Stephen Fry waxes inventive with Nina Conti, Sean Lock, Bill Bailey and Alan Davies.
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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening.
Welcome to QI, where tonight we'll be putting sliced bread to shame
and reinventing the wheel in a show all about inventions.
Joining me at the lab bench,
we have a world first, Nina Conti and Gran...
..the peculiarly innovative Sean Lock...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..the patently absurd Bill Bailey...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..and I'm afraid it's back to the drawing board, Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
if you have any bright ideas you wish to share,
-activate the light bulb in front of you. Bill goes...
-..and Nina or Gran goes...
-..and Alan goes...
-ELECTRIC CURRENT NOISE
-Er, so you've brought your grandmother with you.
Is she familiar with our rule we have in this series?
We have a "Don't know" rule. We have a 'Nobody Knows' rule.
-There's a joker you have, which is the 'Nobody Knows'...
TANNOY: Nobody knows!
There may be a question to which nobody actually knows the answer.
The answer is, nobody knows. Can she...?
-There you go, Gran.
-"I can hold it."
-Have you got it?
-"It's a bit..."
-She's got a little bit of arthritis in the fingers.
-Do you want me to hold it for you?
-Oh, all right.
"Slap me on the bottom with it, dear.
-"I won't be like that, I'm just excited."
Good. Now, my first question is,
why should you be glad that you didn't invent the flying car,
the parachute suit or the web rotary press?
I've got a feeling that the guy with the parachute suit, didn't he die?
Um...and then it does follow that they all died.
They were all killed by their own inventions.
The inventor of the web rotary press, for example,
which was a huge advance and revolutionised printing,
unfortunately the inventor fell into the works and got gummed up in them and died.
-Yeah. Very sad business.
But it did change printing. He was called William Bullock.
Which bit of it did he fall in?
Well, into the gearing. I can't imagine how he managed it.
A bloke the other day, he went through a machine,
and his whole body went through a tunnel the size of a CD
and he survived.
Was it Ronnie Corbett? LAUGHTER
Yeah. That would explain it.
No, his whole head went in, broke every bone in his body...
-But he did live?
-..to tell the tale.
Unfortunately, though, he is now in a redundant format.
That was the fate of William Bullock.
When it comes to the parachute suit, it was a man called Franz Reichelt, who was an Austrian,
who was convinced he could jump off the Eiffel Tower, this was in 1912, wearing a parachute suit.
People warned him it was not a good idea, but he was utterly confident.
He ripped a page out of a book to test which way the wind was going
and his last words were, "A bientot."
Unfortunately, that was the instruction manual(!)
He jumped off and hit the ground a little bit too hard,
and was dead.
So that was not a good result.
That's not actually an invention, then, is it?
That's just a really stupid thing to do.
Where's the grey area where inventions become...suicide?
It was a parachute suit that might have worked from higher up.
The principle behind it was sound - as we know from parachutes, they do work.
-But he just...
-He invented jumping off things.
He invented jumping off things badly, yeah.
The flying car you ought to know about.
This was a Californian engineer called Henry Smolinski.
-Look at that.
"I can't fly or drive, though,
"because I can't see, because my eyes are marbles.
"But I can point where I want to go, look. There!
"Higher! There's buildings down there.
-"Pull my finger, dear."
You've got a very, very warm finger there, Gran.
"Oh, no, don't say that, dear.
"It'll draw attention to it. Where it's been."
All right, thank you! Thank you!
Thank you, Gran.
On the face of it, it's rather a marvellous idea.
Smolinski's idea was that you drove to an airport, you collected the wings,
you'd fly 500 miles-odd to the next city,
where you'd take the wings off and you would drive off again.
And it worked really well.
Then in 1973, he was on a flight and one of the struts broke
and he and his co-pilot plunged to their death.
The idea was never thought of again. I think it should be brought back.
I thought he would have died when he was in the air
and he got up to go around with the drinks trolley.
-It's simple. It worked with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Did they have two sets of controls?
-You've asked an intelligent question.
Joysticks, and it turns over like in Thunderbirds?
