Immortal Bard QI XL


Immortal Bard

Quiz show. Stephen Fry investigates the life and work of William Shakespeare with Sue Perkins, Bill Bailey, David Mitchell and Alan Davies.


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Transcript


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This programme contains some strong language.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening.

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Good even and welcome to a special Shakespearean edition of QI,

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dedicated to and entitled The Immortal Bard.

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Strutting and fretting their hour upon the stage tonight are The Two Gentlemen of Verona -

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David Mitchell and Bill Bailey!

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APPLAUSE

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The Merry Wife of Windsor, Sue Perkins.

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APPLAUSE

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And Much Ado About Nothing, Alan Davies.

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APPLAUSE

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So let the trumpets sound. David goes...

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TRUMPET FANFARE

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Nice. Sue goes...

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TRUMPET FANFARE

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Bill goes...

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TRUMPET FANFARE

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And Alan goes...

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CHEESY TRUMPET MUSIC

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Of course he does.

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So let's take to the stage, good gentles all.

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When David Tennant played Hamlet at the RSC, what did Tchaikovsky play?

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-What?

-Tchaikovsky?

-LAUGHTER

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-Tchaikovsky being the composer Tchaikovsky?

-Was he in the cast, Tchaikovsky?

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-He was.

-Was he?

-Pyotr Ilyich?

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Not Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, the Russian composer. Another musician called Tchaikovsky.

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He was also a pianist, a startling, amazing pianist, most eccentric.

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-Richard Stilgoe?

-No, I've already told you his name. It was Tchaikovsky.

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Are you saying he played Richard Stilgoe?

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He blew into Richard Stilgoe and a noise came out the other end?

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You're putting him in the past tense, so I'm assuming he shuffled off his mortal coil?

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-To quote Hamlet.

-That will be the only quote. That's it. I've blown all my quotes.

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-You've done damn well. Good start.

-So if he's dead...

-He was dead.

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-He's not alive?

-The skull?

-Yes, he played the skull.

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-APPLAUSE

-We don't have the real skull there, but that's what a skull looks like.

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He was a very passionate Shakespearean.

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That is the real thing. Tchaikovsky bequeathed it to the Royal Shakespeare Company,

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asking that it be used in productions of Hamlet for the part of... Do you remember the character?

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-Is it Yorick?

-Yorick, yes.

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"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest..."

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-"Wait a minute, this is Tchaikovsky!

-It's not Yorick.

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"I'll play a tune on his teeth."

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There was a bit of trouble, health and safety issues.

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A human tissue licence had to be ordered for him to appear on stage.

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Did they cut his head off? He's gone, "When I die, I'd like my skull to be used by the RSC."

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Someone's got to saw it off and rot it down.

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The funeral directors thought it might be illegal. They had to get clearance.

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David Tennant every day held it in his hand. Tchaikovsky would have been very pleased.

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-There he is.

-Look at that - a tramp yesterday!

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You hope they've had to dirty it up again.

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-Very much.

-That's not just a bit of the guy still clinging...

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There's a little face still on there he's got to wash off!

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It's a long time since I've seen Hamlet.

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Because it's such a well-known bit, you don't really question what happens in it.

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It's an odd thing to do, to pick up a bloke's skull from a graveyard.

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-It's someone he knew...

-Then to go, "Alas, I knew him,"

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rather than going, "I feel a bit weird, having picked up his skull."

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He's sort of saying, "It's ridiculous, I knew this man. I sat on his lap when I was a boy."

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His jests "were wont to set the table on a roar". He says, "Where are your jokes now?"

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-Not so funny now!

-It is one of the great contemplations of death and mortality and it must be weirder

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when you're doing it to a real person.

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I presume David Tennant knew he was doing it to a chap who wanted it to be a symbol of death.

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It'll be like I'm A Celebrity. Agents are going to put their acts down to have their skulls used...

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"I'll get you your skull. You'll be in Shakespeare...one day!"

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It would be awful if for your whole life you'd wanted to be an actor and it hadn't really worked out,

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so you bequeathed your skull and it was used in a production of Hamlet,

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then all the reviewers said, "I don't know, Yorick, it felt a bit stilted. It ruined that scene."

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LAUGHTER

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Name the Scottish play that Shakespeare wrote.

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-Ah! Taggart.

-Taggart!

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LAUGHTER

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It's not... Yeah, you see, you're trying to trick us, aren't you?

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Your tricksy little QI. Two Gentlemen Of...Kilmarnock or something.

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LAUGHTER

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Demon Of Strathclyde.

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Oh, go on, Macbeth!

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-Yes.

-Is it?

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LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE

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I was expecting this...

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-HE MIMICS KLAXON

-We thought that as actors, you might say, "Never, never!"

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Then you would have got the forfeit.

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I'd have the forfeit.

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Because of course, there is a tradition

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that the very saying of the name Macbeth in a theatre is bad luck.

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You have to sleep with ALL of your co-stars immediately.

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Is that what you were told?

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-Yes! Why?

-How interesting.

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What?

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Do you know how this came about, this reputation of Macbeth

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for being an unlucky play?

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Is it because Macbeth was the sort of play in a company's repertoire

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that they'd bring out when something closed suddenly?

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Cos it was sort of short and usually went down quite well,

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and so mention of Macbeth would imply that the current production

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-was soon to close.

-It's certainly true.

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It is the shortest of the Tragedies, it's a banker,

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people always go and see Macbeth, it's a popular play, um...

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No, there is actually a really specific reason, it was a hoax.

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A late 19th-century wit who was writing a review of Macbeth

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just made up this story that, "This play's cursed, you know."

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It was Max Beerbohm who made this story up entirely.

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Although not many years later, in the 1942 production

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-of dear Johnny Gielgud.

-Dear, dear, Johnny.

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Yes.

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-Four people died in that production.

-SUE: What?!

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-Yes.

-Is that the one where they used machine-gun fire...

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to bring Birnam Wood to Dunsinane?

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They certainly used searing make-up, didn't they?

