthumously to the grade of General of the Armies of the United States." Thus, Washington will always be the highest-ranking officer. (Forfeit: Melania Trump)
- The panel are show a picture of a typical mermaid and asked what is the most unrealistic thing about it. The problem is the tail is the wrong way around. Fishes tails are in the same plane as their body, moving their tail left-to-right to propel themselves. Most mermaids are depicted with the tail fin perpendicular to the plane of the body, so the tail moves top-to-bottom. If mermaids swam like fish, they would swim on their sides. Thus they instead swim like mammals. However, most mermaids are also depicted with scaly and shimmery lower halves, which is a fish characteristic, rather than the smooth skin of a cetacean like whales and dolphins. Thus, either the tail orientation is wrong and the mermaid is half fish, or the scales are wrong and the mermaid is half cetacean.
- Friday 22nd February 2019
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Sandi Toksvig||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|James Harkin||Script Editor|
|Alex Bell||Question Writer|
|John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE)||Series Producer|
|Justin Pollard||Associate Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|
|Nick Collier||Lighting Designer|
|Nigel Catmur||Lighting Designer|
|Andrew Hunter Murray||Researcher|
|Alice Campbell Davis||Researcher|
|Sarah Clay||Commissioning Editor|
|Kalpna Patel-Knight||Commissioning Editor|