Sandi Toksvig looks at some objects and ornaments with Sarah Millican, Cariad Lloyd, Alice Levine and Alan Davies.
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Good evening and welcome to QI,
where tonight, we are ogling an odditorium of objects and ornaments.
Let's meet some ornaments to their profession.
The opulent Sarah Millican.
The ostentatious Cariad Lloyd.
The oratorical Alice Levine.
And, objection! Alan Davies.
And their ornamental noises are from priceless objects
kindly lent to us by the Victoria and Albert Museum. So, Sarah goes...
GLASS WIND CHIMES RING
That's nice, pretty, isn't it? Cariad goes...
MANTLE CLOCK CHIMES
Lovely. Alice goes...
MUSIC BOX LULLABY CHIMES
And Alan goes...
TAPPING ON GLASS
Don't touch the exhibit, sir!
GLASS BREAKS, CRASHING
Well, that's horribly familiar, that.
Right, top question, where are you most likely to come across a UFO?
GLASS WIND CHIMES Yes? Millican?
In the sky?
-MANTLE CLOCK CHIMES Yes?
Not much happens in Reading, so...
Don't you think they'd want to go somewhere where
-the stuff is happening?
-No, because they want to be secret.
The whole of Reading could be aliens, you wouldn't even know.
Why do they want to be secret?
This big assumption that they come here all this way
-and then just hide.
Somebody knows a lot about them, don't they?
Near airports, because they always look like planes, weirdly.
-Yes, that is quite a strange thing, isn't it?
They do look like planes. And the answer is the ocean.
The most common and most dangerous UFOs are
Unidentified Floating Objects.
These are pieces of lost cargo and they lie along the shipping routes,
just under the surface, and they can damage ships tremendously.
an average of about 1,700 shipping containers were lost at sea.
Look at this picture!
That is seriously bad packing, isn't it? That's...
Surely not in one go?
Well, about half of those 1,700
came from a single ship, the MOL Comfort.
The ship actually broke in half and all the containers went into the sea.
-But that's fair enough, then.
-That wasn't careless, was it?
Some of the strange stuff that has washed up in the sea,
-in 2008, a six-foot-tall Lego man - my people...
-..washed up on Brighton beach.
The really extraordinary thing is,
I've been trying to find out what happened to it.
Did they just push it back out to the sea?
It just swam off.
If anybody knows, please, could you let me know?
I want to know where the Brighton Lego man is.
I'd like to come and say hello.
Why is it never a Lego woman that's washed up?
Because the Lego woman wasn't beach-ready.
February 2017, £50 million worth of cocaine washed up
on a beach in Norfolk, and I don't know where that is either.
There is a National UFO Reporting Centre, which is
the UFOs that we normally think of, the Unidentified Flying Objects.
It was started by a man called Robert Gribble,
who's a fireman from Seattle and he collects UFO sightings.
And since 1905, there have been 105,000 reports of alien sightings.
A tenth of those have been here, in the UK.
But the photos are never on a camera that's more than one megapixel.
-It's always conveniently grainy.
-A little bit fuzzy.
Anybody know the best place in the UK to see a UFO?
-MANTLE CLOCK CHIMES Yes, Reading!
I think there's some near us. I think there's some aliens near us.
-Because my dog barks at all other dogs,
but no people, apart from one family near us.
And whenever they walk past, we just...
We look at... My husband and I go, "Lizard people."
And I know that they're walking past going, "He knows."
-No, it's not,
it's Scotland, it's Bonnybridge in Scotland.
-Oh, yeah, yeah.
-It's the place where you are most likely.
-I don't know why.
-Is that one of them? Is that guy an alien?
This is a man called Billy Buchanan, he's a councillor in Bonnybridge.
I'm not sure why he photo-bombed our shot of the sign.
They have 300 sightings a year, roughly, in Bonnybridge.
-Is it all by one man?
-"I've seen another one, and another one."
He has 65 days off a year.
It's also known as the Falkirk Triangle.
The fact is that Bonnybridge is under three flight paths,
including those for Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports.
And just...it's your point there, Alice, isn't it?
I mean, just saying.
So the very first flying saucers, in fact, weren't even a saucer shape.
So in 1947, there was a pilot called Kenneth Arnold,
and he reported seeing nine objects
whose movement was "like a saucer if you skipped it across the water",
is what he actually said, he didn't say they looked like flying saucers.
In fact, they were more sort of crescent shaped or boomerang shaped.
But the place in America that you would most likely find a UFO
is Roswell, is the place that everybody thinks about them.
Again, 1947. I don't know.
So these are the street lamps in Roswell. Aren't they great?
-Well, you're not helping matters, are you?
