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.

Returns Tuesday 24th December at 10pm. Episode Guide
Series M, Christmas Special is repeated on Dave today at 8pm.

Series H, Episode 3 - Hoaxes

Further details

QI. Image shows from L to R: Sean Lock, Stephen Fry, Danny Baker, David Mitchell. Copyright: TalkbackThames.


- Each of the panel have a "Hoax card". If the panel think they have spotted something they have been told which is false they can play their hoax card for bonus points. If they get it wrong they lose points.

- One of the buzzers is a hoax, because all of them make the noise of a deer mating call except one. It is Alan's buzzer which makes the sound of a Scotsman saying "Hello, dear".


- The panel are shown a picture of three men and are asked what they were up to last night. They were in fact made a crop circle in Wiltshire shaped like the QI logo. However, within half-an-hour of the dawn rising people were ringing up asking whether "it was real or man-made" because many people still think crop circles are due to alien activity. People who believe crop circles are because of alien activity are called "cerealogists". Crop circles began in the 1970s with Doug Bower and David Chorley. They are made using a plank with a rope through it called a "stalk stomper".

- Hoax Card: Danny plays his card at the wrong time.

- XL Tangent: Another hoax you can see from the air is the lines in the Nazca Desert which are claimed to be runways for alien spacecraft. The most famous person to claim this is Erich von Däniken, author of Chariots of the Gods?. Carl Sagan claimed in response that if aliens used vastly superior spacecraft to ours, why would they need a runway? The Nazca Desert is one of the driest places on the planet. However, the lines were damaged due to people coming to see them after Däniken's book was published. Some of the lines are only 10cm deep and only survive because there is so little rain. People are now banned from going there.

- XL Tangent: After corn, the biggest crop in the USA is marijuana. Meanwhile, cauliflowers are in decline in Britain. The crop has been reduced from 33,000 acres to 28,000 acres. Mashed cauliflowers are low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes.

- For every argument there is with regards to the Moon landing being faked, there is a perfectly logical argument to prove that it did happen. For example:

- The idea of there being weather in the studio because of the way the flag moves. In fact, the flag was rumpled because of movement, and if you move something with little resistance it will not stop moving for a long time.

- The idea that one of the astronauts is not holding a camera because of the reflection in the visors. All the cameras were actually mounted in the suits so they did not need to hold one.

- The idea that below the lunar module that there was no crater or dust spread. The engines were actually cut of below it landed, it hovered down and it landed quickly. Unlike in sci-fi films, the module does not send out spears of flame as it lands.

- The idea that the footprints are too clear due to moisture. You can create footprints just like them with flour. The ground just has to be very fine.

- Also, astronauts from Apollo 12 put mirrors on the Moon which allow people on Earth to give very accurate readings about how far away the Moon is.

- Lastly, the Americans "Space Race" rivals, the Soviet Union, never once claimed that the Moon landing was faked.

- Tangent: Alan once did an advert with Patrick Moore and Alan asked if people really did land on the Moon. Moore was furious with him, explaining that he helped NASA map the Moon, spent years on the project, helped pick the landing site, and if Alan ever spoke to him again he would be sick in Alan eyes.

- Tangent: Buzz Aldrin got so annoyed with Moon landing conspiracy theorists that he punched one for asking too many questions.

- Tangent: 6% of Americans believe the Moon landing was faked. However, 25% of Britons believe it was faked.

- XL Tangent: 400,000 people were employed to work on the Moon landing, including the 12 astronauts who landed on it.

- You can make your house the most famous in Britain by ringing up as many businesses as you can and get them all to come on the same day. This was done as a bet in 1810 between Samuel Beasley and Theodore Hook that Hook could not any house in London the most famous residence in the city within a week. Actually, Hook prepared over six days and it all happened on the final day. What he did was contact as many businesses as he could to arrived at one house, 54 Berners Street, unbeknown to the resident of the house, Mrs. Tottenham. 4,000 different tradesmen and services came to the house. These included 12 chimney sweeps that arrived first thing in the morning, then 12 coal carts, followed by cake makers, doctors, apothecaries, surgeons, lawyers, priests, undergraduates, hat makers, haberdashers, boot makers, fishmongers and butcher's boys. A dozen pianos were delivered and the governor of the Bank of England came to see the commotion.

- XL Tangent: During the Regency period there we many strange bets on which huge sums of money were gambled. Clubs such as Brooks's and White's had such bets. For example, there was a £3,000 bet between Lord Alvanley and a friend of his on raindrops. In comparison, a servant cost around £10 a year.

- The Nobel Prize winning biologist Stephen Jay Gould concluded after a lifetime's studying of fish that there is no such thing as a fish. He reasoned that while there are many things that live in the sea, most of them are not related to each other. For example, a salmon is more closely related to a camel than to a hagfish. A similar argument is that there are lots of things that fly like bees, vultures and flying lizards, but they are not all insects, birds or reptiles.

