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


BBC Two and BBC One panel show focusing on quite interesting facts. 233 episodes (pilot + 16 series), 2003 - 2019. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Next new episode is on Monday at 10pm. Series P, Episode 7
Catch-up on Episode 6 on BBC iPlayer   Series O, Episode 4 is repeated on Dave today at 8pm.

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Jason Manford, Sandi Toksvig, Lee Mack, Aisling Bea. Copyright: TalkbackThames.

Series P, Episode 2 - Peril

Further details


- The most perilous job in the world is that of reverse parachute tester. In the Cold War, staff in Arctic spy bases had to be parachuted in and out because aircraft could not land. To get people out they had to use a skyhook, a device for parachuting upwards. It worked by using a helium balloon to carry a rope into the air, then an aircraft would catch the rope and reel in the person attached to the rope.

- Tangent: Arguably the most perilous specific job is being President of the United States, because you have an 8 in 44 chance of dying in office. The fatality rate is roughly 27 times worse than that of a lumberjack.

- Tangent: Another perilous job is test pilot. In 1956, test pilot Tom Attridge accidentally shot himself down. He did a burst of his cannons then accelerated downwards shortly afterwards. His windscreen shattered and the engine failed. He assumed it was bird-strike, but actually he dived down into his own cannon rounds, because the air resistance had slowed the bullets down. The plane crashed, but Attridge survived.

- Tangent: The most perilous sport is Formula 1, but Lee argues that it is fishing and asks people to trust him, to which Alan points out that Lee is a regular on Would I Lie to You?. In the 1970s, there was a 0.35% of dying in each F1 race, so a driver who competed in every race in five years had a 20% chance of dying.

-Tangent: In 2015, the Health and Safety Executive data shows that the most accident-prone occupation in the UK is hairdresser. One of the pictures shown to illustrate hairdressing is of a Pakistani hairdresser who does not use scissors, but instead sets hair on fire and then puts it out with a hairdryer.

- A Duckworth is a scale using known statistics to assign a risk of dying as a result of any given activity. A score of 0 represents living unharmed on Earth for an entire year. The top score is 8, meaning "Certain Doom". An example of something scoring 8 would be playing Russian roulette with six bullets. Being hit by an asteroid in the Duckworth scale is 1.6 because it is unlikely to happen, while doing the washing-up scores 5.5 because while it is not dangerous it does happen a lot.

- Tangent: One other form of Duckworth is the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern Method (formerly just the Duckworth-Lewis Method), a famously complicated way for calculating targets in limited over cricket matches in the event of play being delayed. It is based on the number of runs required, divided by the number of balls left, and includes other variables like the number of wickets left.

- Tangent: Sandi went to a cricket match, and the only thing she learned is that it is possible to have too much Pimm's.

- There are several perilous things that you can teach yourself. For example, Theodor Kaluza, a German physicist who was one of the people behind string theory, was so sick of people saying that theoretical knowledge had no value that he taught himself to swim from a book, managing to swim for the first time in his life in his thirties.

- Tangent: When Alan was 16 it was possible to get a motorbike, get on it, and just go. Sandi also had a motorbike and drove it without taking any lessons at all. While the bikes could normally go up to 30mph, bikes could be modified to go faster - up to 40mph.

- Tangent: In April 2017, an eight-year-old boy from Ohio who was desperate for a burger but whose parents were asleep looked up videos on YouTube on how to drive. He then got his four-year-old sister and they drove to the nearest McDonald's. Several people called the police, but apparently his driving was excellent, obeying all the rules and no charges were filed.

- Tangent: The most frightening thing Alan has ever done was a tandem skydive. The reason he did it was because he had a girlfriend who was always going on about how brave his ex-boyfriend was. To be fair to the ex-boyfriend, he was a battlefield medic in the army, but the girlfriend really hurt Alan's feelings when she said that the ex-boyfriend was the funniest person she knew. Alan did the skydive in Cairns, Queensland, and he absolutely shat himself. Someone once asked Lee if he wanted to go bungee jumping, but as Lee does not like heights he just agreed to go up and watch his friend. The instructor told his friend that when he said "Jump", he should jump. The instructor said "Jump", and just as the friend began to jump the instructor shouted as a joke: "NOT YET!"

- The panellists are given particular dolls of each other, including Sandi. These are poppets, which are traditionally used in European folk magic. For example, if you wanted to get someone out of your life, you fill the poppet with herbs, tie its hand behind its back, then toss it into a fast flowing river. You could also use needles to stab the dolls to cause pain.

