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


BBC Two and BBC One panel show about quite interesting facts. 266 episodes (pilot + 18 series), 2003 - 2020. Stars Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Alan Davies.

Returns Wednesday 23rd December at 9pm. Episode Guide
Series J, Christmas Special is repeated on Dave today at 10pm.

Series I, Episode 4 - Indecision

Further details


- The panel are shown a picture of a man and are asked why this tosser got kicked out of the Magic Circle. The answer is that he, John Lenahan, exposed the secret of Find the Lady (known in the USA as Three Card Monte) on an episode of Des Lynam's How Do They Do That?. Lenahan has since said that if he was a murderer he would be free now, but the Magic Circle has banned him for life. "Tosser" is a particular term used for people who do this trick. The panel are given some fake money and are shown the trick, betting on the outcome. When Stephen collects up the money lost, a man runs onto the set and steals it.

- XL Tangent: The "shill" is the person who is in on the Find the Lady scam and "wins" money in front of the crowd.

- Just about everyone expected Spanish Inquisition because you were given 30 days notice to prepare your case. It was set up in 1478 under the rule of Ferdinand and Isabella in order to find Jews who the Spanish believed had not truly converted to Christianity. You had to be Christian to stay in the country. This was a separate inquisition from the Papal one, which is still going but has changed its name over the years. In 1908 it became known as the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office; in 1965 it was the Congregation for the Doctorate of the Faith. The leader of it under Pope John Paul II was Cardinal Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI.

- XL Tangent: Alan visited a Museum of Torture in Spain where he saw all kinds of things used to punish people during the Spanish Inquisition. One was a spike which would go through your anus, miss all your vital organs and then come out of your shoulder. You would then be left for days on end. They also used spiked cages and left people trapped inside them outside city walls.

- Tangent: The Roman Empire did not really fall as such. It just changed and became Roman Catholic Church.

- Given the choice the next best thing to having a Nobel Prize winner in the audience would be to have an Ig Nobel Prize winner. This is the award given to serious yet bizarre academic research. Examples of prize winners include a woman who invented a bra which also worked as a gas mask. The inventor of the prize was Marc Abrahams. Stephen then reveals that they do have Ig Nobel Prize winner in the audience: Prof. Chris McManus, the "Oddball Professor", who won the Prize for his paper "Scrotal Asymmetry in Man and In Ancient Sculpture", which was published in the journal Nature. McManus showed that most men have their right testicle higher than the left. In Ancient and Renaissance sculpture the left lower testicle is bigger, but actually it is the bigger testicle which is the higher one so they got the sculpture wrong. The mostly likely reason for this was Aristotle's theory that as you go through puberty the testicles get bigger, pulling down and making your voice deeper by the tension caused by their weight.

- Tangent: American comic Dennis Leary jokingly said that he would kill to have the Nobel Peace Prize.

- XL Tangent: At the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony the winner is expected to make a speech. However, in order to stop the speeches from going on too long, after 60 seconds an eight-year-old girl called Little Miss Sweetie Poo comes onto the stage and says, "Please stop, I'm bored", over and over until the winner stops. When McManus won, Little Miss Sweetie Poo was played by his own identical twin daughters.

- XL: Between a mouse and a hippopotamus the mouse is more mammaly, in the sense that it is faster for someone to categorise a mouse as a mammal than a hippo. This is because we consider a hippo to be less mammaly than a mouse because the hippo lives in water. Similarly, if you were to categorise different kinds of fruit, we would almost instantly recognise apples and pears to be fruits, would take a bit longer to recognise figs and raisins as fruits, and even longer to recognise olives and pumpkins as fruits.

- XL Tangent: Phill says the picture of the mouse looks like it is clicking its fingers like it is in West Side Story or if it is rolling up a Rizla paper. The correct way to pronounce the word "Rizla" is "Ri-la", from the French for rice, "riz", and the company that makes them, "Lacroix", French for "The cross".

- XL: What you would not call an Irishman with no nipples is "King". In ancient Ireland one of the ways to show loyalty to the king was to suck his nipples. In order to become King of Ireland people would fight each other and if they were considered not suitable they would have their nipples cut off, meaning they could never be king. Proof of this can be found on Old Croghan Man, a body preserved in a peat bog that had no nipples dating back to between 300-100 BC. It was so well preserved that the police were called because they thought it was the body of a recent murder victim.

- XL: The national colour of Ireland is St. Patrick's blue. The coat of arms of Ireland has a shield depicting an Irish harp on a St. Patrick's blue background, and the Irish Guards have a St. Patrick's blue patch on their bearskin helmets. The idea of green being the national colour comes from a rebellion in 1798. It became the colour associated with Irish nationalism and began to take over from St. Patrick's blue.

- If you have big decision to make in 40 minutes time the best thing you can do now to make sure you make the right choice is drink lots of water, because you are at your best at making decisions when urinating. You also make better decisions when you are angry.