-No, not really.
Every night at around 7pm, they come out.
I really, really love these. They have an annual UFO festival
where they have an alien pet competition -
how alien can you make your dog look?
-A lot of the sightings are near military bases, aren't they?
Then people say that it's because
the military are trying to cover it up.
But is it actually that it's something military related
but they can't tell us, because top secret?
-The military is entirely made up of aliens.
Just offering that out there.
-I think you're more likely to be right.
As this is the case, I wondered if I could interest you
in an insurance policy against alien abduction?
How much is it?
Well, for about £120 a year,
I can protect you against alien impregnation.
What if I was on the pill?
Or 41, you know.
Well, men are also able to purchase impregnation insurance of this kind,
for protection against the unknown capabilities of alien technology.
So your pill, not really going to be anywhere.
-So far, more than 30,000 of these policies have been sold.
-Yeah. One I like is called
the Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson policy,
which, if you put that together, is GRIP.
So, "Get a GRIP policy."
I love these insurance policies.
In 2000, there were three sisters from Inverness
who insured themselves against the possibility
of miraculously conceiving and raising the second Christ.
-I hate it when that happens.
-Hate it when that happens, yes.
But we have worried about UFOs for a very long time.
Probably the earliest picture that we have of a potential UFO
was 1561 over the skies in Nuremberg.
That's the sun, though, isn't it?
Bear in mind, this is the best they could do for a photo in 1561.
Is that what the sky looked like that day?
Yes. So they say.
It lasted for about an hour
and there were lights and flashes all over the place.
What we now think it is, it was something called a mock sun
or a sun dog.
What you get, you sometimes get ice crystals
up in the upper part of the sky.
So it is just the sun reflecting ice crystals,
but there was a report in the gazette of the town of Nuremberg -
"At the dawn of April 4th in the sky of Nuremberg,
"a lot of men and women saw a very alarming spectacle
"where various objects were involved,
"including balls approximately three in the length from time to time,
"four in a square, much remained insulated,
"and between these balls, one saw a number of crosses
"with the colour of blood.
"Then one saw two large pipes in which small and large pipes
"were three balls, also four or more.
"All these elements started to fight, one against the other."
How many balls did our vendor have?
It might have lost a bit in translation, I think.
Do you think so? Yeah.
Do you think they were, like, paid by the word as well?
Cos the "colour of blood" could just have been "red".
Anybody know where the word "gazette" comes from?
Just a little side bar. I'll give you an extra point if anybody knows.
I know. I just don't feel like I need to say it right now.
A small gazer, like a gaze-ette.
It does sound like that, doesn't it?
No, is the answer.
It's a Venetian coin. The very first newspapers in Venice,
so we're talking early to sort of mid-16th century,
were sold for a venetian coin called a gazzetta.
So the newspaper became known as the gazette,
but it's just the name of the coin,
like calling it a sixpence or a farthing or something.
Right - you wake up wrapped in a futon covered in orange paint,
there's confetti everywhere and you smell of smoke.
What the heck happened?
Now, can anybody, first of all, spot whose face that is, in the picture?
-It's Cariad's face.
How do you not recognise your own face?
Yeah, I mean, no...
Sarah, to be honest, as a man,
sexily posing with spots all over his body and an orange haze,
I wasn't instantly sure it was me.
OK, so all of those things - smoke and confetti and the futon -
they are all...
It sounds like someone dressed as a hot dog maybe, doesn't it?
If you were to lie in the futon, roll yourself up,
the orange is almost the kind of mustard,
-or even the frankfurter...
My actual answer is going to be so boring by comparison.
-Sandi, tell me, what is it?
They are all methods...
I would need to take more clothes off, but I'm not going to,
unlike the picture.
-Those are all methods of dealing with offenders.
So, anybody waking up with those has probably committed a crime,
is the truth of it. Take the orange paintballs,
they're for shop staff in Japan to throw at offenders.
They are the size of a tennis ball
and they are known as "bohan yu kara boru" -
anti-crime colour balls.
And the idea, if somebody's committing a crime,
you throw it at them, and then they are marked and easier to track.
You have to be good at throwing.
Well, this is the main problem with them.
-You might hit the wrong person.
So, they are widely distributed,
and under moments of stress, staff either tend to forget they...
..the staff tend to forget they've got them...
-You have no reflexes at all.
Cariad's reflex is just to go into the position in the photo.
And people forget they've got them or they freeze,
or they see that the robber is armed and think,
"That paintball thing, not going to go so well."
They have signs in the shops where they've got the orange paintballs,
that does seem to put some people off from robbing them, but...
That's what they do in Poundland.
They have a picture of a policeman in the window, because
if they put a picture of a policeman in the window, people shoplift less.
