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


BBC Two and BBC One panel show about quite interesting facts. 266 episodes (pilot + 18 series), 2003 - 2020. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Returns Wednesday 23rd December at 9pm. Episode Guide
Series P, Episode 4 is repeated on Dave today at 9pm.

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Sara Pascoe, Sandi Toksvig, Ed Balls, Johnny Vegas. Copyright: TalkbackThames.

Series P, Episode 4 - Parts

Further details


- One of the questions will be about a pig. If the panel think the question is pig-related, they throw a toy pig and shout "Pig" to gain bonus points.


- The most useful organ of the body is the placenta. The placenta performs all the roles of the kidneys, the lungs, the liver and the guts. (Forfeit: Penis)

- Tangent: Ed says the paunch is important when dancing. His Strictly Come Dancing dance partner Katya Jones was given a thin person to dance with the 2017 series, and she ended up with a bad back because she was always leaning in trying to hold him, whereas Ed's paunch meant he was easy to grab.

- Tangent: Although eating placenta is fashionable, there is no evidence of it being a super food. The issue is that while people believe it to be full of protein, it is really waste matter and thus useless. Advice for eating placenta includes cleaning it first by draining all the blood and rinsing it until it is pink; cut away the umbilical cord and membranes; and once that it is done it is no different than preparing any other meat you might get from the butchers. The only people who really regularly eat placenta are wealthy Americans, but the Royal College of Midwives claims there is no evidence that it does you any good whatsoever.

- XL Tangent: Bodybuilders believe that breast milk is high in protein because it helps babies to grow quickly, so some women sell their breast milk (what the bodybuilders call "liquid gold") online, accompanied with a picture of their baby which is now no longer getting the milk.

- Tangent: In France, once the pregnancy is over the government pays for "le reeducation perineale", a physical therapy to retrain the pelvic flood muscles. Part of the course involves an electronic vaginal re-educator, which measures how strong the muscles are, but it can also be hooked up to video games. A journalist for Slate wrote that she played a pole-position game while a friend played a game she could only describe as "Cooter Pac-Man". Alan suggests another game: "Womb Raider".

- The body part that Painless Parker specialised in pulling was the teeth. He was America's only dentist-come-ringmaster. His first business plan was to give patients cocaine before pulling their teeth out, but he didn't get any business in six weeks, so he decided to promote himself. Thus he got himself a horse-drawn bed with a dentist's chair on it, and charged 50ยข per extraction, and the patient was given $5 if it hurt. Parker wore top hat, tails and a necklace made of teeth while performing. He eventually ended up with a live audience, a brass band, contortionists and dancing women. Sometimes he would enter on the back of an elephant, throwing coins to the crowd. However, his brass band was there to drown out the cries of the patients. (Forfeit: Penis)

- XL Tangent: Ed used to work for Gordon Brown, when Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although Brown was normally a very tough man, the one thing he could not stand were needles. However, he had lots of dental work, so he had all his dentistry done without any anaesthetic. Ed says Brown would come into work afterwards, "in the blackest mood you could possibly imagine", and that: "It was the one thing he could not blame Tony Blair for at all!" As a result of this, Ed always has an injection whenever it is needed.

- Tangent: Before forceps, teeth were removed using a dental pelican, and before the dentist's chair was invented the patient sat on a low seat with their head between the dentist's thighs.

- XL Tangent: In the past, people such as missionaries travelling to faraway places like Africa often had all their teeth removed before setting off, because the chances of getting an infection that you could not treat out there were so high, you were better off removing all the teeth to avoid the risk. Johnny's dentist explained to him that both of his grandparents had their teeth removed for their 21st birthday as a present. Sara says that her late Nanny Babs went through the same thing, because it was cheaper having all the teeth removed rather than going through the long, expensive process of purchasing false teeth when needed.

- The panellists each have a plastic disc with three different sized holes in it and a pair of blindfolds. They then try to see if they can tell the size difference better with either their tongues or their fingers. Due to the "oral size illusion", your more pliable tongue bends around surfaces easier and thus it is more accurate.

- You can tell the time of year using part of a ruddy duck thanks to its penis. The ruddy duck, which is an actual duck from North America with a blue bill, has 8.5cm long curled penis, but it is only like that for the mating season. For the rest of the year the penis is less than 1cm and very thin. The penis size depends on their social circumstances. If males are kept with other males, only the dominant male gets the full size penis, but then the other ducks will get their penis later for around 4-6 weeks. The submissive male will sometimes grow a large penis, have sex and shrink it back down again before the dominant male finds out.

- Tangent: When Ed was little there was a TV show called Why Don't You, and on it there was something called the "dying duck", which was a vocal impression that Ed learned of a duck quacking, being shot and falling to the ground dead. Alan asks is if was true that George Osborne found Ed irritating, but Ed claims he never did the dying duck on him.

