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This programme contains some strong language.
Good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening,
good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening,
and welcome to QI.
Tonight...we are musing on the medieval and the macabre.
Joining me in the Dark Ages are King of the Castle, David Mitchell!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Queen of the May, Julia Zemiro!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Lord of the Manor, Matt Lucas.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And a knight on the tiles, Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And their buzzers are all very much connected with middle age.
It's the Middle Ages, all right. Matt goes...
And Alan goes...
Dear Sir, why, oh, why, oh, why must we always have endless monks
chanting on the BBC?
Which of these did they not have in the Middle Ages?
-They didn't have Iron...
-I am aware there is a group.
The most medieval thing seems that thing with the spikes that you put
someone in. That'll be the thing they didn't actually have then.
You are absolutely right!
The iron maiden, as you say, that sort of sarcophagus with spikes,
they weren't even thought of, or imagined, until 1793.
Oh, I was going to say, I thought they were invented by Paul Daniels or someone.
The Spanish Inquisition, must be the Spanish Inquisition.
They weren't used in the Spanish Inquisition
because they weren't invented until 1793, which was...
My favourite one from the Spanish Inquisition...
was they put a pole up your anus,
and they do it in such a way that it
avoids all of your vital organs and comes out by your shoulder.
And then just leave you there for people to look at.
I like the first part of that.
Actual poles, not a Polish gentleman, it is
-an actual pole.
Less keen, less keen.
-I thought an iron maiden was a chastity belt.
They call that a chastity belt.
So, they didn't ever exist?
Well, in 1793,
an archaeologist by the name of Johann Siebenkees gave an account of one, which was a hoax.
And then 100 years or so later, a guy called Matthias Pfau, had one
installed in Kyburg, his Swiss castle, as a visitor attraction.
It became the prototype for all the other iron maidens that were
used in museums and movies.
So they hadn't really been used as a method of torture.
No, that's what I mean. They were just a hoax for centuries.
-IN COCKNEY ACCENT:
-"Here's one for you. Here's one for you."
-What a weird hoax.
Actually, if you think about it,
what they wanted to do in the Middle Ages is find a way of killing
people as gradually as possible, which is essentially...
Because it is going to kill them immediately,
and you don't even get to see it happening.
And they don't recant their heresy or whatever it is they were guilty of.
Yeah, they hadn't invented Perspex until 1974.
It would be a dead giveaway they weren't medieval
if they had a Perspex front.
Made by the people who brought you stripper heels.
If we go back to my little manuscript word cloud,
maybe the other ones didn't exist in medieval times.
There wasn't much cardboard about.
If there were greeting cards, they wouldn't have been...
-Not big readers, either, not many people could read.
But in fact, there were single sheet woodcuts
found from the mid-15th century, with pictures on them,
wishing the recipient a very good year, even.
-It seems a rather modern idea.
But those banderoles with the little bubbles were very popular.
And they would say things, not, "Sorry you've been unwell,"
but things like, "A very good year." So they did exist.
What else might have existed, or did exist, in that era?
Sweet-and-sour sauce, definitely.
Yes, they called it sour-sweet, in fact. Aigre-doux.
And they used vinegar and sugar, cinnamon, orange, onions.
Whatever they could get their hands on.
Didn't they use onions to sweeten things?
Onions do contain more sugar than sugar beets,
as long as you cook them.
-Hence the caramelised...you know.
-They are a bit oniony, though, as well.
They can be sweet,
but you wouldn't want too many puddings being that oniony.
It's true, they're not that sweet. Because if you ever go to the freezer
and you go for a Mini Milk, and you've left a bag of onion rings
next to the Mini Milks in the freezer...
It doesn't taste too nice.
The Mini Milks taste a bit oniony.
IN AMERICAN ACCENT: What I do when I, you know,
slow roast a belly of pork is I take
an onion, a large onion,
and the juices from the pork go down, and the onion roasts,
and it is so sweet, it is... I swear you'll believe
you're eating...a Haribo..Har...
-Are you possessed at the moment?
We'll find a medieval cure for it.
During the Spanish Inquisition, they put a Mini Milk up your arse...
-What is a Mini Milk?
