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. 249 episodes (pilot + 17 series), 2003 - 2020. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Next new episode is on Friday at 10pm. Series Q, Episode 3
Catch-up on Episode 2 on BBC iPlayer   Series D, Episode 12 is repeated on Dave today at 8:20pm.
Recording at BBC Television Centre. Tickets

QI. Image shows from L to R: Jason Manford, Alan Davies, Sandi Toksvig, Sarah Millican, Loyiso Gola. Copyright: TalkbackThames.

Series Q, Episode 1 - Quirky

With Loyiso Gola, Jason Manford and Sarah Millican. Find out who has Type Q blood, where to find the world's most dangerous cup of tea, what's even quainter than a model village, and the best type of pants to wear if you're trying for a baby.

Further details


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


- The furthest anyone's ever gone for a brew is up a mountain in China. At the top of Mount Hua in the Qinling Mountains is a Buddhist and Daoist temple which is really dangerous to get to. One path involves crossing a section while balancing on wooden planks above a 7,000ft drop. They do offer safety harnesses for $5, but the use of it is not enforced. The tea is made from rainwater, mountain springs and snow melt. Mount Hua is one of China's five great mountains, having five peaks that form the shape of a lotus flower, and each peak has a temple on it.

- Tangent: Loyiso asks if the tea there is better than rooibos, which comes from his homeland of South Africa. Sarah is glad Loyiso brings up the subject because she didn't know how to pronounce "rooibos". It is pronounced, "roy-boos", but Sarah has been calling it "roobiboos" for years. Jason replies that when he was 33 he was still pronouncing shiitake mushrooms as "shit-ache".

- Tangent: According to legend, the first cup of tea was drunk by Chinese emperor Shennong in 2737 BC. He was sat under a tree and a servant was boiling some water, when the wind blew some tree leaves into the water. According to Buddhist tradition, tea grew from Buddha's eyelids. He tried to meditate for nine years, but he kept falling asleep, so in frustration he ripped off his eyelids, threw them to the ground, and the first tea plant grew from them.

- Tangent: Jason talks about ASMR, the modern day relaxation technique which involves watching people whispering while doing particular activities like folding towels or cutting people's hair. He suggests to Alan that this should be on his next DVD, to which Loyiso criticises Jason for bringing up such an old form of technology.

- The thing that is even quainter than a model village is to have another model village inside the first model village, and then to have another model village in side that one and so on. Bourton-on-the-Water has a model village, which in turn has a replica of the model village inside it, and that too has its own replica of the replica. It was built in the 1930s and is now Grade II listed. In 2018, the entire thing was available for sale, along with a pub, for under £600,000.

- Tangent: The oldest model villaige is in Bekonscot, which turns 90 in 2019. It has 15,000 visitors a month and miniature shops in it include greengrocer's Chris P Lettis, Ivor Cavity's sweet shop, and chemist Hakes & Paynes.

- Tangent: Babbacombe Model Village has a replica of the tent used in The Great British Bake Off, including replicas of the stars. They have let their model of Sandi to the show, where Sandi points out that her model is inaccurate as it shows her in a skirt, an item of clothing she never wears. She says: "This is not what a lesbian on television looks like!" Correction: Since the show has aired, the model of Sandi is now wearing trousers.

- The thing that has type Q blood is a horse. Humans have two kinds of antigens, but horses have seven, and thus have seven different blood groups, with type A and type Q being the most common, alongside C, D, J, P and U. Horse blood cannot be stored in a blood bank, so the Royal Veterinary College and the University of London keep four horses on site whose job is to just donate blood. These horses are called Miller, Darcy, Freddy and Sonny. (Forfeit: The Queen)

- Tangent: When Sarah asks if the correct answer to the type Q blood question is an animal, she asks if they can undo the forfeit. (Forfeit: No)

- Tangent: When Jason's daughter was born he donated the umbilical cord to the charity Anthony Nolan. He said that the people behind the charity are like vampires, waiting at the door so they can get the cord as quickly as possible.

- Tangent: Australian James Harrison, aka the Man with the Golden Arm, saved 2.4 million babies by giving blood every week for 60 years. Harrison's blood contained disease-fighting antibodies which fight Rhesus disease, which is when the blood of pregnant women attacks their unborn babies. In 1999, Harrison was awarded the Order of Australia, the country's highest honour. He made over a thousand separate blood donations.

- The worst thing about being held in a queue is dead air while on hold. Hold music was discovered by accident by Alfred Levy in the 1960s, when his factory's phone lines developed a fault. A loose wire touched a metal girder on the building, turning it into a giant receiver. Audio being broadcast from a radio station next door was being transmitted through the wire and could be heard on the calls which had been put on hold. Levy thus patented the Telephone Hold Programme System.

