Series R, Episode 11 - Roaming
- This is a "General" show in Series R, covering a wide range of different topics beginning with "R".
- The panel are shown the famous poster of a woman in work clothes flexing her muscles saying: "We can do it!" They asked who she is and what she can do. While many believe that this woman is called Rosie the Riveter and this 1943 poster was to illustrate women's contribution to World War II, it was only used for ten days in American Westinghouse Factories. It was a series of 42 posters designed to stop union activity and strikes. The poster was then rediscovered in the 1980s and given a new lease of life. The real Rosie the Riveter comes from a Norman Rockwell painting that is based on the Prophet Isaiah from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. Rockwell's Rosie is shown eating a ham sandwich and stamping on a copy of Mein Kampf. Rosie was based on a 19-year-old telephone operator named Mary Doyle Keefe, who was paid $10 and was never a riveter. The image of the actual Rosie fell out of use due to copyright restrictions, and the gap was filled by the poster version. The name "Rosie the Riveter" came from a song which had the following lyrics: "Keeps a sharp lookout for sabotage, sitting up there on the fuselage. That little frail can do more than a male can do, Rosie the Riveter." (Forfeit: Rosie the Riveter)
- Tangent: In July 2018, QI were contacted on Twitter by one Sam Jordan who found some old photos, including one of their great grandmother at a wedding who looks surprisingly like Alan.
- The panel are shown a list of words of Norwegian origin and are asked what they mean. The words are, "biffsquiggled", "crotching", "flushbunking", "squiffkerotter", "whiffswiddle", "razztwizzler" and "redunculous". These are all coined by Roald Dahl in The BFG, who was born in Wales to Norwegian parents. Definitions for the words include "confused" for "biffsquiggled", "making no sense" for "flushbunking", and "something happening or moving very fast" is "whiffswiddle". Dahl made up over 500 words for The BFG, including "scrumdiddlyumptious" and "snozzcumber". The BFG was first published in 1982 and has sold over 40 million copies, and sells another million every year.
- Tangent: Benjamin spotted online that there are pranksters who go around licking toilets.
- XL Tangent: The panel are shown some Danish words and are asked to define them. The word "bagslag", pronounced "bowslei", means "backfire"; "fart" means "speed"; and "boghandel", pronounced "bo han'l", means "bookshop".
- Tangent: Dahl briefly worked as a spy for MI6 in the USA, and used his experience to write screenplays, writing You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
- Tangent: In The BFG, one of the dreams The BFG has bottled is about a book that sells so well that even footballers on the pitch are reading it.
- Tangent: When Dahl died, he was buried with his snooker cues, some very good Burgundy, chocolates, HB pencils and a power saw. Sandi asks the panel what they would be buried with. Alan hesitates as he was going to say his children. Josh says he would be buried with his first completed jigsaw which he finished the week of recording, but the panel mock him after he tells that that there was one piece missing, so he says he would like to be buried with the missing piece. Benjamin says he would like to be buried with his first typewriter, which is currently in Birmingham Museum and is almost 100 years old. As a child an adult asked Benjamin what he wanted to be when he grew up, and when Benjamin told him he wanted to be a poet the man gave him the typewriter. Benjamin says he would like to be buried with so that, "when I'm decomposing I'm still composing". Sara says she worries that the Birmingham Museum might be empty if Benjamin takes back the typewriter and wonders what else is in it. Josh jokingly says they have Jasper Carrott's stool. Alan once met Carrott and asked why he gave himself that stage name. Carrott replied that his real name was so boring. Carrott's real name is Bob Davis, which happens to also be the name of Alan's middle child.
- The Romans improved a lot of pre-existing stuff for us rather than giving stuff to us. Monty Python's Life Of Brian contains the famous line: "All right, but apart from, you know, the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?" Most of the items in that list had already existed. The Romans just improved upon them rather than invented them. For example, straight roads existed in Ireland, which the Romans never reached. The world's oldest paved road was Egyptian, built around 4,500 years ago to help build the monuments at Giza along the Nile. Things the Romans did give us is the Wicker Man, as the first evidence for this comes from Julius Caesar who claimed Druids used them for human sacrifices, but it is believed that this was made up to paint the Britons are barbaric. Another Roman invention is welfare, with them giving corn to the poorest people.
- XL Tangent: The first thing Sara learned about Romans at school was aqueducts, and she was annoyed that she didn't see more of them as she grew up due to the way they were "bigged up". In the 7th century BC the king of Assyria built an aqueduct to bring water from nearby mountains to his palace in Nineveh, which existed long before the Romans.
- Tangent: In 2016, a 40ft tall wicker Peter Rabbit was built to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter's birth. However, it was set on fire by arsonists. Sandi says she has pictures of the fire but she couldn't bring herself to show it, which leads to Alan demanding to see the pictures, getting the audience to cheer him and boo her. Sandi still refuses.
- XL Tangent: Other Roman inventions include bound books and Latin.
