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This programme contains some strong language
good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening,
and welcome to QI,
where, tonight, we're mixing and matching
a medley of things beginning with M.
Now, let's meet our makers.
The matchless James Acaster.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The match-fit Jo Brand.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The match made in heaven, Bill Bailey.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
match abandoned, Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
So, let's hear you mix. James goes...
EGG BEING BEATEN
Yeah, you're beating an egg, I think.
You're on your first warning. LAUGHTER
ELECTRIC WHISK WHIRS
Yes, that's masturbation as I know it.
I'd love to know what the machine is, wouldn't you?
Ah, yeah. I like it, yes.
That's masturbation as I know it.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
So, three mixes and Alan goes...
MATCH OF THE DAY THEME PLAYS
-Ah, you see.
So, on with the game.
Now our first "M" tonight is "M" for metals.
Can you see anything on this board here that does not contain metal?
-You've got a mushroom,
a balloon, a stack of coins,
a monkey, a star, an Alan Davies...
-of some kind.
-An Alan Davies.
Well, bodies do contain metal, so it can't be...
-It can't be you...
-Alan, you contain metal.
-Enough iron to make a nail.
-Yeah, just Alan.
-Just Alan. He can make a nail.
But, no, that's right, isn't it?
The body contains enough iron to make a nail -
phosphorus, carbon, water...
You could boil it down to a half-decent kids' party.
You could get a paddling pool, some fireworks and a tequila slammer.
-All inside us, churning away.
-All inside. So, it can't be Alan.
No, it's not me. And I don't... I'm...
-Things that grow probably have got metal in them...
-..that's my thinking.
The fact is, you've brilliantly avoided everything,
cos all those things contain metals.
When the universe was created...
4,000 years ago...
-4,000 years ago, as it says in the Bible.
-..by our Lord.
..only two elements were created at that time.
Gold and silver.
-Frankincense and myrrh.
Cheese and pickle.
-They are still the most abundant elements in the universe.
99% of the universe is composed of?
Helium and sarcasm.
-Hydrogen is correct.
And then the first two elements to be created,
after hydrogen and helium,
which are both gases,
were both metals.
Imagine God was rather depressed by having created the universe.
-I should think he bloody well was. I would be.
So, if you're depressed, what's the metal you'd go for?
Lithium was one of them, and the other was beryllium.
-Beryllium, I love that one.
And how were they created? What was the process?
It was in the stars.
-You're on fire.
Like the stars, very good.
And in that fusion, EVERYTHING was made.
And we are, as Carl Sagan famously said, we are made of star stuff.
We are made of the stuff that was created in those fusion moments.
Yes, we are.
And astronomers call anything that isn't the first two,
hydrogen and helium, a metal -
even if it's oxygen.
Are some people made of heavy metal?
Lemmy from Motorhead.
Death metal. That's a good one.
Yeah. Thrash metal.
Nu metal, when I was a teenager.
What's nu metal?
It was rap and metal together.
It went very badly.
-Yeah, there was quite a lot of...
Quite a lot of that in it, yeah.
There was one I was told about that was a mixture of techno and disco...
and it was called Tesco.
Then there was Valium metal,
and Tesco's own-brand metal.
Yeah, the human body contains a lot of metal, even gold.
How many human beings
would you need to extract the gold from
before you could make, of them, a gold coin?
Just Mr T.
Yes, just that, yeah.
Very good, that's true.
-One million humans.
-One billion humans.
This could take a long time. 40,000.
And how many different metals have we got inside us?
Very close, it's 48!
In your face!
Did you just point at Alan and say, "Eat it"?
No, I pointed at him and went, "On fire!"
-Oh, "On fire."
It's most impressive.
And you're all right, in many ways.
To astronomers, anything that isn't hydrogen or helium is a metal.
Even apparently normal metals can be quite deceptive,
as this trick shows.
I'm going to get a glass of water,
and I'll get a teaspoon.
-Oh, I'll just... To prove that it is water, I'll drink it.
That just proves it might be vodka.
-It proves at least that it's not sulphuric acid or something...
..because what I'm going to do
is try and make this teaspoon disappear.
