QI Genesis (2011) - full transcript

This show is...


As soon as it came out, I just thought:

"That's the sort of
programme I want to watch."

It's really, really good fun!

So, let's get straight down
to business: Question one.

What colour is the Universe?

Why don't pigeons like
going to the movies?

Does the Pope eat beaver?

Can you tell me:
What are coffee tights?

Maybe, a prudish person might place them
over the legs of a coffee table? Erm...

- It's a pair of tights...
- Made out of coffee?

Made of coffee, as it where.
At least with caffeine in them.

Are there gonna be other items of
clothing made out of liquids?

Like, custard socks, or...?

Or a nice vodka hat?

Custard... Now you've said
"custard socks", I want them NOW!

No, you can't have your custard socks,
until you've put on your gravy cardie.

It DOES seem unlikely that
slipping on a pair of tights

is gonna dissolve a fat arse, erm...
I mean, that is...

At least, it will stop your leg going asleep.

Yeah, it would...

Very good!


When I knew I was gonna be a dad,
for the first time,

I laboured under the illusion,
which I've since dropped,

that I knew something.

But I though: "Obviously,
I don't know everything,

so I will buy the entire
Encyclopaedia Britannica",

which is about nine yards long,
and read all of it,

in order to become the, um,
best dad in the world.

It was SO boring, and difficult to read,
that I kind of despaired about it.

When I first had the idea for QI,
in the late nineties,

I kept it to myself for two years.

We used to meet occasionally,
and John would tell me, regularly

that he had a big idea he wanted to impart.

And then we'd get distracted, usually by beer.

One fateful afternoon, he finally
divulged the idea that was QI.

QI is first of all a mission and a philosophy.

It's a way of looking at the world
which is different.

So he said: "Okay, I'll give you
three examples of interesting things".

"For the first 21 years of
basketball's existence,

it hadn't occur to anybody to cut
a hole in the bottom of the basket."

"So every time a point was scored,
you'd have to get a stepladder

to get the ball out".

The second was the fact that
kangaroos have three vaginas.

And the third was about the existence
of these things called "tardigrades".

They live anywhere there's water.

But if they dry out, they can live
for over a century.

In a state of suspended animation,
you add water to them,

they come back to life.
And I couldn't believe this.

Okay, so this is basically QI Central.

This is the key library of QI,
where I've been sitting for ten years,

researching the most unbelievably
obscure subjects.

Over in this corner, for example,
you've got all stuff about languages,

and slang, quotations, that kind of thing.

And, bizarrely, the dictionary of
minor planet names,

where I discovered that there are asteroids
called: Smith, Jones, Brown, and Robinson.

We had a lunch in Oxford, where John gave me
this big map of what he wanted QI to become.

It was shops, and it was, you know,
a place to hang out,

and it was radio, and it was television,
it was sort of...

It was multimedia. It was the idea that
once you've got this idea,

that there's a way of making
something interesting,

then you can apply it
to absolutely everything.

What happened is,
that John brought it to me,

and I was at the time running
in-house production,

and it was an independent idea,
it came with Talkback Thames.

It was gonna be called "QI", because he kept...

He'd listed all these facts, and he...

And he kept finding himself using the
phrase: "Gosh, that's quite interesting".

Or, when he told it to people they
said: "Oh, that's quite interesting".

So, I basically said, really, contrary
to the usual rules in this thing:

"Well, I'll help you develop it",

and make sure that at least
a pilot gets made in some way.

Ladies and gentlemen.

Hello, and welcome to QI.

The quiz show where the answers are
much more exiting than the questions,

but the questions are completely impossible.

As I don't really expect any on the
panel to know the answer,

I shall be giving credit purely on the basis
that I find their replies interesting.

Regardless of whether or not they are
correct, or even relevant.

The pilot was huge fun to write.

'Cause I had the whole of all the stuff
I've been researching for several years.

I just picked and choose. I cherry-picked
the best possible questions.

In 1992, the French government relaxed
their ruling on the formal list

of what French children could be
legally christened, Jean-Pierre,

Jean-Michel, Marie-Claire, Jean-Marie,
Tintin, Babar, Comte de Frou-Frou...

And the following year,
after relaxing these laws,

the most popular name for a baby French boy...

...was Kevin.

I remember Eddie Izzard was involved, and Alan.

I got involved with QI because I met
John Lloyd when he was directing

in commercials that I did for Abbey National.

Saving with Abbey National keeps my hair...

...a part of me.

"Lloyd Years", we called John Lloyd,
erm, called me up...

And said: "BBC really liked it,
and they're gonna go for it."

"They'd like a series of QI".

Jane Root, who was running BBC2,
ordered 16 shows at once.

That's never happened to me
in my whole career.

It went from being four of us in a room,
to... A whole set.

Stephen presenting the material
that John had been working on,

and we had contributed to, and kind
of questions we'd had come up with.

What was rectal inflation?

In Victorian England?

I think it's when...

...arseholes went RIGHT up in price.
And, erm...

- And, spiralling out of control...
- Yes?

And then the price was brought down
by a change of interest rates.

Did the bottom fall out of the market?

There was something REALLY special here,
'cos the pilot is SUCH fun. It's so...

...alarmingly odd.

What is the sixth most popular name
for a baby boy in Germany?


- No...
- Adolf!

Oh! He said 'Adolf'!

- D'oh!
- Minus ten!

- That is minus ten points.
- That's got a 'ph' in it!

- That's not...
- Yes, I know.

I didn't spell it like that when I said it.

The literacy of our research department
is neither here nor there.

Because, in those days, Stephen, of course...

...wasn't the National Treasure
that he has since become.

He was just some guy,
you know, who was very, very bright.

People say: "Is he THAT clever, Stephen?"
And I say: "Of course, he's not!"

No one could know ALL that stuff!

QI is an odd programme, because
it's hosted by Stephen Fry,

who's the cleverest man
in the world, anyway.

And then he's provided with LOADS
more information, erm, on cards,

which he can refer to.

Then, he's got a script on the autocue
for other bits he doesn't happen to known.

And, just in case something
has slipped by his attention,

there's somebody shouting in his ear,
with additional facts.

Ah, we have late, breaking news,
as a matter of fact.

When he stops like that...

...he's not trying to remember it,
he's listening to someone telling it!

Cruithne is pronounced "Cruenia",
and it is actually Celtic.

