Inventive QI XL


Inventive

Stephen Fry waxes inventive with Nina Conti, Sean Lock, Bill Bailey and Alan Davies.


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Transcript


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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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

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Welcome to QI, where tonight we'll be putting sliced bread to shame

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and reinventing the wheel in a show all about inventions.

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Joining me at the lab bench,

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we have a world first, Nina Conti and Gran...

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-Hello.

-APPLAUSE

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..the peculiarly innovative Sean Lock...

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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..the patently absurd Bill Bailey...

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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..and I'm afraid it's back to the drawing board, Alan Davies.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Now, panel,

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if you have any bright ideas you wish to share,

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-activate the light bulb in front of you. Bill goes...

-BELL

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-..Sean goes...

-HIGHER-PITCHED BELL

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-..and Nina or Gran goes...

-HIGHER-PITCHED BELL

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-..and Alan goes...

-ELECTRIC CURRENT NOISE

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Excellent.

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-Er, so you've brought your grandmother with you.

-"Hello".

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Is she familiar with our rule we have in this series?

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We have a "Don't know" rule. We have a 'Nobody Knows' rule.

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-Right.

-There's a joker you have, which is the 'Nobody Knows'...

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TANNOY: Nobody knows!

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There may be a question to which nobody actually knows the answer.

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The answer is, nobody knows. Can she...?

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-There you go, Gran.

-"I can hold it."

-Have you got it?

-"It's a bit..."

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-She's got a little bit of arthritis in the fingers.

-"It's mesmerising."

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-Do you want me to hold it for you?

-"No, dear."

-Oh, all right.

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"Slap me on the bottom with it, dear.

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-"I won't be like that, I'm just excited."

-Fair enough.

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Good. Now, my first question is,

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why should you be glad that you didn't invent the flying car,

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the parachute suit or the web rotary press?

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I've got a feeling that the guy with the parachute suit, didn't he die?

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He did.

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Um...and then it does follow that they all died.

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They were all killed by their own inventions.

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The inventor of the web rotary press, for example,

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which was a huge advance and revolutionised printing,

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unfortunately the inventor fell into the works and got gummed up in them and died.

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-Really?

-Yeah. Very sad business.

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But it did change printing. He was called William Bullock.

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Which bit of it did he fall in?

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Well, into the gearing. I can't imagine how he managed it.

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A bloke the other day, he went through a machine,

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and his whole body went through a tunnel the size of a CD

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and he survived.

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What?!

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LAUGHTER

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Was it Ronnie Corbett? LAUGHTER

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Yeah. That would explain it.

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No, his whole head went in, broke every bone in his body...

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-But he did live?

-He lived...

-Wow!

-..to tell the tale.

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Unfortunately, though, he is now in a redundant format.

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LAUGHTER

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APPLAUSE

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Sad.

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That was the fate of William Bullock.

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When it comes to the parachute suit, it was a man called Franz Reichelt, who was an Austrian,

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who was convinced he could jump off the Eiffel Tower, this was in 1912, wearing a parachute suit.

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People warned him it was not a good idea, but he was utterly confident.

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He ripped a page out of a book to test which way the wind was going

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and his last words were, "A bientot."

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Unfortunately, that was the instruction manual(!)

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He jumped off and hit the ground a little bit too hard,

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and was dead.

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So that was not a good result.

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That's not actually an invention, then, is it?

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That's just a really stupid thing to do.

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Yes.

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Where's the grey area where inventions become...suicide?

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It was a parachute suit that might have worked from higher up.

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The principle behind it was sound - as we know from parachutes, they do work.

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-But he just...

-He invented jumping off things.

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He invented jumping off things badly, yeah.

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The flying car you ought to know about.

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This was a Californian engineer called Henry Smolinski.

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-Look at that.

-"It's lovely.

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"I can't fly or drive, though,

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"because I can't see, because my eyes are marbles.

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"But I can point where I want to go, look. There!

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"Higher! There's buildings down there.

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-"Hello."

-Hello.

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-"Pull my finger, dear."

-OK.

-"Nothing happened."

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LAUGHTER

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You've got a very, very warm finger there, Gran.

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"Oh, no, don't say that, dear.

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"It'll draw attention to it. Where it's been."

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All right, thank you! Thank you!

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Thank you, Gran.

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On the face of it, it's rather a marvellous idea.

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Smolinski's idea was that you drove to an airport, you collected the wings,

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you'd fly 500 miles-odd to the next city,

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where you'd take the wings off and you would drive off again.

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And it worked really well.

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Then in 1973, he was on a flight and one of the struts broke

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and he and his co-pilot plunged to their death.

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The idea was never thought of again. I think it should be brought back.

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I thought he would have died when he was in the air

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and he got up to go around with the drinks trolley.

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LAUGHTER

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-It's simple. It worked with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

-Yes.

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Did they have two sets of controls?

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-You've asked an intelligent question.

-Extraordinary(!)

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-Hooray!

-APPLAUSE

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Joysticks, and it turns over like in Thunderbirds?

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Was it a big switch - "Plane", "Car"?

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The car steering was modified so you could fly from the driver's seat,

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so it was pretty much all in one.

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-So you could steer it with the steering wheel?

-Yes.

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-I'd love one of those, wouldn't you?

-I'd love one too.

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-"Difficult to park, dear."

-I think it's a brilliant idea.

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-I don't like flying.

-Don't you?

-No.

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But I was bought a flying lesson for my 40th birthday.

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My entire family clubbed together and bought me a flying lesson.

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It was £99.

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Your entire family spent £99 on you?

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Yeah, on my 40th, so I was in quite a bad mood when I turned up.

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Especially as there's 99 of them.

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LAUGHTER

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"I have to stay in overhead compartment, don't I, dear?" Yes.

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-Oh, that's a bit mean.

-"No nuts."

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You have to open the compartment slowly in case you fall out?

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-"I'll fall out and hurt someone, yes, it's tragic."

-It is tragic.

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"But I'll keep going. Happy days."

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Are you allowed to use the loo?

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"No, I don't have any bodily functions, dear.

