Sandi Toksvig ventures overseas to find out about Allotment Annies, who keeps their brothers in a cage. With Bill Bailey, Colin Lane, Desiree Burch and Alan Davies.
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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Good evening and welcome to QI.
Tonight we are heading overseas,
and helping me to oversee proceedings
are the Maharaja of Mirth, Bill Bailey...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..the Sultana of Swing, Desiree Burch...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..the Grand Vizier of Gags, Colin Lane...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..and on his "gap yah", Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Right, let's OVERSEA their buzzers. Bill goes...
# Over the hills and far away... #
That's lovely. Desiree goes...
# It's a long way to Tipperary... #
# I come from a land down under... #
# Show me the way to go home
# I'm tired and I wanna go to bed... #
That's like the ultimate drunk song, isn't it, that?
-Now, which Australian icon is regularly smeared in olive oil?
-# Go home... #
-Oh, Alan was in.
And it's not a good look.
So, I need an Australian icon regularly smeared in olive oil.
Well, would it be an animal of some kind?
A beast, a thing?
-No, it's not an animal.
-Sydney Harbour Bridge is...
-OK, you're getting close.
-Yes, the Opera House is absolutely the right answer.
-Why did you say that?
-It's 200 metres
-from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
And you said that was close when he said...
So there was a Greek migrant who arrived in Sydney in 1964,
Steve Tsoukalas, and he loved the building immediately.
It was being built, he immediately decided he wanted to work there.
He is still working there, he's the longest-serving employee,
and he was inspired by his own Greek heritage.
So he said, "Olive oil for the Greeks means a lot of things.
"The Greeks used olive oil in the Olympic Games to rub on the body.
"Olive oil protects from the sun."
And he decided that the building needed to be rubbed in olive oil.
The fact is, it doesn't protect it from the sun at all,
but it stops the railings and the door frames
-and the windows from getting rusty.
He's still working there more than 50 years later.
And does it not deter people from clambering on it,
-I imagine, as well?
-Because you'd slide off because of the olive oil.
I love the design of it, I think the design of it is extraordinary.
Apparently the Danish architect Jorn Utzon...
He got the idea when he was peeling an orange.
It's the segments of an orange, and then the 14 shells,
if you put them together, would make a perfect sphere.
What I love about the story is his design
was recovered from a reject pile.
It was a competition and he got £5,000 for winning the competition.
He got £5,000 and a lot of grief, unfortunately.
Yes, it didn't go well, did it?
No, they ran out of money and then they didn't want to do
his inside design,
so he was very unhappy and it's not a very funny story.
But, anyway, thanks to Australia for treating a Dane so well.
There are lots of different ways of cleaning buildings. So, York Minster
found that covering the building in a paint made from olive oil
can also help to protect it from rain damage.
So one of the components of olive oil is an acid
that reacts with limestone surfaces,
and it creates a barrier and stops water getting into the stone itself.
So, actually, it is a wonderful thing, olive oil.
It's a panacea, for buildings.
I remember, we had this neighbour once, who hated squirrels,
and he painted all the trees with anti-climb paint.
And... Which was...
Obviously I don't know whether that's cruel or what,
-I don't know, but it was hilarious to watch.
-Quite funny, yeah.
The cat would chase the squirrel, and the squirrel would go,
"Hey, I'm out of here!"
If he caught them, he'd drown them in a barrel.
Yeah, yeah, that's the sort of darker element of his...
Of his squirrel hatred.
-You were living next door to a psycho.
-Yeah. Yeah, pretty much.
-And that's OK? You're allowed to do that?
-You're allowed to do that.
-In fact, you're encouraged to do it.
-Don't tell people that.
You're not allowed to do that. Please do not do this at home.
We had a fox in the garden and it was injured
and it was not going to make it.
And, er, the kindest thing to do was to, you know...
-Put it out on the A40.
Yeah, actually, that's...
Tie it to some railway tracks.
No, what we did was...
I had to, you know, finish it off and...
Not in that way, obviously!
I mean, it's going to die, give it a little joy.
Well, I thought I'd better do it...
When you do that, is that a guitar, a mic stand, what is that?
Yeah, with a Flying V guitar. With a shovel.
And I thought, "I hope nobody's watching this,"
because that's not a good look, is it?
Animal lover Bill Bailey, by day.
