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 N, Episode 8 is repeated on Dave today at 6pm.

Series I, Episode 11 - Infantile

Further details


- The set is covered in games and toys, including two giant toy animals behind Stephen.


- The Pope's father said "will you marry me" to a baker's daughter. The father of Pope Benedict XVI was Joseph Ratzinger Senior, a Bavarian policeman, and he met his wife, 36-year-old Maria Peintner, via a lonely hearts advert. The ad read: "Middle-ranking civil servant. Single. Catholic. 43. Immaculate past. From the country. Is looking for a good, Catholic, pure girl who can cook well, tackle all household chores, with a talent for sewing and homemaking, with a view to marriage as soon as possible. Fortune desirable but not a precondition." After the advert the two met at a coffee house and married four months later.

- Tangent: Lonely hearts adverts are full of abbreviations because ads are paid for per letter. The following is a list of common abbreviations in such ads.

- D/D: Drug and disease free.

- NK: No kids.

- WE: Well-endowed.

- ALAWP: All letters answered with photo.

- IPT: Is partial to.

- BBW: Big breasted woman.

- WE SHM WLTM BBW for NSA fun: Well-endowed single Hispanic male would like to meet big breasted woman for no-strings attached fun.

- Tangent: In San Francisco in the late 1970s the gay community used a handkerchief code. The colour of the handkerchief indicated what sexual practice you were into, and the back pocket would indicate if you were passive (left) or active (right).

- The Viceroy of India's daughter liked playing tiddlywinks, also known as "flipperty flop" or "jumpkins". Emily Lytton, daughter of Lord Lytton, who was also the husband of the architect Lutyens who designed most of New Delhi, described an evening playing the game when she was 17 (the quote is on a card read by Ronni): "I assure you no words can picture either the intense excitement or the noise. I always scream in describing it." The game was originally called "tiddledy-winks". The little counters are called "winks" while the bigger one is called a "squidger". Normally the colours are yellow and green vs. red and blue. Other terms used in the game include "squop", "boondock" and "the Good move" which is named after one John Good. The squop is one of the most basic things in the game, in which your wink covers an opponent's wink so they cannot move it. The game has to be played on felt or baize to work.

- Tangent: A Google page ranking is named after Larry Page, one of Google's founders.

- Tangent: The panel are given quoits and try to throw them onto a set of spikes in the middle of the set. The winner gets a stuffed toy. Lee wins, but rather than winning one of the big toys behind Stephen he wins a tiny one. Stephen never said they would win a big one.

- Rifle ranges inside pubs in Birmingham were banned because they were used as a form of gambling. Such ranges were common during the Boer War, especially in Birmingham as it was at the time the centre of the world's gun-making. Some of the targets were actually inside the pubs and you fired over the heads of customers. In one pub in Worcester people would shoot from a bar, across a passageway and into an outhouse. Some pubs today still have shooting in open bars. Pubs which still have shooting games exist in Swindon, Devises, Newport, Hinckley, Nuneaton and Worcestershire.

- Tangent: At one point there was an attempt to ban darts because it was considered a game of chance and thus gambling. At a magistrate court in Leeds a pub landlord who wanted to keep his board got a local expert and made him play a game to show it was an actual game of skill.

- Nobody Knows: The rules to the games "Milking cromock", "Laugh and ly downe" and "Hanikin can'st abide it" are no longer known to anyone. We only know about these games because they were made illegal as they were used for gambling. However, we do know that "Laugh and ly downe" and "Hanikin can'st abide it" are card games. Other games include "Guile bones", "Noddy board", "Penny prick" and "Hide under hat". In 1938 a priest wrote to The Times complaining about a pub in Weymouth which had tortoises racing each other with little toy jockeys on their backs. Dave gets the bonus.

- Tangent: In competitive smoking contests the object of the game is to make your tobacco last the longest. You have to pack your tobacco into your pipe carefully and take as few puffs as possible.

- Tangent: In Belgium there is a an ancestor of darts called "Struifvogelspel" in Dutch, in which you swing a wooden duck with a sharpened bill tied to a cord until it gets stuck into a board. Another game, involving actual birds was "lark singing" which was played in both Britain and the continent, in which the winner was the bird that stopped singing last. However, there was a belief that the birds sang longer if they were blinded, so many larks were deliberately blinded in vain. A campaign against the practice was lead by blind World War I veterans.

- Tangent: There was an old variety act in which a man played an upright piano with a live duck on top, and the duck would dance to the music. However, the duck was made to dance because there were hot plates inside the piano. When the musician played he activated a particular plate which made the duck seemingly dance to avoid the heat. There is also a Spanish magician still working who has a trick of getting a goldfish to pick a card from inside a tank. However, the goldfish has a magnet inside it so the magician draws the fish to the right card using another magnet to attract it.

- The longest-running attraction at the most popular entertainment venue in the world in its time was an incubator room containing premature babies. The Coney Island Amusement Park in New York had an attraction called "The Infant Incubator with Living Infants" which was so popular that one woman came to visit it every week for 37 years. Premature babies were put in incubators there and the public would visit them, costing 25


This episode was broadcast vaguely in-line with the 2011 Children In Need appeal, the telethon for which was shown the previous evening, Friday 18th November.

Broadcast details

Saturday 19th November 2011
45 minutes


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    Cast & crew

    Regular cast
    Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
    Alan Davies Regular Panellist
    Guest cast
    Dave Gorman Guest
    Ronni Ancona Guest
    Lee Mack 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


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    Stephen Fry and guests test the duration of the best hugs.

    Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Dave Gorman, Ronni Ancona, Lee Mack.

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