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"I just sit there for comfort, but nothing happens."

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LAUGHTER

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Too much information, Gran.

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There are all these other grans in the overhead compartments,

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crawling about during the flight!

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I don't know why you go on the plane. Why don't you just post yourself?

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LAUGHTER

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"It's expensive, dear. I'm heavy." That's not true.

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I lost her once on a plane, an airline,

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which for legal reasons I'm not supposed to name.

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-"Ryanair."

-LAUGHTER

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-APPLAUSE

-She's fab!

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Did you have to pay an extra seat for her or an extra cabin area?

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"No, unfortunately she's a cheapskate."

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That's why I... I don't know.

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She's a bit big for hand luggage, so it's a dilemma.

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"It's always a risk.

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"Would you put your granny in the hold, dear?"

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No, I wouldn't.

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I have a friend who has one of those micro pigs,

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and she puts the pig in hand luggage in the cabin without telling them.

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-It's only a pig, isn't it?

-It's one of those tiny pigs.

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Are they easy to look after? My wife would love one of those.

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You can grow them in special tubes,

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so they're triangular and they'll fit in a Toblerone box.

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-Well, somebody...

-Is that a Toblerone? "Oink!" No.

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Sometimes they grow and grow, and basically you've got a huge pig.

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You've just got an actual pig.

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What you bought was a piglet.

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Imagine being conned by a pig salesman!

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It's called buying a pig in a poke. It's a phrase for it.

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-Pig salesmen used to be dishonest.

-"Can you say that, Nina?"

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What, pig in a poke? "Can I say that?"

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Go on, say, "Pig in a poke."

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"That's a challenge to a ventriloquist."

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-If I say pig in a poke, it's fine.

-You say it, Gran.

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-"No."

-AUDIENCE: Ooh!

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-Go on, Gran. "Pig in a poke."

-APPLAUSE

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That was impressive!

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-How do they do that?

-How do they do that?

-I didn't know it meant that.

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A pig in a poke? What's a poke, then?

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A poke is a sack. A pocket is a small poke.

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-So you haven't seen the pig?

-Exactly.

-It could be a dog.

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The point is all those inventions tragically killed their inventors.

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Which well-known invention is the wickedness which lurks in the belly

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and deserves to dwell in the cesspool?

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The wickedness which lurks in the belly.

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-Er...

-Do you know...

-Sunny Delight.

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-"I know!"

-Gran?

-We know, because this...yes...

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Um...I am a belly speaker.

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You are a belly speaker. Ventriloquist.

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That's it. You're a tummy speaker.

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It was considered to be a possession by demons

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if someone could have this voice come from their tummy -

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it didn't seem to come out of their mouths - or throw their voice.

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There was a Patriarch of Constantinople

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by the name of Photius,

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who once excommunicated the Pope, and he was the one...

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There you are! Have a go. Have a go.

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Oh, have we all got these?

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-MUMBLING:

-"Pig in a poke."

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-APPLAUSE

-I am very impressed.

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-Here's one.

-The weird thing is...

-ELECTRIC CURRENT NOISE

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That puppet is a ventriloquist,

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and its lips didn't move when you said that,

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so it's operating you, which is fantastic!

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It really is a lot...

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-MUMBLING:

-"It really is a lot harder than it looks."

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-"You've had a stroke, dear."

-LAUGHTER

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APPLAUSE

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"He looks like ET."

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-No, don't, Gran.

-"I am Bogdan.

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"I like you very much.

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"You are attractive lady."

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"If I start on you, you'll never see the light of day again."

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"Come with me. I have Oyster Card."

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LAUGHTER

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-MUMBLING:

-"Are you moving your lips?"

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HE MUMBLES

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HE MUMBLES

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Sean, let's see if you can do any better.

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-Are you hoping...?

-I'm not moving my lips!

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Oh, sorry, it's a left-handed puppet. Sorry!

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HE GROANS

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That's the only thing I tend to do is... HE GROANS

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LAUGHTER

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"Pieces of eight. Pieces of eight."

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You don't actually have to stretch your mouth.

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It's the only way I can do it! I can't do it any other way!

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HE SCREAMS

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-BELL

-Hey!

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"Oh, no!"

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-Oh, I've broken it!

-You have!

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Oh!

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-BELL

-Oh, Bill Bailey!

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"What the hell's he doing?"

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0h, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear!

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What a wretched disappointment to us all you are.

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HE SOBS

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I can't get the talking to... I can't get the talking to you.

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-MUMBLING:

-"You're an idiot."

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It's very difficult.

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You have to look like you're listening when you're talking.

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-You look at her?

-Yes, you have to look like you're listening

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when you are in fact talking. It's quite difficult.

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"The first rule of show business, make everything look easy." Sorry.

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-That's true.

-"Not like this half-wit over here,

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-"milking it for all it's worth."

-LAUGHTER

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APPLAUSE

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I think...it doesn't matter if your lips move, because surely

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this gives the game away.

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LAUGHTER

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In those circumstances, yes.

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A stick here suggests it's not actually a real thing,

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so it doesn't really matter whether my lips move, does it?

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"I thought this was a highbrow show."

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To make it highbrow...

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I'm sure you can help us, Nina, on the history of ventriloquism.

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I know that it has a very dark history,

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and that ventriloquists used to earn their living

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as if their words were divine utterances.

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-Yes, that's the point.

-LAUGHTER

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I'm so sorry.

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I'm sorry. I was listening, but my hand came out of the top.

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I shocked myself!

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-That's very disturbing.

-It is quite disturbing.

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Really disturbing.

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That's horrible. It looks like Alien.

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HE SCREAMS

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It looks like Lady Gaga's sleeves.

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Well, you're absolutely right,

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it was regarded as divine utterance, or demonic possession, in fact.

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-And I know one woman died from her ventriloquism.

-Who was that?

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Um...but I don't know her name. I bet you do.

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With her utterances, she was objecting to

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-the marriage of Henry VIII...

-To Anne Boleyn.

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-To Anne Boleyn.

-Her name was Elizabeth Barton,

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and she was known as the Holy Maid of Kent.