Aren't you supposed to put them at the back...
Put the exhaust on if an animal's injured, put the exhaust on
and kill it with the fumes
-from the back of a car?
-Is that not a thing?
Drown it in a barrel suddenly sounds so far the most humane.
Fake the animal suicide - is that what we're doing?
Write a little fox note with a paw print at the end.
"I couldn't go on."
-Hooked up to the exhaust, yeah, that's it.
-"Not enough rubbish."
No, what you do, you hang it from a beam...
..you turn a chair over
and you put a puddle there as if there had once been a block of ice.
-And an electric fire.
-Oh, you just ring up Bill.
-Just for me, I'll come round.
-I've got a taste for it now.
-Bill with a shovel.
There are other things you can do with...
I don't think I'll be able to say this -
there are other things you can do with olive oil!
-Cover opera houses.
-Well, in Turkey, oil wrestling
is the national sport.
They have an annual world series, it's called the Kirkpinar.
40 Springs. It's the oldest continuing sporting event
in the world.
There are 13 weight categories, from Best Beginner,
all the way up to Chief Wrestler, and taking in Big Medium,
Small Medium Big and Small And Sweet.
Which I like.
You are allowed to put your hand down your opponent's trousers.
-Hmm, there you go.
-But it is explicitly against the rules
to grab your opponent's testicles
or invade his rectum.
That was going to be the one, right there.
-You can, if you want, you can put a squirrel down there.
Yeah, that squirrel will be committing suicide thereafter.
This looks like an instructional video of a pickpocket.
It's like, do's and don'ts.
Do aim for the pocket.
The one on the right really looks compliant.
He's saying, "You can invade it if you like.
"I won't say a word!"
"It's not an invasion if I invite you in there."
Right, moving on, um...
What did the Romans think the Britons had ever done for them?
I'm going to give you a clue, it begins with O.
Orienteering. They just went in straight lines,
whereas we could go from point to point over all terrain.
-Via a youth hostel.
-They've got nothing to eat.
THEY ALL MUMBLE SLOWLY
When they came to Britain, they fell in love with our oysters.
The first century BC Roman historian, Sallust, he said,
"Poor Britons, there is some good in them after all.
"They have produced an oyster."
So, do you like oysters? I love oysters.
-Yeah, they're fantastic.
-I think they are just delicious.
-I'll tell you what is nice.
Innit, though? Fish paste on toast.
-Oh, it is, yeah.
-Can you still get that?
Yeah, you can get that.
And Salisbury Cathedral is covered in it.
It stops the pigeons from landing.
I just made that up, I don't know. It could be true, I don't know.
It sounds plausible.
They used to transport the oysters from here all the way
over the Alps in carts filled with snow and ice.
The wealthier Romans used to have salt water tanks in their gardens,
so they could keep them fresh for parties and that sort of thing.
-Wait, they went over the Alps...
-..rather than in a boat,
since they'd already gotten something from the sea?
I think actually some did go by sea from the Kent coast from Reculver
and places like that, but certainly a lot went up and over the Alps.
You can find oyster shells from that part of the Kent coast
in Rome at some of the archaeological sites.
-That is pretty weird.
-That is quite strange.
But oysters aside, I have to say,
the Romans viewed the British as uncultured and backwards.
They mocked their abundance of tattoos and lack of clothing.
The second-century historian Herodian, he reported the reason
they didn't wear clothes was to show off their tattoos.
Oysters have been very popular in this country for a long time.
There's a horrible story of William Thackeray.
He tried one the size of a dinner plate when he was in New York,
in 1852, and he described it,
"Like swallowing a live baby."
In the 19th century, London was plagued by a man called Dando,
the celebrated oyster glutton.
This man was constantly sent to prison for overeating oysters
and not paying the bill. And he became a sort of folk hero.
And every time he left prison,
he went back out and immediately started eating oysters again,
not paying for them, and then back in again.
There's a wonderful story about him leaving Brixton prison,
still in the prison garb, he eats 13 dozen oysters,
and washes it down with five bottles of ginger beer,
because he was, "Troubled with wind in the stomach."
You'd think he'd eat a quieter food if he'd been thrown in jail.
It's all that slurping. Eat marshmallows.
He once ate 240 oysters in one sitting.
GASPS I know, that is really...
-Is it an aphrodisiac?
