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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
Welcome to QI.
Tonight, we have a show that promises to be
an outright omnishambles,
and trying to stay on top of it all,
we have the cack-handed Josh Widdicombe.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
The ham-fisted Stephen K Amos.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
The butter-fingered Cally Beaton.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
And the...Alan Davies.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
And their buzzers are going all over the place. Josh goes...
That doesn't sound good, does it?
No. It went on far longer than I'd expected, as well.
BARKING, NEIGHING, GALLOPING
Wow, that's terrifying. Cally goes...
And Alan goes...
BARKING Fenton! Fenton! Fenton! Fenton!
OK, what's this all about?
Not a very edifying spectacle!
Wretched women! What...?
Is this about women on panel shows?
Ah, yes. Only last year, in fact, I think!
-Yeah, a bit horrifying to be here.
So, panel shows, it's to do with games of some kind.
Is it women playing sport?
Yes, women doing sport.
It was thought to be one of the most shocking things in the world.
These are descriptions of the women's 800 metres
at the 1928 Olympics, OK? So, women had been allowed
to compete in the track and field events for the very first time,
and the media reported that it was a disaster.
According to these reports,
out of the 11 runners, five collapsed before getting to the end,
five fainted at the finish line and only one was still standing,
and she passed out in the dressing room moments later.
Some of the women took 15 minutes to regain consciousness.
Those who hadn't won sobbed hysterically.
And, as a result, the 800 metres race was deemed to be
just too injurious to these women and it was dropped
from the Olympics for 32 years.
We can see here the German, Lena Radca,
winning and Japan coming second.
She must have an early iPod in, cos she's doing something.
In reality, there were nine women runners,
they all completed it, no-one collapsed,
no-one became hysterical and six of them beat the existing world record.
So, was this in the mainstream British press?
I know, it's shocking to think that the press might ever tell you
something that's not a fact.
Please don't tell me it was in the Murdoch papers!
This wasn't the first Olympics women competed in, though, was it?
-They'd competed before.
-Only in some sports.
So, the founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin,
he vehemently opposed female participation,
he absolutely wasn't having it.
That's Rowan Atkinson!
It does look like him, doesn't it?!
Anyway, him, Pierre de Coubertin,
he vehemently opposed female participation.
He said it would be, "impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic
He said women's primary role should be, "to crown the victors,
"since they were, above all, a companion to men."
But you're absolutely right,
they had been allowed to compete from 1900, but only in five sports,
-and they were considered the kind of easy ones.
Sewing, yes, was a big one. LAUGHTER
It was tennis, croquet, golf, sailing and equestrian.
And the women got fed up with this.
So, in 1922, they held their own Olympics in Paris.
20,000 people attended.
-There were 18 world records set.
One of the more unusual events is that one on the right,
it's the two-handed javelin.
And athletes had to throw once with their right hand, then once
with their left hand, and the score was the combined distance
-of the two throws.
-So a sort of ambidextrous javelin.
-And then your team-mate had to catch it!
I wouldn't want to be the one who had to measure it
when people were throwing the javelin left-handed.
But one of the great...
Is that two together that you're doing?
That's two, that's getting the javelin and throwing them.
-Quite difficult, I'd have thought.
-I would think it was quite tricky.
I think she's going too far up, that one, it's going to go straight up
-and down in front of her.
-Her trajectory is all wrong.
One of the reasons why women wanted to take part in the Olympics was the
incredibly restricted clothing that they wore in the traditional games.
So, up until the mid 1900s, female swimmers had to wear blouses
and bloomers in the pool.
They used to play tennis in dresses that covered the ankle
and multiple petticoats and corsets, and so on. Shoes with heels.
But I think that's why it took so long for women
to get involved in sports, because I run, and it's all about two bras.
-Keeping... Nothing should move.
Because otherwise, honestly, take your eye out.
I feel like giving tips out at race days,
sometimes to middle-aged men, to be honest.
I was not a really big sports fan at school at all, because I come
from quite a big family, and all my stuff was hand-me-downs.
So I'd be the only boy on the sports field with a training bra.
So, I know what you're talking about, yeah.
The very first American woman to win an Olympic medal,
she never knew she'd done it.
Her name was Margaret Abbott, she won the golf in 1900,
but the entire tournament was such a shambles that she assumed
-it was just a regular sports contest.
-What, she didn't realise
-it was the Olympics?
-She didn't realise it was the Olympics.
In fact she died in 1955 without ever realising
that she'd earned an Olympic medal. And, in fact, her mother
also entered the same competition in 1900.
That's the only instance we have of mother and daughter taking part
-in the same Olympics.
-During the London Olympics...
..I went for a run and I live in East London,
so there's a chance I don't know that I've won gold.