It may not work.
I'm not a good magician,
I'm a great magician.
And so we stir it here and I...
Oh, don't, Oh, no...
Oh, it might not work, it might work, I don't know.
-Yeah, it seems to have worked.
There you are. Thank you.
That's rather good, isn't it?
In fact, on this occasion, it wasn't a magic trick,
and it's something you can do.
I'll give you your water and you'll notice the water is rather warm.
-Oh, it's warm.
-It's warm water.
And I'll give you a couple of spoons.
They are metal, they're metal spoons, but the metal...
Are they made out of Alka-Seltzer?
They might as well be - they're made out of gallium.
And gallium is a metal...
A very useful metal.
-Let's have a look.
-..but it has the quality that it melts,
-as Alan is showing, in water.
Oh, you wouldn't want that of your teaspoon, would you?
No, it wouldn't make a practical teaspoon.
-That's lasting less time than a biscuit.
-Look at that.
Now, if you stir it,
it'll happen more quickly.
-Oh, good Lord, look at that.
That would be the most annoying teaspoon in the world.
-It really would, wouldn't it?
But it's, like, Terminator's teaspoon.
Yeah, exactly. Terminator 2, it should be said.
Yes. Terminator two-spoon.
-Well, I hope you're impressed with that.
-I'm very impressed.
-It's not poisonous, gallium, so you can drink it again.
LAUGHTER OK. You can put your glasses away.
There you are, top man.
OK, pop away.
-Gallium was discovered in the 19th century by a Frenchman...
And he called it gallium because he was French
-and he wanted to be patriotic.
Yeah. Exactly, as in our word "Gallic."
But also, there's another word which means "cockerel,"
-Which is "gallus,"
so he called gallium after himself as well as after his country.
-So he was modest.
-He was modest, exactly.
Staying with valuable metals,
though, what use did the world's richest man have for wide trousers?
ELECTRIC WHISK WHIRS Yeah?
Did he have very fat ankles?
That would be useful. Who was the world's richest man?
-That's what we have to discover.
-Is he alive today?
-Was he a Greek bloke?
Wasn't Croesus, wasn't Rockefeller.
But it has been calculated, quite recently in fact, that this
-man was the richest man by any standards...
-..of which there has ever been.
I'm going to say, and I don't want to upset anybody,
I'm going to say it's someone real.
-Ah, someone from Fifa.
Someone from the 14th century.
He is M- M- of M-.
-Murmansk. Did he come from Murmansk?
-No, it's good, though.
-He visited Mesopotamia...
-Mick of Margate.
-He visited Mesopotamia?
Muchti? The Muchti.
He was Muslim, so that's another M.
-Ming the Merciless.
-Ming the Merciless.
-Is the right answer, but...
..you would have got more points... APPLAUSE
-The audience is very impressive, isn't it?
You'd only have got more points if you'd said Mansa Musa I.
-But, no, Mansa Musa is the right answer.
-What's the country he's from?
-Muh... Mer... Muk...
-Mali, he comes from, Africa.
-And his riches came from gold.
-He had so much gold, you would not believe.
He was also a very faithful Muslim,
and he went on the Hajj to Mecca, and on his Hajj, every Friday,
he stopped and he built a mosque, but also, everyone he met,
he gave gold to.
By the time all these people went to cash their gold in,
it destroyed the market for it.
And they suffered from hyperinflation.
And he very generously tried to put right what he'd done wrong,
so he bought the gold back,
but it still destroyed the whole Mediterranean economy for ten years.
-What an idiot.
-He was trying to be kind.
-Well, there's that saying, isn't there,
"No act of kindness ever goes unpunished."
-And I think that's very true in this case.
-It is very true.
He was also quite a warrior, and he had an army of 100,000, and
if he had a successful general, he would reward him with wide trousers.
That's... That was the question!
If you had wide trousers it was proof of your success as a general.
-Wide trousers being what?
-Pretty jolly wide.
-Kind of Showaddywaddy.
On his way back from Mecca,
he stopped and established this city that became a great
centre for Islamic scholarship
-and world scholarship for the following century.
Do you know what that town was called?
-On the way from Mecca to Mali.