-It IS an aphrodisiac.
Casanova had 60 oysters for breakfast every day -
that was his thing - and they've done studies on this,
and it's rich in rare amino acids which can trigger increased levels
of sex hormones, so yes, it is an aphrodisiac.
Your breath would be pretty bad, wouldn't it?
I mean, you wouldn't want to have sex with that person
if they'd eaten 240 oysters.
And also there'd be a lot of shells kicking around.
-A lot of shells.
-Be a bit like lying on a bit of Lego,
I once lacerated my hand quite badly trying to open an oyster shell,
and I was trying to decide if that was the most middle-class injury
you could possibly have.
And then I got my finger stuck in the ladies' lavatory
at the Dorchester, and I thought, "No, that's quite bad as well."
No, the most middle-class injury would be
passing the port the wrong way,
and then realising it halfway through,
-and getting a crick in your neck.
Oh, God... Oh, GOD!
So, anyway. On the screen we have some anagrams of country names.
I want you to see how many you can work out.
And you've got just a few seconds.
Write them down, please.
-What are we working out, sorry?
-What countries these are anagrams of.
Oh, I see.
Well, I've got the first two.
After that I'm in trouble.
OK. Who got all four?
-# Down under... #
-"I did." I did is wrong?
-Yes, it is wrong.
It's not possible to get all four - how many did you get?
Only the two.
-Colin, what did you think they were, darling?
-Ah, there you go.
Yeah, it would be Kazakhstan, except there is an extra E.
So the fourth one is not possible.
Here's the thing.
-That's very good, I think.
-Well, thank you very much, Alan.
I mean, obviously there's no E in Kazakhstan,
-but to get anywhere near is very impressive.
-Thank you very much.
I mean, I didn't even get Angola, I was so distracted by my own name.
-Alan. Alan. Alan.
-We're just celebrating the fact
-that you saw your name in big letters.
-Alan. Alan. Alan.
Colin, it's not a good thing that you thought you'd got all four,
because what they now know is that you're more likely to act immorally
if you spend time abroad.
Yes, I just thought that I was right, but I wasn't.
So I didn't actually purposely lie.
So they did a study of this.
They got people to solve anagrams, and what they've discovered is
that people who spend time abroad
are more likely to say that they've done something correctly.
48% of people who spent a year in a foreign country cheated on the test,
compared with 30% of the others.
The idea is that your moral compass loses some of its precision.
The further from your home country?
Yeah. So a fifth of people admitted to stealing while they've been in a foreign country.
So, what you're saying is that you go abroad,
you live abroad for a bit, and you sort of, kind of, almost have
a bit of licence to reinvent yourself a little bit,
-and become a different person...
-Be a bit naughty.
..who would do things you'd not normally do?
Yeah. So 20% of people admitted to urinating in public when abroad,
but wouldn't dream of doing it.
-Although the first time I came over to Europe,
everyone was pissing everywhere.
Out along the streets, it was like, this is the way of the Europeans.
-Oh. Whereabouts in Britain were you at this point?
So, lots of people do that. 5% of people who did the survey,
drinking too much has led to a naked escapade in public,
but only when abroad.
I've never... Have you had a naked escapade abroad?
I don't know why I'm looking at you, Bill.
Um, no, well, no. Well, all right, well...
-Yeah, I have.
I got locked out of a room once.
The thing I don't understand, Expedia, a travel company,
they did a survey in 2002,
and the British were voted the worst tourists in the world.
In your face, Europe!
Well, because Europe,
your liquor laws make everything close at midnight,
and then you go to these places where you can drink until 4am.
You don't know how to pace or control yourselves.
-No, that's true.
-It's like, "Lads! Lads! Lads!" Everywhere.
And people are like, really, it's OK, you can...
There's more to drink tomorrow! Stop for now.
The Danes have a completely different attitude
to the whole thing.
I was once taken to the Central Hospital in Copenhagen,
the A&E department on a Saturday night,
and it was completely empty.
They self medicate, though, don't they?
They stitch one another up with string.
Bite on this!
I said to the nurse, I said, "Where all the drunks?"
And she said, "If people are drunk, they should go home."
And your neighbours, you're very, very organised. Extraordinary.
I did a festival in southern Sweden, in Lund,
and it was Friday night,
and you'd think, Friday night in any town in Britain,
all the pubs are open, it's, you know, it's like Day Of The Dead.