- XL Tangent: One thing that Ed did to annoy Osborne in the House of Commons was using rhyming slang. Osborne once did a Budget which he claimed was a "Robin Hood Budget", taking from the rich to give to the poor. Ed replied: "It's the opposite way around, he's taking from the poor to give to the rich, and he doesn't give a Friar Tuck." Osborne complained to the Speaker that this was unparliamentary language, but the Speaker allowed it.

- Tangent: Acorn barnacles also adjust their penis size. These barnacles are stuck on sea rocks, so they grow their penises for the mating season every autumn, which then moult at the end of the season. The length of the penis depends on how close you are to the partner, and the type of penis you grow depends on the water. Thus the penis is more muscular in choppy waters, and more flexible in calmer waters. It has the longest penis in relation to body length of any animal.

- Tangent: Female birds evolved more complex vaginas to encourage healthier, stronger sperm to fertilise the eggs. As a result, the males evolved longer penises so the sperm had less to travel.

- Pig bonus: The individual whose internal parts are most like yours is the pig. Between the lips and the anus there is very little difference between humans and pigs, partly because we have both evolved with the same diet, but they also have some of the same protein and genetic malfunctions that humans have, meaning pigs can suffer from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Alan gets the bonus.

- XL Tangent: Ed believes that the animal that is the best model for the human immune system is the mouse.

- XL: The panel try to spot the personality in a picture, which is of Alan doing stand-up surrounded by cockroaches. The answer is the cockroaches. In biology, a "personality" is a set of behavioural differences between individuals in a group, that stays consistent over time. Researchers at Universite libre de Bruxelles discovered that cockroaches have two basic personality types: shy and cautious, or bold explorers. Humans in comparison are really complicated, really unpredictable, and change their behaviour & traits over their lifetime, so in biological respects, humans have no personality whatsoever. Other animals that have a personality include bees (either flighty or diligent), hermit crabs (bold or shy), and fruit flies.

- XL Tangent: Ed says this shows that biologists don;t understand what "personality" means. The term has different meanings in philosophy. Wittgensteinians would say about language that you can only be a person if you have an understanding of language, and thus only humans can have a personality. Thus, he argues that Johnny has a very big personality. Sara however says that he does have some of the constant, biological personality traits like his drinking. Alan replies to this by lifting up a paper cup and saying that this is Sara's wine.

- XL Tangent: In the 1950s, cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman divided human beings into type A and type B. To them, type A are people who are competitive, highly organised, ambitious and impatient. Type B people are more relaxed. Part of the reason why this theory became so popular was that a lot of this research was funded by cigarette companies, who wanted to prove that it wasn't cigarettes that were causing heart attacks, but it was people who have a type A personality. There was no link at all.

- XL: The panel are asked what star sign they are. The problem with this is that star signs were created thousands of years ago in ancient Babylon, and the stars have since shifted in the night's sky since that time, thus everyone's star signs are wrong. Thus Sandi is not a Taurus, but an Aries, whereas Johnny is Leo, Sara is Taurus, and Alan is Aquarius, but they don't know Ed's because the researchers got his star sign wrong, for which they apologise via the klaxon. (Forfeit: Sara: Gemini; Johnny, Virgo; Sorry)

- XL Tangent: In Japan, there is a word for playground bullying based on your blood type stereotype, which is "bura-hara", meaning, "blood harassment". Ed mentions an Oxford philosopher named Parfitt, author of a book called "Reasons and Persons", who argued that who we are as a person changes through time, thus your personhood is a succession of past and future selves, meaning your 20-year-old self is different to your 60-year-old self. He argued that you can only be a person if you have that sense of self which evolves through time. Johnny mentions an experiment in which for a certain amount of your life, you're stuck in a certain time period, and by the time you are 28 you feel that you've become a fully rounded person when you are not looking for acceptance from anybody else. Then you stay at that age within your head. Johnny jokingly claims he was being told this advice while being pulled out of a river, when he realised he wasn't a pole vaulter. Ed was once a pole vaulter for Nottinghamshire under-15s, because he went to the county trials, only three people turned up, and only two got over the qualifying height. The under-18 high jumpers were going over a higher height without a pole.

- Children's parties can cause you to age prematurely because at the age of four or five, lots of children think that it is the birthday party that makes you older. Israeli researchers asked children that if a child had a first and then a second birthday party, but not a third because the mother was ill, how old the child was. 80% of children said that child was still two because they didn't have a birthday party.

- Tangent: Sara's niece recently turned four, and she asked Sara if she was coming to her birthday party. Sara said yes, and then her niece whispered to her: "Father Christmas will be coming."

- XL Tangent: One problem with birthday cakes is the germs spread when you blow out the candles, causing spit to land on a cake. Thus a plastic birthday cake cover has been invented, which you stick on top of the cake, put candles through holes, and then blow. Blowing on an unprotected birthday cake can increase the number of bacteria on it by an average of 1,400%.