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-God, that's fantastic.

-It's always good to go with an inflatable crown.

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Yes, the two witches died, the Duncan died and the scene designer.

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The set was then re-designed for a comedy and the principle in that died.

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The radiant Diana Wynyard, a '30s and '40s actress you may remember, there she is.

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She played Lady Macbeth and thought it would be more convincing

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in the sleep walking scene to have her eyes closed.

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-And she walked off the stage into the orchestra pit.

-LAUGHTER

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I don't know whether that's Macbeth's curse

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or a being-a-stupid-actress curse.

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They're all watching her going, "Just let her go."

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It's the only way she'll learn.

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Did she carry on going from the sort of bowels of...

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Out damn....SPOT!

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Then she climbed out again, apparently.

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Doing it all through rehearsals, "I'm going to carry on."

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There's a few things that weren't, you know, hoaxes,

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were real practical applications, like whistling,

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that was always imbued into... Every time I did a play, it was like, "Don't whistle backstage..."

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You are a terrible whistler.

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Well...maybe it's that. HE WHISTLES BROKENLY

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-No, it's because... Wasn't it that was how they used to cue the scenery coming down?

-That's right.

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They used whistles for cues.

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And...

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-You could have a nasty accident.

-You could, yeah, exactly.

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Isn't it ridiculous though, that the way they got people

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to stop whistling is to say, "It's a superstition, it's bad luck."

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And then people go, "I won't then." People should adopt that with mobile phones.

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You tell people, "You're in the audience of a theatre, you maybe want to turn your phone off,

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so that if somebody rings you, it doesn't spoil it for everyone," people go, "Well...

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"I hear that, but also I'm going to leave my phone on."

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If you tell them it's bad luck, they'll presumably all turn it off."

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Yeah.

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Like a curse, like an ancient curse. Tutankhamen said before he died,

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couldn't abide the sound of the Nokia ring tone.

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LAUGHTER And cursed everyone.

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HE MIMICS NOKIA RING TONE

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I curse all of you.

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Or if you put a...

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There was an article in, I don't know, say The Daily Mail,

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-suggesting that other people's disapproval was carcinogenic.

-LAUGHTER

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Yes!

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-Very good, brilliant.

-APPLAUSE

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Brilliant.

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Or your house price might go down slightly.

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"A tidal wave of immigrants would suddenly invade the country,"

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says Melanie Phillips, would you turn your mobile phone off.

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Turn your phone off or Kosovan squirrels will steal your thimbles.

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LAUGHTER

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I was in a theatre not long ago when a phone went off and the actor just said,

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-"Oh, for fuck's sake!"

-LAUGHTER

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-Turned to you in the audience...

-Not to me!

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I'm glad to say on this occasion.

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There was a time when, um...

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Sometimes doctors are needed on stage.

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When Ralph Richardson suddenly went up and said,

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"Excuse me, is there a doctor in the house?"

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And a man said, "Yes, I'm a doctor." He said, "Oh, Doctor,

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-"isn't this an awful play?"

-LAUGHTER

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-The best one is the Pia Zadora.

-Oh, the Pia Zadora. It is the greatest, do tell it.

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Pia Zadora, when there was a production of The Diary Of Anne Frank,

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and Pia Zadora was so bad that when the Nazis...

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HE KNOCKS They came downstairs and somebody shouted, "She's in the attic!"

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LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE

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In the attic!

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What about Richard Harris coming on drunk?

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And someone in the audience said, "Harris is drunk!"

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And he stood up, cos he'd fallen down, and he said,

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"If you think I'm drunk wait till you see O'Toole."

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LAUGHTER

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Peter O'Toole was in the Coach & Horses in Soho one lunchtime

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having a drink and he made best friends with the drinker he was standing next to

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and they getting absolutely pissed and...

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O'Toole said, "Um, what shall we do? Let's go and catch a matinee of something."

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So they wandered down Shaftesbury Avenue and said,

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"Let's go here, see if it's any good." They sat down,

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both very drunk.

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And about ten minutes in, Peter O'Toole nudged his friend and said, "You'll like this,

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"this is where I come on... Oh, fuck!"

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LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE

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I love that.

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-Let me get this straight, he knew he had to be somewhere...

-Yeah.

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His subconscious took him there somehow, but it all went wrong.

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We were in Edinburgh in this production of 12 Angry Men,

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and one of the jurors fainted on stage

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and his eyes rolled back in his head and he went, "Ugh."

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And his head hit the table, bang! Like that.

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So all of us picked him up, bodily, and carried him off the stage

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and you could see the audience going, "I don't remember a bit where one of the jurors dies."

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LAUGHTER It was terribly...

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It was very hot that year and somebody fainted in the audience as well,

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and she cart-wheeled down through the stairs like this,

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sort of stage...

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and she went... Rag-dolled, all the way down to the front of the stage,

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and people were going, "Huh!" Like that.

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And she knocked over someone in a wheelchair, right?

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And he fell out of his chair, "Ah!" Like that.

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Then the boyfriend got up, came down, saw his girlfriend unconscious,

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and he fainted, right?

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So there was a pile of bodies...

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-at the front of the stage!

-How bizarre!

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Very odd thing to faint at the sight of unconsciousness.

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LAUGHTER

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-Not at the sight of blood, just...

-I can't bear sleeping people.

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-Oh, my word! Yeah.

-It could trigger another and another

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and another, and then the whole world would... If people had it.

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It would be a very low-key version of a zombie movie.

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LAUGHTER

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Oh, yes, Max Beerbohm it was who invented the curse of Macbeth in 1898.

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Leonard Bernstein's musical based on Romeo And Juliet was set in New York. What was it originally called?

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TRUMPET FANFARE

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Was it West Side Story?

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KLAXON SOUNDS

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It became West Side Story, but it was originally called...?

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-East Side Story.

-Yes!

-APPLAUSE

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BILL: I was so close!

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Originally, when they were working on it in the late '40s,

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it was gangs of Catholics versus gangs of Jews in the Lower East Side, then five years later,

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they decided they wanted Puerto Ricans against white gangs.