-So they could put a picture of the balls in the window.
That's all they need.
"I have the orange balls."
-How do you like my orange balls?
-"I will take my business elsewhere."
Do you feel like you should say something though,
when you throw it, you should be like, "No!"
-Yeah, like, "Stop!
-"I've seen you."
-I quite like that with a robber,
Do you know, I was on a train once,
and there were some boys who'd had a sherry too many, and they were being
very vulgar and loud and frightening some people over on the other side.
And I suddenly stood up and I went, "That will do!"
They said sorry.
The other technique was the futon technique, which is also Japanese.
It deals with drunk or violent people.
They wrap them up in plastic futons
and then carry them to cells to calm them down.
It apparently works. In 2014, the Japanese police fired only six shots
in the entire country. When the US, if you look at the comparison,
had 32,599 gun deaths.
-So this has got to be the answer.
Plastic futons, it seems to be very straightforward.
I imagine, somehow, that in the US, if they had orange balls,
-there'd be a lot more orange balls thrown.
I think it's just general politeness in Japan.
Do you think that's what happened to Donald Trump,
somebody got him right in the face with an orange ball?
There's a Japanese office supply company that sells
wearable futon air mat sets.
They're sold as the perfect solution to people who sleep at work.
So you go to work wearing your futon,
and then you blow it up and lie down and sleep.
There's a big culture in Japan, it's called imeri,
-which is you sleep anywhere.
It's because they have this thing of, like, you should work so hard
that you... It's OK to sleep literally anywhere.
You see people, like, on the side of motorways,
salary men they call them, just asleep on the side.
Yeah. So the other two I had, I had confetti and smoke machines.
Smoke machines, used in some stores in the UK, they set them off
and it obscures the view of any stuff in the shop, whatsoever.
And makes it like an '80s music video.
"So, we're really mad that you're robbing us, but..."
# Whooooaaa... #
And confetti is another safety mechanism.
When you fire a Taser gun, apparently,
it also releases a tiny amount of confetti.
-Oh, how lovely.
-Well, you know, kind of, "Ow!", but, "Ooh, nice."
"My heart's stopped! Aaaah."
If you look in the middle picture, you can just see little bits,
-tiny, coloured bits of confetti.
-Has somebody literally thought,
"Oh, I mean, it's so sad, let's jazz it up when they get tasered."
It's supposed to deter people using Tasers to commit crimes.
In order to get a Taser, you have to register it with the company,
and then you get a specific number, that number's on the confetti
to make sure that bad people don't use them.
You know what they could have done instead?
when I got married, people threw confetti, which was lovely,
cos it's, like, pretend-y flowers, but some people threw rice,
and I don't know if you know this, but rice really hurts.
It's like being pelted with grit.
So, anyway -
what was Lord Montagu's secretary doing on the bonnet of his car?
I don't know, but she called a lot of people before she did it.
It must have been a warm day.
Was she a cog in the patriarchy, but she was getting paid for it,
so in a way it was OK, because of the time?
It's possible I love you, Cariad.
He was Lord Montagu of...?
-Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. What is Beaulieu famous for?
-Motor Museum. So cars, we're talking about cars.
This is a bit like how they used to entice you to buy lots of things.
Like washing machines, you're like, "Do I want a washing machine?
"Oh, a sexy lady is sat on it! I now want that washing machine."
He was particularly associated with one motorcar.
-A British-made one?
-Yes, beautiful, amazing...
-No, possibly, I think, the...
-A Ford Ka.
The most beautiful car of all time.
-Rolls-Royce, absolutely right.
-Oh, was she the lady?
-Yes, the iconic figure.
The Spirit of Ecstasy.
Eleanor Thornton, she was the secretary to
John Walter Douglas-Scott-Montagu, second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu.
A motoring pioneer.
And he commissioned a figure as a personal mascot
on the front of the 1910 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.
It was called The Whisper.
And so the original one was like that,
because, allegedly, it was a secret love affair that they were having.
It's not that secret if you've put it on the front of all the cars.
Was his wife like, "Oh, right, I see,
"so you based that on your secretary, but nothing's going on?"
Yeah, the figure was sometimes known as Ellie in her nightie.
That's the thing about it.
-Which doesn't sound dodgy at all, does it?
-No, it doesn't.
To be fair, you wouldn't necessarily know who that was.
You'd be like, "Does he work with anyone with one eye,
"a moustache, a crew cut
"and one mono-boob?"
Over the years, people have put lots of ornaments
and the choice is not always suitable for the sort of things that people have had.
So there's been...
-Oh, my God.
-So that's why they standardised it.