-Closer to Mali than Mecca by a long way.
-No. There it is!
-Good effort, though.
I keep looking at that picture
like I'm going to recognise it or something.
-Is it Timbuktu?
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Yes, Mansa Musa of Mali made medieval markets melt down.
From one golden age to another,
how did the ancient Britons celebrate the merry month of May?
ELECTRIC WHISK WHIRS
-Was it pole dancing?
Oh, dear, oh, dear.
-No, that's not what I said.
-She's quite right.
You didn't say "maypole."
Human sacrifice, probably?
Human sacrifice, no, not that.
-Mead is possible.
Not that we know of. We don't know much about the ancient Britons.
If only they'd blogged more.
Murder - they would murder people for a laugh.
Anyone who really liked April.
-They'd murder them really badly.
Well, they would pick flowers.
As far as we know, they didn't do much
other than the fact that it was early summer,
late spring, and they would put flowers in the house.
The things we think of -
Morris dancing and maypoles and the Queen of the May and everything -
were all later inventions.
Morris dancing seems to have arrived in the 15th century.
Oh, God, what a terrible year.
-A bad year.
-They have much to answer for.
Do you know why it's called Morris dancing, where that comes from?
It was just boredom. That's really what it was, wasn't it?
A combination of boredom,
nothing to do and we might as well do something.
Do a dance.
-Do a dance.
-Let's have some mead and do a dance.
"What's your name?" "Morris." "Right, we'll call it after you."
We think they borrowed the name from the Spaniards,
-who had a Morisco dance.
When they celebrated the expulsion of the Moors, or Moriscos,
as in the word Morocco, from Spain, and this dance came to England
by the 15th century, and we did that sort of dance.
-So it's a bit racist, really.
-If you like, yeah.
-Well, maybe we could get it banned on that account.
-Got to try.
-Poor old Morris dancers.
Yeah. The most traditional way to celebrate May Day
is to decorate your house with flowers.
Our next M also grows in the ground.
Now, what sex is this mushroom?
Well, it looks like a penis, so...
..I'm guessing it's female.
-Is it male, then?
Oh! KLAXON BLARES
Is it asexual?
Well...it's not asexual, no.
-Is it a stinkhorn?
-Just doesn't have a gen...
We're going to come to stinkhorns.
-But you can have a look.
-I love them.
See if you can spot the organs of generation on those.
-Well, there's a mushroom.
Fry it up, lovely.
It's difficult to tell, isn't it? They're all sort of...
They're all vaguely suggestive
-in some way, aren't they? I mean...
Any type of fungus will tell you the same story -
they don't have genders. They don't have sexes.
-They do reproduce,
but they don't use gender as a...
Spores? Is it spores?
-Spores, well, spores have to be...
They have to be inseminated, germinated.
-But there is no gender, you don't have a female or a male.
-Oh, you've made a whole new one with a hat.
-I've made a new one.
It's like a French painter. "Ah. Ah-ha-ho-ho."
-FAUX FRENCH ACCENT:
-"No, I'm a...
"Some people say I'm a mushroom, but..."
-Oh, what the hell.
-"I have no gender!"
"I have no gender, I am nothing, not male nor female."
"Ha-ha! I laugh at you. Ah-ha-ha!"
-You mentioned the stinkhorn.
-Yes, I did, I love that.
Well, have a look at one.
There you are.
-Ooh, dirty stinkhorn.
It's pretty grim, isn't it?
Is that flies?
Yeah, flies all over it. Its Latin name is phallus impudicus,
-Oh, you wouldn't want that on your cock, would you?
The meaning of its name is "shameless cock."
And it gives off a sort of mucus...
That's actually given me an idea for my husband's birthday present.
A little fly willy warmer.
-What do you think?
-He'd love it.
-He would love it.
There's a mucus that's given off on the top of it, um...
-And it stinks, hence the name stinkhorn.
It smells of rotting meat, and it attracts flies.
-You can't eat them, either, can you?
-Oh, the Chinese do.
They dry them and they eat them,
because they've discovered this really important scientific fact.
-Of course they are.
So there it is, that's the stinkhorn.