-What is a Mini Milk?
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
Is it one of those sweets that looks like a tiny bottle of milk?
-No, it's an ice cream on a stick, basically.
-It is basically...
When you want a Magnum and your mum won't buy you a Magnum,
-you get a Mini Milk.
-And you keep those with onion rings?
-No, I didn't!
I have separate shelves. You've got to keep sweet... Put me on camera.
-You've got to keep...
You've got to keep sweet and savoury separate in freezers,
guys, come on!
Mini Milks are nice. They are like, I don't know, if you can't get a Sparkle,
-get a Mini Milk, I don't know.
-What's a Sparkle?
-What's your ice cream of choice?
-I used to like Mivvis when I was a boy.
-That's the point! Now I'm an adult!
-I eat olives.
And I eat cheese.
-This has all gone very weird.
-You started it.
We are a long way... I want to live in the Middle Ages now,
because they seem to have grown-up food.
Question from the floor, Mr Fry. What is a prefab?
Oh, don't you have those in Australia?
-I don't know.
-It means a sort of modular building that is made outside
the site and then brought to it and assembled.
It is associated with low-cost housing.
-The Duchess of Cambridge grew up in one.
Because she grew up on an estate.
I just like the fact that people think she was common as muck.
-William the Conqueror had prefabs, didn't he?
Didn't they bring prefab castles over with...
Not the Normandy landings, the other way round.
The Hasting landings. They brought...
Because all the plug sockets are different here,
and they wanted their own...
An example of prefab housing that we have is the Vikings, in fact,
who, when they invaded Orkney, found there was virtually nowhere to live,
and so they came back with supplies, on longboats, of prefab little houses.
And that's presumably where Vikings got the idea of flat-pack...
Have you noticed that the current Vikings have decided
-it should be described as "ickier", not IKEA.
-It is ridiculous.
-As in, "more icky"?
-"More icky", yes.
There is a voice-over now that goes on about "ickier".
-Oh, they can fick off, then.
That leaves us, I think, with official commemorative merchandise.
Would that be if you went to...
They used to be very keen on seeing a rotting old bit of a saint.
Very much so. If you were medieval, there was
one saint who was more or less contemporary, who was a martyr.
And they would stop off at this cathedral where he was murdered,
-famously. Who would that be?
-Points! Solid points. In the 12th century, Thomas Becket was killed by Henry II.
And they immediately tried to sell his blood,
and that ran out rather quickly, so they diluted it.
But also they sold little swords, little simulacra of the sword that
had stabbed him, and you could buy one of those. And it was official.
-It was, as it were, stamped.
-It's still got a shop in the cathedral.
The Middle Ages, in fact, featured lots of very useful inventions,
but tell me, what has been called "the wickedest, silliest,
"most insane and most disastrous book in world literature?"
-The Liar by Stephen Fry.
-It probably is.
That would be a very sensible guess.
And in the interests of balance, The Da Vinci Code also.
These self-help books.
The books that say,
"If you just change the way you think, you'll be fine."
I mean, you know, everyone has got a mood board for something.
So, maybe there was a medieval mood board of some kind.
You're right to mention the medieval era,
-because it was a book of the 15th century.
-Foxe's Book Of Martyrs.
No, that was a little later. But let me give you its title.
Malleus Maleficorum. MeleficARUM, I beg your pardon.
That's the point. If you know your Latin, that means...
Malleus, does it...? If you take the US off
-and put a T...
-Mallet. Hammer. Malleus is hammer.
Timmy Mallett's autobiography.
Sorry, I'm bringing the tone down, I know.
Is it... Mal... Is that like "the bad-doing hammer" thing?
It is "of the". That's genitive.
Come on, boy, that's genitive.
So, it is "the hammer of...the bad-doing people."
But the "arum", not "orum", tells you it's bad...
-Bad-doing women and their hammer!
The hammer of. I want to be the hammer of them. I want to beat them down.
-The crazy Witches of Eastwick.
-You said it. You said it. We got there.
-We're supposed to hammer them?
-The hammer of the witches is what that means.
-So it's not... They don't own the hammer.
-We own the hammer and we hammer away at them.