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Catholics would just have to tap someone and they'd go, "I wish I hadn't done that. I feel awful now."

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-It's just ten years of terrible guilt. Puerto Ricans are a bit more feisty.

-They are.

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-Let's admit that it worked.

-Gay and feisty, by the look of them.

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-The world of the musical.

-Yeah.

-Showgirls all!

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And all their pipes have been airbrushed out of this photograph.

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LAUGHTER

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APPLAUSE

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Oh, heavens above!

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West Side Story may be the best and certainly the best-known musical based on a Shakespearean fable.

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But do you know of any others?

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-Points going...

-Kiss Me, Kate.

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-Kiss Me, Kate, yes, by Cole Porter, was based on...

-The Taming Of The Shrew.

-Exactly.

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-Is Cats based on Hamlet?

-No.

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But, odd as that sounds, there is a stage musical playing in London at the moment based on Hamlet.

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-Is it "Hamlet! The Musical"?

-No.

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There is "Hamlet! The Musical", but this is a big West End musical based on a big movie

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-that is the story of Hamlet.

-Not Spamalot?

-No.

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-It's a young prince.

-Oh!

-Born...

-Yes.

-He's not a human.

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He's not a human? Is it ET?

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Thank you, audience. The Lion King is based on Hamlet.

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Did you not know?

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At what point does Hamlet say, "Hakuna matata"?

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LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE

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-What about The Tempest? What would they have made of that?

-Wicked.

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-The Perfect Storm.

-LAUGHTER

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- Speed. Speed 2. - Twister.

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LAUGHTER Harold And Kumar Get The Munchies.

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Prospero's Books is one, but there's a '50s classic sci-fi movie.

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-SHOUT FROM AUDIENCE

-The audience are really joining in.

-Rip One Out?

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-Forbidden Planet.

-Yes, with monsters...

-Or its working title, Rip One Out!

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There was one based on The Comedy Of Errors, a musical.

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-What happens in The Comedy Of Errors?

-It has two sets of identical twins.

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One of them's shipwrecked, who's a girl, who's a boy? I'm married. Everyone's dead!

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-The Boys From Syracuse is the name of the musical.

-Terminator...2.

-No!

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Shylock is sent back from the future to...

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Oh, I've got my chain stuck in my ruff!

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LAUGHTER

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Oh, that was embarrassing.

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-Yeah. Hmm...

-It sounded like it should sound rude.

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Then you think about it...

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No, not really.

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So, there we are. What do Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Henry James,

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a Looney from Newcastle and the Holy Ghost have in common?

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Mark Twain had a link, but I don't know about the others.

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He was sceptical about Shakespeare because he thought a toff wrote it.

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He didn't believe that a normal boy from Stratford could write properly.

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He was a Shakespearean sceptic, as were the others.

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Sigmund Freud also believed that and Henry James

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and Professor Looney, that was unfortunately his name, from Newcastle

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who wrote a book in 1920 called Shakespeare Identified.

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This movement in the 19th century had the idea that Francis Bacon may have written Shakespeare's works,

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particularly a woman, Delia Bacon, an American, completely insane.

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She came over to England and wrote a 625-page book in which she didn't even mention the name Bacon,

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then when she died, she claimed she was the Holy Spirit.

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-SHE claimed SHE was the Holy Spirit?

-Yes.

0:17:290:17:32

The Holy Spirit, if she was right, also doesn't believe Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare.

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There were two other main candidates.

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Hang on. TRUMPET FANFARE

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What was it? LAUGHTER

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-Marlowe.

-Christopher Marlowe.

-Christopher Marlowe is one.

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-But the most popular one...

-Earl of Oxford?

-The Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere.

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-Is that Edward de Vere?

-That's Edward de Vere.

-Wow, there's a lot going on there!

-There is.

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How did he keep that hat on?

0:18:010:18:04

It's sort of Cate Blanchett with a moustache.

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-LAUGHTER

-But there are serious people.

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Freud liked the fact that he lost his father early on like Hamlet.

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Of course, Freud had an Oedipus Complex theory about Hamlet, so he liked that idea.

0:18:160:18:22

Looney invented a fanciful scenario because the Earl of Oxford died in 1604

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and Shakespeare carried on writing plays many years after that.

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That might be the point at which to abandon the theory.

0:18:310:18:35

You'd think. Instead of which, he claimed that before dying, he'd left a whole sheaf of plays

0:18:350:18:41

and that his servant Shakespeare produced them one after the other.

0:18:410:18:46

Isn't The Tempest written four or five years after he died, six years maybe,

0:18:460:18:51

referencing stuff of the time, so after de Vere's dead?

0:18:510:18:55

-Yes, quite.

-He probably just left, "Insert topical gag here."

-That's right.

0:18:550:19:01

There are... Mark Rylance and Derek Jacobi, both supreme actors,

0:19:010:19:06

they believe it was the Earl of Oxford.

0:19:060:19:08

There isn't a shred of evidence.

0:19:080:19:11

It doesn't matter. On the basis that what Shakespeare means to people is "the guy that wrote those plays",

0:19:110:19:17

so if the guy that wrote those plays is a different guy, that's still, "What a great guy!"

0:19:170:19:22

-Yes.

-It's not an earth-shattering conspiracy, really, is it, that perhaps it isn't him?

-No.

0:19:220:19:29

Over 5,000 books on the subject, incredibly.

0:19:290:19:33

-It's extraordinary.

-Yet no scrap of evidence?

-Not real evidence, just speculation.

0:19:330:19:38

They say, "We know so little about Shakespeare."

0:19:380:19:41

There are very few people of the Elizabethan era about whom we know more.

0:19:410:19:46

Ben Jonson, a famous playwright, we don't know where he was born or how many children he had.

0:19:460:19:52

If other people were writing the plays, why didn't they say so at the time?

0:19:520:19:56

-Quite.

-They always say, "He didn't write all that." Wouldn't it have come out?