-Is that only because it looks like a penis, let's be honest?
-That's why it's called...
-"Oh, look, it looks like an erect penis,
"therefore, ergo, it must be an aphrodisiac."
-That's what it is, really.
-I'm afraid it is.
There's a lot of things that look like an erect penis that...
don't get used as aphrodisiacs.
Now, let's stay in the garden.
Why would you spread mustard on your lawn?
So you can... Like, if you stick roast beef on yourself,
-and you slide across the lawn...
Somebody's made a graphic of a man mowing some custard.
Imagine you wanted to conduct
a worm census of your lawn,
you wanted to find out how many worms there wah... "There wah"?
-..in your lawn.
-Make them come up out of the earth
with washing-up liquid.
-Is that what you'd use?
That really works a treat, actually.
What, do you put the washing up liquid...?
You just spray washing-up liquid on the lawn and they all come up,
"Oh", like that, to help you with the washing up.
And it doesn't harm them?
Oh, it kills them.
This is where your system and mine differ,
because my system is just about counting them and not harming them.
-Because it does...
But you can still count them when they're dead.
-It is easier.
-It's true, you're right.
-Dry them out.
-But they're good for aerating the lawn, aren't they?
-So is a pitchfork.
Well, anyway, it irritates them slightly,
but it doesn't kill them.
And, in fact, they did this in America,
and discovered that 100% of North American worms are non-native.
All the worms of North America
were wiped out a long time ago.
-Must have been.
10,000 years ago,
-before washing-up liquid.
Ice age is the right answer.
Yeah, they were wiped out.
He's on fire, you're both on fire!
Yeah, the European worms arrived
in the root balls of plants
that were exported to the Americas.
But what else do we...?
Help me with mustard.
You can spread it on your hands if you're trying to give up smoking.
Yes, apparently a friend of mine did that, to try and, you know,
-give up smoking.
-Did it work?
Gas, lethal gas.
Yes, mustard gas.
What was mustard gas? Did it have mustard in it?
It stank, poisonous.
It didn't actually contain mustard.
Nothing to do with mustard, called it only because of the colour of it.
-Well, the colour and the smell.
-And the smell of it.
Sulphur mustard, it was called.
And rather like too much mustard, it could cause blistering.
And there were mustard baths.
A bath of mustard?
Is that a Comic Relief thing?
LAUGHTER No, you'd think it was.
But, funnily enough,
we British have mustard baths all the time, didn't you know that?
According to the National Museum of Mustard,
which is in Middleton, Wisconsin.
I was going to say, it's got to be in America.
They have a National Museum of Mustard and I...
Just be careful,
-because Norwich has a very famous mustard museum, as well.
This museum in Middleton, Wisconsin,
it asserts that "bathing in mustard is an English custom
"to this very day."
There you are, that's what they think.
-That's right, over in England, at night they...
Everyone in England asks their butler to draw them a mustard bath.
And you spoke of Coleman's of Norwich...
-..the great mustard company of Norwich.
They provided quite a lot of mustard for Robert Falcon Scott
-and his Discovery Expedition.
-To the South Pole.
As you can see there, he has pots of Coleman's Mustard.
-That's a genuine real photograph...
-Yes, of course.
..not in the least bit touched-up. LAUGHTER
How much did Coleman's, of Norwich, give...
to Captain Scott's team in the 1901-02...?
Two enormous barrels of mustard.
-Actually, they gave them one and a half tonnes...
-One and a half tonnes?!
Tonnes of mustard.
That's enough for a lot of baths, as well as a lot of food.
Now, from counting worms
to monkeys that count.
What job can even a monkey do?
ELECTRIC WHISK WHIRS
Is it quantity surveying?
-They might be able to.
-Apologies to all quantity surveyors watching.
-That includes my brother.
-Is your brother...?
-Oh, is he?
-He is a quantity surveyor, yes.
-Does he survey quantities all day?
-Yeah, sadly for him.
-Do you get tired of surveying quantities?
I mean, how many quantities can you survey in one day?
-He can survey 47 quantities in a day.
That's a lot of quantities.
Wow. Well, no, I don't think monkeys can survey quantities.