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She was a very good ventriloquist, and these voices would come

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without her mouth moving as if from her stomach.

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-"Nice tits, too."

-LAUGHTER

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She became very popular until she started to say...

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-Look at the bloke looking at her tits as well!

-LAUGHTER

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"You've got yours out as well tonight.

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"Is that to distract from the lip movement?"

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She was very popular until she said that

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if Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn, he would be deposed.

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Henry VIII didn't like that, so had her head chopped off.

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Ironically, her head was put on top of a pole...

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-And carried on talking!

-It was quite a strange fate

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for a ventriloquist to have their head stuck on a pole.

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But she was indeed, she suffered for her art.

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But in the 19th century it became known to be a piece of entertainment rather than demonic spirits.

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But the first ventriloquists on stage didn't have dummies.

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What did they have?

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They used to do things like voices inside suitcases.

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And then ones who did chimney sweeps,

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where there would be a chimney

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and the sound of the chimney-sweep boy going up the chimney

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and getting more smothered and quieter and distant as he went.

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Huge rounds of applause.

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But it was a man called Fred Russell who came up with his character, Costa Joe, one of the first dummies.

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Was he blind? LAUGHTER

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He made that one afternoon.

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It's not the most beautiful object you've ever seen, is it?

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But that's when the dummies became popular.

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There were many, many famous acts.

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Some of them, rather bizarrely, on radio.

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-Educating Archie.

-LAUGHTER

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Educating Archie was one of the most successful

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radio comedy shows in BBC radio history.

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Peter Brough, there's Peter Brough,

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there's Archie, and it was a radio show.

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He had the puppet the whole time? He never even,

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"What's the point with the puppet?"

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It's the show that Tony Hancock first appeared on, in fact.

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He made the mistake, Peter Brough, when television arrived, of appearing on television.

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He just spoke like this while his puppet was talking.

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He didn't even begin to venture towards ventriloquism.

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"Nina is a ventriloquist, apparently."

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-Nina, are you?

-"I'm yet to see evidence of that."

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But my mentor, Ken Campbell, who taught me ventriloquism,

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he excited me by saying that people don't say the first thing

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that comes into their head, they say the second thing,

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and we are all barmier than we let it be known.

0:17:250:17:27

"Once your insanity starts to leak, they put you away."

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But the ventriloquated doll can allow us access

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to the madness of the ventriloquist.

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It's a kind of Tourette's, almost.

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"Licensed Tourette's, dear."

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Licensed Tourette's. That's a very good thing.

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Ken Campbell was one of the true great men of the 20th century,

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as an entertainer, a director,

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a show-maker, actor, comic and ventriloquist.

0:17:480:17:50

What happened to his dolls?

0:17:500:17:53

Oh, he bequeathed them to me in his will.

0:17:530:17:56

-"And I'm one of them, you see?"

-Were you one of Ken Campbell's?

0:17:560:17:59

"I was one of his, yes, so I've been recycled."

0:17:590:18:02

-There is a doll heaven, isn't there?

-There is a doll heaven.

0:18:020:18:06

-We've just made a film about this.

-Have you?

0:18:060:18:08

When Ken left me his puppets in his will,

0:18:080:18:10

I found this place called Vent Haven in Kentucky

0:18:100:18:13

where dummies go to rest. There it is!

0:18:130:18:16

Aaaargh!

0:18:160:18:18

Aaaargh!

0:18:190:18:22

Aaaargh! You'd never stop screaming, would you?

0:18:220:18:26

-If you're a coulrophobe, you won't be... But that's right...

-Aaaargh!

0:18:280:18:33

Over 700 ventriloquists who have died have bequeathed their puppets

0:18:330:18:38

to Vent Haven, Kentucky.

0:18:380:18:39

-Apart from Gran...

-"No, I'm there, actually."

0:18:390:18:42

Who do you reckon has murdered the most?

0:18:420:18:45

You're thinking of Chucky in Child's Play, aren't you?

0:18:460:18:50

Your classic puppet was a really big, round, blue-eyed sort of thing

0:18:500:18:55

with dark eyebrows and a very particular sort of look.

0:18:550:18:59

-Do you recognise what that still is from?

-Magic.

-The film Magic.

0:18:590:19:03

This story is the classic,

0:19:030:19:06

the ventriloquist who gets taken over, gets possessed.

0:19:060:19:09

Is there any truth in that? Do ventriloquists get slightly too close?

0:19:090:19:13

-Does Keith Harris get...

-ORVILLE VOICE:

-A bit too close to Orville?

0:19:130:19:16

I can't speak for him.

0:19:160:19:18

"No, because you're not that good a ventriloquist."

0:19:180:19:21

-I know that I have fallen for my puppets.

-Really?

0:19:210:19:25

"What do you mean, dear?"

0:19:250:19:27

I have on stage sometimes looked at Granny and thought,

0:19:270:19:31

why aren't you saying anything? This is your line.

0:19:310:19:33

Oh, really? That's hilarious.

0:19:330:19:35

-That's hilarious!

-APPLAUSE

0:19:360:19:40

The madness is starting to kick in.

0:19:440:19:46

It must be a wildly schizophrenic profession.

0:19:460:19:49

I don't know on what dark night of the soul Keith Harris invented a duck like that.

0:19:490:19:54

-"Or a haircut like that!"

-I was going to say!

0:19:540:19:57

-As for the shirt, holy smoke!

-Well, still...

0:19:570:20:01

I love the fact that Orville is in a nappy.

0:20:010:20:04

That was odd, wasn't it? A duck in a nappy.

0:20:040:20:06

Which was the opposite of Donald Duck,

0:20:060:20:08

because he always had his privates out, didn't he?

0:20:080:20:11

Yes. Good point. There you go.

0:20:110:20:14

-A very good point. A very good point.

-Thank you.

0:20:140:20:18

I think I made that point excellently.

0:20:180:20:20

LAUGHTER

0:20:200:20:22

I'm delighted with that point.

0:20:220:20:25

-I'll give you a point for that point.

-Thank you.