Was it a big switch - "Plane", "Car"?
The car steering was modified so you could fly from the driver's seat,
so it was pretty much all in one.
-So you could steer it with the steering wheel?
-I'd love one of those, wouldn't you?
-I'd love one too.
-"Difficult to park, dear."
-I think it's a brilliant idea.
-I don't like flying.
But I was bought a flying lesson for my 40th birthday.
My entire family clubbed together and bought me a flying lesson.
It was £99.
Your entire family spent £99 on you?
Yeah, on my 40th, so I was in quite a bad mood when I turned up.
Especially as there's 99 of them.
"I have to stay in overhead compartment, don't I, dear?" Yes.
-Oh, that's a bit mean.
You have to open the compartment slowly in case you fall out?
-"I'll fall out and hurt someone, yes, it's tragic."
-It is tragic.
"But I'll keep going. Happy days."
Are you allowed to use the loo?
"No, I don't have any bodily functions, dear.
"I just sit there for comfort, but nothing happens."
Too much information, Gran.
There are all these other grans in the overhead compartments,
crawling about during the flight!
I don't know why you go on the plane. Why don't you just post yourself?
"It's expensive, dear. I'm heavy." That's not true.
I lost her once on a plane, an airline,
which for legal reasons I'm not supposed to name.
Did you have to pay an extra seat for her or an extra cabin area?
"No, unfortunately she's a cheapskate."
That's why I... I don't know.
She's a bit big for hand luggage, so it's a dilemma.
"It's always a risk.
"Would you put your granny in the hold, dear?"
No, I wouldn't.
I have a friend who has one of those micro pigs,
and she puts the pig in hand luggage in the cabin without telling them.
-It's only a pig, isn't it?
-It's one of those tiny pigs.
Are they easy to look after? My wife would love one of those.
You can grow them in special tubes,
so they're triangular and they'll fit in a Toblerone box.
-Is that a Toblerone? "Oink!" No.
Sometimes they grow and grow, and basically you've got a huge pig.
You've just got an actual pig.
What you bought was a piglet.
Imagine being conned by a pig salesman!
It's called buying a pig in a poke. It's a phrase for it.
-Pig salesmen used to be dishonest.
-"Can you say that, Nina?"
What, pig in a poke? "Can I say that?"
Go on, say, "Pig in a poke."
"That's a challenge to a ventriloquist."
-If I say pig in a poke, it's fine.
-You say it, Gran.
-Go on, Gran. "Pig in a poke."
That was impressive!
-How do they do that?
-How do they do that?
-I didn't know it meant that.
A pig in a poke? What's a poke, then?
A poke is a sack. A pocket is a small poke.
-So you haven't seen the pig?
-It could be a dog.
The point is all those inventions tragically killed their inventors.
Which well-known invention is the wickedness which lurks in the belly
and deserves to dwell in the cesspool?
The wickedness which lurks in the belly.
-Do you know...
-We know, because this...yes...
Um...I am a belly speaker.
You are a belly speaker. Ventriloquist.
That's it. You're a tummy speaker.
It was considered to be a possession by demons
if someone could have this voice come from their tummy -
it didn't seem to come out of their mouths - or throw their voice.
There was a Patriarch of Constantinople
by the name of Photius,
who once excommunicated the Pope, and he was the one...
There you are! Have a go. Have a go.
Oh, have we all got these?
-"Pig in a poke."
-I am very impressed.
-The weird thing is...
-ELECTRIC CURRENT NOISE
That puppet is a ventriloquist,
and its lips didn't move when you said that,
so it's operating you, which is fantastic!
It really is a lot...
-"It really is a lot harder than it looks."
-"You've had a stroke, dear."
"He looks like ET."
-No, don't, Gran.
-"I am Bogdan.
"I like you very much.
"You are attractive lady."
"If I start on you, you'll never see the light of day again."
"Come with me. I have Oyster Card."
-"Are you moving your lips?"
Sean, let's see if you can do any better.
-Are you hoping...?
-I'm not moving my lips!