- The panel are shown a picture of a boat and are asked what is wrong with it. The boat itself is completely circular. It is a popovka ship. Named after Russian vice-admiral Andrei Popov, two such ships were built in the late 19th century, and Popov believed that the circular nature would mean the ships could deflect bullets and needed less armour. He got the idea from a Scottish shipbuilder named John Elder, who believed circular hulls would offer greater level displacement of the water so the ship could have more guns on it. However, the ships just went round in circles whenever you fired a gun. Thus in order to stay still, the ship would have to fire in all directions simultaneously. One ship, the Novgorod, got stuck in an eddy in the River Dnieper, spun around making everyone sick and then was swept out to sea. Also, because the heat was concentrated inwards the decks were very hot, as the ship didn't cut through the water there was a lot of water resistance and thus they were very slow. In the Russo-Turkey War of 1877-78, the ships were just anchored off the shore.

- XL Tangent: Many ships have a bulbous bow, where there is a bulge at the front of the keel. The purpose of it is to make its own wave, and the actual bow creates a wave in different phases, so they cancel each other out. Thus it stops the wave at the front from slowing the ship down. (Forfeit: Penis)

General Ignorance

- Babies are born without their permanent teeth. They are however born with knee caps, which some think they are not born with because baby knee caps don't appear on x-rays due to them being made of cartilage. Knee caps don't full form until the ages of 10-12.

- XL Tangent: When Sara was once in Australia's Northern Territory, a man got eaten by a crocodile. When they killed the crocodile to get his body back, the body had been partially digested, and one of the first things to be digested is calcium, so the man's bones were all rubbery.

- Tangent: According to a 2017 UK survey, the average amount of money left by the Tooth Fairy per tooth is 88p.

- Tangent: Ostriches have double knee caps, an upper and lower one, and no-one knows why.

- The official title held by Jorge Mario Bergoglio, aka Pope Francis, is "Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God". QI learned this by ringing up the Papal Nunciature in Wimbledon. "Pope" meanwhile is a colloquial term from the Italian "Papa". (Forfeit: Pope Francis)

- The Pope is not a Roman Catholic. The religious leader who officially uses the title of "Pope" is the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria. His official title is "Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy See of Saint Mark the Apostle". (Forfeit: Wrong)

- The third largest political party in the UK is the Co-Operative Party, whose members include Ed, who stood for both the Labour and Co-Operative Parties in his elections. The Co-Operative Party is affiliated with Labour, so all Co-Operative MPs are also Labour MPs. The Co-Operative Party has 38 MPs, 17 peers and 7 MSPs. The two parties formed a pact in 1927. (Forfeit: The SNP; The Liberal Democrats; UKIP; The Green Party)

- XL Tangent: The Co-Operative Party was founded in 1917 by hundreds of different co-operative societies. The party has more representation in Parliament now than it has ever had. It could possibly break away from the Labour party if it doesn't agree with its policies, but no-one has ever stood as a Co-Operative Party member who is not also a Labour Party member.

- XL Tangent: Other obscure political parties, of which there have been over 700 since the 1950s in the UK, include the I Want To Drop A Blancmange Down Terry Wogan's Y-Fronts Party, whose past candidates included Pamela Stephenson; the Rainbow Dream Ticket Party, which in 2005 got one vote, and the woman who stood for it didn't vote for herself; and the Highlander IV Wednesday Night Promotion Party, which was set up by a pub landlord who worked out that if you pay your deposit you get free postage for one piece of campaign literature to every registered household in your constituency, and he used the money for his pub, the Highlander IV, to advertise his Wednesday Night Promotion. He got 48 votes, narrowly losing to the Buy The Daily Sport Party, but he did beat the Alfred Chicken Party.

- The panel are shown a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame devoted to Harrison Ford and are asked to name any film he was in. However, the Walk of Fame has two Harrison Fords on it. The other Ford was a silent movie star who appeared in over 80 films between 1915-32, getting his star on the Walk of Fame in 1960. The modern Ford originally called himself Harrison J. Ford to differentiate himself from the first Ford, even though he had had died 10 years earlier. (Forfeit: Raiders of the Lost Ark)

- XL Tangent: One of the greatest selling points in Hollywood of the modern Harrison Ford is that he looks good scared, so he still looks handsome even when frightened.


- Sara Pascoe: 0 points.
- Johnny Vegas: -27 points.
- Alan Davies and Ed Balls: -36 points.

Broadcast details

Monday 1st October 2018
30 minutes


  1. Thursday 3rd December 2020 at 9:00pm on Dave
  2. Friday 4th December 2020 at 2:00am on Dave

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Johnny Vegas Guest
Sara Pascoe Guest
Ed Balls Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
Andrew Hunter Murray Question Writer
Production team
Ian Lorimer Director
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer

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