0:20:250:20:29

-MUMBLING:

-The art of ventriloquism has come on leaps and bounds

0:20:290:20:32

since back in the good old days.

0:20:320:20:33

-You're doing it now!

-Yeah.

0:20:330:20:35

Speaking of which,

0:20:350:20:36

which of you here has, has ever had, or used to have an imaginary friend?

0:20:360:20:41

Did you, Gran? Did you have an imaginary friend?

0:20:410:20:43

"I think..." I can't say his name!

0:20:430:20:45

"I think Bill Bailey - that's a hard one -

0:20:450:20:48

"I think you're my imaginary friend. You're slightly out of focus.

0:20:480:20:52

"Fuzzy, kind of. And you, Sean..."

0:20:520:20:55

That's very strange. My reality is being called into question by...

0:20:550:20:59

LAUGHTER

0:20:590:21:02

This is one of the odder conversations I've had, but...

0:21:020:21:05

"If your imaginary friend falls over in the forest

0:21:050:21:08

"and there's no one to hear, does that...? I can't finish this!"

0:21:080:21:12

That's a good philosophical point. We're getting Bishop Berkeley from Gran. I am very impressed.

0:21:120:21:17

Did you have one? I mean, lots of children do.

0:21:170:21:20

-Did you have an imaginary friend?

-I'm not aware of it.

0:21:200:21:23

They didn't used to come round much.

0:21:230:21:25

LAUGHTER

0:21:250:21:28

An imaginary friend who never plays with you!

0:21:280:21:31

An imaginary friend who counts you dead!

0:21:310:21:33

Yeah, I wanted to be his friend, but...

0:21:330:21:36

-Ah, that's so sad!

-..he just wasn't interested.

0:21:360:21:41

But we're familiar with the concept,

0:21:410:21:43

and the fact that a lot of children do seem to have an imaginary friend,

0:21:430:21:47

-which can worry their parents.

-It is a really peculiar thing.

0:21:470:21:50

They lay places at the table for them, they have seats on sofas to watch television

0:21:500:21:54

and they have tea parties for them.

0:21:540:21:57

But according to psychiatrists, having an imaginary friend is a very good thing for a child.

0:21:570:22:02

Children who've had them tend to have more social and verbal skills than those who don't.

0:22:020:22:06

Although, it must be said, a certain proportion of them are malevolent.

0:22:060:22:09

Some people have imaginary friends who scare their children, which is a very worrying thought.

0:22:090:22:14

A nasty imaginary friend.

0:22:140:22:15

-I hear voices.

-Do you?

-But I ignore them and I just carry on killing.

0:22:150:22:20

LAUGHTER

0:22:200:22:23

APPLAUSE

0:22:230:22:25

The voices say, "Stop killing people, Sean!"

0:22:270:22:32

"You know this is wrong, Sean. This isn't fair. They don't deserve it."

0:22:320:22:37

I ignore them.

0:22:370:22:39

It is, yes, it's quite a phenomenon. It was Yasser Arafat, of all people,

0:22:400:22:44

who said the history of religious wars

0:22:440:22:46

is the history of people fighting over their imaginary friends.

0:22:460:22:50

It's weird the man who founded the Palestinian movement,

0:22:500:22:53

which is now so bound up with religious extremism,

0:22:530:22:57

was himself rather sceptical about it all.

0:22:570:22:59

The world has hardly come on, let's be honest.

0:22:590:23:02

The interesting thing I know about him, he married a Frenchwoman.

0:23:020:23:05

You wouldn't think that, would you?

0:23:050:23:07

It's not beyond the bounds of reason!

0:23:070:23:10

You'd think - he's very interested in helping his local area -

0:23:100:23:14

he'd choose one of his local women.

0:23:140:23:17

Yes, but the very nature of being a Palestinian meant he had no homeland in which to live,

0:23:170:23:21

so it was quite likely he would choose someone from a homeland where he'd had to reside in exile.

0:23:210:23:26

-And many did in France.

-Or maybe she was just an imaginary wife.

0:23:260:23:31

Or maybe she was just damn hot!

0:23:310:23:34

-She was foxy.

-Foxy, yeah.

0:23:360:23:38

-Was he...

-Was he a pussy hound? I don't know.

0:23:380:23:42

-Why did I say that?

-LAUGHTER

0:23:430:23:47

-APPLAUSE

-Something has gone wrong.

0:23:470:23:50

I'm intrigued to know...

0:23:510:23:53

I'm intrigued to think you thought that was what I was about to say.

0:23:530:23:57

You looked into my eyes and thought, "He's going to say pussy hound.

0:23:570:24:01

"I'll beat him to it. I'll beat him to the punch."

0:24:010:24:04

-Now...

-Is a pussy hound like a liger?

0:24:040:24:08

LAUGHTER

0:24:080:24:11

A cat and a dog together.

0:24:110:24:14

It's actually a dog that a gentleman would send out to find ladies.

0:24:150:24:19

HE WHISTLES

0:24:190:24:21

It's a combination. It's kind of both independent and yet loyal.

0:24:230:24:27

Yes! I like the idea of that. Very good.

0:24:270:24:32

-Now, Candice Bergen, actress.

-Oh, yes.

0:24:320:24:34

-Fond of her?

-She's very, very beautiful.

-Very, very beautiful.

0:24:340:24:39

Didn't have so much an imaginary friend as an imaginary brother.

0:24:390:24:42

-Can you imagine why that might be?

-"It was Charlie McCarthy, wasn't it?"

0:24:420:24:46

-Exactly. The most famous American ventriloquist was...?

-Edgar Bergen.

0:24:460:24:51

-Edgar Bergen. He was a huge star.

-"His lips moved too."

0:24:510:24:55

His puppet was called Charlie McCarthy,

0:24:550:24:57

and in the house he had his own bedroom,

0:24:570:24:59

his own wardrobe, monogrammed clothes,

0:24:590:25:03

and Edgar Bergen's real daughter, Candice, was brought up, basically,

0:25:030:25:07

as Charlie McCarthy's brother, in a rather freakish and extraordinary way.

0:25:070:25:11

It's amazing she's turned out as sane as she is.