Oh, sorry, it's a left-handed puppet. Sorry!
That's the only thing I tend to do is... HE GROANS
"Pieces of eight. Pieces of eight."
You don't actually have to stretch your mouth.
It's the only way I can do it! I can't do it any other way!
-Oh, I've broken it!
-Oh, Bill Bailey!
"What the hell's he doing?"
0h, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear!
What a wretched disappointment to us all you are.
I can't get the talking to... I can't get the talking to you.
-"You're an idiot."
It's very difficult.
You have to look like you're listening when you're talking.
-You look at her?
-Yes, you have to look like you're listening
when you are in fact talking. It's quite difficult.
"The first rule of show business, make everything look easy." Sorry.
-"Not like this half-wit over here,
-"milking it for all it's worth."
I think...it doesn't matter if your lips move, because surely
this gives the game away.
In those circumstances, yes.
A stick here suggests it's not actually a real thing,
so it doesn't really matter whether my lips move, does it?
"I thought this was a highbrow show."
To make it highbrow...
I'm sure you can help us, Nina, on the history of ventriloquism.
I know that it has a very dark history,
and that ventriloquists used to earn their living
as if their words were divine utterances.
-Yes, that's the point.
I'm so sorry.
I'm sorry. I was listening, but my hand came out of the top.
I shocked myself!
-That's very disturbing.
-It is quite disturbing.
That's horrible. It looks like Alien.
It looks like Lady Gaga's sleeves.
Well, you're absolutely right,
it was regarded as divine utterance, or demonic possession, in fact.
-And I know one woman died from her ventriloquism.
-Who was that?
Um...but I don't know her name. I bet you do.
With her utterances, she was objecting to
-the marriage of Henry VIII...
-To Anne Boleyn.
-To Anne Boleyn.
-Her name was Elizabeth Barton,
and she was known as the Holy Maid of Kent.
She was a very good ventriloquist, and these voices would come
without her mouth moving as if from her stomach.
-"Nice tits, too."
She became very popular until she started to say...
-Look at the bloke looking at her tits as well!
"You've got yours out as well tonight.
"Is that to distract from the lip movement?"
She was very popular until she said that
if Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn, he would be deposed.
Henry VIII didn't like that, so had her head chopped off.
Ironically, her head was put on top of a pole...
-And carried on talking!
-It was quite a strange fate
for a ventriloquist to have their head stuck on a pole.
But she was indeed, she suffered for her art.
But in the 19th century it became known to be a piece of entertainment rather than demonic spirits.
But the first ventriloquists on stage didn't have dummies.
What did they have?
They used to do things like voices inside suitcases.
And then ones who did chimney sweeps,
where there would be a chimney
and the sound of the chimney-sweep boy going up the chimney
and getting more smothered and quieter and distant as he went.
Huge rounds of applause.
But it was a man called Fred Russell who came up with his character, Costa Joe, one of the first dummies.
Was he blind? LAUGHTER
He made that one afternoon.
It's not the most beautiful object you've ever seen, is it?
But that's when the dummies became popular.
There were many, many famous acts.
Some of them, rather bizarrely, on radio.
Educating Archie was one of the most successful
radio comedy shows in BBC radio history.
Peter Brough, there's Peter Brough,
there's Archie, and it was a radio show.
He had the puppet the whole time? He never even,
"What's the point with the puppet?"
It's the show that Tony Hancock first appeared on, in fact.
He made the mistake, Peter Brough, when television arrived, of appearing on television.
He just spoke like this while his puppet was talking.
He didn't even begin to venture towards ventriloquism.
"Nina is a ventriloquist, apparently."
-Nina, are you?
-"I'm yet to see evidence of that."
But my mentor, Ken Campbell, who taught me ventriloquism,
he excited me by saying that people don't say the first thing
that comes into their head, they say the second thing,
and we are all barmier than we let it be known.
"Once your insanity starts to leak, they put you away."
But the ventriloquated doll can allow us access
to the madness of the ventriloquist.
It's a kind of Tourette's, almost.
"Licensed Tourette's, dear."