0:19:560:20:02

If it was Ben Jonson or any of those others, jolly good luck to them, I say.

0:20:020:20:08

Was it just because he wasn't posh?

0:20:080:20:11

It's snobbery. They think he was just this kid from Warwickshire,

0:20:110:20:15

but his father was a glover which was a decent trade and he went to the grammar school almost certainly.

0:20:150:20:21

He's sort of, you'd think, exactly as far up the society as you'd expect a major writer to be.

0:20:210:20:28

-Yes.

-It's not like now the best novels are written by the Duke of Westminster.

0:20:280:20:32

A very good point.

0:20:320:20:34

Those people anyway claim that he didn't write his plays, all those ones we saw,

0:20:340:20:39

but how many words did Shakespeare write?

0:20:390:20:42

SUE: Oh, that would be quite a lot.

0:20:420:20:45

How many different words?

0:20:450:20:46

Yes. Yes, well, there are any number of things here,

0:20:460:20:49

one is simply how many pieces of his handwriting do we have?

0:20:490:20:53

-There's his signature.

-There is, a few times, isn't there?

0:20:550:20:58

-He never spelled his name the same twice.

-No. And it's pretty wonky writing, it's got to be said.

0:20:580:21:03

-Shacks-poor.

-He was probably more used to, you know, typing.

0:21:030:21:09

LAUGHTER

0:21:090:21:10

-He was on the sauce on the top one.

-He was on something.

0:21:100:21:13

-That one looks as if it says "galley pot".

-LAUGHTER

0:21:130:21:17

The "William" is quite good on one of them.

0:21:170:21:19

Anyway, this reinforces some people's arguments who say he got a clerk even to write his name.

0:21:190:21:23

-He couldn't even write his own name.

-But could he have theoretically dictated these plays to someone else?

0:21:230:21:30

Well...it's possible. Barbara Cartland used to lay on a sofa and dictate her marvellous novels.

0:21:300:21:34

I think AA Gill, the journalist, dictates, doesn't he?

0:21:340:21:37

Because he has very severe dyslexia,

0:21:370:21:39

I think he does.

0:21:390:21:41

So there are people who do.

0:21:410:21:43

-So, he's got bad handwriting and that means he didn't write any plays.

-No.

0:21:430:21:47

But it is surprising we don't have many examples of his handwriting

0:21:470:21:51

because the plays were presumably written out by other people.

0:21:510:21:54

His vocabulary - how many words do you think he used? I'm not counting repeats. "The" he used a lot.

0:21:540:22:00

-Dagger, murder, wife.

-This could take us a long time.

0:22:000:22:05

-We've got to start somewhere.

-You're right.

0:22:050:22:08

-5,000.

-There are 20,000 words. 20,000 words.

0:22:080:22:12

How does that compare to the average vocabulary of a Briton, would we say, roughly?

0:22:120:22:18

-Four times as much.

-No, half as much.

-Less.

0:22:180:22:22

We're not saying Shakespeare used every word he knew in his books.

0:22:220:22:26

-He left lots out. I don't remember the word "clitoris" in any of them.

-I think it's in the Second Folio.

0:22:260:22:32

It might be. It's about half out of the modern English person's vocabulary.

0:22:320:22:37

He didn't have certain words to call on like "texting" or "vajazzle".

0:22:370:22:41

On the other hand, he did have "guerdon" and "bodkin" and "fardel", which we don't use so much.

0:22:410:22:48

-Yogurt.

-I don't suppose Shakespeare knew what yogurt was.

-Broadband.

0:22:480:22:53

Broadband.

0:22:530:22:54

"Activia Pouring Yogurt" was a phrase you never heard him say.

0:22:540:22:58

I can't get my head round...

0:22:580:22:59

-He'd have used that if it had existed.

-Yes.

0:22:590:23:02

If I were to say I couldn't get my head round Activia Pouring Yogurt,

0:23:020:23:06

it would sound peculiar, but why would we want to pour a yogurt?

0:23:060:23:10

-What you want is pouring furniture.

-Ah, yes!

0:23:100:23:12

Because it's quite difficult getting furniture to move.

0:23:120:23:15

If you could pour the furniture where you wanted it,

0:23:150:23:17

-and to the extent you wanted it...

-Then it sets.

-Exactly.

0:23:170:23:20

If could be made out of that thing Terminator 2 is made out of.

0:23:200:23:23

-Yeah.

-Yes, exactly.

0:23:230:23:24

They've got that already. Concrete.

0:23:240:23:26

Oh, yes.

0:23:260:23:27

Well, I... You try and make a piano out of concrete.

0:23:270:23:32

I will. I'll give it a bloody good go.

0:23:320:23:34

Essentially, you want spray-on wood, don't you?

0:23:340:23:36

I'm not talking about Viagra.

0:23:360:23:38

-Hey!

-You could sort of go...

0:23:380:23:40

You could go, "Tssh, tssh, tssh, tssh, tssh, tssh," and have a chair.

0:23:400:23:44

The future is 3D printing, is it not?

0:23:440:23:46

-Have you seen that?

-It's amazing!

-Extraordinary.

0:23:460:23:48

I've seen that.

0:23:480:23:49

That's some kind of voodoo.

0:23:490:23:51

It really is phenomenal. Phenomenal.

0:23:510:23:53

So it can create a 3D object?

0:23:530:23:55

-Yes.

-You put an object into a case, like that.

0:23:550:23:58

-Like a vole, so I've got a vole.

-Say a vole.

0:23:580:24:01

Well, maybe not a... Yeah, a vole.

0:24:010:24:02

But you'd have to have it sedated in some way,

0:24:020:24:06

cos you wouldn't want it moving around.

0:24:060:24:07

It's been very humanely treated, it's sleeping.

0:24:070:24:11

It's sleeping and probably laminated.

0:24:110:24:12

And then you press a button and then you leave it for a few hours

0:24:120:24:16

and you come back and there's another vole!

0:24:160:24:18

That's cloning! How come that's...?

0:24:180:24:20

Lasers make calibrations of exactly every single detail of it.