I am more confused than when I talked about Mini Milk. I...
We had a Latin parsing essay in which The Malleus Maleficarum turned out to mean The Hammer of Witches...
-..the way to beat witches, and this was a textbook about how to destroy
and find witches. It was strange because it was mid-15th century.
In the mid-15th century, the Church banned belief in witches.
So this wasn't a time of witch burnings or anything of the nature
but the very nature of the success of the book meant that a slow
movement grew in which witches should be found, burned and tortured.
This book was therefore called the silliest, most wicked book written
because it made appalling claims about women, that for example,
-that they dispossessed men of their penises.
They would take their penises, put them on a tray and the penises would
wander around of their own volition eating...eating oats and corn.
-Not maize corn.
-With a simple pecking motion.
Or with a suction.
-How would they do it?
-There's a theory.
Do you know the theory about the witch's broomstick,
about how it might have developed?
Yeah, they put it up your anus...
It's funny you should say that
-cos, yes, they put them up their anus.
You may say, why would a woman stick a broomstick up her botty?
I'm so glad we're having this conversation.
But anyway, the point is there is a substance that has been accused,
if you like, throughout history, of being behind a lot of episodes
of mass hysteria and hallucination and so on
and the substance is called ergot.
-Have you heard of ergot?
-No. Where can you get it?
You can get it if you live near a field of rye.
Where rye grows. It is a fungus that grows on rye.
Its spores can be breathed in and it is not unlike lysergic acid,
which is the L of LSD, and it causes weird trips.
Now, with any drug there are different ways of ingesting it.
-Or on a broomstick up your arse.
..intravenously or in a suppository form.
-So one way would be to take it and to grease up your...
-I'm not making this up.
-Grease up your pole with ergot.
Grease up your pole and scatter it with bits of ergot and then, "Whoo!"
And you only... You feel like you're flying.
That's basically it. You then get your...
What does that mean? How much ergot are those kids at Hogwarts getting through?
-It's not appropriate to encourage that kind of drug taking in the young.
And there is another theory that it was actually intra-vaginal
-rather than intra-anal... JULIA:
..so that it was covered on the broom and then it went smoothly up.
I can't see anything smooth about this at all.
-I don't know.
Do you want to apply it, do you? Do that yourself?!
You'd be a great gynaecologist, though, Stephen
cos because you're very calm the way you're explaining everything.
Let's get more decent here. What did old Mummy Pettigrew do?
-Is there a clue in the picture?
-No. The picture is there to deceive.
-The key is in the M word, this being the M series.
-Was she a Mother Superior of a nunnery?
-No, she wasn't.
-Was she a Morrissey fan?
-This could take a long time, couldn't it?
-Yes, it could.
-I'm assuming she wasn't a dead Egyptian.
Ah, no, SHE wasn't.
-All right, Mummy Pettigrew - not female.
If I was very interested in beetles, you might call me Beetle Fry,
and if I was very interested in mummies, you might call me Mummy Fry,
so, Mummy Pettigrew...
..was a Mr Pettigrew who was obsessed with Egyptology.
-On the money.
And here you are, exactly, and there is a picture of him.
He was quite well-known.
He was Thomas "Mummy" Pettigrew.
He was a 19th-century anatomist, and what he would do,
he would issue invitations,
cos this was a period in which mummies were coming into Britain
from all over - mostly Egypt, obviously, but North Africa, too,
and other places where mummification was what happened.
-We went and robbed the world.
-We robbed the world.
It was a pretty awful kind of cultural violation that went on,
-there, I'm afraid, but...
-Not like the British to do that,
-through history, is it?
-and it was...
-It was a big deal in America,
-and France almost invented Egyptology.
-All right, hang on.
Well, all the countries of Europe, essentially -
the powers, as they were known in the 19th century -
loved Egyptology, and these mummies would come in,
and rather than unrolling them carefully in the British Museum,
these were public events and Pettigrew was the chief of it.
You would pay to see a mummy unrolled for the first time.
You had no idea what you'd see inside.
-That'd be amazing.
-And there were hundreds of them coming in, yeah,
and the more you paid, the closer to the mummy you got,
-and some of them were so popular that...