Licensed Tourette's. That's a very good thing.
Ken Campbell was one of the true great men of the 20th century,
as an entertainer, a director,
a show-maker, actor, comic and ventriloquist.
What happened to his dolls?
Oh, he bequeathed them to me in his will.
-"And I'm one of them, you see?"
-Were you one of Ken Campbell's?
"I was one of his, yes, so I've been recycled."
-There is a doll heaven, isn't there?
-There is a doll heaven.
-We've just made a film about this.
When Ken left me his puppets in his will,
I found this place called Vent Haven in Kentucky
where dummies go to rest. There it is!
Aaaargh! You'd never stop screaming, would you?
-If you're a coulrophobe, you won't be... But that's right...
Over 700 ventriloquists who have died have bequeathed their puppets
to Vent Haven, Kentucky.
-Apart from Gran...
-"No, I'm there, actually."
Who do you reckon has murdered the most?
You're thinking of Chucky in Child's Play, aren't you?
Your classic puppet was a really big, round, blue-eyed sort of thing
with dark eyebrows and a very particular sort of look.
-Do you recognise what that still is from?
-The film Magic.
This story is the classic,
the ventriloquist who gets taken over, gets possessed.
Is there any truth in that? Do ventriloquists get slightly too close?
-Does Keith Harris get...
-A bit too close to Orville?
I can't speak for him.
"No, because you're not that good a ventriloquist."
-I know that I have fallen for my puppets.
"What do you mean, dear?"
I have on stage sometimes looked at Granny and thought,
why aren't you saying anything? This is your line.
Oh, really? That's hilarious.
The madness is starting to kick in.
It must be a wildly schizophrenic profession.
I don't know on what dark night of the soul Keith Harris invented a duck like that.
-"Or a haircut like that!"
-I was going to say!
-As for the shirt, holy smoke!
I love the fact that Orville is in a nappy.
That was odd, wasn't it? A duck in a nappy.
Which was the opposite of Donald Duck,
because he always had his privates out, didn't he?
Yes. Good point. There you go.
-A very good point. A very good point.
I think I made that point excellently.
I'm delighted with that point.
-I'll give you a point for that point.
-The art of ventriloquism has come on leaps and bounds
since back in the good old days.
-You're doing it now!
Speaking of which,
which of you here has, has ever had, or used to have an imaginary friend?
Did you, Gran? Did you have an imaginary friend?
"I think..." I can't say his name!
"I think Bill Bailey - that's a hard one -
"I think you're my imaginary friend. You're slightly out of focus.
"Fuzzy, kind of. And you, Sean..."
That's very strange. My reality is being called into question by...
This is one of the odder conversations I've had, but...
"If your imaginary friend falls over in the forest
"and there's no one to hear, does that...? I can't finish this!"
That's a good philosophical point. We're getting Bishop Berkeley from Gran. I am very impressed.
Did you have one? I mean, lots of children do.
-Did you have an imaginary friend?
-I'm not aware of it.
They didn't used to come round much.
An imaginary friend who never plays with you!
An imaginary friend who counts you dead!
Yeah, I wanted to be his friend, but...
-Ah, that's so sad!
-..he just wasn't interested.
But we're familiar with the concept,
and the fact that a lot of children do seem to have an imaginary friend,
-which can worry their parents.
-It is a really peculiar thing.
They lay places at the table for them, they have seats on sofas to watch television
and they have tea parties for them.
But according to psychiatrists, having an imaginary friend is a very good thing for a child.
Children who've had them tend to have more social and verbal skills than those who don't.
Although, it must be said, a certain proportion of them are malevolent.
Some people have imaginary friends who scare their children, which is a very worrying thought.
A nasty imaginary friend.
-I hear voices.
-But I ignore them and I just carry on killing.
The voices say, "Stop killing people, Sean!"
"You know this is wrong, Sean. This isn't fair. They don't deserve it."
I ignore them.
It is, yes, it's quite a phenomenon. It was Yasser Arafat, of all people,
who said the history of religious wars
is the history of people fighting over their imaginary friends.
