Series F, Episode 6 - Fakes And Frauds
- The panel all carry masks of each other. Marcus has a mask of Jimmy's face, Jimmy of Marcus, Sean of Alan and Alan of Sean.
- The panel are asked to identify the sound of their buzzers:
- The unusual thing about the pig-faced lady was that it was actually a drunk, shaven bear. It was part of a 19th century freak show.
- Count Victor Lustig planned to sell Guy de Maupassant's favourite restaurant to two scrap metal merchants. Guy de Maupassant's favourite restaurant was the Eiffel Tower - because it was the only restaurant in Paris from which you could not see the Eiffel Tower, which he, along with many people in France when the Tower was first built, loathed. Lustig was a con artist who tricked two scrap metal merchants into thinking that he was an official responsible for selling what was then a temporary structure. The merchants 'bribed' him, and he ran off with their money.
- XL: The animal that would be interested in buying some snake oil is a mouse. Although the term "snake oil" today means "something that is not what it says it is - a con", it is actually full of omega 3. When given to mice, it helps them navigate around mazes quicker and helps their muscles. It is not yet known if humans would benefit from snake oil. Snake oil is made from the Chinese water snake. It first became well known in the 19th Century when Chinese immigrants brought it to America. The reason why "snake oil" has its current meaning is because merchants would say that the snake oil used by the Chinese themselves was rubbish and that they had the better stuff.
- XL: The scandal of Mrs. Pankhurst and the rhubarb jam resulted in the leader of the suffragette movement setting up a jam factory. Raspberry jam was very popular in between the 19th and early 20th centuries, but it was expensive to buy, so all kinds of fake versions were made using other foods such as rhubarb (the best) and sweetened turnip (the worst). Fake wooden pips were added to make it look like the real stuff. The trade was so successful that there was, at one point, a profitable trade in making wooden pips. Emmeline Pankhurst was shocked however to see the terrible conditions that the women in these wooden pip workshops were under, so she founded her own jam factory during World War One, selling real jam.
- The panel try some detective work. They see three buxom young women coming out of the telephone exchange carrying heavy suitcases and jangling. Is the jangling coming from A) The telephone exchange, B) The suitcases or C) Their bosoms? The answer is C. In 1950s Miami, these women were responsible for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of loose change from telephone exchanges. Their job was to put money into counting machines, but they worked out that as long as they stole the money before it was counted, the phone company would have no idea how much money there was. They hid the stolen money in their bras. After the crime was solved, one newspaper ran with the headline: "Justice as elastic as the items in which they carried their loot, snapped back today on members of Miami's brassier brigade."
- XL: Some more detective work. The panel are in the bath when the King of Syracuse calls and claims that his tiara is dodgy. The thing you would say is, "Eureka!". Archimedes famously shouted this when he discovered that as he went in the bath, the water spilled out, thus resulting in him discovering that you can tell the density of a substance by putting it in a bath full of water and seeing how much water flowed out. Archimedes put the tiara in the bath and showed that the crown was not made of pure gold because it was not as dense as it should have been.
- XL: Stephen described one of the panel via a series of statements, and the panel have to try and figure out who he is talking about. The statements include, "You tend to be too critical of yourself", "You have considerable un-used capacity that you have not yet turned to your advantage," and "At times you have serious doubts about whether you have made the right decision or the right thing." Actually, Stephen is describing all four of the banter-meisters. He is using what are known as "Barnum statements" or "Cold reading" - these statements are used by fake psychics and mediums. Other examples of Barnum statements include "Rainbow statements" which cover so many people they can be used to describe anyone, such as, "You have a very generous and giving nature, although if you are honest about it there are times in which you have acted in a very selfish way." There is also the "Vanishing negative", such as, "You don't work with children do you?" where any answer works in the questioners favour, and "Escape patches" such as "Does the name 'Wendy' mean anything to you?" in which a "Yes" answer will result in the questioner claiming they are a right, and a "No" answer resulting in the questioner saying there will be one in the future. These questions are also known as "Forer questions", named after the psychologist Bertram R. Forer. He got his students to fill out a questionnaire with these kind of questions, and all of the papers were identical.
- There is no trick behind sword swallowing, apart from being able to control your gag reflex. The 4,000-year-old practice really does involve swallowing swords. You can swallow a sword 40cm long without noticing any physical difference, according to the Society of Sword Swallowers. 61cm is considered the length limit. The most common medical complaint from sword swallowers is sore throats.
- XL: The Vegetable Lamb of Tartary was a sheep made from cotton. This mythical being, that was half sheep and half plant, was used to explain how cotton was spread in the 16th century.
- New London Bridge is in Arizona because American businessman Robert P. McCulloch brought it as a tourist attraction for his new settlement at Lake Havasu. It was the third biggest tourist attraction in America. (Forfeit: He thought he was buying Tower Bridge)
- If you went to the shops and could not get butter, you cannot get margarine instead, because it is not sold in Britain. The UK Spreads Association, formerly the Margarine and Spreads Association claim that there is currently no margarine on sale in Britain. Margarine contains between 80-90% fat and is white in colour. In the USA, 19th Century dairy lobbies, in particular the powerful ones in states like New Hampshire demanded that margarine should not be coloured yellow and, in some places, managed to insist it should be coloured red to put people off buying it. (Forfeit: Margarine)
- There are 613 commandments in the Bible. In the list of commandments that were given to Moses, there were 14 different commandments, as listed in the books of Exodus (in particular Chapter 20) and Deuteronomy. Other commandments are listed throughout Exodus. Less well known commandments include, "You shall not suffer a witch to live", "You shall never vex a stranger" and "Whosoever lies with a beast shall be surely put to death". (Forfeit: 10; 9; 8)
- When a person is flipping a coin, the chances are that the side it will land on will be 51% in favour of the side facing upward - i.e. if the coin is facing heads up at the beginning; the chances are that it will land heads up. Naturally flipped, coins obey the laws of mechanics and are determined by their initial conditions. (Forfeit: 50/50)
- Friday 30th 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|