0:25:110:25:14

Now, you all have an invention under your benches,

0:25:140:25:17

and we'd like to know what they are. What are we looking at?

0:25:170:25:20

Well, it's some kind of measuring device. Er...

0:25:200:25:24

-We gave it to you for a reason.

-Really?

-Yes. A quality you have.

0:25:240:25:28

-You might be more likely to guess it than others.

-Oh, I see.

0:25:280:25:32

Is it a beard-measuring device?

0:25:320:25:34

I wouldn't call your beard a quality.

0:25:340:25:36

-I mean, it's a lovely beard, but it's not a quality.

-Whoa! Whoa!

0:25:360:25:40

-You've crossed the line, Fry!

-It's a feature.

0:25:400:25:44

-Don't diss the beard.

-It's a charming facial feature.

0:25:440:25:47

It has a musical connection.

0:25:470:25:49

If you were some kind of instrumentalist,

0:25:490:25:51

you might be born, as it were, with limitations that annoy you.

0:25:510:25:55

Ah, wait a minute.

0:25:550:25:56

Is this something which stretches the reach of a pianist?

0:25:560:25:59

Yes. Exactly what it is. Well done.

0:25:590:26:02

APPLAUSE

0:26:020:26:04

Because most people might manage an octave, C to C, kind of thing,

0:26:070:26:11

-and some, as you know, can do C to E.

-I can do C to E.

0:26:110:26:16

-That's a wide reach.

-It is a wide reach.

0:26:160:26:18

So the hand would go in there and you would just undo this thing?

0:26:180:26:22

That's right. And stretch.

0:26:220:26:24

-And then stretch and stretch and stretch like that?

-Yeah.

0:26:240:26:28

-Supposedly it would give you...

-Ouch!

0:26:280:26:30

-So what have you got there, Sean?

-It's a bottle, Stephen.

0:26:310:26:36

-And what do you think it was for?

-For putting stuff in.

0:26:360:26:40

OK. Next, moving on to you, Nina.

0:26:400:26:43

LAUGHTER

0:26:430:26:45

What have you got there?

0:26:450:26:46

"Is this one mine? A suppository for Charlie McCarthy."

0:26:460:26:51

-Do you know, the bizarre thing is, you're not far off.

-Oh, really?

0:26:510:26:54

You can unscrew the bottom.

0:26:540:26:57

You're going to have to help me, Gran. "With my teeth?"

0:26:570:27:00

Help me. "I can't get a grip."

0:27:000:27:03

-Maybe Bill will help.

-You get one of those with a...

0:27:030:27:05

"I can't do it, dear."

0:27:050:27:07

..with Preparation H.

0:27:070:27:10

-Has this been up someone's arse?

-Yes.

0:27:100:27:14

LAUGHTER

0:27:140:27:16

Alan has exactly got it.

0:27:160:27:18

When you get Preparation H,

0:27:180:27:19

you screw a plastic one of those on the top

0:27:190:27:22

and you insert it in your rectum.

0:27:220:27:24

-Out of the holes...

-The dark oil comes out of the holes.

0:27:240:27:27

..comes the haemorrhoid treatment. Exactly right.

0:27:270:27:30

For the treatment of haemorrhoids.

0:27:300:27:32

-So, this unscrews?

-Then you pop in the ointment.

0:27:320:27:35

-The ointment goes in there?

-Then you screw it up.

0:27:350:27:38

-Then you put the thing up your botty.

-Up the old...?

0:27:380:27:41

As you screw it up, the ointment squirts out,

0:27:410:27:43

reaching all the places you need it to reach.

0:27:430:27:45

"It squirts out? Happy days, dear."

0:27:450:27:48

At least half the people on the planet

0:27:480:27:50

will be afflicted with haemorrhoids at some point in their lives.

0:27:500:27:54

-Is it something you could self-medicate?

-Yes.

0:27:540:27:58

You don't need to. You could ask a friend to do it if you wanted.

0:27:580:28:02

Or an imaginary friend.

0:28:020:28:03

I think it would be best, to be perfectly honest.

0:28:030:28:06

What have you got, Alan?

0:28:060:28:08

I've got a pair of glasses that enable me to see into my lap.

0:28:080:28:11

I wonder if they're...

0:28:110:28:13

Because I can read this book, but I'm looking up at you.

0:28:130:28:19

Whilst I'm looking down, I could read and write

0:28:190:28:23

but see straight ahead.

0:28:230:28:25

-Are they for an artist or a painter?

-No, they're more lazy than that.

0:28:250:28:29

They're called lying-down spectacles.

0:28:290:28:32

You can lie in bed, put the book on your chest,

0:28:320:28:34

and you'd be able to read while lying down.

0:28:340:28:36

That's rather elegant.

0:28:360:28:37

That's exactly what you need when you're sunbathing

0:28:370:28:40

so you don't have to hold the book like that. Actually, you can do it.

0:28:400:28:44

Absolutely perfect.

0:28:440:28:45

It doesn't look weird at all, you look great(!)

0:28:450:28:49

If you caught the sun on the mirror, you'd be instantly blinded.

0:28:490:28:53

But it's a surprisingly clear image, isn't it?

0:28:530:28:56

And here I have this little device with a cork on the end.

0:28:560:29:00

It's in the shape of a policeman's whistle, which is a hint,

0:29:000:29:03

because policemen would carry these around with them.

0:29:030:29:07

That's for blowing bubbles.

0:29:070:29:08

It does look like it. There would be a liquid in there.

0:29:080:29:12

The liquid would be salts of ammonia.

0:29:120:29:15

-Oh, smelling salts.

-Smelling salts, exactly!

0:29:150:29:18

This was called the policeman's lady reviver.

0:29:180:29:22

-"I need that, dear."

-You need a lady reviver?

0:29:220:29:25

When a lady fainted in the street, the policeman would whip it out...

0:29:250:29:30

LAUGHTER

0:29:300:29:32

Please! Oh!

0:29:320:29:35

APPLAUSE

0:29:350:29:37

That was them. That was them.

0:29:370:29:41

He would whip it out and wave it under the lady's nose.