He know virtually nothing!
You know what he knows about? Wagner!

Even before I did QI, people had this
view of me as being a bit of,

a sort of school masterly, sort-of figure.

Don't be put of by a young person
knowing more than you, Alan.

- You must be used to it by now.
- I'm just mucking about, sorry.

Because he's such a teacher type...

...that it makes me wanna wind him up.

Every time he looks around, I wanna
throw a paper at the back of his head.

Oh, you're in trouble!

I think that Stephen Fry would be
a really good teacher, because...


He'd won't whinge at you because
you're being, um, silly.

If he was my teacher, I would be thrilled!

And that, of course, I think a lot
of the guests play up to it.

Phill Jupitus and others in particular,
love to mock my...

My grown-upness, if you like.

What are the beer goggles,
and what is the Latin term?

- Beer goggles?
- Yeah.

- What are they?
- When you've got the beer goggles on,

it's when you really fancy someone
who normally you wouldn't fancy.


So you would refer to someone
as a "seven-pinter".

Stephen doesn't have beer goggles;
he has Madeira pince-nez!

I imagine, with Stephen, it would be...

"Oh, you're a cracker! More Madeira?"

"A small sherry?"

Because I can't...

...outthink, or sort of, outperform Fry,
all I can do is flirt with him.

Which does make him go really...
It's like he just turns into...

...a Jane Austen character.
Just these flashes of...

"Oh, stop it! No... Don't."

How many muscles are there,
incidentally, in your fingers?

One if you play your cards right...

I cannot look at you.

Oh! This is...

You dreadful boy!

I'm not gonna pay ANY attention to you now.

I'll put the pencil in!

I like hitting on him.


"Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit,
F?r das deutsche Vaterland!"

"Danach la?t uns alle streben,
Br?derlich mit Herz und Hand!"

I have an erection.

I mean, he hasn't punched me yet,
but I think Stephen at SOME point,

will probably...

'Cause I like to just disappear off
into the distance, you know?

If I could stand on a planet, and
throw an Ewok into a lake of farts,

that'd just be...

- That... That would be like...
- Smash it!

Well, you couldn't, because it'd shatter!

Even better!!!

So, right...

So I could be tossin' Ewoks
into a lake of farts?

Stephen really looks at me with
that look of, like...

"It's all very well,

the fact that we're talking about
putting monkeys on stilts, but..."

He kind of goes:
"Yes, the answer is bla, bla, bla."

And it comes back to the thing.

It is always a wonderful thing,
watching Stephen...

...being terribly polite and affable,

while you're saying something
incredibly foolish.

And knowing that he's about
to hit you on the head.

What could only be described
as a rather beautiful fact.

What do you call a left-handed lemon?

A potato.

No, but you where thinking
along the right lines.

We're talking about molecules
and their arrangement.

You mean, the opposite to a lemon?

Yeah, exactly. The mirror image

- of its molecular arrangements.
- An orange?

Is the right answer!

There's a lemon. Obviously.

Seven points?

There's an orange. Seven points?
That's your number!

Do they make scissors for both?

Or just...


Just the lemon?

It's along those lines, Johnny, yes.

The arrangement of the aroma molecules is
exactly the same, except a mirror-image.

And the result is as different a smell
as the smell of a lemon to an orange.

I think my favourite one is when he
talked about his tailor at school.

That's a...
That's hilarious, yeah!

My prep school tailors were
called Gorringe, funnily enough.


Where we'd get our uniforms made, yeah.

You had a tailor?

You had a tailor, for, like
the suit you wear when you're five?!

There was...

Were you born in need in the 1850's?

No! No. You had...

"I shall measure up young sir
for his shorts and cap."

It was a particular outfitter,
who was the school outfitter...

Oh, right. You should say that.

...which was a tailoring shop that
outfit school outfits, called Gorringe's.

"Which side does young sir dress on? Well."

- Hardly worth bothering!
- There's nothing really to worry about.

"You should know that,
it's written on the toilet walls."

Oh, please!

Oh, heavens. Why did I even
mention that? That's...

"Do you want to get measured up for shorts?"

Oh, Lord!

"Would sir like to wear a cravat
on the cross-country run?"

People, I think, do...

...sometimes, erm...

...think either that I know everything,
which is obviously preposterous,

or that I pretend to know everything,
which I really don't mean to do.

He's immensely articulate, he's got
just enough knowledge to get by,

he can fool experts in their own field.


Sometimes, he get things wrong!

Okay, Stephen...

Oh, yes?

Oh, hello!

I've been waiting for this opportunity!

Oh, Christ!

What do penguins in the Falkland Islands
do when the RAF jets fly over them?

Fry, Cambridge!

Um, they look up and they fall over.
Topple over backwards.

- Really!?
- Yeah.

See, that's wrong!

Oh, Fry, you idiot!

Alan and Stephen represent two
different kinds of intelligence.

They're both highly intelligent people,
but they think in different ways.

And Stephen is a kind of learned academic.
Thoughtful, you know, intelligence.

It's a mixture of the terrible English
class thing of me being a sort-of

officery, Oxbridge-e type; Tall and
English, and him being a sort-of...

Sort of curly-headed, slightly more Essex lad.

And Alan's is intuitive. Alan isn't
about knowing information,

it's about bending information into new shapes.

I watched this documentary, and they said

that eventually, the Sun will explode,
or implode, or something.

And everything will be gone.

- That wouldn't help Mars, would it?
- Including Earth, I mean.

That on the way out,
we'll have to stop at Mars.

Oh, I thought you meant that
there was a services there.

There'll be someone trying to get you
to join the RAC in the car park.

Humans WILL leave this planet, Stephen.
They will!

The wise one has spoken, ladies and gentlemen!

I can't imagine the show would ever
work without both of them.

Because they offset each other. Because,
just as Stephen has told Alan...

The temperature ambit, within which...

...human sperm can survive
is quite narrow.

Alan would say something like:
"Yes, Stephen. But..."

Do sperms...

- Yeah?
- ...feel pain?

Now, the thing is, NOBODY knows
the answer to that.

Not the Elves, not Stephen,
not any professor in the World.

And that's what makes it so delicious.

It's that even Stephen,
the National Treasure,

doesn't know everything.

And the funny thing was, he wasn't
even the first choice for host.

The guy I really wanted was Michael Palin.

I remember having a very nice lunch,
in which you... Um...

