Series H, Episode 11 - Highs And Lows
- Out a selection of tartans displayed, the only one that Stephen would be allowed to wear is the Royal Stewart, which has a red background with darker red criss-cross lines, green squares and thin yellow and white lines. As this is a royal tartan anyone in Britain can wear it because the Queen is our "chieftain". However, clan tartans are a very recent idea, which came about during the 19th century when Scotland became associated with the royal family, especially Queen Victoria. Tartans were not related to families, and the idea of family or clan tartans were mainly the ideas of tartan salespeople wanting to sell their stock. The word originates from the French "tiretain", and was originally worn as a long robe over one shoulder. The shorter "skirt" kilt was an English invention. An Englishman called Rawlingson who owned an iron foundry in Scotland thought it would be a simpler and quicker thing to put on.
- To win a caber throwing competition you have to throw it so it does at least one full turn and then land it so it lands exactly straight in front of you. Caber throwing contests are not about distance or height. You have to try and land it so it is facing "12 o'clock" and you lose points for every "minute" you are out by.
- The thing that was regularly smuggled into the USA from Canada between 1989 and 2010 for the traditional Burns Night celebrations was haggis. The USA stopped imports of haggis in 1989 due to the dangers of BSE and other related problems in the lungs. The first reference to haggis in the British Isles is in Lancashire, but some believe it could be Scandinavian, like the word "offal" which comes from the Danish for "rubbish". Burns Night is celebrated on Robert Burns's birthday, 25th January.
- XL: Once he conquered Mount Everest the thing that Sir Edmund Hillary did for an encore was to try and find a yeti. He wanted to try and settle the matter of whether they existed or not. He concluded that it did not. He did discover certain things which could be explained like the footprints. For example, he noticed that footprints get elongated when they melt in the sun, which explained the large yeti footprints. It should be pointed out however that one of the members of the expedition said that they were probably too noisy and so scared any yetis off. Some believe that actually Hillary was not on a yeti hunt, but that he was really on a spying mission because two of the people with him were rocket experts. Thus some think he was spying on Chinese rocket instillations in Tibet.
- The quickest way of getting Briain Blessed up to the top of Mount Everest would be to fly him to the top and to be dropped off by helicopter. This has only been done once, by Frenchman Didier Desalle, because due to the thinness of the air and strength of the wind it is very difficult to keep airborne. He stayed for two minutes before taking off again, making it the highest ever landing and taking off of a vehicle. Brian Blessed has attempted to climb to the top and got very close, but had to go back to save someone's life. He got to 28,000 feet, and was just a very short distance away to the top. He is the oldest man to climb this distance without the assistance of oxygen. Blessed is also a black belt in judo, a boxing champion (he once boxed with the Dalai Lama), is the oldest man to go to the North Pole, and he keeps overs 2,000 animals in his house and gardens in Surrey.
- If you are on the top of a mountain you can tell how high you are without electric instruments by boiling water. For every 1,000 feet you climb the boiling point of water drops by one degree Celsius. So if you tried to boil water on the top of Mount Everest it would be at 72 degrees, but if you were at the bottom of the Marianas Trench it would be 584 degrees. This is because of the air pressure. The field of telling your height using these methods is "hypsometry".
- XL: When digging the Channel Tunnel the person who made sure that the English and the French met in the middle was a German. Max Schuler invented a gyrotheodolite which uses the rotation of the Earth to calculate the direction, unlike a compass due to the magnetic ore or GPS because there is no line of sight. The two people who met in the middle were Frenchman Philippe Cozette and Englishman Graham Fagg. They were just 300 millimetres out. However, they actually did NOT meet in the middle. The English made further ground because of geological difficulties.
- English is an official language in many countries including Wales and India, but not in England. England has no official language because there was never a need to set one up. Official languages are ones which are established in the legal system. Official languages have also never arisen in the USA, although President Theodore Roosevelt said English should be it. Every time it is suggested it English should be the offical language of the USA the Hispanic population have protested against it because they see it as a form of discrimination. However, in California both English and Spanish are official languages. In Canada, English is an official language because French is also one. Australia has no official language. (Forfeit: England)
- No country can lay claim to being the modern home of the Huns. The idea of Germany being the home of the Hun came from a speech made by Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1910 during the Boxer Wars, who said: "We shall take no prisoners. We shall show no mercy. We shall sweep down on them like the Hun." The actual Huns came from the East, and were an army rather than a people. (Forfeit: Germany)
- If you are afraid of heights you suffer from acrophobia. Vertigo is the name given to the dizziness induced by heights. (Forfeit: Vertigo)
- The point on the Earth which is furthest from the centre is Mount Chimborazo. This is a mount near the equator, which is further from the centre of the Earth than Mount Everest because the world is an oblate spheroid which bulges outwards in the middle. Chimborazo is 1.3 miles further from the centre than Everest. (Forfeit: Everest)
- Friday 3rd December 2010
- 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|
|Arron Ferster||Question Writer|
|David Morley (as Dave Morley)||Executive Producer|
|Ruby Kuraishe||Executive Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|
|Andrew Hunter Murray (as Andy Murray)||Researcher|