And now is the moment that we can...
-Have you run marathons, Cally, have you done...?
-Yes, I have.
-I ran the London marathon, I wore three bras that day.
-Because it was a special occasion.
So, I did, I quite enjoyed it in a strange way.
But I've got two teenage kids at home,
-so I'm just glad to get out of the house.
Well, there was a huge thing about the marathon, so, 1967,
there was a woman in the United States called Kathy Switzer,
and she attempted to run the Boston marathon,
there's a very famous photograph.
The person on the right of her is the race official
called Jock Semple.
He attempted to tear the number off her back, he was so angry,
and that's her boyfriend trying to make sure
that she can actually finish.
And afterwards the man in charge of the race,
the Boston Athletic Association Director, Will Cloney,
asked his opinion of her competing in the race.
He said, "I don't make the rules, but I try to carry them out.
"We have no space in the marathon
"for any unauthorised person, even a man.
"If that girl were my daughter, I would spank her."
She did finish, but it would be another five years before
-the rules changed. It was just...
-Tell you what, men are wankers.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Anyway, moving on.
When is it cool to wet your pants?
Is it when it's, like, in a hot situation?
Obviously, we're going to be, yes, somewhere hot.
Somewhere where your wee is cooler than everything else around you.
Or if you've had a really cold drink and you get it out quick.
Is it to do with, um, jellyfish, you know,
when you have to pee on a...
-Because my daughter got stung by a jellyfish in South Africa.
And she was crying, really upset, and so I pulled my tankini -
which is what older women wear instead of a bikini -
I pulled it to the side to pee, and the sight
of my pulled-to-the-side gusset fully stopped her crying.
I would imagine.
It worked really well.
And she begged me not to pee on the sting.
-Is it to do...? No.
-Does she still have dreams about this?
-She does. We're working on it.
-We're working it through.
I think we're all going to have dreams about it, aren't we?
Is it in space?
It is not in space.
We're not doing people at all,
and "wet their pants" is more of a...
What's another expression for pant?
-An animal panting.
-An animal panting. It is ostriches, in fact.
Ostriches have a phenomenal capacity for water.
They can swallow up to ten litres of water in one go.
And then what they do is, they pant really quickly,
so that the air that they bring into their bodies evaporates
the water, and it works exactly the same way as us
evaporating sweat on our skin, in order to keep us cool.
And they have to avoid getting too much oxygen
into their bloodstream while they do this, and so,
as they pant, their windpipe redirects the air away
from the lungs. Essentially, they pant without breathing.
Did you know this? They're the only birds to have a bladder.
Birds do not wee, because they'd be too heavy to be
carrying around a big bladder, and so on.
But the flightless ostrich can cope with the extra thing.
So there's a little takeaway for you - birds don't wee.
-Who knew that?
Any creature that's got an eye here
-and an eye there that goes that way, nah.
It's not right!
The thing that we know about them is that it's possible that they dream.
What do you think an ostrich would dream of?
-Flying, it might dream it could fly like we do.
-Because it can't, can it?
-No, they're just too heavy,
because they are between six and nine foot in height.
And they're 140lbs to sometimes as much as 300lbs.
But look at that massive wingspan.
I really do think they're quite creepy.
Would you like them more if they could fly? Can you imagine that?
This thing in the sky, argh!
-Do you think they'd fly with their necks up,
or would they just put their necks forward?
Or their neck up, looking behind them.
I imagine they'd do that all the time.
The first one that went up would do that.
I'd like to have an ostrich, though,
because one scrambled ostrich egg is the same as 25 chicken eggs,
so you'd only have to go and collect the one. That would be...
And that would save you time, because normally you have to make
25 chicken eggs in the morning.
I know. It's a nightmare.
The other thing about them is, their legs go the wrong way.
So, when they're running, if you show an ostrich running
and reverse the film, it looks like a person.
It looks like Bernie Clifton.
There, you can see, right, if you look at it,
it looks like it's running that way, but its body is on backwards.
-Do you get it, are you seeing it now?!
-So if it was running that way, you'd think, "Yeah."
-"Yeah, fair enough."
-That's like, that's Bernie Clifton, right.
But Bernie's got to get his...
-If he'd had major surgery in about 1972...
Alan, it sounds like you've done quite a lot of research on this.
I did, I shared a dressing room with Bernie Clifton at the recent
-Royal Variety Performance.
-Me, Bernie Clifton and the Chuckle Brothers.
-I swear to God, it was...
-Talk about knowing your place in showbiz.
-I'll tell you what...
-I'm 51 now, right...
I've been doing stand-up for a very long time, nearly 30 years,
and I was such a junior person in that room.
I loved it, absolutely loved it!