...pressed the case for me to

do a new sort of television programme.
Which you described quite...

Have to say, quite messianicly.

I just thought...

"Perhaps, I can't do this. This is
a sort-of serious thing to do,

being a quizmaster.
Being in control of people."

And I think in the back of my mind,
I thought:

"If I'm the quizmaster, I am
once again, the sort-of neutral,

straight man, within the middle."

REALLY, I just wanted do be very, very silly.

I tried to persuade him for two hours.
He wasn't gonna do it.

And I went back to the office,
and it was a disaster.

And I said to the research team:
"We've screwed this up".

"It's not gonna work."

And I didn't know what to do,
and it took me about 24 hours

to think of: "Oh, I'll just go and
have to beg Stephen,

if he would just sit in as the
chairman, just for the pilot."

It never occurred to me for a minute,
to be offended by the idea that, um...

That Michael Palin was first choice,
'cause could exactly see

that he would have been
brilliant at it, actually.

I could just see that...

...this was gonna be something which
you couldn't just do,

because QI has become this
enormous brand, with sort of...

Um... It's all over the place.

So, I knew, I wasn't just
getting into something

that would be Wednesday afternoons,

and then I could go
and do a bit more travelling.

One of the lessons that ought
to be taught at school,

is that you should embrace disaster
when it happens.

Because, 20 years later, what seemed
like a disaster at the time,

might not seem like one, then.

Much of John Lloyd's planning...

...about how QI was gonna work,
he kept from me!

And, erm... This was a...

I've discovered since, was a deliberate
ploy, 'cause he needed a fall guy,

he needed an idiot.

Oh, no, no no! Not white,
middle class people doing rap!

No, no, no! Not doing that, no! Please!

Okay. No.

- Cruithne!
- SO embarrassing.

All the time, now I realise, in his mind's eye,
there was a huge dunce?s cap, sitting on my head.

I think, first time I was on,
Alan turned around to me and went:

"I'm glad you're here.
Usually I'M the thick one."

As far as... That's probably
the best compliment I've ever had,

I might use it on my posters for the tour.

"Jesus, I thought I was thick!"
- Alan Davies.

There are 923 English words,
that have a 'CIE' in them.

- Do we have to name them all?
- No.

You're let of, but name some.


- No, that's 'CEI'.
- Oh.

- 'CEI', that's what you said!
- No, no, no!

- If it's I before C, EXCEPT after C...?
- Yeah.

We're looking for words where
E follows C, aren't we?


No. The rule is, it should be
'CEI', according to that.

Oh, so what you're saying is wrong!?

- There are 923...
- I know one, which it isn't!

- Yeah?
- Ceiling. That's not one!

- No!
- Ceiling ISN'T one.


Ceiling ISN'T one of the ones you're looking for!

- Yes, I want the ones I AM looking for.
- That's right!

So I will repeat my answer
when I say, NOT ceiling.

I'm looking for the ones I'm looking for.

You're looking for the ones your looking for?

Yes, so give me a 'CIE'.


God! I MAY explode at any minute.

Are you incapable of rational thought!?

Are you... You CANNOT be THAT stupid?

- You've ruined...
- You CANNOT be...

What happened, particularly
in the early shows,

was that people didn't
really know what to do.

They didn't know whether to...

...try and get the answer right,
they didn't know whether it mattered.

They felt it DID matter, because
there are cameras and people,

and you'd look stupid.

And so, I used to just...
Talk a lot, and answer,

and hit the buzzer and say stuff,
to keep the ball in the air, really.

I'll tell you something about oranges.

- What's that?
- They're not the only fruit.

They're NOT the only fruit!

Alan is...

He's got SUCH an interesting role in this.


...he doesn't appear to know...

Anything. I'm amazed he could function
as a human being, but...

He somehow adds value.

He asks the questions that I'd
be embarrassed to ask.

If you took all of the fish...

...and the whales...

...and everything out of the sea...


- How far down would...
- They'd die!


...plays it exceptionally well,
but whenever I'm on, that's...

The only real...

...sort-of competitive spirit, for me, is...

...trying to out-stupid Alan.

That's what I aim to do,
is steal the crown from him.

I love the fact that Alan
buries his head in his hands

whenever we come up with Aristotle or Pliny.

And we start tonight with
Alan's favourite subject actually,

which is the ancient Greeks.

- Oh.
- Yeah!

He just finds that the classical
philosophers so annoying,

because they're so wrong about everything,
and yet, of course, they where so right!

What WE call 'blue', they call something else!

Well no, the ancient Greeks
didn't call anything 'blue'.

- They didn't look up, ever!?
- No, they didn't call ANYTHING blue.

- They didn't have colours?
- No word for blue.

They had colours, but they didn't
have a word for blue, that's right!

Not blue? What did they say: The sky?



Yes. They called it the bronze.
Homer called it bronze colour.

I have NO time for these Greeks!

And yet, without them you wouldn't be here.

Oh, that's SO rubbish!
You say this every week.

Because it's true! Because without...

What do you mean,
"We wouldn't be here"?

Logics, mathematics, harmony,
democracy, justice...

That's got nothing to do with...

People shagging for decades,
ending up with me!

There wouldn't be television.

Without television, you are NOTHING.
I know that better than anybody!

You know, to watch Alan shake his head
in disgust is just wonderful,

the moment I say Pliny, I can see his heart sink.

The alternative cure for incontinence,

which is to knock back a glass of sweet wine

mixed liberally with the ash of a
burnt pig's penis, erm...

Then urinating in your,
OR your neighbour's dog's bed.

None of this is made up.

And I like the pig would be there going:

"I'm glad to see YOU'RE still pissin' happily!"

He is, of course, I feel hesitant in...
In revealing this to the world, he is...

Highly intelligent.

- A quite interesting thing...
- Yes? Go on.

Lady mosquitoes bite you and suck your blood.

That's true.

Male mosquitoes, not quite so dangerous.

- True.
- Points?

Well, you've MADE a point,
but you're not gonna GET one.


There's another part of him,

that is very, wonderfully, bloody-
minded. And as I say, like a...

He's like a little spaniel puppy,
constantly running into the mirror.

What's the world's longest animal?

- Oh!
- Was that me?


Um, it'll be the blue whale.

I think, the time I laughed the most
on QI, was when Julian Clary was on.

And he started talking about meeting
the Queen and doing a poo.

I had wind when I met the Queen.

