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


  • TV panel show
  • BBC Two / BBC One / BBC Four
  • 2003 - 2024
  • 312 episodes (21 series)

Panel game that contains lots of difficult questions and a large amount of quite interesting facts. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.


Episode menu

Series I, Episode 10 - Inland Revenue

Preview clips


- 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°, but then in the next series (Series C, Episode 12, "Combustion") he was deducted points because viewers had written in to complain that the actual triple point is 0.01°.

- Nobody Knows: No-one knows what a fish's basihyal is for. No-one gets the bonus.

- The smallest uninteresting number simply in terms of arithmetic mathematics is 12,407. However, the fact that it is the smallest uninteresting number does make it interesting culturally. Correction: There is something interesting about the number 12,407. The prime factors of 12,407 are 19 and 654. If you add up each of the digits together of the sum thusly: (1+9) X (6+5+4) = (1+2+4+0+7) it takes you to (1+0) X (1+4) = (1+4) and then to 1 X 5 = 5 which is another true equation.

- Tangent: Stephen tells the story of the mathematicians Hardy and Ramanujan. Ramanujan was a self-taught Indian mathematician from Tamil Nadu. He became the first Indian to be a Fellow of the Royal Society and to be a Fellow of an Oxbridge college. He worked with G. H. Hardy at Trinity College, Cambridge, but then Ramanujan contracted TB, went to hospital and was dying. Hardy went to Ramanujan's bedside and tried to make conversation by saying that the car that took him to the hospital had a very dull number on the licence plate: 1,729. Ramanujan then told him it is an interesting number as it is the smallest number that is expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways.

- The MoD wanted the PM to join the AA so that he could use the telephone in case of a nuclear attack. Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister at the time, and the Ministry of Defence knew that US President Kennedy had a system, meaning he could retaliate against the Soviets if they should launch a nuclear strike, from anywhere in the country. The original idea was people to go around with radios, but this was too expensive and Macmillan did not want people following him around all the time. So they used the same system used by the Automobile Association, which involved sending a signal from the AA to the PM's car if the Soviets struck. Thus the PM could get to the nearest telephone and issue the order to counter-strike. In a series of memos it was first suggested that the drivers should carry four pennies on them at all times so as to pay for the call in the phone boxes, but then it was suggested that the drivers should instead make a reverse charges call.

- XL Tangent: For many years, if you were a member of the AA, staff of the AA would salute you.

- XL Tangent: With regards to the original security plan, the government also considered buying membership to the RAC as well.

- XL Tangent: After the Cuban missile crisis it was discovered there were no protocols in place for firing British nuclear weapons. As a result, when a new Prime Minister comes into power they write letters to the Trident captains. These are sent to the submarines and when the captain gets the letter he burns the previous one which is locked in a safe and replaces it with the new one. When you become Prime Minister you are told there are four options of what to tell the captain. First is nuke Moscow, the second is to surrender, the third is to go to America and hand yourself over, and the fourth is to go to Sydney. No-one knows what is written in the letters and they are always destroyed when the government changes. Also, submarine captains use the Today Programme as a warning. If they wake up at 6am GMT, listen to long wave, and if the programme is not on, they assume the worst and open the safe. Sunday is an exception as the Today Programme is not on.

General Ignorance

- The floating eye on the US dollar bill represents an All-seeing Providence. The symbol was not used by Freemasonry until after the dollar was designed. Benjamin Franklin was a Freemason, and he was the only Freemason on the dollar bill design committee, but he was not on the final committee. (Forfeit: Freemasonry)

- XL Tangent: Stephen talks about the old pub quiz question about how much woodland is cut down to make American dollar bills. The answer is that they are not made out of paper, but of linen.

- XL: Before the Europeans arrived the inhabitants of Mexico were called the Mexica. "Aztec" was a reference to an island in the middle of the lake from which they traced their source. The Mexica are a Nahua people, their language being Nahuatl. English words that derive from Nahuatl include "chocolate", "guacamole", "tequila", "tomato", "avocado" and "chilli". (Forfeit: Aztecs)

- XL Tangent: "Burrito" is Spanish for "little donkey" because of their shape.

- XL: Prince Albert invented a lock for the bedroom door which he and Queen Victoria could operate from their bed. Victoria wrote in her diary that the wedding night was, "both gratifying and bewildering." Victoria and Albert had nine children. The myth about the cock ring grew up in the 20th century, because Albert wore very tight trousers. Thus he supposedly needed something to anchor his penis to one side of his body so that it did not show. (Forfeit: The cock ring)

- A mute swan makes the same noise as all the other swans; it just makes them quieter, hence their name. They are the heaviest flying bird. (Forfeit: No noise)


- Sandi Toksvig: 11 points
- Dara O'Briain: 6 points
- Al Murray: -13 points
- Alan Davies: -22 points


For the correction see the QI Qibble Blog.

Broadcast details

Friday 11th November 2011
30 minutes

Cast & crew

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
Mat Coward Researcher
Justin Pollard Question Writer
James Harkin Question Writer
Molly Oldfield Question Writer
Will Bowen Researcher
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, Al Murray, Dara O Briain & Sandi Toksvig.


A Guide to QI. Series I, episode 10 'Inland Revenue'

The first question on this week's QI was about Karachi's attempt to persuade its citizens to pay its tax.

James Harkin,, 14th November 2011

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