0:29:410:29:44

-That would wake her up.

-Under the...woo-hoo!

0:29:440:29:47

Yes. The sharp smell of ammonia, which was in the smelling salts.

0:29:470:29:51

Have you come to a sensible decision as to what your flask is for?

0:29:510:29:55

It's got it written on it if you took the trouble to bloody read it.

0:29:550:30:00

-"Harden Star Hand Grenade."

-Yeah.

0:30:000:30:03

It's a hand grenade, Stephen.

0:30:030:30:06

It's a kind of hand grenade.

0:30:060:30:07

-It's a fire-extinguisher hand grenade.

-It's a water grenade.

0:30:070:30:10

You'd fill it with aqueous solution

0:30:100:30:12

and you'd throw it at a fire.

0:30:120:30:13

That was the idea. You'd throw it. Those are our inventions,

0:30:130:30:17

lots of very imaginative ones,

0:30:170:30:19

and they were kindly lent to us by the Maurice Collins Collection.

0:30:190:30:23

All in beautiful condition.

0:30:230:30:24

Thank you for that and for not breaking them.

0:30:240:30:27

How did Edwin Beard Budding's invention

0:30:270:30:29

affect an army of men with wooden blocks strapped to their feet?

0:30:290:30:33

-Did he invent duckboards?

-No, but at least you're thinking.

0:30:330:30:37

-LAUGHTER

-I mean that in a non-patronising way!

0:30:370:30:41

Nobody knows!

0:30:410:30:43

-He's put up the card backwards.

-LAUGHTER

0:30:430:30:47

Cheapskates - do you just put it on one side?!

0:30:480:30:51

-You cheap...bastards!

-Yeah, that's right, it's their fault(!)

0:30:510:30:56

-No...

-That doesn't count, I put it up the wrong way.

0:30:560:30:59

We do exactly know why.

0:30:590:31:01

There was a profession, which employed many, many people,

0:31:010:31:04

and in order to fulfil their profession,

0:31:040:31:07

they wore blocks on their feet.

0:31:070:31:08

But this invention got rid of the need for these people...

0:31:080:31:11

The periscope.

0:31:110:31:12

No, it's rather weirder than that. There's a hint for you, darlings.

0:31:120:31:15

-Oh. Grass...

-Grass. Yes.

0:31:150:31:19

-How, if you wanted a lawn in olden days...

-SEAN: The roller.

0:31:190:31:24

You'd mow it with a roller?!

0:31:240:31:26

-No, the roller...

-The roller FLATTENS it.

0:31:260:31:28

-Scything.

-You'd scythe it.

0:31:280:31:29

You'd have scythemen in grand country houses,

0:31:290:31:32

and they had...like a golf swing, a very precise action.

0:31:320:31:36

And so the grass was according to how high they were -

0:31:360:31:39

so they'd wear blocks for the higher grass

0:31:390:31:41

and the shorter blocks for the lower grass,

0:31:410:31:43

and they would scythe away.

0:31:430:31:45

And this man, Edwin, invented a little machine

0:31:450:31:49

for sort of cutting the nap of cloth on soldiers' uniforms.

0:31:490:31:52

And he thought, "I wonder if that would work on grass?"

0:31:520:31:55

And he eventually came up with the lawnmower.

0:31:550:31:58

A pretty good invention,

0:31:580:31:59

but actually it altered the world in the most amazing way.

0:31:590:32:02

It allowed football, cricket, all kinds of games to be played.

0:32:020:32:06

Public parks - everybody could suddenly have a lawn.

0:32:060:32:08

So he was rather a human benefactor in a way.

0:32:080:32:12

-And where did he do this?

-In Stroud. Stroud in Gloucestershire.

0:32:120:32:15

-Is he celebrated there?

-Edwin Budding? I'm sure he is, in Stroud.

0:32:150:32:18

I hope there are Stroudians watching.

0:32:180:32:20

Probably up there with Laurie Lee as one of the great Strouders.

0:32:200:32:23

"That's a shame for the men - it's my idea of heaven,

0:32:230:32:27

"a lot of men that can't run away from you very quickly.

0:32:270:32:31

"With blocks on."

0:32:310:32:32

It was a shame for the scythemen, I suppose.

0:32:320:32:36

But, yeah. A happy story. I don't see a downside to that story.

0:32:360:32:39

Apart from the fact that there is a British Lawnmowers Museum -

0:32:390:32:42

a bit depressing.

0:32:420:32:43

The Southport British Lawnmower Museum,

0:32:430:32:46

if you happen to be in Southport, has over 300 exhibits,

0:32:460:32:50

especially for its Lawnmowers of the Rich and Famous.

0:32:500:32:53

Where you are able to look, and possibly even touch, Vanessa Feltz's lawnmower.

0:32:530:32:58

-Not just Vanessa Feltz, Alan Titchmarsh...

-Oh, he'd probably have a really nice one.

0:32:580:33:02

Nicholas Parsons. What sort of lawnmower would he have?

0:33:020:33:05

-Old.

-But heavily made-up.

-Heavily made-up?!

0:33:050:33:08

LAUGHTER A Bakelite one.

0:33:080:33:11

Brian May, Roger McGough, Albert Pierrepoint, the public hangman,

0:33:110:33:14

and Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

0:33:140:33:17

I can't believe they had personal lawnmowers.

0:33:170:33:19

-I don't mow my grass.

-What do you do with it?

-I threaten it.

0:33:190:33:22

-LAUGHTER

-Ah! Does it work?

0:33:220:33:24

It's going very well.

0:33:240:33:27

Cowed it into submission. "Don't you grow...!"

0:33:270:33:31

Anyway - the invention of the lawnmower put

0:33:310:33:33

large numbers of scythemen out to grass, as you might say.

0:33:330:33:37

The inventor of bacon and eggs

0:33:370:33:38

also coined the phrase "torches of freedom".

0:33:380:33:41

Who was he, what were they?

0:33:410:33:43

-Sorry - the inventor of bacon and eggs?!