It's weird the man who founded the Palestinian movement,
which is now so bound up with religious extremism,
was himself rather sceptical about it all.
The world has hardly come on, let's be honest.
The interesting thing I know about him, he married a Frenchwoman.
You wouldn't think that, would you?
It's not beyond the bounds of reason!
You'd think - he's very interested in helping his local area -
he'd choose one of his local women.
Yes, but the very nature of being a Palestinian meant he had no homeland in which to live,
so it was quite likely he would choose someone from a homeland where he'd had to reside in exile.
-And many did in France.
-Or maybe she was just an imaginary wife.
Or maybe she was just damn hot!
-She was foxy.
-Was he a pussy hound? I don't know.
-Why did I say that?
-Something has gone wrong.
I'm intrigued to know...
I'm intrigued to think you thought that was what I was about to say.
You looked into my eyes and thought, "He's going to say pussy hound.
"I'll beat him to it. I'll beat him to the punch."
-Is a pussy hound like a liger?
A cat and a dog together.
It's actually a dog that a gentleman would send out to find ladies.
It's a combination. It's kind of both independent and yet loyal.
Yes! I like the idea of that. Very good.
-Now, Candice Bergen, actress.
-Fond of her?
-She's very, very beautiful.
-Very, very beautiful.
Didn't have so much an imaginary friend as an imaginary brother.
-Can you imagine why that might be?
-"It was Charlie McCarthy, wasn't it?"
-Exactly. The most famous American ventriloquist was...?
-Edgar Bergen. He was a huge star.
-"His lips moved too."
His puppet was called Charlie McCarthy,
and in the house he had his own bedroom,
his own wardrobe, monogrammed clothes,
and Edgar Bergen's real daughter, Candice, was brought up, basically,
as Charlie McCarthy's brother, in a rather freakish and extraordinary way.
It's amazing she's turned out as sane as she is.
Now, you all have an invention under your benches,
and we'd like to know what they are. What are we looking at?
Well, it's some kind of measuring device. Er...
-We gave it to you for a reason.
-Yes. A quality you have.
-You might be more likely to guess it than others.
-Oh, I see.
Is it a beard-measuring device?
I wouldn't call your beard a quality.
-I mean, it's a lovely beard, but it's not a quality.
-You've crossed the line, Fry!
-It's a feature.
-Don't diss the beard.
-It's a charming facial feature.
It has a musical connection.
If you were some kind of instrumentalist,
you might be born, as it were, with limitations that annoy you.
Ah, wait a minute.
Is this something which stretches the reach of a pianist?
Yes. Exactly what it is. Well done.
Because most people might manage an octave, C to C, kind of thing,
-and some, as you know, can do C to E.
-I can do C to E.
-That's a wide reach.
-It is a wide reach.
So the hand would go in there and you would just undo this thing?
That's right. And stretch.
-And then stretch and stretch and stretch like that?
-Supposedly it would give you...
-So what have you got there, Sean?
-It's a bottle, Stephen.
-And what do you think it was for?
-For putting stuff in.
OK. Next, moving on to you, Nina.
What have you got there?
"Is this one mine? A suppository for Charlie McCarthy."
-Do you know, the bizarre thing is, you're not far off.
You can unscrew the bottom.
You're going to have to help me, Gran. "With my teeth?"
Help me. "I can't get a grip."
-Maybe Bill will help.
-You get one of those with a...
"I can't do it, dear."
..with Preparation H.
-Has this been up someone's arse?
Alan has exactly got it.
When you get Preparation H,
you screw a plastic one of those on the top
and you insert it in your rectum.
-Out of the holes...
-The dark oil comes out of the holes.
..comes the haemorrhoid treatment. Exactly right.
For the treatment of haemorrhoids.
-So, this unscrews?
-Then you pop in the ointment.
-The ointment goes in there?
-Then you screw it up.
-Then you put the thing up your botty.
-Up the old...?
As you screw it up, the ointment squirts out,
reaching all the places you need it to reach.
"It squirts out? Happy days, dear."