But I've been in many, many European capitals
where the only people still up are the British tourists.
You know? In a fountain going "whay"!
But here is the strange thing.
They did the same survey seven years later,
and Britain had jumped to second-best tourists,
so they'd gone from being worst to being second,
and I can't work out why in seven years.
-They're trying to get back to number one.
-Yeah, do you think?
Guess who's the best tourists in the world?
No, darling, it's not the Australians.
-Japanese, yeah, absolutely.
The most polite, quietest, cleanest, least likely to complain.
-And by the way, as far as alcohol is concerned, Australia,
we never touch the stuff.
Never touch your shitty lager, that's for sure.
Well, we... We don't touch it either -
that's why we sent it all over here.
My favourite story about people getting drunk abroad
happened in 2012, two Welsh holiday-makers.
They drank a litre and a half of vodka, right?
So this is like two wine bottles, basically, of vodka.
-They were in Queensland, and they woke up to find
they were sharing their apartment with a fairy penguin called Dirk
they had obtained by breaking into SeaWorld the night before.
They're the smallest species of penguin, about 13 inches high.
They had apparently also swum with the dolphins
and let off a fire extinguisher in the shark pool.
They then tried to care for the penguin by giving it a shower.
I feel like this is a plot to a Hollywood film.
Like, they've had the best vacation they'll never remember.
Yes, you're absolutely right.
And then they tried to put it in a canal,
because they didn't know what to do with it.
-What a night!
-Top night out.
-Once you've put out a shark that's on fire...
Can you imagine waking up drunk and there's a penguin right there?
How did they find out it was called Dirk?
-I think SeaWorld said, "Where the hell is Dirk?"
-Dirk's always out with the Welsh lads.
Right, what am I doing here?
OK, it's a cry for help.
Some of my... Some of my finest work, I think you'll find.
Overdoing it, overreacting?
Yes, yes, there is that,
but where might I... Where do you think...
-Somewhere in like the prairie, the plains?
-Look, watch this, this is good.
So, keep going - it's beginning with O,
-somewhere in the United States.
Austin doesn't begin with an O.
Oh, right, yeah.
-There we go!
So when Oklahoma was opened up to American settlers,
you could claim your favourite plot of land by just standing on it,
waving your hat in the air and shouting "hurrah"!
In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison declared two million acres
of Indian territories, so that's the future Oklahoma,
to be available to white settlers,
and they did it on one day, April 22nd.
50,000 Americans set up tents along the border
and then they galloped...
Apart from the bloke from the Village People,
who was on a Penny Farthing.
He is quite camp, isn't he?
There was a starting gun at midday,
and they were called boomers, after the sound of the gun
and there were special boomer trains as well,
but they weren't allowed to go any faster
than the maximum speed of the horse so that nobody could cheat.
And then you just stood on the land, you waved your hat,
and shouted "hurrah", and you got your piece of land.
Well, how would you have a dispute
if two people got to the same piece of land and one was like "whooo"!
And the other one was like, "No, whooo!"
I think in a traditional American way.
You'd get shot. Yeah. Why, why did I ask?
There was another way actually you could claim the land -
-you could stand on it and fire a pistol.
-Oh, there you go.
There was an amazing woman called Nannita Daisy -
she's a great legend in the United States
for fighting gender discrimination,
but she took part in four Oklahoma land runs,
and she got her first bit of land by jumping off a train,
firing a celebratory shot,
and getting back on the same train,
-and carrying on to the next piece of land.
Allegedly, she jumped off the cow catcher at the front,
although we don't know if that's true or not.
But she is considered a hero in Oklahoma.
There's a statue to her in Edmond in Oklahoma.
How did she jump off the train in those heels?
-I don't buy it.
You didn't choose to re-enact that? No?
There's a limit to what I'll do for this show and that's it,
So as well as boomers, there were also sooners,
and these were people who in the Oklahoma Territory
before the legal date and time,
and because of that, Oklahoma is known as The Sooner State.
The name Oklahoma comes from the Choctaw phrase okla humma,
which literally means red people.
The thing I love about the Choctaw people,
in 1847 there's a great famine in Ireland,
and they were so moved to hear about people starving in Ireland
that they gathered together 170...
So, these are a poor people,
gathering together what was a huge sum of money at that time.