And the older... I cannot remember the Chuckle Brothers' names.
-Paul and Barry.
-Paul and Barry, but, yeah, I can't remember...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
I knew that one day I'd get something on QI!
-Who knew it was going to be that?
-I can't remember which.
I've been waiting for that to come up four series!
One of them went out, that was Paul went out, went round looking,
there were a lot of dancers about to socialise with, you know.
And me and Barry and Bernie, we all stayed in the room
and a girl was sort of allocated to look after us.
"Do you want anything?" And Barry goes,
"Wouldn't mind a tea. Can we have a tea?"
And she goes, "Do you want any sugar?"
-And Barry goes, "Yeah, six."
That's what she said. "Six?!" And he goes,
"Are they sachets?" And she said, "They are."
And he goes, "Yeah, six."
It was absolutely incredible.
I was in heaven.
I like to think that they totally ignored you for the whole time.
They had no idea who I was.
But you're right about the legs,
and look at the extraordinary feet of the ostrich, they're amazing.
So, the scientific name is Struthio camelus,
so it's from the ancient Greek, it literally means "camel sparrow."
And the Greeks considered it similar to the camel because if you look
at the hooves of the ostrich and you look at the hooves of the camel.
Hang on, what's what? The ostrich is on the left?
The ostrich is on the left, the camel on the right.
-Look at those toes.
-That toenail, that needs bringing in, doesn't it?!
He's getting through some socks with that, isn't he?
Unlike any other bird and also they have this in common with camels,
ostrich's have eyelashes. That's a thing. They can bat them at you.
-That was a good noise you made there.
-It's all just, it's just, oh, no.
I just did not know you were anti-ostrich. I just...
-I've tried ostrich steak before.
-Yeah, I've had it as well.
They sell it in Aldi now. They do, they do.
-Where is this place?
-I ate it in Swaziland, because they dished up goat steak.
And I said I was vegetarian, so they gave me ostrich steak.
And I wasn't vegetarian, I just said it
because I didn't want to eat goat.
Yeah. Is it lean? Is it sort of lean?
It's lean, it's actually... Aldi were promoting it as being very lean
-Stop saying Aldi.
-..and better for you than beef.
Right. We must try this Aldi place.
Oh, come, come, come, are we at war? I don't think so.
-All these supermarkets are like anagrams at the moment.
Why can't they have a proper word?
-Like what, what would you like it to be called?
Am I the only person here who isn't being sponsored by a supermarket?
Can I just say, Waitrose is excellent value for money.
Applause for Waitrose!
You're not on Take Me Out, audience.
Right, moving on.
What's the wrong way to get out of a car?
Yeah, that's not good, is it?
But let's all imagine we're driving in the UK.
So, let's all do driving.
Can I do MY driving, please?
-Driving, we arrive...
-I drive like this.
-I'm going to park, brake...
-OK, brake now.
So, you're in a right-hand drive.
Brake, yeah. So now I want you to open the door.
-Open the door.
-You've done it like that. What have you done?
Like that. So, none of that...
And if you never learn anything else from this show,
learn this thing, which I think is wonderful.
You should always do what is called the Dutch Reach.
You have to open with the hand... Exactly that.
Furthest from the door.
And it makes you automatically look over your shoulder.
It's to spot, particularly, oncoming cyclists.
So, in the Netherlands it is required
as part of the driving test,
and it prevents what's called "dooring," which is basically
just hitting a cyclist with your car door.
Do you not think it's the simplest...
It's brilliant, it's brilliant.
But it suggests that when people get out of their car this way,
-that they just go...
-And they do. They do.
So, you know that noise that, if he shuts that door,
it's going to make a sort of clunking noise, it's fake.
-Did you know this?
-Yes, it's a throwback to the olden days.
So, we like that noise. It's the first thing we hear
when we get into a new car.
So, what happened about 15 years ago,
new safety standards meant the door design was changed
and it also changed the noise when it closed.
And it made it sort of tinny and metallic.
So, they changed the mechanism to make that sound.
So, the door doesn't need to make that sound, that clunking thing.
-But actually we want it to.
-We like that noise.
-Oh, it's nice.
If they can choose the noise, I'd have like, you know
like spooky, creaking door.
So, the idea of making cars seem a little bit old-fashioned
is not a new idea. 1899, a patent was filed
for a Horsey Horseless vehicle, and it was a motorcar
with a full-size wooden horse head attached to the front.
-That is brilliant.
-And the idea was,
if the car looked like a horse, it wouldn't scare the other horses.
I think if I was a horse and I saw the head of a horse...
..I would think it would cause more problems than it would solve.
I'd have an ostrich on the front of mine.
Bernie Clifton driving it.