0:24:200:24:23

I mean, really, really complex things can be printed.

0:24:230:24:26

What's it made of, then?

0:24:260:24:28

-It can be of different things.

-Plastic.

0:24:280:24:30

-Plastics and resins and so on.

-Marzipan.

0:24:300:24:32

I've seen some really complex...

0:24:320:24:34

-Marzipan?!

-..things.

0:24:340:24:35

You can make a marzipan vole? Ah! The wonders of technology!

0:24:350:24:40

Thank God! After all those years of postgraduate research.

0:24:400:24:44

-Hallelujah.

-And we have a marzipan vole finally.

0:24:440:24:47

Wheel, steam engine, microchip, marzipan vole.

0:24:470:24:50

It's the decline of human civilisation!

0:24:510:24:53

That's when we knew it had all gone wrong, with a Battenberg rodent.

0:24:530:24:57

Oh, well.

0:24:570:24:58

Still, there are a lot of words.

0:24:580:25:00

In The Sun, David Crystal, a well-known linguistic fellow,

0:25:000:25:04

estimated there would be about 6,000 words in any complete history of The Sun,

0:25:040:25:09

whereas the King James Bible has just 8,000.

0:25:090:25:12

The idea that we're dumbed down to a lower vocabulary may not be true.

0:25:120:25:16

Shakespeare coined over 1,000 new words, but not all caught on.

0:25:160:25:21

Here are some that didn't. See if you can put them into a sentence.

0:25:210:25:25

-Swoltery. Quatch.

-I've got a swoltery quatch at the moment.

0:25:250:25:31

Already we're there, aren't we?

0:25:320:25:35

It happened when I put my kickie-wickies on.

0:25:390:25:43

I cockled me foxship! I've always been near-legged.

0:25:430:25:46

-You're a boggler in those.

-I've boggled me carlot.

0:25:460:25:49

Your Foxship, what happened to cockled boggler?

0:25:490:25:53

-Carlot - that's a thing.

-A sexy garage.

-It's true, actually.

0:25:530:25:58

-Ahead of its time.

-Way ahead.

-A boggler is a very clumsy burglar.

0:25:580:26:03

A burglar that can't believe the stuff he's getting his hands on!

0:26:050:26:10

"Look at this DVD player!"

0:26:100:26:13

He used it to mean a hesitator. One who boggles.

0:26:130:26:16

I don't know if it's as in boggling the mind.

0:26:160:26:19

What is a kickie-wickie? Is it Russell Brand's football?

0:26:190:26:23

It's an affectionate term for a wife. "Ah, my dear kickie-wickie."

0:26:230:26:28

That's not an affectionate term!

0:26:280:26:31

Domestic violence was a lot more acceptable...

0:26:310:26:33

Ah, the old smashie-washie.

0:26:330:26:37

The old battery-wattery.

0:26:370:26:39

Punchy-wunchy.

0:26:390:26:41

And the quatch? Or is it a quatch? It's actually an adjective.

0:26:410:26:45

Quatch. It means to be a bit podgy.

0:26:450:26:48

-A bit quatchy?

-Yeah.

0:26:480:26:50

Luckily, I'm wearing a surgical truss.

0:26:500:26:53

-Plump, shall we say? Wappened is corrupt.

-Wappened.

0:26:530:26:58

That's never really caught on, but look at the ones that did.

0:26:580:27:02

Here's just a small example of words first used in Shakespeare.

0:27:020:27:05

Accessible, acutely, assembled...

0:27:050:27:08

even-handed, eyeball, Frenchwoman, hunchbacked, neglected, overpower,

0:27:080:27:13

radiant, revealing, rose-cheeked, schooldays....

0:27:130:27:16

Frenchwoman? That's a bit of a stretch.

0:27:160:27:19

LAUGHTER

0:27:190:27:21

He invented it.

0:27:220:27:24

He invented taking the space out.

0:27:240:27:27

Yes, well done.

0:27:270:27:29

Even-handed.

0:27:290:27:30

"Zis is my wife. She's a...

0:27:300:27:33

"A thingummyjig. I don't know. What can I call her?

0:27:330:27:37

"Oh, Frenchwoman!"

0:27:370:27:39

-BRUMMIE:

-"I think you'll find she's a Frenchwoman."

0:27:390:27:42

You can't be absolutely certain. They may have been in use before,

0:27:420:27:47

but he is often the first printed source we have.

0:27:470:27:50

He'd have to have a pretty good idea that people would understand him.

0:27:500:27:55

Yes, exactly.

0:27:550:27:57

Also, there are phrases he came up with,

0:27:570:27:59

and those now have come into the realm of cliche,

0:27:590:28:02

so much so that we can't imagine that they didn't exist in the English language.

0:28:020:28:06

There are very many. We have a list here -

0:28:060:28:08

"Be all and end all,"

0:28:080:28:09

"laid on with a trowel," "laughing stock,"

0:28:090:28:12

"more in sorrow than anger," "once more into the breach,"

0:28:120:28:15

"one fell swoop," "to play fast and loose," "there's the rub..."

0:28:150:28:19

How did he say, "What the Dickens"?!

0:28:190:28:21

Dickens didn't come along for another 250 years!

0:28:210:28:24

Exactly. "A wild goose chase," that's one of his.

0:28:240:28:26

"A heart of gold," "high time."

0:28:260:28:28

"The game's up," "forever and a day,"

0:28:280:28:31

"dead as a doornail," that's one of his.

0:28:310:28:33

"Foregone conclusion." And, of course, many more that aren't there.

0:28:330:28:36

"To the manor born," "cruel to be kind."

0:28:360:28:39

Basically the title of every programme we'll ever need.

0:28:390:28:42

Yes. He did give a lot of titles, didn't he?

0:28:420:28:45

If you're having trouble making up a programme title,

0:28:450:28:48

open your Shakespeare.

0:28:480:28:49

Yes, go to the Shakespeare randomiser.

0:28:490:28:52

-Oh, I've done it again.