Wha... Did you release it?

I had to, and unfortunately I shat myself.

You heard it here first, ladies and gentlemen!


Well, she...

She'd been there, herself.

Had she?!

She just looked... Gave me that look.

Moved swiftly on.

And I tried to get rid of it,
by internal squeezing.

As can be done, and...

Are the muscles a little laxed
down there at the moment?


I'm sorry!

During the filming of the show,
I'm slightly having kittens, because...

It's the ONE part of the process,
which is totally out of control.

Graculus is a jackdaw.

No, a jackdaw is corvus monegula.

Yes, but there's another word.
It's the actual Latin name...

The actual Latin name for a jackdaw was Graculus.

OK, Stephen. Let's not fall
out over this, Stephen.

No, no, it's what...

No, I'm saying real Latin...

- No.
- No no, you might be interested.

Because Roman people actually called
birds things before they were...

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

There's something down there!

Sorry about that. I'm SO sorry about that!


There's a portal into the Underworld here,
it's ridiculous!

If it's one of our shows, for the
show you've written, then, er...

You're quite tense, really,
going into it. We have rehearsals,

and then the main show starts.


You're really hoping the material
will work for the panel,

that they'll actually be able to sort-of
riff off it, and come up with jokes.

Talking about Christianity, Rich.
Could Jesus walk on custard?


That sounds like a sarcastic
question you would as Jesus.

"Oh, water? Er, great.
What about custard?"

It's not so much a question of
'could he', Stephen, I mean...

- What? Are you saying he DID?
- He did, he did it.

I mean, it was very hard
to stop him, actually.

This... This was one...
It's come out in research recently.

This was one of the Lord's favourite pastime.

Out with the bread, out with the fish,
"Look what I've got for dessert".

"Somebody hold my shoes!" And he'd be...

You know, he'd be doing it...

Well, welcome everybody.
This is the first meeting

for the research for the J series of QI.

From the very beginning, I nicknamed
the researchers on QI 'The elves',

'cause I think of them as being like
little Niebelungen in the ring cycle,

with little pickaxes, mining at the
great mountain of knowledge,

and coming up with these little
extraordinary shiny nuggets

in little wheelbarrows.

Actually, one of our researchers in
the first series, actually read

the entire Albanian-English dictionary,
to get just two QI questions out of.

If you really want to try and understand
things, and you want to get the bottom of...

...of how things work, you have to
ask really stupid, simple questions.

They all come from different backgrounds,
different disciplines,

they're all different ages, um...

And they just have this one thing in common,
which is an undimmable curiosity.

We've got two balls here, okay?
You drop one ball here...

Bounces down there.

Drop another ball here.

Bounces down there.

What would happen if I dropped
the balls together?

- Um...
- Same rule.

One will go over there...

I think you're probably right.

I think you're probably right.

- Hey!
- Oh, my giddy aunt!

I think, what makes it work,
is the combination of

taking ideas that you're not normally
allowed to talk about on television

because they're considered difficult,
or esoteric, or dull.

This is where we found that, erm...
Calcium, amazingly, is a metal.

And it is, in fact, the commonest metal
in the human body, a great QI question.

And giving them to a panel of brilliant
comedians and presenters in such a way,

that they can find something that
you'll remember in it.

Chelmsford has the largest
burns unit in Europe.

Oddly enough, the MP for Chelmsford West,
is called Simon Burns.

Though, because he got a Douglas at
University, he's known as...?

Third Degree Burns.

That's one of the really good things
about QI, is it's...

It seems to have tapped into a sort-of,
absolutely bottomless pit, of... Of trivia.

We come up with ideas and questions,
of just things that WE find interesting.

It's like good teaching, really.
That good teacher you had at school,

who just finds an interesting way of
talking about something that, you know,

a thousand other children would tell you
is an incredible boring subject.

We don't worry about what people
think about the questions,

we just do what WE like. And...

We always think that if WE
find something interesting,

then everyone else will find it
interesting as well.

Their tongues are heavier than
an whole elephant.

Just one blue whale tongue
is heavier than a whole elephant.

- A blue whale's tongue?!
- Their hearts...

...are about the average small family van.

If you wanna do a piece on gravel,
it's up to us to go and find out

that there IS something interesting to
say about gravel, and not just say:

"No, you can't do a piece on gravel,
that's FAR too boring."

You know, whether it's what carpets
are made of, or, erm...

Or how fast the Earth spins round.
Or, you know, whatever it might be, is...

Is... Grist to our mill.

Women have been shown to be able to smell fear.

What this Phienese man did,
he was called Gramma...

He made a lot of women watch films.
Some of which where horror films.

And all of the women had pads under their arms.

Then, other women smelled all the pads.

And they could identify, without fail,
the pads of women who had been frightened.

Are you sure this isn't just some soft porn thing?

You'd think!

The QI elves. It's like... I mean,

either, they are the best or the
worst pub quiz team in the world.

'Cause we all know really strange bits
of information, often complimentary.

We know lots of stuff.
But, we don't really know things.

For example: The capital of Honduras.
Ask me 'What's the capital of Honduras?'

- What's the capital of Honduras?
- Tegucigalpa.

Actually, I got lucky with that one.
But generally speaking,

we're not got at that kind of thing.

It's like the X-Men. Each one has
their special superpower.

I do animal genitalia.

Now, THERE'S an interesting thing, their genitalia.

I am...

Give me the length of a blue whale's penis!

A Nissan Micra.

"Give me the length of a blue whale's penis"?

Yeah. Give it to me now!

To be honest, I don't think I can
manage quite that much, Stephen!

Ah, you've disappointed a man.
Well, a blue whale...

- That long! 'Bout that long.
- Yeah.

An arm's length.

No, my dear fellow, it's 16 foot long!

- Oh, my god!
- Sixteen foot long!

If the QI elves remind me of any
group of people...

I think it's something like Bletchley Park,
where they cracked the Enigma code.

You know, you have a strange mixture
of chess players,

and pipe-smoking mathematicians,
and crossword puzzle-solving figures.

All coming together and bringing their expertise
in their sideways views of the world.

And, their eternal curiosity.

So, we have a meeting where we go through

this HUGE basket of questions
that we've put together.

And, they're graded from 1 to 5.

1 is straight into the show,
brilliant question, good subject.

2 is a good subject, but probably
needs a bit of work on the question

to actually give the panel something
interesting and funny to do with it.