-People were betting.
"Will it be a dead body? Will it be a robot?" You know.
-Yeah, or someone going, "At last!"
There was an Egyptologist called George Gliddon, who, in 1850,
proudly unrolled, before his paying public, a princess.
IN AMERICAN ACCENT: Cos he'd been able to read the hieroglyphs
and tell that this was important - a princess.
He unrolled the mummy and this huge, great todger poked out,
so it was quite clear he wasn't exactly right.
It was clear that he wasn't yet dead.
And there was one occasion where the Archbishop of Canterbury was
pushed out cos the press of people was so great
that he couldn't even get a view.
These were very popular events,
and one of the greatest fans of them was the Duke of Hamilton,
who loved these things.
He became very obsessed,
and asked Pettigrew that he might be mummified, himself, when he died.
Although he looks younger in that picture than Pettigrew, I suppose...
Was that him with his wife?
Well, anyway, when he died, he was duly mummified
-by Thomas "Mummy" Pettigrew...
..and they rather got the proportions wrong of the sarcophagus
in which he was going to be placed as a mummy,
and so they had to cut his feet off.
Did they put his feet in a little shoebox?
-I'd like to be mummified.
I mean, obviously,
-once I'm dead, but I would...
-Yeah, I was going to say.
It'd be good, cos I'd look like the Michelin man,
cos you know... It'd be nice. It'd be nice.
Let's see if we can guess where the northernmost mummies were found.
That's not eccentrics like the Duke of Hamilton,
who asked to be mummied,
-but proper mummified creatures according...
No, a little further south than Wigan, but certainly north.
Ian McNeice. I think I'm right in saying Michael Parkinson.
-Barnsley is right. That's right, Barnsley.
Now, why would there be found ancient mummies in Barnsley in 300AD?
There was no room in the car park in Leicester.
No, who was stationed and garrisoned in Britain?
-Oh, was it Egyptian Romans?
-North African, yes, who observed mummification...
..and they are the furthest north
-of any mummied remains.
-They were in the Roman army?
They mummified folk?
Either as conscripts, or, you know mercenaries, I don't know.
Were there, sort of, British legionaries in Egypt
who played bagpipes?
So, we went all the way to Egypt and ransacked the pyramids
and then we had some in Barnsley?
It was a bit of a surprise.
Can't ransack Yorkshire, though, can you? They won't have it.
Was it a certain class of people only that were mummified?
-Was that the, like...?
-No, actually, one of the most beautiful things
you could see when you go up the Nile, if you do,
is, there's the Valley of the Kings,
but behind it is the Valley of the Artisans and Artists,
and they're the most touchingly extraordinary ones because they were
the artists and artisans who worked on the great tombs of the Pharaohs.
I guess, if you had the art, you could do it yourself.
-IN NORTHERN ACCENT:
-Hilda, get to t'mummy.
Enough. Mummy Pettigrew was very much a mummy's boy.
Now, for a mile-high question -
how do you get a whole row of seats to yourself
on a Virgin Airways flight?
Oh, if you're really fat.
That would... Yeah, I think they might be able to get rid of an arm...
but I don't think they'd let you on if you were any fatter.
-No, but, like, really fat. Oh, I see what you mean.
-Is the right answer. You'd have to die.
You can't... I mean, you can't make people sit next to the dead.
That's... That's the truth, isn't it?
Basically, I think that would be what it was,
and if you're flying, say, from London to New York,
if you're near enough, and someone dies,
you'd turn around and all the other passengers would be going,
"Oh, really! Please, have some consideration."
But once you've passed that point of no return, as they call it,
then there's nothing you can do, except go on to New York.
But what if the plane's full?
-Do they keep a row for the dead, just in case?
And, in which case, if they keep a row for the dead,
-what if two people die?
-There's always a row at the back...
Exactly, if there's an outbreak of sickness.
-..and the crew use it for having a kip.
-Oh, that's true.
-What it means is the crew will then have to be awake.
The dead bloke - that'll piss him off.
Does it happen a lot, though?
Oh, now, this is what's interesting.
British Airways have about ten deaths a year in flight.
Well, that food is just...