So, out of the car and into the closet.
What's the most exciting thing you can do in a cupboard that
begins with O?
I organise my pants.
-Organising is a good one, yes.
-Organising, yeah, I enjoy that.
-Do you organise your pants, Josh?
-Not my pants, but you know.
-What would you organise?
Well, just like a soiree.
Are you saying you put your pants in a cupboard?
Well, you can do, darling, it's not that weird.
No, I thought a cupboard was like, you know, in the kitchen.
-So, it's a new thing, you sometimes have cupboards in bedrooms.
It's never going to take off, you're absolutely right.
That's the larder. I call the cupboard in the kitchen the larder.
Yeah. We've all got different names for these things.
And in the bedroom, it's the cupboard
-or the hanging one's a wardrobe.
-Because my girlfriend,
-who I live with, has got too many...
-She's in a cupboard?
Oh, I understand that, I spent years in the closet.
I totally understand that.
When you say...exciting, do you mean...?
-Yes, something exciting, yes.
Unbelievably physically exciting. So, who is this in the picture?
Boris Becker. Because he conceived a child in a cupboard, didn't he?
-We are in a sexual area.
-So, orgasming in a cupboard.
It is an orgasm in a cupboard, but it's a very specific one.
-Oh, not that Woody Allen film, The Orgasmatron.
It is exactly this sort of thing.
So, in 1940 there was an Austrian psychologist called
Wilhelm Reich, and he started building... There he is.
-Doesn't look bonkers at all.
-Ooh, look at him.
He's got Chris Packham's haircut.
He wanted to harness the power of a force that he called "orgone" -
an amalgam of orgasm and ozone. And he said other people call it God.
He believed it was all around us, that it was what made the sky blue,
for instance. So, the idea was that you had one of these compartments,
you climbed naked into his special cupboard - this
is for illustration purposes only, but ideally she should be naked.
-And you absorbed the concentrated orgone within it,
to reach a state of sexual satisfaction.
And that could cure anything from, I don't know, cancer to blisters.
-It was really, it was a full-range thing.
But are the people in that box, are they volunteers or hostages?
-No, people wanted to do this. It was hugely popular.
-What year was, when was this?
He believed that sexual repression was responsible for almost
all physical and psychological and emotional problems, and so on.
-I think that's fair.
-He was a slightly strange fellow. So...
Does it clean itself, like one of those toilets?
-GROANING Well, none of it's...
It was very, very popular, lots of celebrities owned these cupboards.
JD Salinger, Norman Mailer, Sean Connery had one.
-AS SEAN CONNERY:
-"Sure, let's go into the cupboard."
The vibrator was developed by Victorian doctors, you'll know this.
-Yeah, I do.
-It was, wasn't it to stop women being hysterical?
You're absolutely right.
So it's widely believed that it was very damaging to women
-if they didn't orgasm enough.
-And I think that's entirely true.
They had steam-operated vibrators, the first ones.
-So I'm just wondering why,
he's a bit late to the party with this cumbersome vibrator.
Well, this doesn't actually touch your pudenda in any way.
-But how's it...?
-It's this thing called orgone,
which he believed was in the ether
and that it would accumulate within the cupboard,
-and this would make you feel...
-Oh, so that's a mask?
No, it's just to go into the cupboard, it's an orgone shooter.
I can't... I'm trying to make it more sensible than it really is.
-Does it work?
No. The US courts formally declared that orgone doesn't exist
and all of the cupboards were ordered to be destroyed,
all of the literature, and, in fact...
Destroyed? You could just convert it into a pant cupboard, couldn't you?
Yeah, you could have done.
Reich was imprisoned for not complying with the ban,
and so he actually ended up dying in prison.
But you're absolutely right, this whole thing about orgasm,
Victorian doctors, it was not uncommon, women with hysteria,
that they needed to get rid, they thought it was anxiety,
irritability, bloated stomach, any of these things could be got rid of.
And the prescription was to have a pelvic massage.
And it was a routine part of doctors' work.
That's a water jet, is it?
It looks like one of those Olympic sports.
..35 feet. Personal best.
Only 35 feet, Alan?
I think I can do better than that.
Apparently it was really boring. It was really, really boring.
Yeah, they used to complain about it, didn't they?
The doctors thought it was dull work,
and so there was a doctor called Dr J Mortimer Granville,
and he pioneered the very first vibrator.
It was known as Granville's Hammer...
..with which you percussed yourself.
Did he used to just hit women on the head? "Pull yourself together now."
-"It's great. The Barker."
That quote isn't attributed to anyone.
-Where are you looking?
-That should say, "It's great.
-"The Evening Standard."
I think that man is telling you how marvellous it is, Mr James Barker.