3 is, sort-of, not sure.

4 probably should be a 5,
but we're being polite.

And 5 is known as
'The bucket of despair'.

The government waste thing,
they wrote an article in 1906

about the 'Fat boy of Peckham',
called John Trundley.

- Who was built a special...
- Special benefits.

Who was built a special 200 yards
of railway by the council,

because he was too unfit to walk to school.

- Um...
- That's excellent!

That's possibly the first ever wastage.

And then, once we've done that,
and we've scored the questions,

you then have to look through them all,
and find of there are themes in them

that you can pick out. And if you can
find a general, overarching theme,

then you can start picking out those questions,

and see in what order you might
run them in the show.

So that, not only would it make a
good show in its cut,

but as we shoot in front of a live
audience for two hours,

it'll actually be a lively and
exciting show that goes out as live.

My favourite part of the process, by far,

is when I usually sit in the sound
garret to watch the show,

and the audience is in, you know,
hundreds and hundreds of people,

all SO excited. Some of them faint, they're
so excited when they arrive in the studio.

We have the longest waiting list for
tickets at QI outside Top Gear.

So people are VERY excited.
And so am I with every show,

even though we've made over 130 of them now.

- Who's your favourite panellist?
- Sandi Toksvig.

- She's on tonight.
- Who?

Oh, wow! That's fan...
REALLY, seriously!? Oh, Wow!

That's fantastic!

When that music starts, and the applause goes,

and Stephen says: "Good evening,
good evening, good evening",

I think it's brilliant. It's SO exciting!

Gooooooooooooooooooood evening,
good evening, good evening,

good evening, good evening,
good evening, good evening,

good evening! And welcome to QI!

I get to my dressing room usually
by about 3 o'clock.

Having stopped by at the office with the
elves and everyone, production staff are,

and pick up the cards,
and the script, such at it is.

And a highlighter pen. Then I go down.

We do a rehearsal with stand-ins for the guests.

There are video slides in the
background, there are audio cues,

and there are sometimes props. And the
cameras have to be rehearsed for that,

so that the thing will flow on the evening itself.

Checking your earpiece, Stephen.

Yes, you're coming through loud and clear.
There's a little man who comes in my...

Who SPEAKS in my ear, and no... No!


And, erm...

He's telling me, we're ready to go.

It's easy to forget when you watch
the show cut on TV at half an hour,

that, in fact, they've sat on for
two hours, in front of a live audience.

Let's inject some testosterone
into the room, shall we?

No, actually, let's not. Let's
instead introduce Alan Davies!

It's incredible difficult territory for any,
even for these great stand-up comedians.

'Cause you're not asking them to do jokes
about the normal things that you might.

It's not, you know, my mother-in-law.

You're asking them to do jokes on
bilateral gynandromorphic hermaphrodism.

Which... It's not easy to think up
something on the spur of the moment

to say what's funny about that.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?



- The egg.
- 'The egg' is the right answer, yes.

There's that wonderful old joke, about a
chicken and an egg that's just made love.

And they're lying there, having a bit of
post-coital cigarette.

And the chicken says to the egg:
"Well, that answers THAT old question!"

It's almost never the case, that the
question plays out on the night

the way we planned in the writing room.

The only one, actually, that we can
remember, that we'd identified

the way we thought it would is the
fantastic question about

why edible tortoises took so long
to find a scientific name.

Are they particularly litigious?
"Now, if you...

...give me a name, I'll sue you."

No, it wasn't that. A nice thought, again.

No, they had another property, which
was most unfortunate for them to have.

- What, the tortoises did?
- Yeah.

- They were edible.
- They where SO edible!

Anyone... I mean, anyone...

Anyone who saw one, couldn't stop
to think of a name for it?

They just HAD to eat it? Straight away?

- "We need one of those..."
- Yeah.

"I don't know what they're called."

- Do you know...
- Just get one. They're REALLY...

- ...very good!
- There's no...

- We just call them 'dinner'.
- There's no Latin name

for pistachio nuts, either.

Exactly the same way.
No one could be bothered.

"Just shut up with your Latin!
Eat them, they're brilliant!"

- I'm afraid what's happened is...
- No Latin name for Maltesers.

None of them made it...

It's kind of true!
None of them made it to London.

NONE of them made it to Europe.

"Now, THIS time! THIS time, we're gonna
take it, and we'll go straight to London."

"No! Leave it. No! We're taking it back!"

On the ferry coming in to Dover,
there's a bloke going...

Leaving the door where the tortoises stay.

- All right, look...
- "No, I haven't been eating them."

When the show's actually going out,
obviously there's not a great deal...

...you can do. We sit in a... There's a
little box, just behind the gallery,

where Flash, the producer is, and the director.

And if anything comes up during the
show, where one of the panellists

queries one of our facts, or come up
with an assertion of their own,

that we're not sure is right or wrong.

Then we will, you know, immediately
run to check it out, and...

Before they stop talking about it,
basically. That's the dream.

I know something about, um, statues
of military personnel.

- Yes?
- On the horseback.

If they're up on their hind legs,
like that, it means they died in battle.

And if they've got one leg up, it means
they died on service, but not in a battle.

And if they've got all four down, it means
they just died after, years later.

Is that really true? I'd love...

- It sounds true.
- That's really true!

I shall have the little elves, the QI
elves... Ooh, they're flashing me now:

"This is an urban myth, and NOT TRUE!",
it says there.

They're very quick!

The best players of the game are the
ones who basically don't take any notice...

...of the question, and say
what the hell they want to.

Now, the socks that man in the middle
is wearing, are very long socks, and...

Just out of interest for you, that's
something that I've turned to recently.

I now favour the longer sock.

Do you? And, can you take
me through your reasoning?

Yes, I can. I'll show you, the gentleman's sock.

The half-hose. It's called a half-hose.

Now, Jo? You, as a lady, you're gonna
think that the sock is gonna stop

a LOT sooner than it does.

So... Watch this, look at that!
Surely, surely, we've reached the peak.

- Oh, my goodness me!
- Surely, we've peaked? No!

- Oh, my word!
- Surely!

He's wearing tights!

Thus, I'm... Can I say...?

Not so much for Jo, but Stephen, Alan,
and Sean, I URGE you to give it a go!

Because it gives you a feeling of security.

They DO make you look like a knobhead.

Many times, it got completely out of control.