People did suffer terribly in their removal from the Indian territory.
..and sent it to the Irish.
-Do you not think that is wonderfully affecting?
Now, we all know who was overpaid, oversexed and over here.
But who was overpaid, undersexed and over there?
-Well, these are GIs we're talking about.
-OK, GIs. Yeah.
-But you're saying there was an equivalent?
-Oh, OK, undersexed.
Oh, all the women who were left behind waiting,
-although they weren't overpaid, were they?
-Well, it depends.
So, during the Second World War,
the wives of the American servicemen who'd been sent to fight abroad,
they got an allotment. It was known as an allotment,
and it was 50 a month for their husband's tour.
And if the husband died in battle, they got 10,000 life insurance.
Some of the women thought, "That's a marvellous idea."
So they married as many men as they could!
So, they were bigamists.
They were known as Allotment Annies.
There's a fabulous story about one of them, Elvira Taylor.
She was 17 years old, and she had married two men,
and she was caught out by the most unbelievably unlucky coincidence.
There were two American sailors in a pub - this is not them,
this is just us showing two American sailors.
And they both showed a photograph of their wife...
..to the other, and it turns out she was in fact married to both of them,
as well as four other sailors.
Oh, hashtag role models.
In fact, the practice was considered so widespread
that warnings against possible bigamists
were printed in every civil notice of every single marriage.
There was even a film, Allotment Wives, released about them.
Hundreds of women were convicted after the war
of having been Allotment Annies.
-I know, it's a great phrase, isn't it?
It is, yeah.
Now, when Americans were first described as overpaid,
oversexed and over here, where was here?
I love this picture!
-Colin should know this.
Australia is absolutely the right answer.
-Wave the flag! Australia flag?
-This one's like...
So the first GIs arrived in Australia, December 1941,
and a couple of months later they arrived in the UK,
so that expression "overpaid, oversexed and over here"
initially was used to refer to them in Australia.
-But they must have been very sexy to the Australian women.
I mean, they were well dressed and well paid.
Are you saying that the Americans were attractive,
or are you saying that Australia's women are desperate? Or...
Any time anyone comes over from another place,
they're always like, "Ooh, exotic!
"I like the way you talk, you say what we say but different.
Except if you're from Birmingham.
And letters from Birmingham can be addressed directly to Bill Bailey...
No, they're all in Birmingham, all going,
-"It's true, that, it's true."
"Hullo, oi'm from anuther countray!"
"Do you fancy going to... Don't go!"
Allotment Annies could make 50 per month per husband,
and that's a-lot-men.
GROANING AND APPLAUSE
OK, who am I talking about? A great beauty, pouty lips, long legs,
good posture, firm ears,
and spits in your face when you annoy them?
-It is a camel, indeed.
Pouty lips, yes. There you are, look -
they have naturally pouty lips.
Every year the government of which country...
It's the only one in the world begins with O?
-Oman. ..runs a camel beauty contest.
So I've got the guidelines for a beautiful camel.
"Well-proportioned body and face."
"A long gharib."
Anybody know what the gharib is?
Is it their neck thing?
It is the area between the hump and the neck, is the gharib.
-"Long body, firm ears, pouty lips.
"Broad cheeks, big whiskers, a long, straight neck,
"long straight legs, and fur shimmer."
A shiny coat, I guess.
Yeah. And the most important thing is it's got to be large.
There are no hybrid breeds, no fur dying, colouring, tattooing,
that kind of thing. The natural look is what they want.
But there are other animal beauty contests,
and one of them is held here in the UK.
It's an annual tarantula beauty contest.
So we are going to have a look to see how beautiful tarantulas are.
Please welcome zoologist Mark Amey.
Thank you, Mark. Now, here is the thing,
is that we don't in any way want to upset the tarantulas, obviously.
-Don't open the lid, don't open the lid. Don't open the lid.
So only one person is going to handle.
-This is Rosie the tarantula.
And Bill's volunteered, haven't you, Bill?
-Yes, I have.
-Ah, he's... Oh, yeah.
-And what is this one?
-That's a Mexican redknee tarantula.
-And this one is a Chilean rose tarantula.
She is called Rosie, isn't she?
-OK. How dangerous are they?
I mean, some people are afraid of them.
Their venom is very mild.
-So it's equivalent to a...