-And that smile on his face, do you reckon he's using one himself?
-Oh, this is for girls only, this one.
-Oh, what? Oh, really?
-For girls only. CALLY:
-Stephen begs to differ, don't you?
Apparently, we've all been there.
OK, moving on.
Wilhelm Reich thought the solution to all our problems
was an orgasm in a cupboard.
What definitely won't happen to you when you sneeze?
You won't have a 16th of an orgasm.
-Isn't it a tenth?
-Is it a tenth?
But that might be inflation, I don't know.
Is there a, is there a little thrill to be had from sneezing?
Apparently, well, that was the myth,
-that if you sneezed, you'd go...
But you can't physically sneeze with your eyes open, isn't that right?
Yeah, well, we did say that sneezing with your eyes open can't
make them pop out, but in fact, that is not entirely correct.
If you have something called floppy eyelid syndrome,
a sneeze can in fact force your eyeball out of your socket.
And we're all going to have a go!
So, like this.
So, it would be like that, and then you... Atchoo!
And out they pop. So that's so you can see.
Give it a go, have a sneeze.
So, there's a technical name for it.
So, if your eyeball actually pops out, spontaneous...
Spontaneous globe luxation is what it's called.
So, mostly obese men get this syndrome where your eyelid
can pop out. So the upper eyelid becomes very floppy
and it's easily turned inside-out.
What would the medical advice be if your eyeball popped out?
-Pop it back.
-Put it on ice.
Get it back in as quickly as possible, yeah.
No, don't put it on ice, darling, it's still attached, most likely.
If it's still attached,
look round corners that you couldn't previously look round.
-That's a good idea.
Keeping an eye on you.
Just draw eyes on the eyelids.
-So, people think you can still see them.
-you walk into things and you can't.
-No, but what are you going to do
about the eyeball that's out? Are you just going to leave it
-hanging on your cheek? What are you going to do there?
your trick or treating is going to be top notch.
I think the main advice is to get a medical person to do it, don't you?
And apparently they use a tool that looks a bit like a bent paperclip,
which I think would be...
There was an American basketball player
called Akil Mitchell, in early 2017.
-He got poked in the eye during a game, he fell to the ground,
he was clutching his face.
And he described afterwards that he knew something was wrong because he
could feel his eyeball on his cheek, and could still see out of it.
Oh, my God!
And they popped it back in all right?
They popped it back, he's absolutely fine now.
Can you just do it with your finger? Do you need the paperclip thing?
-No, my advice is to...
-If it happens.
Honestly, this is a moment for a doctor.
If you have a child and one of their eyeballs fall out, don't go,
"Darling, stop fussing," and...
But losing your eye, there's a famous moment in history,
Federico da Montefeltro, he was a famous military man during the
Renaissance in Italy, and he lost an eye during a jousting tournament.
And he was so paranoid about plans to assassinate him,
and the fact that he couldn't see out of one side of his face,
he had a notch cut, he basically had the bridge of his nose cut off
so that he could still see on the other side.
-So he could see across.
-Oh, my God!
Now, who would like to see a seriously eye-popping demonstration?
As long as no-one's eye is coming out.
I don't like this whole area.
No, it's not that. So, what we're going to do...
-If you get out a hoover now...
-Have a look at this.
So, let me just put this here.
And hopefully I'm going to get this the right way round.
-Then I have...
-Is that a steam-powered vibrator, Sandi? No?
No, it's adapted. OK.
So we can see that we have got a mirror here,
and if you look at this one, you can see squares,
and if you look in the mirror, you can see circles.
And if I take this one and I turn it, you can
see a square up here and a circle down here.
And if I then carry on turning it,
and we keep going round like this, you will see that this one at the
bottom will turn into a square
-and that one will turn into a circle.
It is. I'm going to move that out the way, so I can get my hand in.
You can see the square, and you can see the circles in there.
And, as I turn, and I keep turning it like this,
you'll see it change and the one in the mirror becomes the square,
-and this one here becomes the circles.
-Oh, I don't like this.
-And the same with this one here, as I turn it... It is
faintly astonishing, isn't it, you can see it becoming the circles.
-And then the squares.
-I know! It is called
the Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion. It is designed by a man...
-It is a catchy name.
Designed by a man called Dr Sugihara Kokichi.
And from one angle, the shapes look circular,
while in the other angle they look like cuboids. And, in fact,
they are a cross between the two.
Squircles, or rather, squircle prisms.
And if you want to make this at home, you absolutely can.
Just look up "Ambiguous Cylinder Illusion cut-out"
and there's a template for a paper version.
So you can work out how to do it. So I'm just going to put that one
-It IS amazing.
Do give it a go, because I think it's really extraordinary.