And, um, you know, it's uncomfortable
for me at the time,

but the truth is, it has resulted
in some great television.

And, you got to think of... The, um...

The scene where they're talking
about the Parthenon.

Where everybody started to sing,
led by Bill Bailey, Jimmy Carr.

Um, and that, you can't really script that.

They say, of the Acroc... Aproc...

Acropolis, where, where
the Parthenon-non is...

- They say of the Acropolis where the...
- Are those the magic words?

They SAY of the Acropolis,
where the Parthenon is...

That they...

He kept stumbling on it. He NEVER fluffs.

He HATES fluffing, Stephen.

They say of the Acropolis,
where the Parthenon is.

They say of the Acropolis,
where the Parthenon is.

They say of the Acropolis,
where the Parthenon is.

They say of the Acropolis,
where the Parthenon is.

And, of course, I became fully aware of
it, and the more aware of it I became,

the more impossible it became.

Can I write it down?

Read it, it says it there!

You've got to tell us now!

They say of the Acropolis,
where the Parthenon is...

...that there are no straight lines!

I've been broadcasting for...
Hmmm, very nearly 35 years now.

And I can say, that QI is the most
fun show, and the nicest show

I've ever had to produce.

My favourite part of the production
process is definitely the edit.

Because, the thing is, we take all the
components and make something of it.

It's in there, somewhere, it's just a
question of finding it.

Like a sculptor, you know, with a big
bit of rock, and somewhere inside,

there's a picture, or a statue of David.

The shows are usually slightly different

from what comes through
the door from the studio.

I mean, of getting it down to 44 is slightly
painful. 44 down to 29 is VERY painful,

because it's... You've cut a show that you like.

You've cut a show that's got bits that
you're most interested in.

The bits that makes you laugh the most.

Where the balance of the questions,
is there before it comes to the edit.

What we're actually doing is enhancing
what was there.

We're... If there's a little pause in the
recording where they have to think

before they answer. They 'um', they 'ar',

and a part of what we do in the
edit is to make it look slick.

Have a look at this.

Err... Moving on.

I think that QI core audience,
isn't a core audience.

That's its great success, it's a
genuine, kind-of across the board.

You know, anybody who's interested in stuff.

I think that since QI started, it's...
It has broadened its audience.

And, a lot of people that I...

...wouldn't presume would watch QI,
love it, watch it, enjoy it,

and have assimilated lots of facts and knowledge,

but have had a really good laugh
at the same time.

It's old-fashioned, kind-of BBC
entertainment for everybody.

We get lots of teenagers watching.

And I think, schoolchildren in
particular like the show

because it's a very, very
badly behaved classroom.

The main thing I like about QI
is the witty humour.

Like, whenever I watch it,
I learn something new.

I like the fact that they have loads of facts.

Because mainly, it's about the facts for me.

Um, for resuscitation, they used
to blow smoke your bum...

I think there's something about QI
which is more fun than school.

Or it's as school, as it SHOULD be.

What makes school more like QI?
Well, the teachers could use

interesting facts which could make
you laugh and remember things, and...

It just... Just things that are more
than textbooks, reading, writing.

So, interactive stuff. Just like this place here,

where you could learn things at the
same time as having fun.

And we muck about in class.

You know? And if we're given
work to do, an exercise to do,

we do them wrongly, on purpose,
and occasionally break the equipment.

- I wanna saw something, now.
- Yeah, these belong...

I just wanna say...

These have been LENT to us,
by the Garden Museum...

It works! It works! Look at that!

It really does!

Oh, my God!

I hope it doesn't break.

I'll tell you what...

I REALLY wish they hadn't made
this set out of asbestos.

We've had some great props. Some of them,
I'm not allowed to touch.

I remember we had a rifle that
you could shout round corners.

And I went to grab it,
and Stephen nearly kicked me!

Now, DON'T play with it, 'cause
did ask that nobody else touch it,

- 'cause it is very valuable, I'm afraid.
- I was going to make it go over the desk!

Yeah, well...

I'm sorry.

Can't believe, I'm not allowed to play with it!

I'm afraid I WAS given a specific
'Alan not to touch it' instructions.

It's very valuable.

I love the fact that somewhere,
there's a memo that just says:

"Machine gun.
For Stephen Fry's use ONLY."

But, some of them I AM allowed to touch.

And then, I...
Then we can have GREAT fun.

And, I've always enjoyed...
After a while they gave me a desk,

and I'd find things in there.


I believe you've got something inside your desk.

- Have I?
- Yeah. Have you not looked?

So much a schoolboy. There!


- What is that?
- It's a loofah.

And where does loofah's come from?

The bathroom.

It's getting a bit harder to find...

...especially General Ignorance questions,

because they're only so many common
misconceptions that people have,

or there are only so many things that
people know, that then turn out to be wrong.

There's the thing in James Bond about sumo
wrestlers being able to retract their...

- That's got... That's true, I think.
- No, no.

No, it's true that it's NOT true. We read it.

The other one, in fact, nobody likes
this, but, it's in one of them,

I think, Goldfinger. It's that he
shoots a bullet inside an aeroplane,

and Goldfinger gets sucked out through the...

That's untrue as well.

As regards to the rest of the show...

...there doesn't seem to be much
signs that we're running out.

If anything, there's an alarming
amount more to know,

than there was when we started the show.

The ideas of doing each series by
the different letter of the Alphabet

started in a very strange way,
which is we've made the pilot,

and we went to see a publisher about
maybe doing a book from it.

The book of A.

Now, although we've since done ten
QI books, which, believe it or not,

have been translated into 32 languages,

they didn't want an encyclopaedia of
things beginning with A.

They wanted something more random.
Like the pilot.

So I said: "What if the television
series was all about A,

and then we could do a book of A,
and a book of B, and a book of C?"

And they said:
"Ah! Now that IS a good idea!"

"We'd definitely do that."

So, I went back to the office and said:
"All right, what we're gonna do, is,

we're gonna do 12 programmes all about
the letter A."

And we laughed the whole afternoon.
We thought: "This is impossible!"

"It couldn't be done. I would be
absolutely impossible."

The publisher never bought the idea,
though, after all.

The very cunning system to base it
around the letters of the Alphabet,

it DOES, erm, you know...

...sort of suggests that there
WILL be an end after 26 series.

But, 26 series is pretty good...

...for most programmes, so,
what a very, very clever idea.

The plan to...