- Tangent: Benjamin says that some African scholars would dispute Sandi's claim that the Romans invented welfare, saying there is evidence of African villages sharing and making sure no-one would go poor. The Jamaican word "paadna" is a term for putting money into a kitty for the village to make sure no-one goes poor. Sandi comments that part of the problem is that much of this information has been lost and not written down, to which Benjamin replies that the oral tradition keeps the evidence alive.
- XL Tangent: In West Africa, there used to be something called Ananci stories. Anancies were trickster spiders that would always get into trouble and somehow work their way out of it. The stories always gave away a bit of wisdom for you to learn, especially for children. These stories were told for hundreds of years, then went to the Caribbean, and then in mid 1990s a British publisher published a book of these stories, upsetting a lot of people, because the stories are meant to move and change with the times, but the book sets the stories in stone. Today, an Ananci story would involve something about the internet.
- XL: The things that the Romanians have ever done for us include religious tolerance and the world's longest sausage. Vampire legends have existed in just about every culture for thousands of years, some Romania did not invent them, despite being the home of Transylvania. In 1556, a Polish student challenged the idea that people had to believe in the Trinity and would rather just believe in God. This resulted in the creation of Unitarianism. The world's only Unitarian king was King Janos Zsigmond, created the 1568 Edict of Turda, named after a town in Transylvania, which stated that: "A preacher may preach the Gospel by his own personal conception at any place if that community is willing to accept him, or if it isn't, no-one should force him just because their soul is not satisfied with him." The world's longest sausage was created in Romania in December 2014, measuring 38.99 miles (62.75km). The sausage was given out to help local charities. (Forfeit: Vampires)
- XL Tangent: When the klaxon sounds out when the panel mentions vampires, Alan gets angry because he mentioned them two minutes earlier and demands that the Elves should keep up with him. (Forfeit: Sorry)
- XL Tangent: Sara asks why people want to break "stupid" records. Sandi asks if anyone in the studio audience has broken a world record and one man, called Dave, stands up. He says he was part of the team who broke the longest line of baked pizzas. The audience applaud, by Sara refuses to do so, but then she asks if the pizzas were eaten. Dave says the pizzas were given to the homeless, and then Sara starts applauding.
- The worst person to borrow a glove from would be Sergei Rachmaninoff. This is because his hands were so large that he could span 12 keys on a piano keyboard. Some people argue that virtuoso pieces on the piano are sexist because most women don't have the hand span to reach the keys. Music that requires an 8.5 inch span eliminates 24% of male performers and 87% of female performers. (Forfeit: Rasputin)
- Tangent: Benjamin once got stripped searched at Heathrow Airport, so suggests you wouldn't want to borrow a glove from airport security. Benjamin had returned from a flight from a particular part of the world that was known as a source of narcotics. Sandi asks if the place was Kensington. Nothing was found in the end.
- XL Tangent: Following his first symphony, Rachmaninoff was so severely criticised by a man named Caesar Cui that he didn't compose anything for another four years because he was so depressed.
- Tangent: The world record for the biggest hands is held by Robert Pershing Wadlow, the tallest man who has ever lived. His hands measured 12.75 inches wide, and 32.3cm from the wrist to the top of the middle finger. Wadlow reached 8'11.1" and was still growing by the time he died. He died when his ankle brace chafed him and he got infected.
- XL Tangent: One woman who was said to have large hands was George Eliot (real name Mary Ann Evans). When she died in 1880, the family were dismayed that a neighbour told an anecdote about her having a giant right hand. The neighbour claimed she would show it with pride and that her hand was so big because she worked in the family dairy as a teenager, where her job was to turn the churn to make butter. The family were so embarrassed about this that any potential biographers had to absolutely guarantee that they would include a rebuttal of the story. Eliot's home is now the Nuneaton Premier Inn and Beefeater restaurant.
- XL: Your chances in a Chihuahua race are probably not that good, especially if you are running against the Raramuri tribe of Chihuahua, Mexico. In 2017, Maria Lorena Ramirez of the Raramuri, beat 500 other female runs to win a 50K ultra marathon, while wearing a long skirt and sandals. In 2016, Ramirez came second in a 100K race. The tribe are good at endurance races but not at speed, so the Olympic marathon is too short for them to display their true skills. The sandals worn are traditional Mexican sandals called "huaraches", which allow the foot to splay and move naturally, and have multiple straps meaning they are easy to adjust. There are between 50,000-70,000 members of the Raramuri tribe, which live in dispersed communities, so the members have to run long distances to communicate. The Raramuri can run 270km nonstop, can comfortably cover 700km in a few days, and their secret weapon is that before they start running they drink tesguino, a corn beer that is sacred to them. As well as connecting with people, they use their running skills to hunt wild turkey. As turkeys try to be cannot fly, they eventually tire out. The Raramuri believe tesguino acts as a medicine, but only if the doctor drinks it as well. They also believe that the body has two souls, one large and one little, and drinking tesguino gets rid of the large one, leaving the little one, which is why we act more like children when we drink.
- XL Tangent: Benjamin has only ever drunk once in his life. He got drunk at a party, and remembers walking into a room, seeing a settee, fell on it and thought he fell asleep. He was actually awake, went back to the party where he was the life and soul of it, went back to the settee and slept. He woke up the next morning, and spotted a women who, "looked like she'd been in the ring with Muhammad Ali", with no teeth, who said to Benjamin: "You were great last night."