-They can count.
The person who counts how many people are on the plane
before you take off, that could be a monkey.
That would instil us all with confidence, wouldn't it?
Just before takeoff,
a small primate comes down the aisle with a clicker.
And he also does the duty-frees because no-one ever buys anything.
In Thailand, there is a school.
-A monkey school?
They have between three and six months of training -
the pig-tailed macaques -
and they end up working on a plantation,
where they can pick
between 800 and 1,000 whats a day?
-Not bananas cos they'd eat those, wouldn't they?
Between 800 and 1,000 coconuts a day, they can pick.
There they are.
But it's very useful.
So, a lot more than a human could, probably.
But they do they count them, as well?
Well, I don't... Those don't, no.
Clicker in one hand.
In the US, they use capuchin monkeys
for a charity called Helping Hands,
which assists people with disabilities,
and they help with feeding,
retrieving dropped items,
changing compact discs,
-turning lights on and off.
And in Tokyo, there's a tavern where...
A traditional sake house,
where macaques are employed
to bring customers hot towels.
I don't want a hot towel off that fella, I'll tell you that.
That is horrible.
Imagine that at the end of your bed at night.
"Hot towel, sir?" Oh, fuck off!
The late, great Rik Mayall had a joke that he always told if you ever
went to a Japanese restaurant, sushi house or something, like that,
and he'd go, "Waiter!"
"Bring me several types of Japanese wine, and don't get all sake!"
Couldn't help saying it every time.
From him, it was funny.
Now, from smart monkeys to smart aleck kids.
Which of these would an ancient Mexican use
to teach children manners?
You've got chocolate,
The monkey with a baseball bat seems pretty effective.
You've got to say "please" or you get the monkey with the bat.
I, personally, would use a cactus.
-What would you do with it?
Throw the child at it.
Then you are pretty much on a par with those ancient Mexicans.
Oh, am I?
Yeah. The Aztec or the... SHE MOUTHS
-The Mexica, as they were called...
..from which, we get our word Mexico,
did have a firm, but fair, way of treating their children.
That means "very cruel".
Yeah, I know.
And the Codex Mendoza was written by someone
observing the practices of the Aztecs,
and this is what he found.
Basically, they were taught to be humble, hard-working and polite,
just like British...
Oh, no, what am I talking about? LAUGHTER
So this is how it went.
It begins with an eight-year-old boy
-being threatened with the spines of a cactus.
The following year, he's stripped, bound and pierced
in his neck, side and thigh.
Next year, he's bound and beaten with a pine stick.
The year after that, aged 11, his father holds his son,
bound and weeping over a fire of burning chillies -
as you can see, top right, there.
-All practices carried on in English boarding schools.
Finally, a stroppy 12-year-old is bound and dumped
in a damp vegetable patch for a day
to reflect on his conduct.
By the time he's 13, he's dutifully gathering reeds, as you can see.
Yeah, bearing a terrible grudge.
-Which he will take out on HIS child.
Unfortunately, that's the way it works.
-So, it's a sort of a meme of cruelty.
-It is, yeah.
But the Huichol Mexicans - and you'll like this, I think, Jo -
they had an interesting practice,
which was, when a woman was pregnant,
she would lie, and,
in the room above,
her husband would lie,
and he would have strings
attached to his testicles,
which would drop down into the room below -
where his wife was pregnant.
I'm loving this so far.
She would have...
She would hold the strings and, when she had a contraction,
she would pull... AUDIENCE GASPS
..so that he was forced to share her pain...
He, cunningly, slipped the string off, tied it onto the...
boards of the bed and went to the pub.
Tied it to the dog.
"Tied it to the dog"!
Or his 12-year-old son.
-Oh, we're... Sorry, go on.
-No, carry on.
No, I was going to say a terrible
and very embarrassing story about testicles, but you carry on.
-Oh, I want your testicle story.
-All right, then.
Well, we had this dog, and it got into the bed
and it started to lick...
the wrong set of testicles.
-That's all I'm saying.
-LAUGHTER AND GASPS
Surely everybody wins?
-Everyone's a winner.
Not everyone, Stephen.