...star each series with a letter of
the Alphabet was planted quite early on.

And, that means I will be 62 when it finishes.

It was an extraordinary act of...

...hubris on John Lloyd's part, to...

That the very first series should be
around things beginning with A,

because it suggested he had the confidence
that it would last through the Alphabet.

I hope that, you know, even if I'm in
my wheelchair by the time it gets to Z,

that somebody would still be
carrying the flag for it.

QI at its best, is sort of
what television is about.

It's that thing, it's, you know,
when I watch the show, when I'm,

you know, if I'm not on it, I watch it, and...

And you... You find... It's just...

Time spent in good company.

They REALLY are like little people's arms.

They are!

I think that IS a person.
That is the Pope, there.

- His hands...
- Hey!

Oh, I see. The one on the
right is a beaver!

Oh, you mean THOSE little arms? Yeah,
you're right. Those front paws...

Look at his tiny...
They are like little hands.

That's what the Pope's thinking
He's actually going:

- "Yes, he's got little hands..."
- They're both, Stephen...

They say: "Are you ready to order?"
And he's going: "Should I have the..."

I often find, when I come on this show,

that Stephen starts talking about
something, and you think:

"As it turns out, I know an awful lot
about this." Which I didn't think I did.

And that's one of the fascinating things
about a head, is what lives in it.

Though, I've often wondered why
could you not...

If it's only 62 miles to
what people call space.

Why can't you just build a ladder?

I mean, it can't be beyond the wit
of man to build a ladder?

That just goes straight... And then you
could walk up it, save a lot of bother.


- Oxygen pack necessary, but...
- Yeah.

Well, you've got an oxygen pack, or maybe a lift?

Oh, a lift would be good.

Why should you get out there,
when there's nothing really there?

- Is there?
- Not much.

It would be like Norfolk.


You just be careful!

We, generally, as people, as humans,

retain FAR more information, than we're
actually aware of, on a daily basis.

And what this programme does, is actually...

By a series of, sort of, randomly opening doors

and switching on and off synapses,
unlocks all this information that...

Hither to, you probably didn't even know you knew.

You are actually learning while you're
watching it, it's another one of them...

Sort of, very creative shows.
Where, unwittingly... You know...

My dad will wake up in his sleep
screaming: "Pythagoras?s theorem!"

Thanks to you.

And now, my mother's sleeping
in a separate room.

I have odd facts lodged in my head
as a result of doing both

"The unbelievable truth" and QI.
And I can't always remember...

Like a badly put together Wikipedia page.

I haven't really got enough citations
for the information in my head.

ALL the stuff I've been taught,
that where not taught,

I've listened to, I've heard,
I've talked about, there isn't...

I can't remember a...
I mean, Alan's learnt...

That there's a couple of things
about moons he knows.

How many moons does the Earth have?

It has...


The Earth has ONE moon,
which is made of cheese!


I'm afraid, you lose ten.

- But it DOES have one moon!
- No.

It's called: The Moon!

ONE moon. That's it.

I rest my case for the Defence.

I don't learn anything.
I don't remember any of it.

It's amazing stuff. It's instantly
forgettable. Uh...

Because it's beyond trivia.

You're going on about how you can
make sure you've read the papers, and...

You know, because all sorts of small
stories will come up.

But you can, actually, if you've read
the... You know,

at least eight pages in the Telegraph
every day, that will help you. But...

No, QI, you just have to wish you'd been
listening more you're whole life.

I'm 40, so I've done 40 years of preparation.

I think, that's how you have
to look at this show.

You've done as much preparation
as you have life.

Because ANYTHING might come up,
and you've MIGHT have encountered it.

It's cricket, to, er...
To the full contact footballers

that is "Mock the Week". It's very
relaxed, sitting in the sun,

and just a meandering conversation.

It's a warm, supportive atmosphere,

and there's not a sense
of right or wrong answer.

Or that people suddenly interject and crush.

It's just a beautiful Petri dish,
on which... You know,

fabulous mould can grow. Comedic mould.

The best panellists are self starting.

They are the ones who... Not worried
what the questions are,

who they're sitting next to, whether
they're being talked to, or not,

whether Stephen's being rude to them
or not, which he sometimes is.

I didn't KNOW, how much I DIDN'T know,
until I came on this show.

I'm afraid to catch a bus now!

"Mock the Week" I love doing, because
it's... That's MY group.

With the... That's MY year group.
We all grew up together.

But this JUST feels like walking into
the Staff Room.

So it's a little bit intimidating.
You're a bit TOO keen to impress!

You think something particularly
stupid, you will say so!

- I'll tell you what it was...
- Yeah?

If it was '55, it was Elvis Presley.

- Um... Wider. Wider, more...
- Rock 'n roll!

"Rock 'n roll" is the right answer!
Yes, they DID say that.

Don't look so stupid NOW, do I?

Not QUITE so stupid, Rob, no you don't.

You don't. But all things are relative.

Um... Yeah.

It's the intellectual equivalent
to not having the right change.


I felt the first time I came on,
that nobody knew who I was,

and I thought, I felt I'm being
competent. It's all right.

But, I definitely had that feeling,
that I've been quiet for a while,

then everyone would be worrying for me.

At least they though: "This is some
make-way they've got on,

because somebody good cancelled".

If all the panellists where like
David Mitchell, it would be like...

Four soap boxes, you know?

Of as Stephen calls it:
"Your angry logic, David."

Now, Samuel Pepys, famously buried
his parmesan cheese

to protect it from the Great Fire.

But, why does cheese taste better
when it's grated?

Well, sometimes it does. But if you
get one of those catering bags

of grated cheese, if you should be
working for a catering company

and happen to steal one, for example,
from the store room...

- Yes?
- What sort of twit would do THAT?

You buy cheese at the supermarket,
and it says:

"Consume within two days of opening",
or something...

- Yes.
- What? Is this VAST amount of...

How much cheese do you think I'm
gonna get through?

And WHY? It's fine!

- Yeah.
- I KNOW it's fine!

Plus, it has a label on it saying:
"20 years aged".

Yeah! Exactly! Or what, it's sold TWO
days before it's completely inedible,

you sell it to me!

My particular delight, as a new guest,
was Daniel Radcliffe, you know?

Who I resisted for years, thinking:

"Well, Harry Potter guy? No, you know, not
very good. "He was FANTASTIC on the show!

The wizardly Daniel Radcliffe!

