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

QI

BBC Two and BBC One panel show about quite interesting facts. 261 episodes (pilot + 18 series), 2003 - 2020. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Next new episode is on Thursday at 9pm. Series R, Highlights Special
Catch-up on Episode 11 on BBC iPlayer   Series N, Christmas Special is repeated on Dave today at 9pm.

QI. Image shows from L to R: Alan Davies, Josh Widdicombe, Sandi Toksvig, Sara Pascoe, Benjamin Zephaniah.

Series R, Episode 11 - Roaming

Sandi Toksvig asks questions on the theme of roaming this week, with Sara Pascoe, Josh Widdicombe and Benjamin Zephaniah and Alan Davies trying to come up with interesting answers - while avoiding the most obvious ones.

Further details

Themes

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

Topics

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

- 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.

General Ignorance

- 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.

Scores

- Benjamin Zephaniah: 3 points
- Josh Widdicombe: -6 points
- The Audience: -7 points
- Alan Davies: -19 points
- Sara Pascoe: -23 points

Broadcast details

This episode is currently available on BBC iPlayer

Date
Thursday 6th August 2020
Time
9pm
Channel
BBC Two
Length
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Sandi Toksvig Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Sara Pascoe Guest
Josh Widdicombe Guest
Benjamin Zephaniah Guest
Writing team
James Harkin Script Editor
Anna Ptaszynski Script Editor
Sandi Toksvig Script Editor
Anne Miller Question Writer
Production team
Diccon Ramsay Director
John Lloyd (as John Lloyd CBE) Series Producer
Piers Fletcher Producer
Nick King Editor
Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
Howard Goodall Composer
Paywall

Supporters and subscribers get more

Additional content and tools are available across the site for Supporters and BCG Pro subscribers. On this page you can:

  • BCG Pro business users can see additional crew credits  
    If you join BCG Pro business, you can see researcher, associate producer, lighting designer & commissioning editor credits for this episode.

Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

Already a donor or Pro user?