-Oh, no. LAUGHTER

0:28:520:28:55

You know...

0:28:550:28:57

This bit of ruff is not behaving. I've said that before.

0:28:570:29:02

-LAUGHTER

-Oh, dear, oh, dear.

0:29:020:29:06

So there we are. Call me a swoltery boggler if you like,

0:29:060:29:10

but answer me this.

0:29:100:29:11

How did Dangerous Dan Tucker clean up Shakespeare?

0:29:110:29:15

DRAMATIC: Oh, I sense I'm falling into a pit, but I shall do it anyway.

0:29:150:29:18

I don't know why I'm speaking like that, it's the hat.

0:29:180:29:21

Did he do an abridged version? Take out the mucky bits like the boggling...?

0:29:210:29:25

KLAXON BLARES

0:29:250:29:26

Oh, no, he didn't, I'm afraid.

0:29:260:29:28

He didn't take out the rude bits. People did, as we know.

0:29:280:29:31

-Think of his name, "Dangerous Dan," what does that make you think of?

-It makes me think of the Wild West.

0:29:310:29:36

Yes, stay in the Wild West.

0:29:360:29:38

What did people with names like Dangerous Dan...?

0:29:380:29:41

When they cleaned something up, it was unlikely to be a cupboard or a spare bedroom.

0:29:410:29:45

-They shot people.

-Outlaws.

0:29:450:29:46

It would be a town. He cleaned up the town of Shakespeare.

0:29:460:29:49

-"Clean up this town."

-There was a town called Shakespeare.

0:29:490:29:52

-There it is. It's now a ghost town.

-Wow.

0:29:520:29:54

That looks like a fun way to spend a weekend(!)

0:29:540:29:57

It's in New Mexico, and it was lawless, back in the day.

0:29:570:30:02

So they sent for Dangerous Dan, who was a pretty violent sheriff.

0:30:020:30:05

Hence the "Dangerous" bit.

0:30:050:30:07

Well, quite. He really was dangerous, too.

0:30:070:30:09

He'd already been city marshal in Silver City,

0:30:090:30:12

where, as a deputy sheriff, he killed a drunken man

0:30:120:30:14

who was standing on the street, throwing rocks at people.

0:30:140:30:17

He went up and shot him.

0:30:170:30:18

So he didn't put up with bad behaviour.

0:30:180:30:20

-He was a zero tolerance sheriff.

-Yeah.

0:30:200:30:23

So within the space of a few months in Shakespeare,

0:30:230:30:25

he shot dead a cattle rustler,

0:30:250:30:27

he killed a man who rode into a hotel riding a horse...

0:30:270:30:30

Oh, come on!

0:30:300:30:31

..arrested and hanged the outlaw Russian Bill Tattenbaum

0:30:310:30:34

for stealing a horse

0:30:340:30:36

and hanged Sandy King for "being a damned nuisance."

0:30:360:30:40

Thank God they can't do that any more!

0:30:420:30:44

Well, quite. He'd been "a damned nuisance."

0:30:440:30:46

There's only about 17 people who'd live in those houses.

0:30:460:30:50

Yeah, he wiped out the entire population.

0:30:500:30:52

-"No more trouble here!"

-Yeah.

0:30:520:30:55

Of course, the little trap you fell into, the rewriting of Shakespeare,

0:30:550:31:00

was primarily the work of a famous couple, whose name was...?

0:31:000:31:03

Richard and Judy.

0:31:030:31:04

-The Bowdlers.

-Oh, Bowdler.

-The Bowdlers, indeed.

0:31:050:31:08

-Absolutely, the Bowdlers.

-Thomas Bowdler.

0:31:080:31:10

Thomas and Harriet Bowdler. Let's not forget Harriet.

0:31:100:31:13

She was particularly strong with her blue pencil.

0:31:130:31:16

If she saw a word like "swoggle" or something.

0:31:160:31:18

They brought out children's editions of Shakespeare, where the bloody, nasty bits were cut out.

0:31:180:31:23

Did they give the tragedies happy endings?

0:31:230:31:26

Nahum Tate wrote a version of King Lear with a happy ending.

0:31:260:31:29

And that was very popular for over 100 years.

0:31:290:31:32

-People like happy endings.

-They do, don't they?

0:31:320:31:35

I say give them what they want - big song at the end.

0:31:350:31:38

Funnily enough, they did they give them what they wanted,

0:31:380:31:41

big song at the end - even after a tragedy, on would come a comic

0:31:410:31:44

and do a jig and make a lot of jokes about the tragedy.

0:31:440:31:47

That's the way...

0:31:470:31:48

So they'd blow wind, crack your cheeks, "My mother-in-law..."

0:31:480:31:51

-Exactly.

-"Don't worry, it was all pretend."

0:31:510:31:55

SHE HUMS A COMIC DITTY

0:31:550:31:57

Now, how did Shakespeare's Bottom get to Norwich?

0:31:570:32:00

Are there relics? Bits of him?

0:32:030:32:05

He had a famous comedian who played Bottom and Falstaff.

0:32:050:32:10

-Who did?

-Shakespeare. And he created them for him. He was the funniest man in England.

0:32:100:32:15

And his name is sometimes put. It says Kemp instead of Bottom on the original play script

0:32:150:32:21

because it was so obviously Kemp who would play him. Will Kemp.

0:32:210:32:25

But he had a dreadful falling out with Shakespeare

0:32:250:32:28

or whoever ran the company, Burbage or somebody,

0:32:280:32:30

and he went off in a right huff.

0:32:300:32:32

But he decided as a publicity stunt to Morris dance

0:32:320:32:35

-all the way to Norwich from London.

-That's unnecessary.

0:32:350:32:40

LAUGHTER

0:32:400:32:41

It took him about three weeks, but he did it over nine days

0:32:410:32:44

-and a famous phrase comes from this.

-Cocking about?

0:32:440:32:49

Er, no.

0:32:490:32:51

Making a right tit of yourself?

0:32:510:32:54

Kemp's nine days wonder. It's where "a nine days wonder" comes from.