At least half the people on the planet
will be afflicted with haemorrhoids at some point in their lives.
-Is it something you could self-medicate?
You don't need to. You could ask a friend to do it if you wanted.
Or an imaginary friend.
I think it would be best, to be perfectly honest.
What have you got, Alan?
I've got a pair of glasses that enable me to see into my lap.
I wonder if they're...
Because I can read this book, but I'm looking up at you.
Whilst I'm looking down, I could read and write
but see straight ahead.
-Are they for an artist or a painter?
-No, they're more lazy than that.
They're called lying-down spectacles.
You can lie in bed, put the book on your chest,
and you'd be able to read while lying down.
That's rather elegant.
That's exactly what you need when you're sunbathing
so you don't have to hold the book like that. Actually, you can do it.
It doesn't look weird at all, you look great(!)
If you caught the sun on the mirror, you'd be instantly blinded.
But it's a surprisingly clear image, isn't it?
And here I have this little device with a cork on the end.
It's in the shape of a policeman's whistle, which is a hint,
because policemen would carry these around with them.
That's for blowing bubbles.
It does look like it. There would be a liquid in there.
The liquid would be salts of ammonia.
-Oh, smelling salts.
-Smelling salts, exactly!
This was called the policeman's lady reviver.
-"I need that, dear."
-You need a lady reviver?
When a lady fainted in the street, the policeman would whip it out...
That was them. That was them.
He would whip it out and wave it under the lady's nose.
-That would wake her up.
Yes. The sharp smell of ammonia, which was in the smelling salts.
Have you come to a sensible decision as to what your flask is for?
It's got it written on it if you took the trouble to bloody read it.
-"Harden Star Hand Grenade."
It's a hand grenade, Stephen.
It's a kind of hand grenade.
-It's a fire-extinguisher hand grenade.
-It's a water grenade.
You'd fill it with aqueous solution
and you'd throw it at a fire.
That was the idea. You'd throw it. Those are our inventions,
lots of very imaginative ones,
and they were kindly lent to us by the Maurice Collins Collection.
All in beautiful condition.
Thank you for that and for not breaking them.
How did Edwin Beard Budding's invention
affect an army of men with wooden blocks strapped to their feet?
-Did he invent duckboards?
-No, but at least you're thinking.
-I mean that in a non-patronising way!
-He's put up the card backwards.
Cheapskates - do you just put it on one side?!
-Yeah, that's right, it's their fault(!)
-That doesn't count, I put it up the wrong way.
We do exactly know why.
There was a profession, which employed many, many people,
and in order to fulfil their profession,
they wore blocks on their feet.
But this invention got rid of the need for these people...
No, it's rather weirder than that. There's a hint for you, darlings.
-How, if you wanted a lawn in olden days...
-SEAN: The roller.
You'd mow it with a roller?!
-No, the roller...
-The roller FLATTENS it.
-You'd scythe it.
You'd have scythemen in grand country houses,
and they had...like a golf swing, a very precise action.
And so the grass was according to how high they were -
so they'd wear blocks for the higher grass
and the shorter blocks for the lower grass,
and they would scythe away.
And this man, Edwin, invented a little machine
for sort of cutting the nap of cloth on soldiers' uniforms.
And he thought, "I wonder if that would work on grass?"
And he eventually came up with the lawnmower.
A pretty good invention,
but actually it altered the world in the most amazing way.
It allowed football, cricket, all kinds of games to be played.
Public parks - everybody could suddenly have a lawn.
So he was rather a human benefactor in a way.
-And where did he do this?
-In Stroud. Stroud in Gloucestershire.
-Is he celebrated there?
-Edwin Budding? I'm sure he is, in Stroud.
I hope there are Stroudians watching.
Probably up there with Laurie Lee as one of the great Strouders.
"That's a shame for the men - it's my idea of heaven,
"a lot of men that can't run away from you very quickly.
"With blocks on."
It was a shame for the scythemen, I suppose.
But, yeah. A happy story. I don't see a downside to that story.
Apart from the fact that there is a British Lawnmowers Museum -
a bit depressing.