I haven't been back.
Yeah, the Mexica people of Mexico
used a very hands-on variety of tough love.
And speaking of hands, what's this man doing with his other hand?
-It's M, it's M...
-It begins with M.
-It begins with M.
He could be doing anything, Stephen.
Is it something beginning with M?
If that was me, it would be me trying to work out how the...
-..bloody thing works with a printer.
-Well, it does begin with M.
-If I tell you that he's a professor.
-He's got a massive mouse on his leg.
You're right to think of an animal, cos he's a scientist -
a professor at the University of Kentucky.
Has he got his finger stuck in a moose?
He's a Mexican, he's a Mexican man,
and he's pressing a child against a cactus under the desk.
He's a cruel man.
He is Professor Grayson Brown,
and he's an entomologist of a particular kind.
A culicidologist, if that makes any sense to you.
Mosquitoes is the right answer.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
He's very serious in his study of mosquitoes,
and he was allowing 1,000 mosquitoes -
as he does every morning,
while he carries on doing his e-mails -
to feast on his arm.
His body is so used to it they no longer leave a mark, apparently.
It's most bizarre.
Asian mosquitoes are very picky,
they only, ONLY, feast on humans...
They won't eat the blood of any other animal.
..and, in order to keep them happy,
obviously they need a big supply of blood.
So, he and his fellow workers...
And some animals, it has to be said, in his lab,
also supply the blood for other breeds of mosquito -
but, for the Asian ones, it's just humans.
And, of course, they have to keep them breeding.
Now, they're odd, these Asian mosquitoes,
cos they're really a bit lazy.
I suppose they produce so many thousands...
What's he trying to find out?
I mean, what is there left to know about these creatures?
Well, given how many millions of people they kill every year,
it's kind of... You can't know enough.
Cos they kill more, as you know, than wars.
But in order to get them to mate, to force-mate them.
Play some Barry White, give them some wine.
Well, that's what I thought, but in this case,
-they decapitate the male...
-Oh, that's different.
-No, no, that wouldn't work.
-Good so far.
LAUGHTER ..they anaesthetise the female.
They then insert the male's genitals
into his unconscious partner.
Despite the lack of the male's head,
and the lack of the female's consciousness,
the insects lock together,
sperm is transferred,
and the female becomes pregnant.
Does that happen with humans? SHE MOUTHS
-Well, if you've had enough Jagermeister,
-I suppose it will, yeah.
And a skilled entomologist can do this without a microscope.
That's nothing to brag about, though, is it?
No, it probably isn't!
"Oh, I can make mosquitoes bang without a microscope."
We had a pair of preying mantis once in the kitchen,
In a... You know, in the tank, obviously.
And I came home one night and the male praying mantis
was on the kitchen floor
walking across, like, towards the door.
And I went, "Oh, no, he's got out of the t... Oh, what a shame."
And I carefully scooped him up,
and I placed him back in the tank, very gently,
and the female pounced and bit his head off and...
..he was clearly making a break for it.
-Oh, because they do.
-The whole time, "No, don't put me back there. Oh."
-The females do eat the males, don't they?
-Yes, they do.
-So, they must have just mated.
-They must have just... And he was off.
Yeah. Oh, dear, oh, dear.
Now, then, what's the world's oldest complaint?
-We're after the first recorded complaint.
A medical complaint?
-Not a medical complaint, actually.
Complaint as in a moan, as in a...
Oh, I see, so the...
Where were the earliest pieces of writing that we have?
Not hieroglyphs, actually - they're made with reeds...
poked into wet clay onto tablets,
so the edge of the reed is like a wedge shape,
and Latin for "wedge," cuneus...
Which was where - where did they do that?
-Babylon, yeah, Mesopotamia.
Knew it'd come up!
-Keep saying it.
"Keep saying it, it'll be right in a minute."
And they have an enormous number of these in the British Museum,
-a fantastic collection.
Sorry - saved.
-What, so it's a complaint, you're saying?
-It's a complaint.
It's from a merchant, and it's nearly 4,000 years old.
It's an ancient Babylonian copper merchant.
He's called Nanni.