The Whisper became the Spirit of Ecstasy,
because they didn't want people doing that kind of thing.
-The middle one says Spirit of Ecstasy to me, though.
We couldn't actually get the car ornament,
so this is a little model.
You've skewered a robin.
In 1907, a picture was circulated of a robin impaled on a car ornament,
and there was a terrible backlash against having ornaments at all.
They were banned. In fact, if you have them today,
they have to be spring-loaded and all kinds of things.
The ornithologists are going to be on, Sandi.
-They're going to be curious.
The DVLA has a banned list of licence plates that runs
to 46 pages, things that you may not have as your licence.
-Well, kind of.
So, this one is supposed to be rude
if you read it in your rear view mirror.
So can anybody work it out?
-I nearly just did that!
I haven't got a mirror with me.
Yeah, it's supposed to be oral sex. Anyway, it's banned, it's banned.
"Ban! Possible humour - banned!"
"Possible smiling - banned!
"No smiling on the road - banned!
"Do not think of sex! Banned!
"Stop it, stop it!"
-See if you can work out these other ones?
Doggers. "Banned! Banned! No intercourse."
-"How dare you! I feel sick!"
-What's the bottom one?
It's fair enough to ban alcohol.
I love that Sarah just went, "Oh, scrotum, are these available ones?
-In America, you can buy these, OK?
-Do you know how to handle them?
-Hang on a second...
Hang on a minute.
I've totally got this. "Cough."
When you said cough, did you just breathe in a little,
-have a little sniff?
-She did, she went, "Cough,"
-and then she went, "Wahey!"
This is a sight you will see nowhere else in the world.
Alan, is that normal size?
Well, they're a little small.
They're called truck nuts.
-And they are genitals for your car.
-Do you know what, I'm all right thanks.
-Oh, come on. "Banned!"
Well, they have been banned in some states.
Have they? Truck nuts? What, you hang them on your truck?
Yes, look, there. See the picture.
What's wrong with that?
Some states have banned them for indecency.
In Virginia, the law states,
"No person shall display upon or equip any motor vehicle
"with any device that depicts, represents or resembles
"human genitalia, regardless of size or scale."
Right, moving on.
Describe the world's best-dressed crab.
MUSIC BOX LULLABY CHIMES Alice?
I'm going to say a little bit of lime, some chilli, some mayo,
and then just, yeah, served with, like, brown bread, probably.
-That does sound delicious.
-Sounds good, doesn't it?
-But I'm actually talking about a live crab.
-You didn't say that.
No, I didn't. I should be clearer.
-A lot of the things you've said tonight have been ambiguous.
-And that's difficult for me.
-Welcome to the show.
Is it in a shell suit?
I'm proud to be your friend.
No. There's something called a dresser crab,
or indeed the decorator crab.
And what it does is it gathers material from all around itself
in order to blend in with the surroundings.
So it's basically making camouflage clothing.
They cover their shells in seaweed, in sponge and pearls,
chewing on the material in order to make it fibrous,
and then it attaches it to itself.
It's got, like, little, tiny Velcro bits on its claws and legs.
I love this one, it's seriously getting dressed-up.
That's Cardiff on a Saturday night, that is.
That's proper getting ready.
And they're found off the coast of Australia. They're tiny.
Just over 1.5 inches.
And sometimes what they do is they put noxious stuff on them
to ward off predators. It's called aposematism.
It's called Lynx.
Other sprays are available.
But there are lots of what we call augmented animals,
so, animals who make themselves look a bit different.
One of my favourites, Uraba lugens caterpillar.
-It keeps its old heads and wears them as hats.
Oh, my God.
That is hoarding gone mad.
As it grows, it sheds its exoskeleton
and the protrusion on the top of the head remains,
and eventually it has a stack, which it uses both as a weapon
and as a false target for any would-be predators.
It's known as the Mad Hatterpillar.
-Yeah, I mean it would be, wouldn't it?
Found in Australia and New Zealand. Isn't it wonderful?
-He doesn't even need that.
Look how much you'd remember him anyway.
-"You know the one, do you remember the guy,
"you met him last week, he had five heads on his, five heads as a hat."
-Five-Head Gary, yeah.
-Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
There's another one which is a beetle that lives
in the Costa Rican rainforest. It's called Nymphister kronaueri
and it disguises itself as an army ant's bottom.
So, that looks like it's just an ant,
but the bit that is a protrusion,
as if the ant has got terrible haemorrhoids, is actually a beetle.
And what it does is, it bites onto the ant
and then it rides around disguised as an army ant's bottom.
-What a life.
-We've all done it.
-What a life, I know.
There are lots of creatures that live with ants.
They're called myrmecophiles, so they love ants.