- Tangent: Loyiso was in Australia last year and a friend of his suggested that they go for some dim sum. When they got to the place there was a queue, but a pregnant woman arrived and everyone let her go to the front. Loyiso however objected to this on the grounds that they were only queuing for dim sum. He asks is this makes him a bad person, to which the majority of people in the studio say it does.

- Tangent: When Alan used to ring up the Odeon cinema and was asked which cinema he would be interested in going to, he would say: "Holloway", to which the automated reply was always: "Did you say Manchester?" Jason, who used to work for Odeon, jokingly claims that it was actually a real person on the line playing a gag.

- The panel are shown a photo of a woman, Frances Lockett of Hyde, and are asked what she is queen of. She was queen of cotton, because between the 1920s and 1980s there was a tradition of crowning queens of industry, with these women representing British industries and Lockett working as a weaver. Queens of industry came out of the May Queen tradition, and as well as promoting the industry it was hoped with would give workers something to celebrate. In the 1920s they crowned the first railway queens and then the idea spread to other industries. These industry queens had nothing to do with beauty contests, and Lockett got her job by answering technical questions. The idea was picked up by American companies, such as the Zion Meat Company, who named Geene Courtney their Sausage Queen during National Hot Dog Week in 1955.

- Tangent: The panel have been given their own crowns promoting industries. Alan has a sausage crown, but his sausages are vegetarian. The other crowns represent industries from where the panellists come from. Thus Jason gets cotton for Manchester, Sarah gets glassware for South Shields, and Loyiso gets a centrifuge because 1.6% of all of South Africa's exports are centrifuges. Sandi meanwhile, because she has a passion for model railways, has a hat with a model train running around the brim of it.

- Tangent: One railway queen, Audrey Mosson, was sent to Russia in 1936 on a peace trip to meet Stalin, and was the second celebrity to switch on the Blackpool illuminations. When Jason went to see the Blackpool illuminations, the person turning them on was the singer Chesney Hawkes. He turned on the lights, sang his song "The One and Only", thanked everyone, asked if they wanted another song, to which everyone watching appeared to ask if Hawkes actually had another song.

- Goods are more likely to be priced at 99p rather than £1 for a number of reasons. The main reason was that it meant that the staff had to give customers change, because if the figure was a round number there was a danger of dishonest staff pocketing money that didn't need to go into the till. In the 1870s, American James Ritty, who ran a saloon in Dayton, Ohio, spotted that some staff were pocketing money. In 1878, he was travelling to Europe, and he spotted that the ship had a mechanism which counted the number of rotations made by the propellers. Together with his brother, who worked as mechanic, they built a counting machine which could track the number of transactions. The machine was called Ritty's Incorruptible Cashier, and they sold it to what became the National Cash Register Company, who added the cash drawer and bell, and every transaction had to be rung through the till, so if you charged 0.99 for something, you had to give them a penny. The other reason items are normally priced at 99p is because they look a lot cheaper in comparison to items that cost £1.

General Ignorance

- If you drank your pint through a straw you would not get drunk quicker. It is just that anyone who is drinking alcohol through a straw is already in the mood to drink a lot. Some people thought that you could create a vacuum inside the straw that causes the alcohol to evaporate, or that because you are so busy sucking the drink the lack of oxygen can make you feel giddy, but there is no evidence to support these claims. (Forfeit: You'd get drunk more quickly)

- Tangent: Jason says he likes how the klaxon caption shows how to say the phrase: "You'd get drunk more quickly", correctly. (Forfeit: You're welcome)

- There is no particular difference when it comes to which kind of pants are best to wear if you want to have a baby. People thought that tight underpants might be bad for fertility, because warming up the testicles would lower the quality of the sperm, but the difference in temperature between tight and loose pants is about one degree centigrade, which is not enough to do any damage. (Forfeit: Loose ones; Tight ones)


- Loyiso Gola: -8 points
- Sarah Millican: -18 points
- Alan Davies: -20 points
- Jason Manford: -26 points


For the correction regarding the model of Sandi, see the QI Twitter feed.

Broadcast details

This episode is currently available on BBC iPlayer

Friday 6th September 2019
30 minutes


  1. Saturday 21st September 2019 at 9:00pm on BBC2 (45 minute version)

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Sarah Millican Guest
Jason Manford Guest
Loyiso Gola Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
Sandi Toksvig Script Editor
Anne Miller Question Writer
Anna Ptaszynski Script Editor
Production team
Ben Hardy Director
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer
Justin Pollard Associate Producer
Nick King Editor
Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
Nick Collier Lighting Designer
Howard Goodall Composer
Mat Coward Researcher
Will Bowen Researcher
Andrew Hunter Murray Researcher
Ed Brooke-Hitching Researcher
Mike Turner Researcher
Jack Chambers Researcher
Emily Jupitus Researcher
James Rawson Researcher
Sarah Clay Commissioning Editor


Alan Davies on model villages

Alan Davies talks about how his father used to film model villages instead of his family.

Featuring: Sandi Toksvig, Alan Davies.


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