He's complaining to a supplier called Ea-nasir
that he's received a shipment of copper ore which was late,
and it was damaged and of an inferior grade.
"You have put ingots which were not good enough before my messenger,
"and said, 'If you want to take them, take them.
"'If you do not want to take them, go away.'
"What do you take me for,
"that you treat me with such contempt?
"You alone treat my messenger with contempt.
"You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory.
"It's now up to you to restore my money to me in full."
I was thinking that earlier and I should have said it.
Would there be a series of these complaints going back and forth?
We don't have... STEPHEN LAUGHS
"I refer you to the tablet of the 14th."
"I still have not received redress on the copper."
On and on, like, piles and piles of these things.
"Stick your ingots where the sun don't shine."
"I will be speaking to you now through my lawyers."
I mean, the things that survived most in terms of writing
-are nearly always things to do with money and trade.
Cos that's what people cared about most,
and that's how writing seemed to develop.
So, the world's first complaint was composed on a tablet.
But now it's time to move on
to the low-hanging fruit of General Ignorance.
What kind of animal is a musk ox?
Is it an ox?
KLAXON BLARES Oh!
How could you think such a thing?
-What kind of animal is a musk ox?
Not a musk.
-You did say musk!
-Is it a deer?
Is it a banana, Stephen?
Not a banana! LAUGHTER
-Have a look at one.
-Have a look at one?
-Yeah, have a look at some musk oxen.
-Not a bison, no.
-Is it a sheep?
Sheep is the right answer-ish.
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
It's a goat, well done.
-It's a goat.
-Got its horns right down the side, low down -
that's very difficult for rutting, isn't it?
Got to go up next to someone and hook them.
And they have enormous coats of fur.
Thought you might have said something else there.
Really huge, and they are very...
very good at surviving cold temperatures.
So good that they survived the cold temperature
that many of their fellow animals at the time didn't -
the sabre-toothed tiger, for example.
The ice age - they survived the ice age.
And they're a hardy, hardy beast.
They have this wonderful butting contest where they butt heads.
Males, don't they - they have these tremendous battles, male...
Man on man... Mano a mano.
-"Mano a mano" means "hand to hand."
OK, what's the head, then?
Well, yeah, despite its name,
the musk ox is a member of the goat family.
What do magpies like to steal?
KLAXON BLARES LAUGHTER
Everyone knows that!
-Oh, Alany, Alany, Alany-walany, Alany-walany-woo.
-No. We think they do, but they don't.
-We've done tests. Well, WE haven't, people have.
Out of 64 of them, magpies picked up a shiny object only twice,
and then immediately dropped it.
They're not interested in shiny things.
Like all animals, they're interested in things that look like food or...
that they can shag. LAUGHTER
The... It's folklore surrounding them, seems to be just that -
But the Italian for magpie...
..leads to an interesting thing.
-FAUX ITALIAN ACCENT:
Awfully nice thought.
Do you know the Rossini opera, The Thieving Magpie?
Called "La Gazza Ladra."
"Gazza" is a magpie,
and a little magpie, "gazzetta."
-Oh, it's the newspaper.
-Called the "gazzetta".
A newspaper - gazette.
And that's it, the gossipy chatter,
-like a magpie.
That's where we get that word, "gazette".
-I like... I quite like that one.
-Yeah, me too.
Also, if I were to say that the magpie's real name is a pie,
it's a pie.
Then where does the "mag" come from?
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Where did that come from?
In medieval England, it was common to give birds a Christian name,
sometimes, and the ones that have survived have included magpie.
-Which other ones can you...?
Robin's the only one where the first name is the one that's kept...
-No, big Dave Starling.
Joseph would have been funny.
Joseph Starling is good, yeah. I like that. I prefer that.
-Not as funny as Dave, but it's better.
-So there are a few of them.
-We had an injured bird in the garden yesterday...
..and it looked like a magpie, and it couldn't take off,
and I was watching it for ages. I didn't know what to do with it,
so I opened the back gate and shooed it out.
-What do you think it was, then? What make?
-"The back gate."
-I think it was a young crow...
..that was having a bit of trouble with flight,
-because it flew into a bush...
