Series F, Episode 5 - France
- The panel all wear berets and a garlands of garlic around their necks. The top of the set is lit in the colours of the tricolour. The theme tune is re-arranged and played on an accordion.
- Stephen says in French that he will give bonus points to anyone who can answer his questions in French. This results in Hugh getting some points for answering with "Oui", and Jo also gets points for saying "Non". Phill is asked to comment, which he tries to do and gets some points.
- Stephen asks Jo, "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" Jo responds by saying, "Pas demi! Not half!"
- Stephen asks Alan, "Donne-moi un mot, s'il vous plait, un mot pour un mammifere marin qui ne peut avaler aucun plus grand qu'un pamplemousse?" Alan does not get the question right first time around, which is a shame because the answer is the one he gives the most. The question in English is, "Name a marine animal that couldn't swallow anything bigger than a grapefruit?". The answer is the blue whale. Correction: Stephen's question in French is poor grammatically and thus it is not an exact translation.
- The panel are shown a picture of Frenchmen on stilts looking for something in a swamp. The thing they are looking for is sheep ("Mouton") and the people in the picture are French shepherds, who use the stilts to help them see their sheep better. The area is 4,000 square miles. The picture was taken in Les Landes, which is south of Bordeaux in Gascony. This method of watching sheep was used up to the 20th century. Today, the people of Les Landes dance on stilts.
- French people in the countryside hibernated, right into the 19th century. It was not true hibernation, in that their body temperature does not fall, but they slept for most of the time, only waking up once or twice to eat a biscuit.
- 80% of French people in 1880 could not read, write or speak French. There at least 50 dialects and hundreds of sub-dialects used. Other languages were spoken at the time including Occitan (not to be confused with the anti-spot cream "Occitane"), Breton, Franco-Provencal, Flemish and Basque. Le bon Francais, proper French, was only spoken by 20% of French people.
- The French language has only a quarter of the number of words the English has. As a result, the French sometimes use French words, but they are mis-translated. In French, "Les people" means "Celebrities"; "Un brushing" means "Blow dry"; "Un relooking" means "Makeover"; and "Vaselin-ay" means "To flatter". French dictionaries do not include these words, but they are used all the time.
- XL: The Arc de Triomphe was originally going to be a huge elephant-shaped kiosk, which could also hold balls and banquets in side it. It was designed to celebrate the achievements of King Louis XV. It was planned to have air conditioning, furniture that folded into the walls and a drainage system in the trunk that also acted as a fountain. There is a large elephant-shaped building in Bangkok. The Arc de Triomphe, placed there 50 years after this plan, is the largest triumphal arch in the world and was built to celebrate Napoleon's victory in Austerlitz. In 1919, Charles Godefroy flew his plane through the Arc to celebrate the end of World War One. Hitler marched through the Arc after invading France in World War Two. Correction: The Arc de Triomphe is not the largest triumphal arch. It is in fact the Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang, North Korea.
- Paris syndrome is a culture shock condition suffered by Japanese people when they visit Paris. They are not used to the things that the French do well that but the Japanese do not do well. Almost everything in the French language is, to them, offensive and they suffer from jetlag. 12 people a year are expensively repatriated to Japan. The Japanese Embassy in Paris has a 24-hour helpline for people who are so traumatised by the terrible experience of coming to Paris.
- XL: The Impressionists were described as, "A bunch of lunatics and a woman." When the art movement first came about, the critics hated it, thinking it ghastly, unfinished nonsense of no value whatsoever. The word "Impressionist" was coined as an insult. Ironically, the movement was inspired by Japanese art, in particular the ordinary wrapping paper the everything came in. Van Gogh had a huge collection of Japanese prints.
- XL: The thing that "comes from Paris, has short legs, a big head, a permanent grin and refuses to act its age" is an axolotl - the salamander that has never grown up. They are a sub-species of salamander that stopped metamorphosing and therefore look like a salamander halfway through its life. Axolotl will turn into salamanders if you inject them with iodine. They heal without scarring, have external gills and grow new arms whenever one gets cut off, because they are almost made out of stem cells. Originally from Mexico, six were brought to Paris to be studied in 1863. They bred and almost all the ones that are descended from them are now kept as pets by many in France and abroad (including Japan). (Forfeit: Nicholas Sarkozy)
- You would want a Frenchman on your side in a fight because the French are one at the best countries in the world when it comes to war, despite their cowardly reputation. According to historian Niall Ferguson, of the 125 major European wars fought since 1495, France has taken part in 50, which is more than Austria (47) and England (43). Out of 168 battles fought since 387 BC, France has won 109, lost 49 and drawn 10.
- The Romans liked to wear sandals. They would only wear togas on special occasions, such as when in The Forum or running for it, because togas are very difficult to wear because of their size. Emperor Augustus had to pass a law ordering people to wear them in The Forum. There were several kinds of toga. The toga pulla was a dark toga, the toga picta was patterned and the toga candida was white. "Candida" is where we get the word "Candidate" from, because they were worn by Romans running in an election. (Forfeit: Togas)
- Racing cyclists shave their legs is because it is easier to clean wounds, sticking plasters stick better and come off less painfully, calves are massaged better and for personal 'aesthetic purposes'. In 2003, Austrian cyclist Rene Haselbacher tore his shorts and it was revealed he shaved all over. (Forfeit: Aerodynamics)
- Most Spanish people do not lisp when they speak. Only small areas, in places such as Castile, do they do it where it is a feature of pronunciation. It is considered bumpkinish to do so. It is no different to the way that Northern English pronounce words differently from Southerners. (Forfeit: To avoid embarrassing the King)
- The man who won the Battle of Hastings was at the time called Guillaume le Batard - "Batard" meaning "Bastard", but it was not rude to call him that. The name "William" did not exist at the time. When the Bayeux Tapestry was made, the name "William" was beginning to develop and it was written as "Wilgelm". All Saxon names disappeared about 50 years after the Norman Conquest. One in seven men in England was called "William" within 50 years of the invasion. (Forfeit: William the Conqueror)
- Friday 23rd January 2009
- BBC One
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Stephen Fry||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|John Mitchinson||Question Writer|
|Justin Pollard||Question Writer|
|James Harkin||Question Writer|
|Molly Oldfield||Question Writer|
|Lorraine Heggessey||Executive Producer|
|Katie Taylor||Executive Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|
|Tayyaba Irtizaali||Production Designer|