- Tangent: Starfish do not have brains.

- XL Tangent: Elasmobranches are a subclass of animal which includes sharks, rays and skates.

- XL: The panel are shown a picture and are asked how many fish are in it. The answer is one. It looks like two, but the other "fish" is muscle from a shell below it. They explode, eject larvae which are breathed through the fishes gills, and they are spread. (Forfeit: There's no such thing as a fish)

- The only thing we know for certain that Nostradamus got right was his recipe for cherry jam. Apart from his predictions, Nostradamus (born Michel de Nostradame, 1503-1566) was also an apothecary and read lots of books, including one about jam. He wrote a recipe for cherry jam and it is known to be just as good today as it was back then. He also attempted to make aphrodisiac jams.

- Hoax Card: Alan and Sean play their cards wrongly.

- The most famous person ever to have been beaten at chess by a machine was Napoleon Bonaparte. While Garry Kasparov is the most famous chess grandmaster to lose to a computer (Deep Blue), Napoleon lost to the Mechanical Turk, an automaton. However, it was a hoax. The doors would first be opened to show it was empty, but then a chess master would sneak inside and control the machine. Benjamin Franklin and Charles Babbage also lost to it as well. The Mechanical Turk was destroyed by fire in 1854.

- XL Tangent: In 1989 American magic trick maker John Gaughan made a working replica of the Mechanical Turk costing $120,000. The maker of the original Mechanical Turk was Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734-1804) who did to impress Empress Maria Theresa.

- XL: The best way to make a squad of American soldiers panic in a plane is to make them think it is crashing. For example, you can get the pilot to cut off one of the engines. To show how disturbed the soldiers are, you then give them forms to fill in, for example asking who to leave their money to after they die. The soldiers just wrote rubbish. This was done to see how people react under stress.

- XL Hoax Card: David plays his hoax card wrongly.

- XL: A human being can lick their own elbow. Danny originally claimed in Series A that it is impossible to lick your own elbow, and that there was an old folklore saying that if you can do that you would live forever. However, a member of the audience demonstrates that she can lick her own elbow, proving Danny wrong. (Forfeit: It's impossible to lick your elbow)

General Ignorance

- You can tell someone is lying by how they talk. You cannot tell by the way they move, sweat, rolling their eyes etc. but you can by the way they speak. A test with over 20,000 subjects being shown videos of people lying and telling the truth found that people performed no better than chance, including so-called experts such as polygraph operators, police investigators, judges and psychiatrists. However, people are more accurate on sound alone, as it is done at 73% accuracy. (Forfeit: It's in the eyes)

- Tangent: One Dr. Ekman claims that 50 out of 20,000 can tell if people are lying just by looking at them. He calls them "Truth wizards".

- Most oranges are not orange, but green. They are "de-greened" by supermarkets because shoppers prefer to see them as orange coloured. The word "orange" comes from the word "Naranja" which comes from Sanskrit. In English it lost the "n" and it became "an orange". Other words similar to this are "adder" which was "a nadre", "apron" was "napron" and "nickname" was an "ick name". (Forfeit: They're orange)

- XL Tangent: Sean worked in an orange grove in an Israeli kibbutz and he claims that the oranges grown there were orange coloured. Sean got the sack for sleeping on the job when he was meant to be working on irrigation pipes.

- Swimming pools smell of chloramines which are formed by sweat, urine and faecal matter. To get rid of it, you add chlorine which does not smell of anything. (Forfeit: Chlorine)

- Hoax Card: Stephen reveals that the hoax cards where themselves the hoax. All the questions were true and the panel were tricked into using them.


- Sean Lock: -1 point
- David Mitchell: -13 points
- Danny Baker: -14 points
- Alan Davies: -38 points

Broadcast details

Friday 1st October 2010
30 minutes


    Cast & crew

    Regular cast
    Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
    Alan Davies Regular Panellist
    Guest cast
    Danny Baker Guest
    Sean Lock Guest
    David Mitchell Guest
    Writing team
    John Mitchinson Question Writer
    Justin Pollard Question Writer
    James Harkin Question Writer
    Molly Oldfield Question Writer
    Arron Ferster Question Writer
    Production team
    Ian Lorimer Director
    Piers Fletcher Producer
    David Morley (as Dave Morley) Executive Producer
    Ruby Kuraishe Executive Producer
    Nick King Editor
    Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
    Howard Goodall Composer
    Dan Schreiber Researcher
    Mat Coward Researcher
    Will Bowen Researcher
    Andrew Hunter Murray (as Andy Murray) Researcher
    John Lundberg Cerealogical Motif Wrangler
    Wil Russell Cerealogical Motif Wrangler
    Mark Barnes Cerealogical Motif Wrangler


    The QI Crop Circle

    Find out how QI made a crop circle.

    Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Danny Baker, Sean Lock, David Mitchell.


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