- Tangent: Alan makes Sandi's mouth go to his groin. Sandi replies that she feels the need to rinse her mouth out. Lee uses Aisling's doll to rise her arm (which she plays along with), then rubbing her own breasts and then lying on top of Lee. Before she does lie on top, Aisling throws the doll off.

- Between "mild peril" or "moderate torture", the worst one depends on the views of to the British Board of Film Classification, formerly the British Board of Film Censors. These are stock phrases to describe the content of films. Examples have included: "Contains mild language, and horror, and fantasy spiders", for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; "Contains strong language, violence and sex, all involving puppets", for Team America; "Contains irresponsible behaviour", for Mr. Bean's Holiday; and "Dangerous behaviour, mild threat, innuendo, infrequent mild bad language" for Paddington.

- Tangent: Alan's favourite warning on films is that they contain "Language", because all films do contain it, it's just that some is rude and some is not.

- Tangent: Jason used to work in a cinema, and when people purchased tickets they had to tell the customers the warnings the censors gave, so when buying tickets for children's films Jason had to warn them that the film contained: "Mild peril". When selling tickets to Harry Potter films, he had to warn people the film contained: "Fantasy spiders".

- Tangent: Lee says that the only example mild bad language in Paddington was: "Where's my marmalade sandwich you c***!?"

- You know that scene in silent movies where the damsel is tied to the railway lines by a villain and rescued by the hero? Well, you don't. In the earliest versions of this cliché, it was the other way around. In the 1867 melodramatic play Under the Gaslight by Augustin Daly, the villain (Byke) tied the hero (Snorkey) to the track, who is rescued by the damsel (Laura). Not only was it originally the other way around, this railway scene never appeared in mainstream silent dramas. It only appeared in comedy spoofs. (Forfeit: Yes)

- Out of an airhorn, a water pistol, a bar of soap, a whistle and an umbrella, the best thing to use to defend yourself against a kitten is the airhorn. While the water pistol might work, some kittens will think of it as more intense play so it won't stop all kittens. Kittens attacking you is important because they are learning to ambush and hunt. What you need to do is distract them before they launch, so you use the airhorn, although it does not need to make a loud noise. Just spraying the air will work.

- Tangent: Other examples of self-defence against pets include protecting yourself from being bitten by and hamsters and guinea pigs. The advice is that you should never approach a hamster from behind. Hamsters do not like being blown gently in the face. If you are bitten by your pet rabbit, the defence is to shriek, as rabbits recognise it as a signal of pain, or turn your back on him and stamp your feet.

- Tangent: In July 2017, a hamster owner took her pet to the vet because it had sat still in the cage for three days. It turned out that the hamster had swallowed a fridge magnet and it was stuck to the metal bars of the cage.

General Ignorance

- When using tin foil on your roast, it makes no difference if the foil is shiny or dull side up. The two different sides to the foil are as a result of the manufacturing process. (Forfeit: Shiny)

- Chocolate biscuits go chocolate side down, according to the manufacturers themselves. They say: "During the manufacturing process, the biscuits go through a reservoir of chocolate that enrobes them, so the chocolate actually goes on the bottom." (Forfeit: Chocolate side up)

- The thing that spread the Black Death was fleas on humans. Studies of mortality data on plague victims who were dug up during the construction of Crossrail conclude that the plague could not have been spread so fast if it was just rats. (Forfeit: Rats)

- In the fight between David and Goliath the underdog was Goliath, because the slingshot back then was the most deadly weapon at the time. If the stone bullet is launched by a trained slinger, it would have the stopping power of a .44 Magnum hand gun. (Forfeit: David)

- The reason by coyotes never catch road runners is because roadrunners can fly. Coyotes are actually faster than roadrunners. Coyotes go at 43mph, while roadrunners run at 20mph.


- Aisling Bea: 8 points
- Jason Manford: -12 points
- Lee Mack: -15 points
- Alan Davies: -21 points

Broadcast details

This episode is currently available on BBC iPlayer

Monday 17th September 2018
30 minutes


  1. Saturday 20th October 2018 at 10:00pm on BBC2 (45 minute version)
  2. Sunday 21st October 2018 at 11:45pm on BBC2 Wales (45 minute version)

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Lee Mack Guest
Jason Manford Guest
Aisling Bea 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
Sarah Clay Executive Producer
Nick King Editor
Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
Howard Goodall Composer



Lee Mack discovers that the dolls they're playing with can control the panellists' movements.

Featuring: Sandi Toksvig, Alan Davies, Lee Mack, Jason Manford, Aisling Bea.