Series I, Episode 18 - Idleness
- The code for the American nuclear trigger between 1960-77 that was given to every president during that period was 00000000. The British during that period did not even have a code. Instead they used a bicycle lock key and accessed the trigger by removing two screws from a panel. Behind it was a series of dials which allowed the user to select if the bomb would have an air burst or a ground burst.
- XL: There are many problems in trying to find the best person for a job in a hierarchy. One famous theory is "The Peter Principle" in which you constantly promote someone who is good at their job until they get to a job which they cannot do, at which point you stop promoting them.
- XL: The best way of electing MPs is using sortition - the system the ancient Greeks used, which was a simple lottery. It guarantees that powerful interest groups can have no influence on the outcome; it does not favour people who are good at winning elections such as people who are charismatic, wealthy, well-educated or well-connected; and you cannot buy votes from people so it is impossible to be corrupt. This system is the same one we use when picking a jury.
- XL: It might be a good idea to use your leisure time smoking 30 cigarettes a day, drinking explosives and eating dried blood if you want to get invalided out of the army. During World War II the Italians came up with the idea of sending boxes of matches to the Allies inside of which were secret instructions on how to make yourself look ill and thus send you back home. They also gave psychological advice such as acting as if hate being ill, sticking to one set of symptoms and not telling the doctor too much. They advised people already smoking to double the amount they smoked. While you may be tempted to simply shoot yourself in the foot, it was such a common trick that doctors and solders were wise to it. The British then did the same trick of sending advice on making yourself to look ill, by sending fake German manuals which had the information in the middle of them. This had a double effect because the Germans knew about the trick, so sometimes they sent off troops who were really were ill back to the front where they could spread infection. Amongst the tricks the British used was how to fake tuberculosis, which involved smoking a lot so you cough, telling the doctor that you had flu some time ago but the cough has not gone away, cutting yourself so you can add blood to your mucus, and also add smegma.
- Alfred's game was more successful than Alfred's other game because the first game was Scrabble. Alfred Butts invented Scrabble, but it was not a great success until the man who ran the Macy's department store got hooked on playing the game one Christmas. He promoted the game the following year and sold 4 million games. It became the best selling board game ever. Butts got just $1.6 million, but he was happy with it. Butts then went on to design another game called Alfred's Other Game, but it did not take off.
- XL: Strategically speaking, the best group of properties to get in Monopoly are the oranges, which in the standard British version of the game are Bow Street, Marlborough Street and Vine Street. This is because they are the places you are most likely to land on, due to them being so close to Jail. If you role a double 3 or double 4 to get out, you will land on either Bow or Marlborough. Rather appropriately, all three of those streets used to have magistrates courts.
- If a dormouse had a gap year it would most likely sleep all the way through it. Dormice, which are not mice at all, can hibernate for up to 18 months in one go, so if there is not enough food in one year they can sleep all the way through it until next year.
- The panel are asked to demonstrate the best way to sit on a chair, using some toy chairs and some dolls of The Stig. The best way is to sit tilted back by about 30 degrees.
- The panel are asked to make a homopolar motor using a screw, a magnet, an AA battery and a piece of wire. What you do is attach the magnet to the flat end of the screw. The screw becomes magnetised so the point will attach to the flat (negative) end of the battery easily. Hold the battery up so the screw and magnet are dangling down. Then take the wire, place one end of it on the positive side of the battery and the other to the magnet. This will cause the screw to spin. Because the friction caused is so small, the screw can spin at around 10,000 rpm. This type of motor was invented by Michael Faraday in 1820.
- Nobody Knows: No-one knows how many arms the Milky Way has. This is because no-one has ever taken a photograph of it from the outside, because the camera would have to travel hundreds of light years to get a shot.
- The panel are shown a picture of Del Boy and Rodney from Only Fools and Horses along with their car, which is a Reliant Regal Supervan. The Supervan also appears in Mr. Bean as it is the car which always gets in the way of Mr. Bean's Mini, not a Reliant. (Forfeit: Reliant Robin)
- Out of doctor and veterinary training, training to be a vet takes the less time course wise. For a vet it is five years, for a doctor it can be between nine to twelve years. (Forfeit: Doctor)
- XL: Out of animals and humans, humans get the most charity money in the UK. Most money goes to towards cancer charities, followed by the National Trust and then children's charities. The most popular animal charity is the RSPCA, but it has never been in the top ten. (Forfeit: Animals)
This episode was originally scheduled for broadcast on Friday 9th December, but was postponed following upset over comments made by Jeremy Clarkson on The One Show the previous week. The XL version of the episode was erroneously available via iPlayer for a short period.
- Friday 4th May 2012
- BBC Two
- 30 minutes
Cast & crew
|Stephen Fry||Host / Presenter|
|Alan Davies||Regular Panellist|
|Dara O Briain||Guest|
|John Mitchinson||Question Writer|
|Justin Pollard||Question Writer|
|James Harkin||Question Writer|
|Molly Oldfield||Question Writer|
|Andrew Hunter Murray||Question Writer|
|David Morley (as Dave Morley)||Executive Producer|
|Ruby Kuraishe||Executive Producer|
|Jonathan Paul Green||Production Designer|