British Comedy Guide

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


BBC Two and BBC One panel show focusing on quite interesting facts. 233 episodes (pilot + 16 series), 2003 - 2018. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Another series is in development.
Series I, Episode 12 is repeated on Dave today at 7pm.

Series I, Episode 10 - Inland Revenue

Further details


- This is a "General" show in Series I, covering a wide range of different topics beginning with "I".


- The world's most exotic tax inspectors are in Pakistan. If you refuse to pay your tax you are shamed into paying it by receiving a visit from a team of tax inspectors who are all transgender. They would then sing and dance in your place of business until you paid up. In Pakistan transgender people are classified alongside transvestites and eunuchs, and are known as "higera".

- Tangent: Al was once given a going-over by the taxman after he took some ill-advised tax advice from Harry Hill. Sandi on the other hand once spent three days with a tax man who investigated all of her accounts. In the end he did not find anything and the taxman said: "To be honest Miss Toksvig, I just wanted to meet you."

- XL Tangent: In Andhra Pradesh, India, tax inspectors use drummers to get people to pay tax, by standing outside the place of business and banging on the drums loudly until they pay up.

- The advantages of being a drug dealer in Tennessee compared to those of being a bank robber in the Netherlands is that the drugs cannot be charged tax, but the robber's gun can be claimed against tax. In Tennessee they attempted to put a duty on drugs, so when the drug dealers went to prison they also had to pay a tax on their drugs. However, constitutionally it was discovered that this went against the American Bill of Rights as this counted as double jeopardy (being charged for the same crime twice) so the state had to give all the money back. So far 161 people have been paid in total $3.7million. Meanwhile, a Dutchman was found guilty of holding up a bank at gunpoint, for which he was fined, but the gun was an allowable expense and so it was deducted from the cost of the fine.

- Tangent: Eric Morley, the man who ran the Miss World contest, claimed his racehorses as a tax expense. In court he said that he was in the business of being Eric Morley, which including owning racehorses as part of his lifestyle. He won the case.

- Tangent: Sandi once brought a racehorse by mistake. She was holding a charity auction in Epsom where a racehorse was one of the lots. No-one was bidding so to get everyone started she bid 3,000 guineas. Still no-one bid and she ended up buying the racehorse herself. She sold it back to the original owner, but at a loss to herself.

- XL Tangent: Dara once knew an actor who tried to claim his carpet against tax because of the wear and tear he caused when he walked up and down while he learnt his lines. He did not get away with it. Dara himself once tried to claim for a bed but failed, while Sandi attempted to claim for some paintings in her office, failing as well. She told the tax inspector that no-one could possibly work in an office which had no art in it. Sandi looked around the inspector's office and saw that it had just one poster in it, which explained the Heimlich manoeuvre.

- The panel are shown a picture of a house with some bricked up windows down the middle and are asked why they are bricked up. The answer is that it is to make the house look more symmetrical. Not all houses with bricked up windows did it to avoid window tax, although some did. Window tax existed from the 1690s to 1851. Before the window tax there was a hearth and chimney tax for fireplaces. The window tax was repealed because it was damaging the glass industry and the poor were not getting enough light. (Forfeit: Window tax)

- Tangent: In Amsterdam they taxed houses by their width, which resulted in people building very slim, tall houses. Because the doors would be very thin they used pulley systems to get things in and out of the house. Alan suggests that these houses should have fireman's polls, which leads to Al suggesting that firemen should work in bungalows. Stephen visited a fire station in Indiana where he was told to slide down the poll, but Stephen did not want to. He did, but it was very squeaky.

- XL Tangent: Alan complains that fire engines no longer seem to have a ladder on the top of them which sometimes comes adrift and dangles off the end going around corners. The only recent film he can think of which features such a ladder is Terminator 3, in which the Terminator was hanging off the end of one and went through buildings, which Alan guesses was done on a computer.