And the fact that our brains are flawed in this way is what
distinguishes us from robots.
Robots won't be fooled by optical illusions,
only human beings are fooled by optical illusions.
There's a very famous thing called the Adelson chequerboard illusion.
So, this is a chequerboard, all right?
And if you look at it, you would imagine that there are light
squares and there are dark squares.
But, in fact, what's happened is,
the green cylinder there has cast a shadow.
And what happens is, our eyes correct.
What is the truth of that is A and B are exactly the same colour.
-So if you see...
-If we join them together, so just those squares,
but because we have understood
there's a shadow from the green cylinder,
we have, in our minds, made B a lighter colour.
But, actually, A and B are exactly the same colour.
-Oh, is this how the robots are going to finally defeat us?
-Well, this is certainly...
-They'll chase us into a Escher painting.
Yes! But it's how computers may eventually be able to distinguish
a bot from a person, because you could give a test like this.
If you get the answer wrong, then you're human.
Because, even though I've told you A and B are the same colour,
when you look back to the one on the left,
you believe that they are different colours.
-I still don't believe you.
Anyway, what's the most frightening thing you could find in an orchard?
Half a maggot in your apple.
Oh, that is a horrible thing, yeah. Yeah. What else?
Some sort of lethal fruit-destroying insect, or something like that?
-It is an old practice.
People used to go scrumping, didn't they?
-Yeah, they did where I grew up.
-Where did you grow up?
-I was Dorset. Were you Devon?
-I was Devon, oh.
-How did we not scrump together, Josh?
-Because I'm old enough to be your mum, that's partly why.
-I'm from the big city, so "scrumping"?
Stealing apples. Oh, theft? Oh.
So, it's something ancient called "wassailing" or "apple howling."
It's the practice of shouting at apple trees to get them
to bear good fruit. And it dates back to at least the 16th century.
Go out there going, "Pears! PEARS!"
There's an old English folk song called the Wassailing Song.
Yeah, there are lots of wassailing songs, and they used to beat
the trees while they were singing. It's to drive out the evil spirits,
to make sure that we get jolly good fruit.
They used to pour cider onto the roots.
And then, this is one I don't get, tie slices of toast
to the trunks of the tree.
That's just drunk people.
But the tradition is kept up in Somerset and Devon orchards today.
It's supposed to take place on the 12th day of Christmas,
but it quite often takes place on January 17th. Why would that be?
They got the dates wrong? I don't know, what's happening there?
No, it's the historical root, so it corresponds to the 12th day
of Christmas before the calendar was changed.
-It was changed in 1752.
-But orchards, hugely popular.
So, really beginning to proliferate in Britain in the 17th century,
because cider suddenly becomes popular.
-And that is due to the death of the English vines.
We forget how much wine was originally grown in England.
There was a little ice age of prolonged cold weather,
and there was a man in 1640 called Lord Scudamore,
and he worked out how to make cider fizzy
long before people in Champagne worked out how to do Champagne.
And the new drink was so popular that John Evelyn, a popular writer,
said, "All Herefordshire has become but one entire orchard."
But there was some danger cos the bottles used to explode,
and so people would bury them in sand or hang them down wells
to keep them cool and prevent it happening.
And there were vaults cut into the side of well shafts
specifically for storing strong cider.
It was unbelievably popular. And mulled cider.
-Has anybody ever had hot cider? Have you ever?
-Oh, I love a mulled cider.
-Mulled cider, yes.
-Beautiful, isn't it?
-It's really nice.
-Have you seen...? STEPHEN:
-Yes, Devon thing again.
-"Oh, cook it, better cook it! Hmm."
There was a thing called a "cider shoe," which was invented.
It was a shoe-shaped tumbler,
and you could poke the toe into the fire to warm the drink up.
-That's a good idea, isn't it?
-It's rather fine, isn't it?
-They'll be inventing cupboards next for clothes, won't they?
Now, who stumbles into someone else's house
and vomits on the floor?
-That could be... I share a house with a 17-year-old,
a 19-year-old, my cat's got IBS, so it could be anybody.
-Is it an urban fox?
-No, although that's...
That's what my kids said, they had all their mates round
from sixth form and there was a lot of debris,
-and they said it was urban foxes. Was that...?
-What do you mean by debris?
-Empty vodka bottles.
-Oh, that, yeah. Bloody foxes, yeah.
-Well, we are in an animal area.
-Has it got four legs? Is it furry?
Does it have a tail?
-It's a bird.
-We play this game a lot in the car.
-It's a bird.
An ostrich, an emu.
-No, that's a really shit impersonation I've done.
-It's an owl.
-That owl looks absolutely livid about something.
Yeah, owls almost never build their own nests.