COLIN LAUGHS NERVOUSLY
-Venom is mild?
It's similar to bees' and wasps' stings.
So it's a neurotoxin, but it's a low-level neurotoxin.
-Oh, that's all right, then!
-But tell me about the...
Like a nettle sting that they can give off from their abdomen -
-is that right?
-Yeah, it's called urticating.
And those hairs are like little javelin spears
that go in an upward direction, and they're all barbed.
So when they hit something like eyes or skin, they stick in.
It comes from the Latin for nettle, so it feels like a nettle sting?
-Is that the sensation?
-Yeah, it does.
And do they mind being handled?
No, this one's quite used to it, and quite enjoys it.
Have you known Rosie from... I don't, from...?
I've had her for over 20 years, but that...
I don't know how long they'll live.
-She could live another 10, 20 years?
-It's very sweet.
-But the boys,
the boys reach sexual maturity, and then what?
-Oh, then they're pretty doomed.
They stop feeding, and their whole purpose in life
is to try and find females.
-And then they'll usually die of starvation.
the last female that they mate with generally kills him.
Well, I think they're both super. Thank you so much, Mark,
for bringing them in and thank you to Rosie.
-Thank you very much.
Now, why would you keep your brother in a cage?
If he was a bit like my brother,
who used to like to pin me down and dribble into my mouth...
-It's a funny relationship with brothers, isn't it?
So, my brother and I, we used to play this game at night.
We'd turn out the lights and roll up a pair of socks
and throw them, and if you hit each other, then you got a point.
And I always won. And that is because
he had a luminous dial on his watch.
And I never told him, right,
until his 50th birthday.
And he's STILL cross about it!
I had a big brother who used to bully me,
and I had a little brother as well.
And he was one day in the bathroom, and he was nude,
came out of the bathroom and just went, "I am a robot, I am a robot."
We thought that was pretty funny. And then he turned around,
and he had a battery sticking out of his bum.
Actually, we're going right back to Ottoman times.
So, as the Ottoman Empire expanded,
it was decreed that when a sultan ascended to the throne,
he should kill all his brothers,
to prevent sibling rivalry and that kind of thing.
And then this guy pitched up, Sultan Ahmed I.
1603, and he said, "I don't want to kill my brothers."
He's obviously a nice guy, so he made this very special pavilion
and it was called The Cage. And they were cut off from the world,
all his brothers, they were accompanied by eunuchs,
and concubines past child-bearing age,
so they couldn't have any progeny to mess up everything.
And they spent all their time doing macrame.
Ah, how lovely.
-In the shape of a noose.
Yeah. And then if a sultan died without a son,
one of the brothers would be taken from the cage and made Sultan.
Right, so is this a way of protecting the line, the lineage?
-It is exactly that.
But the one who came from the cage,
that wasn't just whoever's the oldest, there was terrible fighting.
1622, Sultan Osman II died by...
"Compression of the testicles at the hands of an assassin,
-"Pehlivan the Oil Wrestler."
You can die from compression of the testicles?
-Oh, I don't know, embarrassment, maybe.
It would hurt a lot, I imagine you might black out.
-If that happens in the bathtub, you're a goner.
They had quite a lot of strange rules.
One of my favourites, if a grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire was
sentenced to death, he could have the sentence commuted to banishment
if he beat the head gardener, who was also the chief executioner,
in a race around the royal palace.
So the Vizier would be summoned by the gardener,
and he would be handed a cup of sherbet.
If it was white, it was all fine, if it was red, it meant death.
And he had to run 300 yards from the palace to a place
called the Fish Market Gate,
and if he survived, then he could carry on living.
And this carried on quite well into the 19th century.
It's such an interesting period of history, the Ottoman Empire.
So 1517, they had one of their most famous victories,
over the Mamluks of Egypt.
And it's largely down to the fact
that the Mamluks considered guns beneath their dignity.
-They refused to use them, and that's how they were...
-Yeah, exactly. Totally wiped out.
When the Ottomans invaded Constantinople the previous century,
they had to get from here to here with their boats.
How did they do it?
Walking? Is it shallow?
Walking is in fact the correct answer.
So it was impossible to get into the Golden Horn
because there was a huge iron chain floating on logs
that had been installed across the entrance to defend it,
so they secretly built a road,
and they rolled the boats along on logs.