0:32:540:32:59

He just did it for publicity.

0:32:590:33:01

"I may have left Shakespeare's company, but I'm the man

0:33:010:33:04

"and they will go down now."

0:33:040:33:06

Quite the reverse happened. He went off to Italy and died in penury.

0:33:060:33:11

-His gravestone says, "Kemp. A man."

-LAUGHTER

0:33:110:33:14

And after he left, the first play Shakespeare wrote was Henry V in which Falstaff dies offstage.

0:33:140:33:20

Kemp was kind of got rid of that way

0:33:200:33:23

and a new man called Armin came in and played the comedians.

0:33:230:33:26

While we're on the subject of Will Kemp and his Morris dancing,

0:33:260:33:30

what do you call a group of Morris dancers?

0:33:300:33:33

An arse.

0:33:330:33:34

-A swarm?

-A swarm...

0:33:350:33:37

-An embarrassment.

-Oh...

0:33:370:33:40

A plague?

0:33:400:33:43

A bell-end.

0:33:430:33:44

A bell-end!

0:33:440:33:46

-LAUGHTER

-Honestly, poor old Britain. We've got one folk tradition in England

0:33:460:33:52

-and all we do is laugh at it.

-It's true.

0:33:520:33:55

It really generates hostility, Morris dancing. I think...

0:33:550:33:59

-We're so mean about it.

-I think we think they're up to something.

0:33:590:34:04

BILL: A perve of Morris dancers!

0:34:040:34:07

I think it's very valuable that we can point to that

0:34:070:34:10

and say, "See? It's a free country."

0:34:100:34:13

LAUGHTER They're not doing that in Afghanistan!

0:34:130:34:17

If we were going to ban anything, we'd ban that.

0:34:170:34:22

What'll happen is if this scene of all of us dressed like this now and this photograph behind us

0:34:220:34:28

is shown, we'll end up as an "And finally..." section on foreign news programmes.

0:34:280:34:34

"Les anglais... Haha!" LAUGHTER

0:34:350:34:39

It's known as a side, anyway.

0:34:390:34:42

-A side.

-A group of Morris men.

0:34:420:34:45

No-one quite knows where it comes from.

0:34:450:34:47

They think it's from Moorish

0:34:470:34:50

to celebrate the expulsion of the Moors from Spain.

0:34:500:34:55

Certainly not pagan and mystical or anything.

0:34:550:34:58

It's pretty recent. 14th century is the earliest you can go back to it.

0:34:580:35:02

There are 150 sides now registered in the USA,

0:35:020:35:05

so American Morris dancing is taking off in a BIG way!

0:35:050:35:09

-That's three per state, on average.

-AMERICAN:

-"I've joined a bell-end!"

0:35:090:35:13

"This is what they do in Old England.

0:35:140:35:18

-"Merry England."

-There's an Arctic Morris group based in Helsinki.

0:35:180:35:22

But now time to visit that undiscovered country from whose bourn no idiot returns,

0:35:220:35:29

as we bring down the curtain on general ignorance. Sound trumpets! Farewell, sour annoy!

0:35:290:35:34

For here, I hope, begins our lasting joy. Fingers on buzzers.

0:35:340:35:38

What best describes, in one word, Richard III's appearance?

0:35:380:35:43

Hunchback! KLAXON SOUNDS

0:35:440:35:47

No!

0:35:470:35:49

No, there's no evidence at all that Richard III had a hunched back.

0:35:490:35:53

It's just the black propaganda of the Tudors who succeeded him.

0:35:530:35:58

-The character in the play does.

-Certainly.

0:35:580:36:01

And a sort of twisted arm.

0:36:010:36:04

A bottled spider is one of the things he's called. Hideous name.

0:36:040:36:09

It seems he was rather a decent fellow. Intelligent, kind.

0:36:090:36:13

A man called Polydore Vergil, a historian determined to paint him as black as possible,

0:36:130:36:19

described him as ugly. They associated ugliness with wickedness.

0:36:190:36:24

So while on that sort of thing, how beautiful was Cleopatra?

0:36:240:36:29

She was minging.

0:36:290:36:32

A bit weird looking, but striking?

0:36:320:36:35

-Yes, that's probably fair.

-Bit of a weird nose?

0:36:350:36:38

Long nose. It seems possible she had a long, pointy nose.

0:36:380:36:41

There's no contemporary suggestion that she was particularly beautiful.

0:36:410:36:45

-She had a very beautiful voice and was charismatic.

-She seemed sexy.

0:36:450:36:50

She seemed sexy, which I find is half the battle.

0:36:500:36:53

Her mouth is very small. It only extends as far as her nostril.

0:36:540:36:59

That isn't necessarily Cleopatra.

0:36:590:37:02

-No?

-That's just a woman...

-An artist's impression.

0:37:020:37:06

Just a woman going mad with some napkins.

0:37:060:37:09

Yeah, she's gone serviette crazy.

0:37:090:37:11

"Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety,"

0:37:120:37:17

as Enobarbus said about her. How did Christopher Marlowe die?

0:37:170:37:22

-Well, now...

-DRAMATIC FANFARE

0:37:220:37:25

Da-dum!

0:37:250:37:26

-Yes?

-Let me say it so you can mock me.

0:37:260:37:29

He died in a bar brawl by being stabbed.

0:37:290:37:32

KLAXON SOUNDS

0:37:320:37:35

Oh, dear me. He was stabbed, but not in a tavern brawl.

0:37:350:37:40

It was thought so for many years,

0:37:400:37:43

but it wasn't until 1925 that the documents came to light

0:37:430:37:47

that showed he was killed at the house of a Mrs Eleanor Bull by a man called Ingram Frizer,

0:37:470:37:54

with whom he'd spent the day and argued over the bill.

0:37:540:37:57

Over a bill? That's a bit harsh.

0:37:570:38:00

-"I only had a mineral water!"

-Yes, exactly.

0:38:000:38:04

-So it wasn't a tavern?

-No.