The Southport British Lawnmower Museum,
if you happen to be in Southport, has over 300 exhibits,
especially for its Lawnmowers of the Rich and Famous.
Where you are able to look, and possibly even touch, Vanessa Feltz's lawnmower.
-Not just Vanessa Feltz, Alan Titchmarsh...
-Oh, he'd probably have a really nice one.
Nicholas Parsons. What sort of lawnmower would he have?
-But heavily made-up.
LAUGHTER A Bakelite one.
Brian May, Roger McGough, Albert Pierrepoint, the public hangman,
and Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
I can't believe they had personal lawnmowers.
-I don't mow my grass.
-What do you do with it?
-I threaten it.
-Ah! Does it work?
It's going very well.
Cowed it into submission. "Don't you grow...!"
Anyway - the invention of the lawnmower put
large numbers of scythemen out to grass, as you might say.
The inventor of bacon and eggs
also coined the phrase "torches of freedom".
Who was he, what were they?
-Sorry - the inventor of bacon and eggs?!
-I know -
it sounds a bit mad,
but bacon and eggs as a dish that is a sort of breakfast staple
was invented, as it were, by one man. He made it popular.
"Torches of freedom" is a phrase that he came up with, this same man. His name was Edward Bernays.
-He happened to be a nephew of Sigmund Freud.
-SEAN: Oh, well...
He was employed by a food company, and American breakfasts in his day
were very light - a roll, orange juice, cup of coffee, that was it.
He collected 5,000 doctors, who basically made testament to the fact
that a heavy breakfast was better for you than a light breakfast.
And he basically persuaded America to eat heartily for breakfast,
and bacon and eggs became the staple.
And this man is really responsible for what we call public relations.
Two million deaths by heart disease later...!
Not only that, but he also got women to smoke.
There was a real problem...
Did he encourage that man to jump off the Eiffel Tower as well?!
There was a real problem in the early 20th century
for the tobacco companies, in that women just didn't smoke.
In New York City in the '20s,
a woman was ARRESTED for smoking outside,
it was considered totally unfeminine.
I've seen old photos, when they've clearly said, "Come on, girls..."
-Well, that's the point...
-Everyone's having a drag at the same moment.
This is the point - this is a photo opportunity, he invented it. This is his PR moment.
His job was to sell cigarettes to women,
and to sell to America the idea that women should smoke.
So, during an Easter parade, he got these women,
and photographed them all smoking.
And it was a scandal, it was on the front page everywhere.
But what he said was, "This is feminism."
This was during the suffrage movement in America,
he said, "This is an act of independence.
"These cigarettes are not cigarettes,
"they are torches of freedom."
-Torches of freedom!
-And so the idea of women smoking
became a proof of their independence, and of their feminism.
-"She's set fire to her face."
-Hasn't got the hang of it.
-Not very used to the smoking.
So he was a pretty cunning devil, this Edward Bernays.
Right, let's enough invention - let's now turn our attention
to the very real, but impractical, general ignorance.
So fingers on buzzers, those that are still working.
Who invented the internet?
Fortunately I couldn't remember the name!
Lucky you couldn't remember his name.
I think I'm safe with this answer - Parsley the Lion.
You won't have that up there, will you?
Wrong, but no forfeit.
But on this very programme, you were telling the story of how
Tim Berners-Lee invented the internet.
Of how he invented the World Wide Web.
Which is much later than the internet.
It had been around for 20 years before that.
It's just one of the things that you can use on the internet.
-It was actually in the 1960s.
-1960s? One of the Beatles.
No! That's not quite how things worked.
ARPANET was the original internet -
it was an offshoot of the American defence programme,
and the first communication took place in California,
and when was that?
In 1969. Two computers, and they were 400 miles apart, one in LA,
and one at the Stanford Research Institute.
And the first message, was "LO".
And it wasn't going to say "LOL"!
-It was going to say "LOGIN",
but crashed after the L and the O. But it was the first worthy attempt.
Do you use the computer, Gran?
"Yes, I use it for dating."
-Do you now?!