And amongst the 36 million passengers,
so if you extrapolate out to the rather amazing 3.5 billion passengers
that fly every year, that means there must be around 1,000 deaths a year,
and different airlines have different ways of doing it.
Singapore Airlines have a corpse cupboard.
I don't know why it's funny, but it is.
-So no-one need even know there's a dead person.
-"Oh, I'm sorry."
-It's all so Fawlty Towers, isn't it?
If I ever die on the plane,
I should like to be stored in the overhead lockers.
-For the rest of time.
British Airways, though, you get a good deal if you die,
because you go to first class.
One long established steward said,
"Many years ago, we used to give them a vodka and tonic,
"a Daily Mail and eyeshades, and tell the passengers they were fine.
"We don't do that any more." Yeah, I think...
It's bad enough being dead
-but having to hold the Daily Mail?!
-The Daily Mail!
Oh, trash! APPLAUSE
The Daily Mail and other newspapers, not just the Daily Mail,
when they talk about their circulation,
they are also including the newspapers that they give away
..and so I don't think the airlines or any of those
kind of institutions actually pay for the newspapers.
-So it's mainly...
-The Daily Mail is mainly dead people on aeroplanes.
But they are...
The dead are very, very right-wing.
Oh, that is true.
When do you think - I'll give you five years either way -
was the first airline stewardess?
I think 200 years before the first aeroplane,
and I think it was a weird pointless scheme by a futurologist,
who just went up and down a field with a trolley,
asking the cattle, "Drink, sir?"
-I'm going much earlier.
I'm going to say 1924.
Ooh, you're so close.
-There she is, Ellen Church.
The very first. She wanted to be a pilot but she wasn't allowed.
She and her colleagues, who were all nurses,
were known as "sky girls", in those early days.
That was United, as you can see - United Airlines.
Their duties included screwing down loose seats -
not loo-seats, loose seats -
-helping to fuel the plane...
..and pushing the plane into its hangar at the end of the journey.
-All that and flogging the perfume, as well...
..and the scratchcards,
and going up and down with a bin liner saying, "Is that rubbish?"
I don't think they sell scratchcards on aeroplanes.
Not on the ones you go on, Stephen, but, yes, they do.
I would say a scra... a lottery card on an aeroplane,
you do not want to sell something when your chances of winning
are so much less than your chances of dying on that aeroplane.
So, good, now,
how would this man make your mouth water?
Oh, old Captain Saliva.
Is the stick relevant?
-Hit you in the nuts with his walking stick.
Maybe if I told you his name, it might help.
Hang on, now dogs have appeared - walking sticks and dogs.
-His name was Ivan...
-Pavlov, as someone shouted in the audience.
-Oh, Pavlov's dogs.
-So how would he make drool appear?
By ringing a bell.
Wrong! BELL RINGS
You said it.
Thank you for saying it.
-Your fault, "Pavlov."
-You see, it's so unfair.
-You led me astray there.
-Would he make a pavlova?
-Did he invent that as well?
-No, that was Anna Pavlova.
Anna Pavlova, yes, exactly.
They'd feed the dogs and they'd do something, well,
they'd ring a bell, wouldn't they?
And then the dogs would think the food was coming
and then they would get all excited.
That is what we think of when we thought of Pavlov and his dogs.
They were trained to recognise particular bells.
When he rang the bell, they would start immediately to salivate
because dogs salivate when they're about to eat because it helps
them digest but the weird thing is, he did everything except ring bells.
He did things that showed the extraordinary
sophistication of dogs' hearing.
They could distinguish between rhythms of
96 and 104 beats per minute,
so if he gave 104 beats per minute on a metronome,
there would be no food, 96, there would be food.
A day later he would go 96, they'd drool.
He tried also ascending and descending musical scales.
If a scale was going up,
they're going to eat, it was going down, they weren't going to eat.
All that and he could've just rung a bell.
Followers of Pavlov used bells but he didn't.
Is this a sort of victory of the journalist who reported it?
"It's like he rang a bell?" "No, no, there's a metronome."
"You know, basically he rang a bell."
And then they just reported it as a bell.
But do you want to know the weird thing?
Yes, I do, I want to know the weird thing.