This is the very first one that attaches itself for a ride.
Do you think the ant knows what's happening,
why it's got an extra bum?
Or do you think the ant is like, "Oh, my God, the piles are back?"
-It'd keep going like that, wouldn't it?
-"What the hell is that?"
"There's something... I'm sure there's something..."
And the beetle's like that...
"Oh, no, no.
"You never see me."
-And every now and then it goes...
-HUMS TWILIGHT ZONE THEME
"I can hear something, I can hear something."
But then the ant will shit in its face.
"Ugh, you ruined it!"
"You were behind me, you cheeky beetle!"
All the other ants are going,
"You haven't put on any weight, you look fine."
"Oh, really, are you sure?" "You look fine."
Then the five-head caterpillar goes,
"Have you seen him? He's hanging onto his arse."
"Shut up!" "He's hanging onto his arse."
"Well, he can't possibly be living down there."
"He is, he's on his arse!"
"There's a beetle on the ant's arse."
"There's a beetle on the ant's arse?"
"Yes, I can see it from here."
"Swap places, swap places." "All right."
"Oh, there is, there is, there's a beetle on the ant's arse!
"Go and have a look." "All right."
"I can't get up there, why am I always at the bottom?"
-Something like that.
-I like that they're all from the same animal,
but they're all from different regions, different places.
Isn't there a thing - you can have your bottom made bigger?
-Can you do that?
-Bottom implants, yeah.
I just eat more.
How do you guarantee that it goes to the bottom?
-You just sit a lot.
Now, what is the lady at the back of this picture saying?
"What's going on?"
-Has she got a mask on?
-She has got a mask on.
Is she wondering how she's keeping her mask on?
Because I can't see any elastic.
That is exactly the question. So, these are black velvet masks.
We haven't got black velvet ones, but we have got masks for you.
They were worn in the 16th century, and the way you kept them on,
there's a sort of a bead, but we've done a button for you there.
And you put that in your mouth.
If anyone turns on now, this is like an episode of Black Mirror.
So the answer is, she's not saying anything, because she's using...
-Because she's got a button in her mouth.
-She's got a button...
-MOCK MUFFLED: She's got a button in her mouth.
Is exactly right.
She's saying, "I'm not marrying a hippo."
The glasses are a triumph, if I may say so.
I have a re-occurring nightmare and it's this. This, right here.
Why might she be wearing it? What's the reason?
Is it scars from horrible sexually transmitted diseases?
She's proving how rich she is. So how is she doing that?
Oh, to keep her skin so white?
-I was going to say, she looks almost as pale as me.
So, the idea is to avoid sunburn.
The most complete example that we have of one of these
is the Daventry Mask, which was discovered - there it is -
in Northamptonshire, found inside a wall while they were
renovating a 16th-century building. And the idea is...
They've spent about five seconds making that, haven't they?
"You'd be better off not going out!"
The idea was to say, "I'm too rich to get a tan,
"I don't work in the fields, I'm a fantastically wealthy person."
They do that in Vietnam, you know.
You'll go on a beach and all the girls are completely covered.
Their face is covered, arms covered right up to there
cos they want to have white skin, otherwise you look like a peasant.
-I have to wear factor 50.
-Do you burn badly?
I don't take a glowing tan.
Yeah, I look like a newborn fish. You can see, like, through my skin
and see my organs, yeah.
-That's deeply unpleasant.
-Yeah, it is.
The lady in our painting is actually wearing something called
a moretta muta, it was a Venetian variation on the mask.
Does anybody know what this painting is?
It's a wonderful painting of Clara the Rhinoceros, from 1751.
This is a sort of sad story.
17 years, she was toured round Europe, and of course it was
an extraordinary thing, nobody had ever seen rhinoceroses.
They've just taken the horn off, is that what they've done?
Well, as far as we know, the year before she was displayed in Venice,
she had rubbed the horn off in Rome, where she was on display.
So, clearly, an animal in some distress. And she eventually...
Whenever I'm in distress, I rub a horn. Always. Yeah.
Eventually, she came to Britain. In fact, she died in Lambeth,
at the Horse and Groom pub, where she was being shown for sixpence.
We've all died at the Horse and Groom.
So, your factor 50 -
in 1938, there was a chemistry student called Franz Greiter.
He got sunburned while he was climbing
the Piz Buin peak in the Alps.
He went on to develop sunscreen,
which he called glacier cream,
but we now know it as the company that is named after the mountain.
That's what they say in Wales,
if you've been sick the next morning from alcohol,
-"I was piz buin." Instead of spewing.
-Is that right?
"I was hanging and I've been piz buin all morning."
Wouldn't he be proud to know that?
