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


BBC Two and BBC One panel show about quite interesting facts. 249 episodes (pilot + 17 series), 2003 - 2020. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

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

Series E, Episode 1 - Engineering

Further details

Isambard Kingdom Brunel against the launching chains of the Great Eastern at Millwall in 1857.


- Stephen has a toy train and sweets which he can deliver to anyone who gives a quite interesting answer.


- The people who built Britain's railways were the navvies. They were trained for a year and were fed on a diet of meat and beer. They could out-perform any other manual labourer.

- Tangent: Railways had to be flat when they were first made. Bill tells the story of the Russian Tsar who ordered the Trans-Siberian railway to be a straight line. He drew the line with a ruler, but his fingers were over the edge of the ruler, so two large curves were built in. Bill gets a sweet for his answer.

- Tangent: The London to Birmingham Railway took the same amount of work to build as one-and-a-half Great Pyramids. Rob's discussion about 'what is half a pyramid' gets him a sweet.

- "Navvy" is short for "Navigational engineer". Alan gets a sweet for the correct answer.

- When the Americans went off the rails (or rather their trains did), the passengers lifted them back onto the line. The trains were built to be as light as possible.

- Tangent: When the Central Pacific Railway was being built, the track was laid as fast as a man could walk.

- Eton College did not want a railway station built in Slough (Jimmy's hometown) because they were worried that its pupils would take the train to visit prostitutes.

- Tangent: A travel book once advised that women railway passengers should stick pins in their mouths so men would not kiss them in tunnels.

- For 18 birthdays in a row, Isambard Kingdom Brunel's birthday present was that the sun would shine through the Box Tunnel on his birthday (9th April). Jimmy gets a sweet for the right answer.

- The best place to be when a nuclear bomb goes off is Las Vegas, which benefited from tourism because a nuclear testing site was nearby. It advertised itself as a place to watch nuclear bombs going off.

- In 1994, the Americans came up with an idea for a "Love Bomb" (also known as the "Gay Bomb") that, when detonated, would make the enemy soldiers attracted to one another. The aim being they would stop fighting and have sex with each other.

- Elephant in the Room: You can make a baby elephant using an ultrasound probe, a light emitting tube, a bicycle helmet, protective clothing, a huge tube of Vaseline and a wheelbarrow. It is what you use to artificially inseminate an elephant.

General Ignorance

- A vampire bat is most likely to bite you on the big toe.

- The biggest load of rubbish in the world is in the North Pacific Gyre (a.k.a. The Pacific Trash Vortex). Rubbish that does not biodegrade, such as plastic, floats on the surface. Some fish eat it.

- Tangent: One member of the audience claimed that the biggest load of the rubbish in the world was France.


(Presenter: Bill Bailey)

- Tangent: Tourist attractions such as the London Eye and a fairground ride went quicker because Alan was on it. According to Alan anyway.

- Tangent: Jimmy talks about new winners of the Darwin Awards.

- Tangent: Vaseline rots latex.


- Rob Brydon: 11 points
- Alan Davies: 4 points
- Jimmy Carr: -2 points
- Bill Bailey: -18 points

Broadcast details

Friday 21st September 2007
30 minutes


    Cast & crew

    Regular cast
    Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
    Alan Davies Regular Panellist
    Guest cast
    Bill Bailey Guest
    Rob Brydon Guest
    Jimmy Carr Guest
    Writing team
    Piers Fletcher Question Writer
    Justin Pollard Question Writer
    Production team
    Ian Lorimer Director
    John Lloyd Producer
    Lorraine Heggessey Executive Producer
    Katie Taylor Executive Producer
    Nick King Editor
    Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
    Howard Goodall Composer
    Molly Oldfield Researcher
    Garrick Alder Researcher
    Mat Coward Researcher
    Christopher Gray Researcher
    James Harkin Researcher
    Justin Gayner Researcher
    Vitali Vitaliev Researcher



    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:

    • Broadcast details of 48 past repeats of this episode
    • This episode's inital overnight ratings
    • BCG Pro Gold users can see additional crew credits  
      If you join BCG Pro Gold, you can see Researcher credits for this episode.

    Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

    Already a donor or Pro user?