In 1904, he became the first ever Russian to win...
the NO-BELL prize.
I've always wondered why it was called that.
He became a Nobel laureate for his contribution to medicine,
particularly to digestion and so on.
And he decided to sell gastric juices of dogs
and I suppose his name was helpful.
And he felt that these would help people as
a digestive cure of some kind.
So you would drink the gastric juice of a dog to help your own
He would stick a catheter in a poor dog, up into its tummy to milk it
of its gastric juices and, yeah, he sold them.
We've got a picture of a dog giving his all here.
It's only a drawing!
So, if you think Pavlov rings a bell, you're barking.
Now, Matt, what's dense, slimy, lives at the bottom of the sea
-and is called...?
He's a very strong swimmer, isn't he?
Matt, what's dense, slimy, lives at the bottom of the sea
and is called Matt?
And called Matt? Is it just a mat?
-It's a mat.
-So I AM clever.
Is it some kind of sea vegetable?
It's...it's...it's sea life, sea matter that's cohered.
-How big would it be, the mat?
Huge, huge, hundreds of thousands of square miles.
Certainly the biggest we know of, it's about the size of Greece.
-There you are, you see.
-You see. You ARE clever.
It's not in Greece or near Greece, it's off the coast of Peru and Chile.
Oh, look at David Walliams.
No, don't stop, carry on.
It's microbial. It's a whole load of microbes.
So many of them that they can create this matter that's thick and...
-Mat matter, exactly.
Don't say anything bad about them because we owe the photosynthesis
and the oxygen-rich nature of our own atmosphere to these.
We couldn't live without them.
I've been served that in a motorway service station.
They eat hydrogen and they breathe nitrates.
And they live in streams and lakes as well as the ocean.
They're very, very exciting and here,
I know you like wonderful information,
the total weight of microbes in the ocean is equivalent
to 240 billion African elephants.
AUDIENCE MEMBER SQUEALS
The good thing about that is that really helps me visualise that.
-That was very, very helpful.
-Let me help you more, then.
35 elephants made of microbes for everyone on the planet.
So each of us have got 35 elephants made of microbes surrounding us now.
-35, that's a lot of elephants.
The time has come to rule out lifting all that in one go.
You learn a lot on this show,
I never knew that the ocean was made up of 35,000 billion elephants.
I've really been educated.
No wonder elephants are endangered
when you think of the number who have been drowned.
To create a mat at the bottom of the sea.
That's probably why the trunks... They were trying to evolve snorkels.
I can see that I've not really explained myself very well.
And now for something slightly mucky.
Alan, have you ever had your dirt hole burgled without your knowledge?
Do you know what? I'm not going to answer that.
I'm actually writing to Points Of View now in this book.
It's a question to do with the macabre side of human life, muck.
Oh, is this something like, in some context, excrement has a value?
Yes, where there's muck...
Yes, they need it for fertiliser or whatever
and so people would sell their, erm, you know, their shit.
So obviously other people would steal it.
Which gave it a value, and if something has a value,
there will always be some who wish to steal it.
Is this in medieval times or now?
No, actually, it's not medieval, it's 18th and 19th century.
-I think the question is flawed.
Because if I'd have had my dirt hole burgled without my knowledge,
I wouldn't know about it, would I?
Touche. You're absolutely right.
-So I don't know.
-Is the right answer.
So people kept their rubbish in holes that could be collected.
It was a bin collection.
The dustman and the dustcart were actually often collecting
dust as well because it was simply dirt that people had swept up
and poured into a little hole or into a bucket in a hole,
the dirt hole, because everything was recycled.
Even family pets, when they died, had a value.
White cat, sixpence, multicoloured cat, fourpence.
In those days, the Flying Dustmen, as they were called,
the people who came to collect it,
they were paid to get it rather than you paying rates to have it removed.
There was hardware and software.
Software would be things like a dead cat
and the hardware was broken crockery, oyster shells, things like that,
which road builders could use.
Anyway, from muck to mugshots.
What heinous crime was committed by Baby-Face Bertillon?
He stole the faces of babies.
And then wore them himself.
I don't know if you're a Sherlock Holmes buff.