-"Oh, yes, I do, yes.
"I've met a racing driver,
"and he thinks I'm a 20-year-old lap dancer..."
"He's in for a shock!"
According to Berners-Lee, who did invent the World Wide Web,
the true fathers of the internet are Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn,
who invented the internet protocol. So there you are.
Now, how did dinosaurs have sex?
You're right. We just don't know.
You're good at those.
No extant genitals.
No soft tissue. It wouldn't necessarily be soft,
but the soft tissues are the bits that don't survive
in fossils, of course.
It's only in the last 15 years they've been able to sex a dinosaur fossil.
The female dinosaurs have a special sort of cavity
for making extra calcium for eggs.
That's how you can tell from a fossil whether it's female or male.
Obviously, that would be wrong,
because that would be inter-species dinosaur sex.
The weirdest kind, and that would be wrong.
I think he's just looking for a cheap thrill.
That's not about procreation at all.
-No, it isn't.
-That is a dinosaur S&M dungeon, that.
And the best guess is that, like most birds and reptiles,
dinosaurs had a cloacal sac.
A single opening for both waste and reproduction.
-Like sharks, exactly.
And they mated by a cloacal kiss. There we are.
What are the right conditions for dry rot?
-Well, it's damp.
-Yes - that's the point.
-"It's a trick question, dear."
-It's a trick question, yes.
-Have you ever had dry rot?
-"Only on my face."
-Lovely news. Dry rot, it needs to be damp.
What about rising damp?
The really surprising thing about rising damp -
can you tell me what that is?
-It's not damp.
-"It goes down."
Even more extraordinary than that.
According to many, many people in the architectural, surveying and building world,
it doesn't exist. It's madey-uppey.
-It's mould, it's just mould?
-Well, it's basically normal damp
which has come from a source, like a leak or something,
and this idea that you need to put in a damp course, was...
Many people genuinely say it honestly doesn't exist, yet it's in the building regulations.
The former chairman of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said it was a myth, rising damp,
and a building expert says that rising damp is only possible in swamps,
and that as a diagnosis it only became common in the '60s.
I'll tell you when you DO see it. I've seen girls in London
wearing flared jeans going over their shoes...
-Yes, that's true.
-..on a rainy day, and they get damp almost up to their knees.
It's not to say that capillary action doesn't exist - it does!
-Rising damp only exists in ladies' jeans!
It's a heck of a controversial thought, but a myth.
Name a disease spread by feral pigeons.
-There aren't any.
-There's nothing wrong with them.
-Again, that's it. You're doing awfully well, Alan,
-you're on fire tonight!
-I'm doing very well!
Basically, this idea that they are disease-infested
and disease-spreading vermin is nonsense,
according to experts on pigeons.
This thing of them being rats with wings is considered very unfair by those in the know -
they don't spread that much disease.
They do leave a fair amount of poo, but then so do humans, don't we?
We've just got a better way of dealing with it, perhaps.
I tend not to leave it on people's shoulders.
Well, that's the difference!
I mean, I wouldn't say I was well brought up...
There's a few benchmarks we tried to set early on...
in my toilet training.
That was one - never on the shoulder.
It had a big red "No" through it. It was in my bedroom on the door.
There's a picture of a man with a turd over his shoulder,
and it says, "No, Sean!"
You learnt your lesson, and we're all very tidy poo-ers, I'm sure,
here in this room, including Granny.
-"Not at all. Don't even do them, dear. Don't eat, don't excrete."
That's the secret of a long and happy life.
And that's your lot. Time to invent the scores.
Oh, my goodness me! Very exciting. Very exciting indeed.
I'm afraid, despite some remarkable performances, in last place
with minus three, it's Bill Bailey.
And erm, in a very creditable fourth place with one point, Alan Davies.
Third place with three, Sean Lock.
In second place with four is Gran!
"Oh! Very nice."
Which means that our winner with plus five is Nina Conti!
My thanks to Bill, Nina, Gran, Sean and Alan,
and I leave you with this from Sid Caesar.
The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot.
The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius. Goodnight.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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