-So, Alan, I've got a question just for you.
What is the largest creature that gets sunburn?
Yes, it is!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
It spends less time breathing at the surface,
about two minutes, than the sperm whale,
which spends about ten minutes,
but the blue pigmentation means it is more likely to get sunburned.
Very vulnerable. Yes. It's a lot of Ambre Solaire.
Where would you find these ornaments?
-MANTLE CLOCK CHIMES
-That is an orchid.
That's genuinely called something like the...
Oh, like, the hanging willy man, or something.
-It's called the Orchis italica.
"Ha-ha-ha! The Orchis italica!"
It's known amongst gardeners as, like, the naked man, isn't it?
-It is called the naked man orchid, is its nickname.
-People who can't do Latin, like.
-"My naked man's come up lovely this year."
"I've got 16 naked men in my garden."
"I've been giving a lot of attention to my naked man."
Which is funny, because the orchid is named after the female genitalia.
That's where the Latin comes from.
I think the orchid's name means testicles.
You've got your genitalia round the wrong way, which...
-That could explain a lot.
-I can help you with that.
But orchids come in the most wonderful shapes.
There's one shaped like the laughing bumblebee, on the left there.
-The other one is the swaddled baby.
And then the one on the right, it's a birthwort flower.
-Do you not think it looks a bit like Darth Vader?
That's an STI.
"I'm not going to come in,
"I'm just going to send you a photograph of it."
"I can't get any clothes on with this thing.
"Could we Skype? Could we Skype it?"
It is known as a Dutchman's pipe, is its nickname.
Oh! You do not want one of those.
Apparently it stinks, it smells of rotting flesh.
So what it does - those membranes, which look like eyes,
are really, really thin and it lets the light through.
The insects are attracted to the smell of the rotting flesh.
Then they go down into those little holes there,
and they get trapped in hairs and it makes them shake about,
like that, and they get pollen all over themselves,
and then the hairs wither away just before the insect dies
and the insect can release itself from the flower
and go and pollinate. Isn't it amazing?
-No, orchid means testicles, because in...
-Sorry, I got my...
In middle English it was called bollockwort.
I think you would have got that one. You would have known that one.
The next time you're backstage with somebody and a marvellous orchid
has been delivered, you go, "Oh, nice bollockwort."
I think we should bring that back.
Bollockwort is much better than orchids.
I've got two lovely bollockworts, actually, on my windowsill.
-Good for you.
Talking about mimicry, have a look at these.
-These are snapdragons.
-Oh, yeah, skull ones. Yeah.
-Snapdragon skulls. Amazing.
So there was a mania for collecting orchids,
it was called orchid delirium.
It hit the UK in the early 19th century.
There was a naturalist called William John Swainson,
and he packed some orchids which hadn't flowered,
he mistook them for weeds, and he used them as packaging material.
When they arrived in Britain, they burst into bloom,
and people couldn't believe it.
Flowers were beginning to change hands
for more than 1,000 per plant. Amazing amounts of money.
About 25 grand they were exchanging for a single plant.
-Isn't it amazing?
-For one bollockwort?
For one bollockwort, yes.
What you really want is a pair, obviously.
One of the UK's rarest plants is an orchid,
it's a beautiful thing called the ghost orchid.
It was first discovered in Britain in 1845,
and isn't it delicate and amazing?
They were seen 11 more times in the 1950s,
sometimes a few...
It was one of the rarest things. Anybody who was interested in plants
wanted to find one of these ghost orchids.
There's a sweet story,
there was a motorbike salesman called Mark Jannink.
He was searching and searching, and in 2009 he finally found one.
Apparently when he saw it, he said, "Hello, you. So there you are."
-Aw! You can see some today in the Welsh National Herbarium.
-There's a lovely vase of them.
So they get their name, partly because of the colour,
but also they were a little bit spooky, they have no chlorophyll
at all, so all plants, we think, have photosynthesis,
that's how they stay alive. But it's a parasite.
It steals energy from funguses below,
so it can live in the dark, shaded woods.
That's another reason why we can't find them. Aren't they gorgeous?
I like the one with the cock more.
What I like about you, Sarah, is you're reliable.
Now, name an object that is designed to fail.
MUSIC BOX LULLABY CHIMES Yes, Alice.
I feel like all phones and laptops are designed to fail
after exactly 24 months.
Weirdly, when your contract's up, they just...
They just stop working immediately.
There does seem to be something in that, doesn't there?
It's a thing called planned obsolescence.
Built-in obsolescence. All white goods have it.
-Eventually they fall apart and you have to buy another one.
So it started in the 1920s. There was a group of light bulb companies
known as the Phoebus cartel.