0:38:040:38:07

What was the bill for, then? A restaurant?

0:38:070:38:10

-A pop-up restaurant!

-They call it a tavern.

0:38:100:38:13

It was a smart restaurant, but went downhill after that stabbing.

0:38:130:38:16

-It might have been a prostitute.

-Right.

-A brothel.

0:38:160:38:19

SUE: So a brothel bill.

0:38:190:38:22

"I didn't have that. No."

0:38:220:38:25

To be honest, the service charge is redundant.

0:38:250:38:29

"I had one of them, two of them.

0:38:300:38:33

"I asked for that, but it never happened."

0:38:330:38:36

It was off.

0:38:360:38:38

"If we all chip in, we can afford that."

0:38:390:38:42

Why don't we just get one big one and all have a bit?

0:38:420:38:46

Oh, I don't know... Oh, no. Dear me. Anyway...

0:38:480:38:52

He was unlikely to be in a brothel.

0:38:520:38:54

He didn't trust anyone who didn't love tobacco or boys.

0:38:540:38:57

-Ah, well.

-Anyway, what made Lord Byron limp?

0:38:570:39:02

LAUGHTER That's a follow-up question.

0:39:020:39:06

Item four on the brothel bill?

0:39:060:39:09

Eight hours of Morris dancing?

0:39:100:39:13

He had, from birth, a pronounced limp.

0:39:130:39:16

L-I-M-P. Pronounced "limp".

0:39:160:39:19

They're not sure if he had a club foot.

0:39:190:39:23

We know that, in fact, he didn't have a club foot.

0:39:230:39:26

It's often said that he did. That's what people have heard of.

0:39:260:39:30

He had a sort of withered leg, and you can tell from his boots.

0:39:300:39:33

He was very athletic and hated this limp,

0:39:330:39:35

but he swam the Hellespont and he boxed

0:39:350:39:38

and was very worried about his weight.

0:39:380:39:41

He was possibly an early male anorexic.

0:39:410:39:44

And he liked to spend money, did old Byron.

0:39:440:39:47

He ordered batches of two dozen at a time of white linen trousers, which he only wore once,

0:39:470:39:52

and silk handkerchiefs in batches of 100.

0:39:520:39:55

Each one was nine guineas, an average man's pay for the year.

0:39:550:40:00

Was he coining it in with the writing at this time?

0:40:000:40:05

He inherited at an early age, which he spent very fast,

0:40:050:40:10

but he was, in fact, incredibly highly paid.

0:40:100:40:13

For every canto of Don Juan, his last great masterpiece, he got thousands.

0:40:130:40:18

So he'd run out of hankies, "Oh, I'll write another canto."

0:40:180:40:21

He was hugely successful.

0:40:210:40:23

-White linen trousers?

-Yes.

-Sounds like something out of Miami Vice.

0:40:230:40:29

It does a bit. He had to leave England

0:40:290:40:31

because there was a scandal about him possibly having had sex with...

0:40:310:40:35

..a young...

0:40:350:40:36

BILL: ..goat.

0:40:360:40:38

LAUGHTER

0:40:380:40:41

He kept a bear at Cambridge in his rooms.

0:40:410:40:44

The Master of Trinity said, "The rules are absolutely clear. No domestic animals."

0:40:440:40:51

He said, "I assure you, Master, he's not domestic. He's entirely wild."

0:40:510:40:56

So he was allowed to keep it.

0:40:560:40:58

There was a rumour that he'd shagged his sister.

0:40:580:41:01

-I thought you were going to say the bear!

-No!

0:41:010:41:05

-As far as I know...

-Is that more horrific than shagging your sister?

0:41:050:41:10

-It's just different, really.

-It is.

0:41:100:41:12

It's probably braver.

0:41:120:41:14

LAUGHTER

0:41:140:41:16

Lord Byron limped because of an abnormality in one leg,

0:41:160:41:20

but it wasn't a club foot.

0:41:200:41:21

Now what can the Queen do that an idiot can't?

0:41:210:41:24

By the looks of it, kill people with their own eyes.

0:41:280:41:31

-She doesn't look in the best mood.

-"One tires of Morris dancing..."

0:41:330:41:38

This is something she's allowed to do, but doesn't,

0:41:380:41:42

-that an idiot is not allowed to do.

-Drive? Vote?

-Vote.

0:41:420:41:45

Most people think the Queen can't vote.

0:41:450:41:47

She has every right to vote, as any citizen,

0:41:470:41:50

but she's never exercised that, as far as we know.

0:41:500:41:52

But idiots are not allowed to vote.

0:41:520:41:55

And lunatics may only vote during their lucid periods.

0:41:550:41:58

LAUGHTER

0:41:580:42:00

They test them on the way in.

0:42:000:42:03

Most people think the Royals can't vote. They just choose not to.

0:42:030:42:08

Alas, alack and well away, our revels now are ended.

0:42:080:42:12

All spirits are now melted into air, into thin air, and we must consult the scores.

0:42:120:42:18

Oh, my gracious heavens.

0:42:180:42:20

I'm afraid, rather down the bottom of the list, with minus 14...

0:42:200:42:26

-Bill Bailey!

-APPLAUSE

0:42:260:42:29

And four to the better with minus 10, Sue Perkins!

0:42:320:42:36

APPLAUSE

0:42:360:42:38

Second witch, with a very creditable plus 3, Alan Davies!

0:42:430:42:48

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:42:480:42:50

Very good.

0:42:500:42:52

But tonight's Prince of Denmark with six points is David Mitchell!

0:42:520:42:57

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:42:570:42:59

Well, it only remains for me to thank our dramatis personae - Sue, David, Bill and Alan -

0:43:050:43:11

and leave you with this perceptive thought from Robert Wilensky.

0:43:110:43:14

"We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards

0:43:140:43:17

"could produce the complete works of Shakespeare,

0:43:170:43:20

"but now, thanks to the internet, we know that this is not true."

0:43:200:43:23

Good night.

0:43:230:43:24

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0:43:450:43:49

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