-I'm quite buff but...
no, not so much with Sherlock Holmes.
Sherlock Holmes talks about the Bertillon system at one point.
It was a famous system.
And it did involve, really, what you're looking at.
-Mugshots is the right answer!
So Bertillon took a photograph of his young son,
hence the Baby-Face Bertillon.
And what he did there was he exhibited his technique,
which may seem obvious to us but what are we looking at?
Taking a front and profile.
He realised that ears were very, very good ways of identifying people,
and so you couldn't just have a full-on
but a side view is very important.
And, over the years, the French police
and the British got huge collections of pictures of criminals.
And these became the rogues' galleries,
the mugshots that are famous
in films and TV shows where some witness says,
"Oh, I'd know him if I saw him."
"Hey, show him, show him the mugshots."
You know. And the witness would go through the book
and each book would be... LAUGHTER
That was days after I'd had my dirt hole burgled.
Was it by Hugh Grant above you?
Hugh Grant's trying to look cross there.
And the crime that Bertillon's son had committed was nibbling all
the pears in a basket.
Trying one and putting it back. Yeah. My little boy does that.
-It drives me mad.
-Which, to a Frenchman, is a grave sin.
Sorry, is it a euphemism?
Maybe it's a euphemism, have I missed something?
"I admit I nibbled all the pears in the basket.
"And she bloody loved it."
That's terrible. Anyway, yes.
Francois Bertillon was the notorious Paris pear nibbler.
And talking of delicious things to eat, one last medieval question.
How many uses can you think of for a monk's earwax?
-Oh, it's endless. Candles.
-They might have done.
-That definitely sounds like a euphemism.
I meant it...
-There's not much else to do in a monastery, is there?
Polishing their own wood.
What have monks handed down to us mostly?
-Bibles and manuscripts, illustrated...
Spent their lifetime writing, copying them out.
-Doing lines, basically.
There we are, there's a picture of a happy monk doing his illuminations.
And that side of it, the painty side of it,
they used a substance called glair - G-L-A-I-R -
and it tended to get bubbled but they found if they added earwax to it,
they could get a really smooth, beautiful lustre and sheen
to the illustrations they were doing,
which have lasted us down the centuries.
How do you think of that, though? To go, "Hmm, there it is."
A thing you might try at home is you could take a pint of foaming beer
and then pop earwax into the head of your foaming tankard
and the bubbles should collapse.
If you're watching TV, don't listen to this man.
I think you're right.
It would be better if it was the other way round.
You had a flat liquid and then you put a bit of earwax in it
and then it went, fzzeee!
Chuck some sodium in your beer. That should do it.
And which orifice does sodium come out of?
They left other little things for us, little maniculae, little hands
that pointed to certain sections of the text in the Bible.
You can see one on the left there.
Well, if you've read The Name Of The Rose,
they left clues everywhere, all sorts.
Yeah. And octopuses as well, you can see an octopus at the top there.
They, for some reason, liked octopuses.
Is that a person with a huge sort of trumpet up his bottom?
-It's something odd, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is.
I don't know what they're doing there. They're praising the Lord.
ALAN MIMICS A TRUMPET
-It's so boring in those monasteries.
The old fart trumpet was the favourite...
I was going to say on a Sunday but perhaps not.
HE MIMICS A FART TRUMPET
They used to leave little remarks like, "Oh, God, it's cold in here,"
or, "I'm so bored."
Round the Bible. Just like schoolkids on their desks.
Exactly like that.
So why are they fighting snails?
No-one is quite sure. But it's a common feature - knights vs snails.
They seemed to like...
Some people may think it was a symbol of the struggle of the poor
against the aristocracy.
I think people shouldn't watch this show any more.
Do you think they had loads of snails in these cold,
damp monasteries and there were snails everywhere
and they were hoping a gallant knight would come
and help them deal with the snail infestation problem?
Possibly! STEPHEN LAUGHS GASPINGLY
Which means it's time... LAUGHTER
..to place various intimate parts of you into the thumbscrew
of general ignorance. Fingers on buzzers, please.
Where are most missionaries positioned?