They got together to reduce the lifespan of a light bulb
down to 1,000 hours. They used to test each other's light bulbs.
There were fines levied if your light bulb was able to last longer.
The idea was that you deliberately gave all your products
a limited life span.
Aren't there still light bulbs that work from yesteryear?
Ooh, there's a light bulb in a Californian fire station
which is still going after 115 years.
Weirdly, there's a webcam...
Oh, I totally want to look at that.
..that you can look at to make sure that it's actually working.
But, I mean, the modern energy saving light bulb,
I can see nothing when they're on.
What about the ones that come on a bit,
-and then they come on really slowly...
-I like those ones.
You can use those ones for, like, sort of sexy time.
-If you're quick.
"Getting brighter! It's getting brighter!"
"Oh, I'm getting... Oh, no! Aaaarrrrgh!"
"Get the mask! Get the mask!"
Well, those modern energy saving light bulbs,
they last about 2,500 hours.
But there are lots of planned obsolescences.
So DuPont, who invented nylon in the 1930s.
Nylon, tough stuff, you make parachutes out of it, right?
It's fantastic stuff. But they were reportedly told to make it fragile
-for making nylon tights.
-That's so irritating.
Why did they do that to us?
Do people still put nail polish on their...?
Yeah, I used to put nail polish on, and then you'd forget,
-and it had stuck to your leg.
-Took a couple of hairs out,
if you were lucky, so you didn't have to shave that bit.
I only ever had red nail polish. I looked like a mild burns victim.
You have to use the clear nail polish.
Yeah. In the 1920s, the American car market was saturated,
and the head of General Motors, a man called Alfred P Sloan,
he came up with the idea of changing the design each year.
That was the idea. It's called dynamic obsolescence.
The idea is you say, "I want the new car."
There was a man called Bernard London in 1932, wrote a book
called Ending The Depression Through Planned Obsolescence.
That's why they invented that ham with the face on it.
-Because people bought ham, but then they were like,
"How do we change up ham?"
So then they put a face on it, and everyone was like, "Great.
"Face meat. This is so much better."
There's meat with a face on it?
That's called a pig.
The other thing, of course, that seems to me
to have planned obsolescence is bloody printer cartridges.
-Finally, someone's talking about the big issues.
In North America, more than 350 million
often not empty cartridges are dumped every single year.
-That's a lot.
-Does everybody have a printer that doesn't work, though,
-under a chest of drawers?
I don't remember mine ever working, but it must have printed once.
Now I just keep it under a chest of drawers.
Why are you keeping it?
Well, exactly. You've got one. We've all got one.
-Why do we keep them?
-Yeah, I've got a couple of those.
-About four computers and eight phones.
Someone's doing all right for themselves.
I had a fax machine until fairly recently.
Shall I tell you what I've got?
No matter how many times you clear out the under stairs cupboard,
there's a fondue set.
You clear it out, you get rid of it, it goes to the charity shop.
Next time you clear it, there's a bloody fondue set.
Do you know what? That's the most relatable thing I've heard all day.
Now, the object of the game is to avoid the klaxons,
as we play General Ignorance.
So, fingers on buzzers, please.
What would a medieval knight call this?
-Chain mail. KLAXON
-No, it's just mail.
Is that like saying PIN number?
Yes, it is what's called a Victorian pleonasm.
It's when you use many more words to explain something
than is necessary, you don't really need that many words.
-Isn't that QI?
-It is QI, yes.
It's only been called chain mail since the turn of the 19th century.
We could save valuable time,
couldn't we, by dropping the extra word?
I think I'd save days a year.
It's the same for suit of armour, because, of course,
armour is a suit, so you don't need suit of armour.
In Lord Of The Rings, you know they had all that chain mail?
It took seven years to film the Lord Of The Rings films,
and there was a man whose only job was to slice a thin plastic tube
every single day, and in that plastic tube he made the chain mail.
And on the special features of the DVD of Lord Of The Rings -
it's, like, 40 hours, you can watch it...
-Wow! We're lucky you're here tonight.
-Yeah, I know.
And this man, they said to him at the end, "So, you've been doing this for seven years."
He went, "I wouldn't take back a day, it's been the best experience of my whole entire life."
-But what's it for?
-To make fake chain mail,
they couldn't give them real, cos it's too heavy.
So they made it out of plastic and sprayed it silver.
-So, why are they remaking it every day?
-Cos there were so many extras,
there was so much to make, they had to constantly make it.
Had everyone thrown it away at the end of the day?
No, it's plastic, so it just kept breaking.
And also, Viggo Mortensen probably was, like, really living it, because he was so...
Seriously, between that and the ham with the face,
I have no idea what anybody is talking about.