And in the case of great horned owls, they steal from other birds.
And one of the only contributions the owl makes
to the nest's construction is to vomit on the floor.
It regurgitates pellets of undigested food
and when those are trampled down, that makes
a rather nice, soft surface on which you can incubate your eggs.
Apart from that, they do nothing of domestic upkeep.
They live in the nest until it disintegrates and then they leave.
There's an interesting relationship between snakes and owls,
actually, because the screech owl uses real snakes for protection.
So, if they can, they catch what's called a blind snake,
so that's one of these here.
They're about six inches long, something like that.
And it brings it back to the nest, and they don't eat the snake,
the snake burrows down into the nest floor
and it feeds on all the vermin and parasites.
And we have no idea whether they do this intentionally,
or the snake just escapes before the chicks can eat it,
but, either way, the snake helps the baby owls to grow bigger and faster.
-So, it's a really nice relationship.
-What else does that snake do?
It doesn't look good for much, to be honest, does it?
-It looks like it sings, doesn't it?
Singing to the owl. "Hello. Hello."
Now, what's a little bit orange and very over-sensitive?
-Someone had to say it, didn't they?!
-Cally, I might be looking at you.
-Something to do with being ginger.
-It is to do with being red-headed.
So are there any particular characteristics that are
-more associated with redheads than...?
-They're fiery, aren't they?
-We're very attractive.
-Very, very attractive. STEPHEN:
No, you can see, yeah, quite pale, aren't they?
The fact is multiple studies have shown
that redheads are more sensitive to pain than the rest of us.
-So, unfortunately, you are more susceptible to pain.
-Do you know,
I think there are studies that say the opposite. I'm just saying,
I've also seen studies that say we've got a higher pain threshold.
Well, they worked out that, typically,
20% more anaesthetic is needed by a redhead.
And the way they work this out, researchers administered
electric shocks to redheads, while giving them
increasing amounts of painkiller until they stopped feeling pain.
And the reason is that having red hair is usually
caused by a mutation on a gene called MC1R.
And that is also involved in pain modulation.
And it explains why redheads are twice as likely to avoid
going to the dentist as the rest of us. Because you feel more pain.
I don't believe any of this. I don't want to cry in the face of QI,
but, no, I don't believe it.
Fair enough. Where do you think the most common red-hair gene
first appeared in the world? Where does it come from?
It's got to be Scotland.
-No, it isn't - it's Asia, in fact. It's Central Asia.
-..or maybe 100,000, years ago.
It only really took off when it reached the colder,
darker places, like northern Europe, probably because, and you're going
to dispute this as well, redheads produce vitamin D more efficiently.
So, they can make better use of the limited sunlight.
Oh, I'm sure that's correct.
But it's very common in various parts of the UK. Why do you think that might be?
-Surely it's the lack of sun.
-Yeah, it's got to be the climate.
In places like Scotland.
I mean, look at our Scottish cousins, but their skin isn't just
sheet-white from the lack of sun, but their hair has turned red,
as it attempts to start its own fire for warmth.
Is it about people desperately wanting to procreate
with other ginger people, because we're so deeply attractive?
STEPHEN ROARS WITH LAUGHTER It's, the fact is...
-The fact is, it's a recessive gene,
so it excels in relatively closed communities, I'm afraid.
-It requires a level of inbreeding.
We're from Dorset and Devon, thank you very much!
Honestly, it requires a level of in-breeding.
-That's the truth.
-My friend, she's got red hair
and she went on holiday to the Philippines, and people were
stopping her in the street to have their photo taken with her.
-Because they just love...
-They just couldn't believe that she existed.
Like she was a celebrity.
I was in mainland China for the first time ever, doing gigs,
and I could not tell you how many people stopped me
in the street, asking to take a selfie with me, right?
I mean, it was as though they'd never ever seen a tall person before.
So, can you imagine if I was ginger as well?
They'd be carrying me out of the building!
Obviously I don't speak Mandarin or Cantonese, I'm in a packed lift
in China, all these people - I'm not even joking -
the only phrase I could decipher was this...
You absolutely need to put that on your posters.
I think that should be...
Now for the oddly shambolic omnishambles that we call
Fingers on buzzers, please. What did the Nazis call this?
Aah. Who's going to go for it?
Not... I'm told they didn't call it a swastika.
They did not call it the swastika.
They called it the Hakenkreuz. It's the German for "hooked cross,"
and in Germany, in fact, it's still referred to, except when discussing
it in a neo-Nazi context, in which case it's called the swastika.
But Hitler was mad for it.
And after his party adopted the swastika, he actually
changed his signature to S Hitler,
because the shape of the S mimicked...
There, you can see there, it mimicked the shape of the swastika.