..and I presume it's dead by now.
-That's it, you...?
-And that's the end of tonight's Springwatch.
What could you have done with it?
-I don't know, what are you going to do with a bird?
-Shoot it, shoot it.
-Take it out.
-Sniper's rifle, through the brain.
-I could have gone after it,
because it was in the garden and couldn't get out.
-I could have easily got it with a tennis racket.
-Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Just scoop it up with a tennis racket
-and hit it with a frying pan...
..and chuck it over the wall. That's what I'd do.
And then its parents would have come and ate it, wouldn't they?
-Yeah, that's right.
-Let's face it, it is the wild.
Even if it is Hampstead.
It's wild for them, though.
They'd have had it in a coulis.
A crow couscous.
With some quinoa.
I wonder what its name was.
Clive, I expect.
No, I think it was Vel.
Oh, dear. Oh, dear.
So, magpies aren't particularly interested in shiny objects.
How many paintings did Vincent Van Gogh -
or "Goch," or "Gough," or "Go"...
How many did he sell while he was alive?
Don't say none.
None! I'm going to say none.
Really, I'm afraid...
-A few, maybe?
It was lots. He sold hundreds of paintings.
-Yeah, when he was 15,
he used to work in an art gallery.
-Oh, shut up!
I just asked you how many paintings...
This is the closest I've come to walking out of this show!
I'd like a recount on those two.
It was a horribly mean question,
but the fact is, he did sell hundreds,
they just weren't his own.
He was very good at selling them, too -
he did extremely well, and it was a big French company,
and his brother, Theo,
ran the Montmartre branch,
and Vincent relocated, after a while, to the London branch.
And he spent two years in London, living in Brixton,
and he called it the happiest time of his life.
Yeah, he did really well, and he loved it.
-Good fun in Brixton.
-It was good fun, it's a good place.
He would have gone and got some chicken from Chickenliquor,
that's real nice.
-Is that your manor?
I used to live in Brixton and...
Do you know what I nearly did then? I nearly called you "man,"
-and then I stopped myself.
-I just want you to appreciate that.
-I really do. Thank you.
-Anyway, perhaps the most surprising thing we'll all learn today...
..is that, after Brixton,
he came back to the UK in 1876,
and Vincent Van Gogh...
as a supply teacher in Ramsgate.
-Isn't that wonderful?
-That's a big surprise, isn't it?
-It is. It is, yeah.
I wonder if the children remembered him for years afterwards...
-Mr Van Gogh?
-..as a flame-haired figure.
-Then he became a painter, supported financially,
and, indeed, emotionally by his brother, Theo.
He suffered from tinnitus, vertigo and, of course, depression,
and he killed himself aged 37.
Only one of his 900 paintings
was sold in his lifetime.
Sold to a remarkable woman called Anna Boch,
-who was, herself, a painter.
-You said one!
-I said one.
-You said one.
I asked how many paintings, not how many of HIS OWN paintings.
I know, I'm sorry, but, look, I did say...
Chairman of the Pedantic Association.
"It's actually the Society of Pedantics, but I'll let that go."
Yes, exactly, in fact. LAUGHTER
Anna Boch paid 400 francs
for a painting of his called The Red Vineyard,
which is rather beautiful.
About £1,000 today, that would be.
Bet he had a big night that night.
Well, it was only four months before his death,
so it obviously didn't cheer him up enormously.
Five out of the 30 most valuable paintings ever sold at auction
are Van Goghs.
Four of them raising over 100 million each.
That, er... That was his life, a very unfortunate one in that sense.
But his work lives on for ever, of course.
And with that, the final whistle has blown and...
..the match has come to an end.
It's actually a very extraordinary series of scores.
In first place, with plus eight -
yes, she WAS on fire - Jo Brand!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
In second place...
with minus seven, it's James.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
In third place...
with minus 32, is Bill Bailey.
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
In fourth place...
with minus 41, Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
So, all that remains for me
is to pull up the corner flags,
thank James, Bill, Jo and Alan,
and to leave you with this classic piece of Ron Atkinson
when asked about what made the perfect match.
"Well, Clive, it's all about the two M's -
"movement and positioning."