- XL Tangent: According to Herodotus, the Father of History, when the Persians wanted to make a decision they would make it when drunk, and if they thought it was still the right move when they were sober they stuck with it. Alternatively they would make the decision sober and would stick to it if they through it was right when they were drunk. He also said, as if he was shocked: "To vomit or obey natural calls in the presence of another is forbidden among them." This applies that Herodotus was shocked by the fact the Persians did not go to the toilet in front of each other. In Pompeii the toilets were all next to each other so people could talk to each other while doing their business.

- XL Tangent: When Marilyn Monroe was engaged to Arthur Miller she was very nervous about meeting his parents for the first time who were Jewish intellectuals. They went to their small house in New York and at one point Monroe went to the bathroom. She then realised that the bathroom was directly above the dining room were everyone else was, so to disguise the sound of her urinating she turned on the taps. The next day Miller asked his father what he thought of Monroe, and he said: "Nice girl - pisses like a horse."

- The big decision that the driver of the No. 78 London bus had to make in December 1952 was jump over Tower Bridge. There was a mistake with the warning sign when Albert Gunton was on the bridge and he realised the bascule (the term for the half of a bridge that opens, from the French for "seesaw") was already rising, so he made a snap decision, accelerated, jumped the gap, and managed to land safely on the lower, second bascule. No-one was injured and Gunton was awarded £10.

- XL: If one of two identical twins had committed a crime, and you had eye-witness reports, DNA testing and fingerprints, it would still be incredibly difficult to get a conviction because there is a danger of imprisoning the innocent twin. In January 2009 $6.8million worth of jewellery was stolen from Berlin's Kaufhaus des Westens department store. Two of the suspects were identical twins, Abbas and Hassam Qmurat, and they walked free despite there being DNA evidence, because although they could deduce that one of the brothers took part in the crime, they did not know for certain which one. A similar case occurred with the original Siamese twins, because one got involved in a fight and it was decided that he could not be jailed because that would mean imprisoning the innocent one.

- The problem with identity parades is that they are not always reliable. Today the police use a system called VIPER (Video Identification Parade Electronic Recording). In 1997 South Yorkshire Police had arrested a suspect who was 6'3", 16 stone and black, and the police could not find anyone else that looked like him, so they got a make-up artist to black up a group of white men, but forgot to black up the hands. To demonstrate how unreliable some identity parades are, Stephen organises a Never Mind the Buzzcocks style parade in which the panel have to identify the man who stole Stephen's fake money earlier on. Half the panel correctly spot who it is.

- XL Tangent: Alan was once in a café and he saw someone steal a scooter using some bolt cutters. When the police came around he said that he was an eye witness. The police asked for a description and he said that the scooter was painted metallic gold. Then the victim pointed out it was metallic silver. A few moments later Alan spotted the stolen bike being ridden by the thieves. Alan gave chase and phoned the police to report what had happened, but they never came.

General Ignorance

- The first person to go around the world in 80 days was American investigative journalist Nellie Bly. She worked for The World, the newspaper owned by Joseph Pulitzer, after whom the Pulitzer Prize is named. After the publication of the novel Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne in 1890, Pulitzer decided to see if such a trip was possible. Bly insisted that she should do the trip otherwise she would leave the paper. Pulitzer agreed and Bly completed the journey in 72 days, 6 hours and 11 minutes, from New York to New York. Despite what it shows in the films, Phileas Fogg never used a hot air balloon in the original novel. Amongst her other achievements, Bly campaigned against bad landlords, injustice, the treatment of women in prisons, and the treatment of those in insane asylums, which she did by smuggling herself into one. (Forfeit: Michael Palin)

- You can tell if a chick is male or female by doing a slight squeeze and feeling for the differences in the ridges and bumps in the cloaca tract (their reproductive and excretory tract). In 1927 at the World Poultry Congress in Ottawa it was announced that the Japanese had discovered how to sex chicks. The discovery reduced the cost of eggs worldwide overnight. At the Zen-Nippon Chick Sexing School the students were taught in such a vigorous way that only between 5-10% of students got accreditation, but when you passed you were paid very well. The best chicken sexers can work through 1,200 chicks an hour (Forfeit: Nobody knows)

- Tangent: Stephen once did a corporate gig for Phillips Small Appliances.

- Tangent: In Norfolk there was a team of Vietnamese turkey sexers working for Bernard Matthews.

- The Moon, like the Sun, rises slightly in the east and sets slightly in the west. (Forfeit: Which moon?; The opposite)

- Nobody Knows: If you are shown a picture of some muscles and asked how many different species were shown you could not say, because you cannot tell the difference just by looking. You have to use the genome. Species previously thought to be complete different are actually the same and species which look identical are actually totally different. Jimmy gets the bonus.


- Phill Jupitus: 10 points
- The Audience: 4 points
- Jimmy Carr: -1 point
- Rich Hall: -2 points
- Alan Davies: -14 points

Broadcast details

Friday 30th September 2011
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Jeremy Hardy Guest
Phill Jupitus 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

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