-I know -

0:33:430:33:46

it sounds a bit mad,

0:33:460:33:47

but bacon and eggs as a dish that is a sort of breakfast staple

0:33:470:33:50

was invented, as it were, by one man. He made it popular.

0:33:500:33:53

"Torches of freedom" is a phrase that he came up with, this same man. His name was Edward Bernays.

0:33:530:33:58

-He happened to be a nephew of Sigmund Freud.

-SEAN: Oh, well...

0:33:580:34:03

LAUGHTER

0:34:030:34:05

He was employed by a food company, and American breakfasts in his day

0:34:050:34:09

were very light - a roll, orange juice, cup of coffee, that was it.

0:34:090:34:13

He collected 5,000 doctors, who basically made testament to the fact

0:34:130:34:17

that a heavy breakfast was better for you than a light breakfast.

0:34:170:34:20

And he basically persuaded America to eat heartily for breakfast,

0:34:200:34:24

and bacon and eggs became the staple.

0:34:240:34:26

And this man is really responsible for what we call public relations.

0:34:260:34:29

Two million deaths by heart disease later...!

0:34:290:34:32

LAUGHTER

0:34:320:34:33

Not only that, but he also got women to smoke.

0:34:330:34:35

There was a real problem...

0:34:350:34:37

LAUGHTER

0:34:370:34:40

Did he encourage that man to jump off the Eiffel Tower as well?!

0:34:400:34:44

There was a real problem in the early 20th century

0:34:440:34:46

for the tobacco companies, in that women just didn't smoke.

0:34:460:34:49

In New York City in the '20s,

0:34:490:34:51

a woman was ARRESTED for smoking outside,

0:34:510:34:53

it was considered totally unfeminine.

0:34:530:34:55

I've seen old photos, when they've clearly said, "Come on, girls..."

0:34:550:34:59

-Well, that's the point...

-Everyone's having a drag at the same moment.

0:34:590:35:02

This is the point - this is a photo opportunity, he invented it. This is his PR moment.

0:35:020:35:07

His job was to sell cigarettes to women,

0:35:070:35:09

and to sell to America the idea that women should smoke.

0:35:090:35:12

So, during an Easter parade, he got these women,

0:35:120:35:15

and photographed them all smoking.

0:35:150:35:18

And it was a scandal, it was on the front page everywhere.

0:35:180:35:21

But what he said was, "This is feminism."

0:35:210:35:23

This was during the suffrage movement in America,

0:35:230:35:25

he said, "This is an act of independence.

0:35:250:35:27

"These cigarettes are not cigarettes,

0:35:270:35:29

"they are torches of freedom."

0:35:290:35:31

-Torches of freedom!

-And so the idea of women smoking

0:35:310:35:34

became a proof of their independence, and of their feminism.

0:35:340:35:39

-"She's set fire to her face."

-She has!

0:35:390:35:43

-Hasn't got the hang of it.

-Not very used to the smoking.

0:35:430:35:46

So he was a pretty cunning devil, this Edward Bernays.

0:35:460:35:52

Right, let's enough invention - let's now turn our attention

0:35:520:35:55

to the very real, but impractical, general ignorance.

0:35:550:35:57

So fingers on buzzers, those that are still working.

0:35:570:36:01

Who invented the internet?

0:36:010:36:03

-Now...

-Now.

0:36:030:36:05

-BELL

-Yes?

-Tim Berners...

0:36:050:36:09

KLAXON

0:36:090:36:11

Fortunately I couldn't remember the name!

0:36:110:36:13

Lucky you couldn't remember his name.

0:36:130:36:16

I think I'm safe with this answer - Parsley the Lion.

0:36:160:36:19

LAUGHTER

0:36:190:36:20

You won't have that up there, will you?

0:36:200:36:23

Wrong, but no forfeit.

0:36:230:36:25

But on this very programme, you were telling the story of how

0:36:250:36:28

Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet.

0:36:280:36:29

Of how he invented the World Wide Web.

0:36:290:36:31

Which is much later than the internet.

0:36:310:36:34

It had been around for 20 years before that.

0:36:340:36:36

It's just one of the things that you can use on the internet.

0:36:360:36:39

-It was actually in the 1960s.

-1960s? One of the Beatles.

0:36:400:36:45

LAUGHTER

0:36:450:36:46

No! That's not quite how things worked.

0:36:460:36:50

ARPANET was the original internet -

0:36:500:36:51

it was an offshoot of the American defence programme,

0:36:510:36:54

and the first communication took place in California,

0:36:540:36:58

and when was that?

0:36:580:36:59

In 1969. Two computers, and they were 400 miles apart, one in LA,

0:36:590:37:05

and one at the Stanford Research Institute.

0:37:050:37:07

And the first message, was "LO".

0:37:070:37:08

And it wasn't going to say "LOL"!

0:37:080:37:12

-LAUGHTER

-It was going to say "LOGIN",

0:37:120:37:14

but crashed after the L and the O. But it was the first worthy attempt.

0:37:140:37:18

Do you use the computer, Gran?

0:37:180:37:21

"Yes, I use it for dating."

0:37:210:37:23

-Do you now?!

-"Oh, yes, I do, yes.

0:37:230:37:26

"I've met a racing driver,

0:37:260:37:28

"and he thinks I'm a 20-year-old lap dancer..."

0:37:280:37:31

-LAUGHTER

-"Happy days!"

0:37:310:37:34

LAUGHTER

0:37:340:37:35

"He's in for a shock!"

0:37:390:37:42

According to Berners-Lee, who did invent the World Wide Web,

0:37:420:37:45

the true fathers of the internet are Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn,

0:37:450:37:48

who invented the internet protocol. So there you are.

0:37:480:37:51

Now, how did dinosaurs have sex?

0:37:510:37:54

LAUGHTER

0:37:540:37:56

You're right!

0:37:570:37:59

You're right. We just don't know.

0:37:590:38:01

APPLAUSE

0:38:010:38:05

You're good at those.

0:38:050:38:07

No extant genitals.

0:38:070:38:11

No soft tissue. It wouldn't necessarily be soft,

0:38:110:38:14

but the soft tissues are the bits that don't survive

0:38:140:38:17

in fossils, of course.

