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 P, Episode 2 is repeated on Dave today at 9pm.

Series I, Episode 5 - Invertebrates

Further details


- Apart from making honey, the other thing that bees do better than dogs is smell things out. While it takes about 3 months to train a sniffer dog, it only takes a bee 10 minutes by putting it in a box and making them associate a smell with sugar as an award. They are now being used in airports by a company called Insentinel.

- Tangent: An old joke is that the best way to smuggle drugs is via a dog's buttocks because when the sniffer dog arrived it would look like the dog was just sniffing the dog's backside.

- Tangent: Sarah's father once punched a bee. He said it was like punching a velvet tennis ball.

- Tangent: Stephen has a selection on insect related foods. They include lollipops with ants in then, a scorpion brittle, dried bugs and ants in chocolate. Stephen tries to persuade the panel to eat them by eating a chocolate ant himself. However, it repeats on him, makes him cough, gives him acid problems and there is a bit stuck at the back of his throat. It is believed that by the year 2030 we may have to use insects as our main source of protein. 2.5 billion people in the world already do eat insects. Using insects for food has other advantages, such as having less impact on the environment, needing less feed and they have a greater reproduction cycle. Eating shrimps is similar to eating insects.

- Tangent: Johnny has eaten smoked insects at Bug World in Liverpool. He claims they had a bad aftertaste.

- Tangent: The website beedogs.com features pictures of dogs dressed as bees.

- XL: Nobody Knows: No-one can tell if a dog has a guilty conscience. Owners think that they can but it is all in their mind according to various tests. No-one gets the bonus.

- XL: There are no vegan Venus fly traps because in order to trap their pray it needs to hit the trigger hairs at a certain time. Plant matter cannot do this but animals and insects can. When the trap closes the head turns into the stomach.

- XL Tangent: The South American bolus spider traps its pray by making a silk thread lasso which it swings around to catch flies.

- The best way to charm a worm is to vibrate the ground. It is believed that the worm thinks there is a mole nearby and the worm escapes by going to the surface. In the UK and USA (where it is called "grunting") worm charming is both an industry and a "sport". Worms can be sold as fish bait. In worm charming sporting events the object is to make the most worms come to the surface in 30 minutes. At the Woodhall Worm Charming Festival in Lincolnshire, August 2010, none of the competitors found a single worm. A spokesman said everyone was a winner because they rose over £2,000 for the Woodhall Spa Twinning Association.

- XL: You would go out with a bucket full of ladybirds at night. They are used as a form of pest control as they eat greenflies. However, if you release them during the day they will just fly away. So you release them night, when they do not fly, and when dawn breaks they eat the nearby greenflies in your garden, then become full up so they do not fly off.

- XL Tangent: Stephen had a similar pest control problem in a conservatory, so he use gull wasps.

- The thing with the amazing eyes did not escape from a tank. The Mantis Shrimp is a crustacean from Vietnam that has split eyes so that they can see ultraviolet, infrared and circularly-polarised light. It is the only creature on Earth that can see circularly-polarised light, meaning it could see a 3D film without the glasses. They can accelerate through water at 10,000 times the force of gravity, which is so fast it makes the water in front of it boil. They can break out of aquarium glass with one strike of their claw. It can also punch pray. Prof. David Scholnick of Pacific University in Oregon has studied these shrimps by putting them in tanks with treadmills to see how they run.

- Tangent: Johnny decides to eat Stephen's scorpion brittle, which takes him ages to break into two. Johnny pretends that the effect of the scorpion poison gives him superpowers and he does a forward roll across the set. Alan decides to eat a chocolate ant which he finds disgusting. Stephen fails to persuade Sarah to eat anything, saying that her mum told her she did not need to put anything into her mouth she did not want. It is suggested that this is her version of sex talk and Alan suggests she should put an ant lollipop up what Sarah calls "me nunny".

- XL: An ant mill goes around and around in circles until it dies. When ants lose the pheromone trail made by the leaders they start following each other in a circle constantly until they die. In the 1920s one was observed that was 1,200 feet across in circumference. It took two-and-a-half hours for an ant complete one circuit.

- XL Tangent: Sarah has a rule saying that if an insect comes into her house she can kill it, because it is in her home, but not if it is outside because it is their home.

- XL: The thing that you should not breathe in if you are a stink ant is the spore of the cordyceps fungus in the rainforests of Cameroon. If it does it gets into the brain, sending the ant mad, then makes the ant walk up the tree where the fungus lives, consumes the rest of the brain and the soft flesh of the ant, then a new spore grows out of the head.

General Ignorance

- A vertebrate with no backbone is called a shark. Sharks are classified as vertebrates but their "backbone" is made out of cartilage. They do not have a spine or a rib cage.

- The strongest creature for its weight in the world is gonorrhoea, which is a bacterium that can pull 100,000 times its own weight. The original cure for gonorrhoea was to put an umbrella up the urethra which would scrape the inside. The strongest man in the world at the time of recording is Zydrunas Savickas. He can pull a 70 tonne plane which is only about 411 times his own weight.

- XL: Oystercatchers mainly eat cockles and mussels, not oysters. An oystercatcher can consume 500 cockles a day. That's 8.9 million tonnes of cockles in Britain alone, which contains the most oystercatchers in Europe. (Forfeit: Oysters)

- XL: The animal with the most genes is the water flea, which has 8,000 more genes than humans. They play an important role in the food cycle of sea creatures. The number of genes is believed to be connected with age and genetic mutations rather than complexity. (Forfeit: Jeremy Clarkson)

- Nobody Knows: Nobody knows why moths are attracted to light. One theory is that they are attracted to moonlight and that other sources of light disorientate them. Alan gets the bonus.


- Johnny Vegas: 4 points
- Sarah Millican: 2 points
- Alan Davies: -1 point
- Jimmy Carr: -24 points

Broadcast details

Friday 7th October 2011
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
Stephen Fry Host / Presenter
Alan Davies Regular Panellist
Guest cast
Jimmy Carr Guest
Johnny Vegas Guest
Sarah Millican 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


Sniffer Bees

The panel chat about the use of sniffer bees instead of sniffer dogs in detection of criminal activity.

Featuring: Alan Davies, Stephen Fry, Jimmy Carr, Johnny Vegas, Sarah Millican.


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