- The best paid sportsman of all time was the Roman charioteer Gaius Appuleius Diocles. He was a Lusitanian Spaniard who retired in 146 AD, having won 1,462 races, resulting in winning 35,863,120 sesterces in prize-money. Comparing this to the average wage of the day and using all the calculations, this means he won an equivalent of $15billion in today's money, compared to Tiger Woods who is the first sportsman to earn $1billion, which makes him the best paid sportsman of our age, but not of all time. The race would consist of a chariot pulled by four horses, with up to 12 teams doing a lap. The skill was in the cornering. (Forfeit: Tiger Woods)

- XL Tangent: Nero used to do chariot racing and always won the races he was in. If he fell out of a chariot, everyone would stop and pretended that their horse had something wrong with them until Nero got back in, then continued the race.

- Tangent: In the original silent film version of Ben Hur people were killed during the filming. The connection between Ben Hur and Billy the Kid is that the man who wrote the original novel Ben Hur was the same man who signed Billy the Kid's death warrant. He was Lew Wallace, the governor of New Mexico.

- XL: Nobody has to return to their birthplace for their census. The idea that Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem is nonsense, as is the whole idea of a census taken by Caesar Augustus of the entire Roman world - there was never a census like this in Roman history and you would not have to return to the place of your birth anyway. The story comes from Luke's Gospel. Out of the four Gospels, Luke was the one who tried to make the story of Jesus fit as closely as possible to the original prophecies, so he came up with the idea of the census to help fulfil it. In the Old Testament it says the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem and from the stem of Jesse. Jesse was father of King David. However, because Mary is a virgin the stem of Jesse has nothing to do with it. (Forfeit: Mary and Joseph)

- XL Tangent: There is a debate about whether Santa Claus lives in either the North Pole or Lapland, with Lapland declaring that it is there were Santa lives. However, St. Nicholas himself was Turkish.

- XL Tangent: There are many books which were not included in the final edition of the Bible. Many of these concerned Jesus as an infant. One passage reads: "Mary dismounted from her beast and sat down with the child Jesus in her bosom, and there were, with Joseph, three boys, and Mary, a girl, going on the journey along with them, and lo, suddenly, they came forth from the cave many dragons. When the children saw them, they cried out in great terror. Then, Jesus went down from the bosom of his mother and stood on his feet before the dragons, and they adored Jesus and thereafter retired."

- XL: The 2001 census revealed that the fourth-largest religion in Britain was Sikhism. All the ones that were marked as "Jedi" were not counted and classified as being: "No religion". 14 Scots marked their religion as "Sith". When the census was published the press release joking read: "390,000 Jedi there are." (Forfeit: Jedi)

- Stephen then performs a correction for Dara. In the episode "Horrible" (Series H, Episode 7) there was a question about a type of louse which attaches itself to the tongue of a fish, eats the tongue and replaces it. Dara said at the time that fish do not have tongues and Stephen dismissed this. However, Dara was actually right. Instead they had what is called a "basihyal", which has no taste buds and is not a muscle. In Newfoundland, cod basihyal is a popular dish.

- Tangent: Dara then goes on to talk about a similar incident in which he said in Series B (Episode 7, "Biscuits") that the triple point of water is 0


For the correction see the QI Qibble Blog.

Broadcast details

Friday 11th November 2011
30 minutes


    More data

    View more broadcast data

    See more by becoming a BCG Supporter
    Help celebrate and promote British comedy by donating to fund more content and functionality. BCG Supporters get extra features in return, including this episode's audience figures and further repeats data. Find out more
    Already a donor? Sign in

    Cast & crew

    Regular cast
    Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
    Alan Davies Regular Panellist
    Guest cast
    Dara O Briain Guest
    Sandi Toksvig Guest
    Al Murray Guest
    Writing team
    John Mitchinson Question Writer
    Justin Pollard Question Writer
    James Harkin Question Writer
    Molly Oldfield Question Writer
    Andrew Hunter Murray Question Writer
    Production team
    Ian Lorimer Director
    David Morley (as Dave Morley) Executive Producer
    Ruby Kuraishe Executive Producer
    Nick King Editor
    Jonathan Paul Green Production Designer
    Howard Goodall Composer


    Macmillan Joins AA

    The panel discuss why British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan joined the AA.

    Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Dara O Briain, Sandi Toksvig, Al Murray.

    View related press

    See more by becoming a BCG Supporter
    Help celebrate and promote British comedy by donating to fund more content and functionality. BCG Supporters get extra features in return, including press coverage related to this episode. Find out more
    Already a donor? Sign in

    Share this page