- The panel are shown a painting of a gentlemen from the 19th century and are asked what he could do in 28 seconds. The gentlemen is Robert Liston of Scotland, who was a surgeon who could amputate legs in 28 seconds. Liston's catchphrase was: "Time me, gentlemen." Back then, operating theatres were like theatres where you see a performance and tickets were sold so people could see the operations. Things sometimes went wrong however. One time Liston removed a patient's testicles along with the leg. Another time when doing an amputation, Liston brought the knife down and severed three of his assistant's fingers, and as he brought the knife back up again he slashed the cloak of a spectator. The patient and the assistant both died of gangrene, while the spectator died of fright because he thought he had been stabbed. This makes Liston possibly the only surgeon in history to have worked on an operation with a 300% mortality rate. Despite this, Liston''s mortality rate was one-in-seven, compared to the average of one-in-four.
- XL Tangent: Doctors would often have a couple of brandies before an operation to calm themselves because the operations were so horrific. Sawdust was on the floor of operating theatres to soak up the blood, and they were called "theatres" because at the time they were like theatres that hosted entertainment. Indigo Jones designed both stage and operating theatres.
- Tangent: In 2019, a hospital in Leicester paid out £20,000 to a man they had circumcised by mistake. The patient had gone in for a procedure on his bladder, but he got distracted while chatting to the nurses, and he didn't know he was having the wrong operation until it was too late. He described it as, "a real surprise."
- The biggest revelation in Bridget Hitler's diaries was that if Adolf Hitler won the war he wanted to take Rochdale Town Hall, brick by brick, back to Germany. Bridget married Adolf's half-brother Alois in 1910, and they lived in Liverpool. She claimed in her diaries that Adolf came to stay with them, but academics dispute this. Rochdale Town Hall was used as a landmark by the Luftwaffe, but ironically the Luftwaffe did destroy Bridget's house. Rochdale Town Hall contains a toilet that has never been used, because it was built for Queen Victoria, but as she never used it, nobody else has either.
- Tangent: Examples of buildings being moved include London Bridge being moved to Arizona in 1976. The bridge was auctioned and won by Robert McCulloch. The bridge is now Arizona's second largest tourist attraction, only beaten by the Grand Canyon. McCulloch paid $2.5million for it and he sold lots of residential property on the back of it. Another building that was moved was Rosa Parks' house was moved from Detroit to Berlin. It was bought by performance artist Ryan Mendoza when he learned the house was planned for demolition, so he saved it and he now uses it for sound performances.
- Tangent: The strangest tourist attraction Benjamin has ever been to was Lorraine Hotel, which was where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. When Benjamin went there, although he believes this is not done anymore, you could stand on the balcony where King was shot. They even had his footprints on the ground so you could stand in them, and then a laser would fire at you as if it was you being shot like King. In Japan, there was a theme park ride featuring a sinking Titanic. Benjamin comments that it is weird that there are now tourist attractions based on Jack the Ripper.
- The British lake with the greatest deep-ness, which just so happens to have its own monster, is Loch Morar. Loch Morar is 310 metres deep, while Loch Ness is 247.5 metres deep. There are also claims of a monster in Loch Morah called Morag, which was last spotted in 2013. (Forfeit: Loch Ness)
- Tangent: The current theory about Loch Ness, according to a team of New Zealand researchers in 2019, is that the loch may be home to several giant eels. Loch Ness gets its name from a legend that featured the Gaelic lines: "Tha loch 'nis ann, tha loch 'nis ann", which means: "There's a loch now, there's a loch now."
- Babushka or matryoshka dolls were invented in China over a thousand years ago. They then went to Japan, then in the 19th century a Moscow workshop called Children's Upbringing took up the idea and created their own version.
- Tangent: Alan has his own set of matryoshka dolls, featuring himself and his family. The show has made its own dolls, with Alan as the largest doll, followed by Benjamin, Sara, Josh, Sandi and a tiny blue whale.
- The biggest rainforest in the world is in Alaska. As well as tropical there are also temperate rainforests, and the largest of these is the Tongass National Forest, which covers 17 million acres. Temperate rainforests are also found in Australia, Japan, Iceland and the UK. You can find the UK's rainforests in Snowdonia, Devon, Cumbria, Northern Ireland and the west coast of Scotland. 6% of the Earth's land surface area is rainforest, but these forests are also home to 50% of the world's species of flora and fauna. The Amazon rainforest is home to 10% of all species. (Forfeit: Brazil)
- Tangent: One of Sandi's favourite rainforest creatures is the South American Goliath birdeater spider. It is the size of a puppy, and each leg is a one foot long. Sara complains that Sandi wouldn't show everyone Peter Rabbit on fire, but she is happy to show a massive spider.
- Thursday 6th August 2020
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Sandi Toksvig||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|James Harkin||Script Editor|
|Anna Ptaszynski||Script Editor|
|Sandi Toksvig||Script Editor|
|Anne Miller||Question Writer|
|John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE)||Series Producer|