I'm going to guess that most of them are in Utah where
the Mormons tend to kind of congregate
because they haven't yet been assigned their places to go to.
Interesting, interesting answer but I'm
talking about which is the country that receives the most incoming?
-Well, I'm not talking about that.
I'm talking about them before they've gone.
So I'm not asking you where the most missionaries come FROM, I'm asking...
I know but...
I'm trying to get a point.
By you answering the question that I haven't asked.
My guess is China.
Ah, it's a possibility. I mean, it's not...
Well, it IS a possibility but it's not a fact.
-Is it in Africa?
-It's not Africa.
-Is it England?
-Is it South America?
-England is much, much closer.
-Not South America, not SOUTH America.
-America, United States.
-Well, I think you'll find Utah is in America.
But I specifically said, "Where are the most
"missionaries who've come from outside one country?"
-I know, but I didn't choose to answer that.
I've got to give you points, you deserve them for sheer tenacity.
The fact is, we don't quite know why missionaries...
Some think they just want to go to a very rich country,
others think these missionaries believe America has lapsed into sin.
You're absolutely right in one way, certainly, which is
that America produces the most missionaries.
I've gone, I'm passed it.
For me, it's gone.
32,400 missionaries went to
-the USA from other nations.
-No, not interested.
-Whereas 127,000 go out of the US.
-No, it's too late, too little too late.
-And I think he's a Mormon.
-No, we're not looking.
..in 2003 the residents of a Fijian village...
-Don't listen to him.
..apologised to the family of an English missionary who had,
in 1867, been eaten by their ancestors.
Well, again, too little too late.
It's not known why the missionary was killed.
Because he looked bloody tasty, I should expect.
SAME AUDIENCE MEMBER SQUEALS
The villagers said that they had been suffering bad luck ever since eating
the missionary and hoped it would change their fortunes to apologise.
A year later, there was an earthquake.
Maybe they should have...
I wouldn't apologise for anyone my ancestors had eaten.
-I don't think it's my fault.
And I wouldn't expect a descendant of mine
to apologise for anything I'd eaten, either.
I think what you eat, it's you to apologise, no-one else.
Ridiculous for having pan-generational responsibility
for ancestors' diets.
But they thought it brought them bad luck, they were superstitious.
So they weren't really sorry at all.
If they thought it would bring them good luck,
they'd probably eat another one.
OK, more missionaries go to the United States than anywhere else.
Do an impression of someone in the stocks.
"Fuck off, fuck off!"
It's like that, isn't it?
-Ah-ha! Points to Mitchell. Yes, absolutely.
-That the pillory.
That's a pillory or fuse, as they were also known.
-Oh, stocks are feet, are they?
I'm into public shaming, though.
If you've done something bad people can go,
"Oh, don't do it again," and then you go,
"Oh, that was awful, I won't have friends if I do this again."
And then you go back into society. I don't think it's so bad.
You're very right. They could be quite forgiving.
Sometimes people had flowers thrown at them.
Daniel Defoe, when he was in the stocks
because he defended the church, people threw flowers at him.
Those aren't stocks, so...
No, he wasn't in the stocks there,
he was pilloried, I think is the safest way to...
People threw horrible things at you, big heavy things,
-and actually you could die.
-Yeah, no, absolutely.
Some people took great lengths to protect themselves as a result.
There was a gentleman here, Charles Hitchen, who was convicted
of attempted sodomy and he went into the stocks wearing a suit of armour.
What happened to successful ones,
ones that managed to bring it off, as it were?
Presumably you have to pay a lot for that when you were in the stocks.
The stocks weren't for your head and arms, just for your legs.
And, with that,
our mosey through the medieval macabre must come to an end.
We have scores. Mercy, mercy me.
Well, in joint first position, with minus six,
Matt and Julia.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
APPLAUSE DROWNS OUT SPEECH
In third place with minus ten,
But the witch we shall be burning this evening is
Alan Davies with minus 25.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
Well, it only remains for me to thank, Matt, David, Julia
and Alan and the last word on the Middle Ages comes from Bennett Cerf.
"Middle age is when your contemporaries are
"so grey and wrinkled and bald
"they don't recognise you."
Good night. APPLAUSE