0:38:170:38:18

It's only in the last 15 years they've been able to sex a dinosaur fossil.

0:38:180:38:21

The female dinosaurs have a special sort of cavity

0:38:210:38:24

for making extra calcium for eggs.

0:38:240:38:27

That's how you can tell from a fossil whether it's female or male.

0:38:270:38:30

Obviously, that would be wrong,

0:38:300:38:32

because that would be inter-species dinosaur sex.

0:38:320:38:35

The weirdest kind, and that would be wrong.

0:38:350:38:38

I think he's just looking for a cheap thrill.

0:38:380:38:42

That's not about procreation at all.

0:38:420:38:45

-No, it isn't.

-That is a dinosaur S&M dungeon, that.

0:38:450:38:47

And the best guess is that, like most birds and reptiles,

0:38:490:38:52

dinosaurs had a cloacal sac.

0:38:520:38:55

Oh!

0:38:550:38:56

A single opening for both waste and reproduction.

0:38:560:38:59

-Like sharks.

-Like sharks, exactly.

0:38:590:39:01

And they mated by a cloacal kiss. There we are.

0:39:010:39:04

What are the right conditions for dry rot?

0:39:040:39:08

-Well, it's damp.

-Yes - that's the point.

0:39:080:39:11

-"It's a trick question, dear."

-It's a trick question, yes.

0:39:110:39:15

-Have you ever had dry rot?

-"Only on my face."

0:39:150:39:18

-LAUGHTER

-Lovely.

0:39:180:39:20

-"The latex."

-Lovely news. Dry rot, it needs to be damp.

0:39:200:39:23

What about rising damp?

0:39:230:39:25

The really surprising thing about rising damp -

0:39:250:39:28

can you tell me what that is?

0:39:280:39:30

-It's not damp.

-"It goes down."

0:39:300:39:32

Even more extraordinary than that.

0:39:320:39:36

According to many, many people in the architectural, surveying and building world,

0:39:360:39:40

it doesn't exist. It's madey-uppey.

0:39:400:39:44

-It's mould, it's just mould?

-Well, it's basically normal damp

0:39:440:39:48

which has come from a source, like a leak or something,

0:39:480:39:51

and this idea that you need to put in a damp course, was...

0:39:510:39:54

Many people genuinely say it honestly doesn't exist, yet it's in the building regulations.

0:39:540:39:58

The former chairman of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said it was a myth, rising damp,

0:39:580:40:03

and a building expert says that rising damp is only possible in swamps,

0:40:030:40:08

and that as a diagnosis it only became common in the '60s.

0:40:080:40:12

I'll tell you when you DO see it. I've seen girls in London

0:40:120:40:14

wearing flared jeans going over their shoes...

0:40:140:40:17

-Yes, that's true.

-..on a rainy day, and they get damp almost up to their knees.

0:40:170:40:23

It's not to say that capillary action doesn't exist - it does!

0:40:230:40:26

-Rising damp only exists in ladies' jeans!

-Yes!

0:40:260:40:30

It's a heck of a controversial thought, but a myth.

0:40:300:40:34

Name a disease spread by feral pigeons.

0:40:340:40:37

Erm...bum hair.

0:40:370:40:40

-There aren't any.

-Exactly.

0:40:400:40:42

-There's nothing wrong with them.

-Again, that's it. You're doing awfully well, Alan,

0:40:420:40:47

-you're on fire tonight!

-I'm doing very well!

0:40:470:40:50

Basically, this idea that they are disease-infested

0:40:500:40:54

and disease-spreading vermin is nonsense,

0:40:540:40:57

according to experts on pigeons.

0:40:570:40:59

This thing of them being rats with wings is considered very unfair by those in the know -

0:40:590:41:04

they don't spread that much disease.

0:41:040:41:05

They do leave a fair amount of poo, but then so do humans, don't we?

0:41:050:41:09

We've just got a better way of dealing with it, perhaps.

0:41:090:41:12

I tend not to leave it on people's shoulders.

0:41:120:41:15

Well, that's the difference!

0:41:150:41:18

I mean, I wouldn't say I was well brought up...

0:41:180:41:21

There's a few benchmarks we tried to set early on...

0:41:210:41:26

in my toilet training.

0:41:260:41:28

That was one - never on the shoulder.

0:41:280:41:30

It had a big red "No" through it. It was in my bedroom on the door.

0:41:300:41:34

There's a picture of a man with a turd over his shoulder,

0:41:340:41:38

and it says, "No, Sean!"

0:41:380:41:40

You learnt your lesson, and we're all very tidy poo-ers, I'm sure,

0:41:400:41:45

here in this room, including Granny.

0:41:450:41:48

-"Not at all. Don't even do them, dear. Don't eat, don't excrete."

-Oh!

0:41:480:41:52

That's the secret of a long and happy life.

0:41:520:41:55

And that's your lot. Time to invent the scores.

0:41:550:41:58

Oh, my goodness me! Very exciting. Very exciting indeed.

0:41:580:42:03

I'm afraid, despite some remarkable performances, in last place

0:42:030:42:07

with minus three, it's Bill Bailey.

0:42:070:42:10

APPLAUSE

0:42:100:42:14

And erm, in a very creditable fourth place with one point, Alan Davies.

0:42:150:42:20

APPLAUSE

0:42:200:42:24

Third place with three, Sean Lock.

0:42:260:42:28

APPLAUSE

0:42:280:42:33

In second place with four is Gran!

0:42:330:42:35

"Oh! Very nice."

0:42:350:42:37

APPLAUSE

0:42:370:42:41

Which means that our winner with plus five is Nina Conti!

0:42:410:42:44

APPLAUSE

0:42:440:42:46

My thanks to Bill, Nina, Gran, Sean and Alan,

0:42:500:42:53

and I leave you with this from Sid Caesar.

0:42:530:42:55

The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot.

0:42:550:42:59

The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius. Goodnight.

0:42:590:43:03

APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

0:43:030:43:05

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:190:43:22

E-mail [email protected]

0:43:220:43:25

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