Moving on, medieval battles were full of mail-on-mail action.
Working me arse off here, people.
What would you have seen tumbling across the prairie
after George Washington made a terrible joke?
MUSIC BOX LULLABY CHIMES Alice?
The answer is, we don't know whether he ever made a joke,
is the truth of it. But we do know it wasn't tumbleweed,
because during his lifetime there was...?
It's native to Russia, not to the USA, and it arrived in the USA
long after he had passed away, in the late 19th century.
It was accidentally imported in shipments of flax seed from Russia.
Although when you drive now, you do see it just like that.
And a single tumbleweed can become the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.
They can bury houses, they can fuel forest fires,
-I mean, it is fearful stuff.
-Oh, my God!
As it tumbles, it scatters seeds up to 250,000 per plant.
So it keeps perpetuating itself.
And in 2016, there's a rural city in Australia called Wangaratta,
and they were hit by a type of tumbleweed called hairy panic.
-That could be your wrestling name, Sandi.
"Here she comes, all the way from Denmark, it's Hairy Panic!
"She's small, but she's fierce!"
The truth is we don't know whether George Washington ever told a joke,
but when I was a child, I grew up in the United States,
and we celebrated Washington's birthday.
You were made to tell George Washington jokes.
So I've got a couple to see what you think of them, that I have recalled.
What would George Washington be if he were alive today?
If he were alive today.
-Yes, really, really old. Well done.
How did George Washington speak to his army?
Up his sleevies? No.
-In general terms.
They're as good as they were when I was eight.
-They haven't aged a day.
-Not a day.
Right, does anybody fancy a cup of tea?
-Tea all round?
-Yes, please. Yes.
Yes, I feel there's not enough tea breaks.
-So what I'm going to do, I'm going to...
-Do you have any herbal?
No, I haven't.
Right, anybody know, to the nearest 100ml,
how much water did it take to make this tea?
-To make the whole pot?
-To make the cup of tea I'm giving you.
So one cup of tea, I'm going to... I've given you a little bit of milk.
And everybody gets two sugars, you don't have to use them, but I'm...
So, that's what I'm asking. There's a cup of tea.
-Do you want sugar?
-Do you guys want sugar?
-That's piss weak, Sandi.
I didn't actually... I didn't make the tea.
I have people for that.
To the nearest 100ml?
Do you mean to the cup or in the flask?
Yes, so one cup, to the nearest 100ml,
-how much water did it take to make the tea?
-I sense a pattern here.
-Ten... You're getting closer.
Yes. The answer is 52,000ml.
-Oh, to grow the tea plants?
-That's why it's so weak.
-That wasn't the question!
-It was, to make this...
I'm trying to work out how much that is.
Yes, but it's QI.
Oh, I forgot what programme I was on!
52 litres of water, roughly, go into white tea with two sugars.
So we'll see how it breaks down.
Around 30 litres to make the amount of tea in a single tea bag.
Ten litres to make the dash of milk.
And six litres needed for every teaspoon of sugar.
So, 60 billion cups of tea consumed in Britain every year.
So that gives us a footprint of 3,000 billion litres of water.
That's about ten times the volume of water in Lake Windermere
that is needed to make the tea for Britain.
Imagine making Lake Windermere into a giant cup of tea.
So, what are your cups made of?
# Polystyrene. #
No. You're right, they're polystyrene, they're not Styrofoam.
All right, don't pick on me.
-That's what we have new people on for.
Welcome to the show. So they're totally different.
Styrofoam is extruded polystyrene, which is the stuff on the left.
Does it come out of her bum?
The strawberry laces she's got through.
"How much did you want?"
So there's a difference between extruded polystyrene,
which is Styrofoam, and the stuff that we're drinking out of,
which is expanded polystyrene.
Now that you have dodged that round, let's take a look at the scores.
And in fourth place, with a magnificent -34, it's Alan.
-Thank you very much.
In third place, with a very creditable -29, Sarah.
In second place, and considering it's her first show,
what an incredible score, -18, Alice.
And, finally, in first place, with four points, Cariad!
Tonight's prize, Cariad, obviously...
This lovely pair of truck nuts. There you are, congratulations.
Thank you, thank you.
It only remains for me to thank Alice, Sarah, Cariad and Alan,
and you've all been so great it's practically criminal, so let's
break out my favourite object - confetti cannons. There we are.
Ready? Steady, fire!
Good night. APPLAUSE
Sandi Toksvig looks at some objects and ornaments. Along the way, the panel discover where you can find an actual UFO and meet the world's best-dressed crab. With Sarah Millican, Cariad Lloyd, Alice Levine and Alan Davies.