He just took to it like a duck to water.
He knew LOTS of stuff, he was SO nice.

He was SUCH a lark!

What is the oldest trick in the book?

- Is it an ancient Greek book?
- It's even older.

- Ooh!
- Egyptian?

- 'Egyptian' is the right answer!
- I think, I might have...

- You might know this?
- Is this about a man called Dedi?

Dedi! How did you know about Dedi?
You're right!

He was a man who did the first, um...

Magic trick, which was, I think,
decapitation of, er... A goose?

- You're right!
- And...

Tore it of, and did it to impress the King.
And it's in, um, an ancient scroll.

- It IS!
- That I do know the name of.

- I THINK I do.
- Yeah, go on.

The Westcar papyrus?

The Westcar papyrus!
This man is brilliant!

QI guests are unusual people.

They have a strange mix of being
imaginative and very nice.

But, I do think you see a difference
between many other panel games,

of it's pleasant experience to watch QI,
and it's a pleasant experience to be on.

And I'm very pleasant, as well!
I'm extremely pleasant.

Did you know, a veal has to have more
space to be transported to the abattoir,

than a human being in
the back of an aeroplane?

Yeah, but to be fair; we have a holiday,
they get killed.

Yeah. You'd be coming back.

Have we've got a vegetablist?

- What, him?
- Yeah.

- No, I'm a vegetablist.
- YOU'RE a vegetablist?

I wouldn't eat a veal. I'd free it.

I had a puffin last week, that's NOT
delicious, but the point of eating it

was because I've never had one before.

- I have the same with guinea pig.
- Have you tried on of my turds?

In South...


Did you just said what I thought you said?

Get out!

Out now!

The signature aspect of QI, is the forfeit
is the fact that there are things

that you think you know.
And I'll ask a question,

and everybody thinks they know the answer,
and they'll not want to say it.

What do you suffer from if
you're afraid of heights?


Vertigo? No!

How many senses do you have?

I sense a buzzer coming...

Five, obviously.


Six, seven, eight, nine, four, three.
Two, one.

How old are you?

I'm just chasing the effect of this
game, though.

You ask a question, all four of us think:

"That is something I DEFINITELY
know the answer to",

but I'm been made SO uncertain.

I'm not even willing to give my own
age, name, or address.

How CAN this possibly be a trap!?
I AM 37. Look! 37!

There we go, no points wasted!

- But that's NOT wrong!
- Don't accept who you are!

I realised, that round about series 4,
that I was the fall guy, the penny dropped.

So, I decided that I was not gonna press the
button anymore, and say these stupid things.

I was a bit foldy-army about it.

And then John Lloyd took me to one side,
and he told me that...

It was a sign of great intelligence to get
things wrong and to come last.

Finally, proving that it's all academic,
and a dream, with -27: Alan Davies!

The scoring system, erm...
We get asked about this a fair bit.

And it's a propriety algorithm. And I'm
afraid, I can't talk to you about it.

I'm absolutely NOT responsible for
the scoring system on QI.

That is entirely the responsibility of Colin.
Who's a VERY close friend of mine.

And, I trust implicitly that his mathematics,
though it does occasionally LOOK wrong,

he's in fact, right.

The questions that we've got wrong,
which are REALLY obvious, and,

usually admit our mistakes. And, we've
even got back, and in the future shows,

we might give people their points back.

Or take them of them.

I answered a questions about a...
It's an obscure scientific fact

about the triple point of water,
which is the temperature of which

water can exist in all three states.

And, I said that it was zero that was
the temperature for this,

and I got extra points for this.

'Cause zero is actually
the triple point of water.

It's the first temperature of which
water can exist in all three states.

Because, you can actually have water
vapour, which is at zero as well.

Oh, very good! You must have some points
for that, and THIS round of applause!

Thank you very much.

We like that!

And then a YEAR later, I come back.

And, I'm told that they've received an e-mail
that points out that the actual temperature

is 0.01. So, I was one hundredth of
a degree off, and points reduct...

...from a show I did a year later.

It's zero. That's what...

Now, you see...

You see. We never forget!
That's what you said last time,

and we gave you points for it.

But, we're now gonna take those points away!

- From a previous series!
- From a previous series!?

That's the forfeit, of course.
Because some of our eagle eyed viewers,

wrote in to point out that the triple point of
water is actually, by definition 0.01? C.

That's 12 points off. But it's hardly...

But, I was rounding off!

That is... Arcane and nerdy, and picky,
and pedantic, in a delightful way.

And, I felt aggrieved at the time.
But, you know, I knew...

I knew it was the right thing to do.
I knew I had to take my punishment.

Occasionally, QI is re-run.
Now and then. Once in a...

...couple of blue moons.

My kids watch QI, well, endlessly,
on repeat, in fact, they watch.

So, they're quite big fans of it.
It's one of the few things I've done

that they actually like!

Which is not a good thing,
but I'm letting you know that.

It's a very rare evening that I don't
say: "Blimey! QI's on, somewhere."

Well, it's on permanently!

It's only interrupted by a stupid
motoring show! But, other than that...

I could go home now and say:
"I'll watch QI", and you always can!

You can watch the same one,
three or for times,

and there's always something fresh on it...

...that you missed the first or the
second time round.

The show is successful, because...

It differentiates itself from other
comedy panel shows,

'cause it's not just about comedy,
you're learning things.

QI is: No one expects you
to know the answers,

whether you know the answers or not,
it's irrelevant.

But you DO enjoy each other?s company, and
you do have a nice, gentle conversation.

It's like a parlour game
without rules. It's lovely!

It's very much like being at a dinner party.

You've been invited to a dinner party,
at Stephen Fry's house.

"Oh! Who are the other guests going to be?"

"Oh, this is exiting, well I'll bet
they'll have something to say!"

It's, you know, for the people at school,
education wise, who fell through the cracks.

This is our X-Factor.

Everyone, from the runners,
to the lighting director,

all, really like making the show.
It's fantastic fun to do.

And, it feels worthwhile.

QI isn't... It isn't really about
making successful television,

it's about... It's about something
far more important.

About having interesting lives.

We have to be careful that
we don't get smug.

You know, don't relax too much and
think: "Okay, we know how to do this."

You've got to keep moving.

This is a show that could go on for a century.

Or more. So, as a... There's no...

There's no end to the quite interesting
things there are in the world.

Good night!