Anyway, who was the last monarch to be crowned
at the abbey in Westminster?
Has there been one since the Queen?
-That's wrong, then, is it?
-So it's not her.
-So it's not her.
-Oh, was it Queen Latifah?
Here's the thing, it's not actually an abbey.
And that is what makes it a trick question.
So, Henry VIII is the answer,
because since his dissolution of the monasteries, it is
no longer technically an abbey, so if it's not an abbey, it's a...?
-It's called a Royal Peculiar.
-A Royal Peculiar.
-It's called a Royal Peculiar.
So, it's a church subject to the direct jurisdiction of the monarch.
And although Henry VIII officially did make it a cathedral
by charter in 1540, it was Elizabeth who made it into a Royal Peculiar.
And that is what it is today.
It's the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster.
Did you know, it's home to the oldest stuffed parrot in the world?
It was an African Grey that belonged to the Duchess of Richmond.
It died within days of its owner, in 1702.
And it was placed on a perch next to a model of the Duchess.
And they have remained together ever since. But they're in
-the building's attic.
-You don't see that in Madame Tussauds, do you?
You do not, and you should, frankly.
There is one person buried in Westminster Abbey standing up.
-Anybody know who that is?
-No, it's in Poet's Corner.
No, it's Ben Johnson.
He was England's very first Poet Laureate,
but, despite that, he died very, very poor.
And you had to be able to buy the space,
so you needed a six foot long space.
He didn't have that much money, so he bought a two foot square
piece of floor space and was buried standing up.
-They just dropped him in it?
-They dropped him in it, yeah, absolutely.
Headfirst or feet first? Hopefully feet first.
-I would imagine feet first.
-Don't know, he's dead, mate.
But Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries,
as well as changing the status of Westminster,
it also meant that we hardly have any physical record of Old English
left whatsoever, because he destroyed most of the texts.
All of the surviving Old English poems, including Beowulf,
could fit in an average cardboard box.
That's all that we have left, because it was all got rid of.
Westminster Abbey is not an abbey, peculiarly enough, it's a Peculiar.
How many species of camel are there?
-More than that...?
-More than that. Yes.
We used to think it was two, so Carl Linnaeus,
he named the dromedaries and the domestic Bactrians, back in 1758.
120 years later, the Russian geographer
Nikolay Przhevalsky, discovered wild Bactrians.
So, the truth is that there are actually three of them.
They used to think wild Bactrians were
a subspecies of the Bactrians, but we now know from recent DNA analysis
they're a totally different species.
-Beautiful, aren't they?
-Aren't they stunning? I think they ARE stunning!
Who was it said a camel is a horse designed by committee?
Have you been on a camel ride?
I have been on a camel ride. It doesn't go well.
I did a... I did a magic show once, where I was asked
to "magically" appear on a camel.
And you know my feelings of beasts like this.
-Why did you point at me when you said that?
Don't, she's very sensitive to pain!
And it was one of those one-hump ones.
I'm not sure - what's the big difference
between the two humps and the one hump?
-It's the number of humps.
-Is that it?
-OK, so I was on the one with the one hump.
-And they put this sort of square seat on the hump.
-I'm like, "How am I going to get on the hump?"
And I had to have a man... and give me one of those, like...
-But you get a ladder.
-They don't like it.
-They don't want you on their backs!
-And they turn around and look at you
with their faces, like...
It's too much.
There's a couple of them in London Zoo
and they're great big things, and they look at you with contempt.
You know, "What, are you back again?" "I'm a member, all right?!
"I've got a family membership.
"So, why don't you just, for once, just change your whole attitude?"
"I don't like you. I don't like you."
There are three species of camel,
but sadly, the third doesn't have three humps.
Which brings us to the scores.
This week's winner,
with minus 12, it's Josh.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
In second place, with a magnificent debut,
minus 14, Cally.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
Third place, minus 18,
Stephen. APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
And, with a truly marvellous minus 69, Alan.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
So, Josh takes home this week's objectionable object prize,
which is this hilarious comedy eyeball.
There you go, there you go, fantastic.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
So, it's thanks to Cally, Josh, Stephen and Alan,
and I leave you with this advice from La Code Gourmand,
a book of etiquette written in 1828.
"When you are seated next to a lady,
"you should be only polite during the first course.
"You may be gallant in the second,
"but you must not be tender till the dessert.
"When you have the misfortune to sit next to a child,
"your only plan is to make him drunk as soon as possible."
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
Sandi Toksvig organises an omnishambles. Learn how to throw the two-handed javelin, meet the woman who never knew that she had won an Olympic gold medal, and much more besides. With Josh Widdicombe, Stephen K Amos, Cally Beaton and Alan Davies.