They had all previously hidden their guns there...
How do you secretly build a road?
And why can't construction workers do that now? They're so loud!
The very first railways,
or what we think of as railways,
were rather a similar system.
You used to move ships around in this way.
You can see here, it's a paved trackway near Corinth.
It's called the Diolkos,
and it allowed ships to be moved over the isthmus of Corinth,
and that's kind of considered to be the early railways,
but it's basically rolling ships on logs.
Or you could just cover the ground in olive oil and they'd just slide.
-Just slide along!
Now, what can you tell about
somebody who wears socks with sandals?
-They don't care any more.
-They've given up.
They've got at least three embarrassed children behind them,
like, "Dad, God, come on!"
They've gone for comfort over style.
Well, here's the curious thing.
Wearing socks with sandals actually once saved somebody's life.
There's a man called Hiroo Onoda,
and he was a Japanese army officer
who refused to believe that World War II had ended.
He was in the mountains of the Philippines,
and they dropped leaflets saying the war was over,
but he didn't believe it.
He was in hiding until 1974.
There was a man called Norio Suzuki.
He was the person who eventually found him.
There they are together,
and he was spared by Onoda because
he was wearing socks with his sandals.
And Onoda wrote, "I might have shot him,
"but he had on these thick woollen socks,
"even though he was wearing sandals."
The islanders would never do anything so incongruous,
so he thought he'd spare him from that.
I like Suzuki - he dropped out of college
and announced that he was going to look for the abominable snowman,
a panda bear,
and Hiroo Onoda.
And he died, in fact, in an avalanche in 1986,
whilst still searching for the abominable snowman.
-Should have ticked off the panda first, really.
the gentleman who was conducting guerrilla warfare for 30 years,
he effectively got away with murder,
because he killed 30 people during his guerrilla campaign,
but he was pardoned because he thought he was at war,
so there would be no crime if he is at war.
And he's not the only Japanese holdout.
In 1972, there was another soldier found on the island of Guam,
also still under the impression that he was at war.
He got back to Japan and said,
"It is with much embarrassment I have returned."
And he was missing for 28 years, and got 300 back pay.
-He wasn't wearing sandals?
-I mean, it is quite a Japanese thing wearing socks and sandals.
They wear these socks which are called tabi, which stop chafing.
It's a thing.
If you see someone wearing socks and sandals,
they are probably either an Englishman abroad,
or a Japanese officer still fighting World War II.
Now we arrive at the slippery individual
that we call General Ignorance. Fingers on buzzers, please.
Where are most of the world's obelisks?
# Go home... #
-Oh, come on, we've got one.
We've got one!
# Down under... #
-I want that to be true.
But no, they are in Rome.
There are twice as many obelisks in Rome as there are in Egypt.
So 13 in Rome, six in Egypt.
They were nicked by... Well, five of the ones in Rome are home-grown,
but the rest were taken from Egypt.
The Egyptians called them tekhenu.
We call them obelisks because Herodotus, the Greek traveller,
was the first one to write about them, so we get the Greek name.
So you said Britain has one.
-What is the name of the one that we have?
-I don't know.
-There it is.
-It's Cleopatra's Needle, right?
Yes! The American gets the point!
Of course, as soon as you say it, of course!
It's 3,000 years old, I do know that.
Well, do you know that it nearly didn't get here?
It was given to the UK in 1819 by the then ruler of Egypt,
-Muhammad Ali, who went on to have a very fine boxing career...
..to commemorate Lord Nelson's victory at the Battle of the Nile.
The British government thought it marvellous,
but didn't want to transport it because it cost a fortune
to bring such a big piece of stone over
and eventually there was a purpose-built iron cylinder made -
there it is - and it was towed towards Britain by a ship
called the Olga, and then the Olga unfortunately was wrecked,
and the obelisk was lost at sea,
it was bobbing up and down for five days,
and a passing ship thought, "I wonder what that is."
And grabbed it on a rope,
and towed it back, and that is how it eventually ended up in Britain.
-Now, what's it outside Mongolia?
-A lot of things...
It's just like you're walking into a spider web.
I know! Come into my trap, my pretties!
-No, doesn't exist, Outer Mongolia.
-It's in Tintin!
When it did exist, it was inside the modern country of Mongolia,
so it did exist, 1644 to 1911,
but it was a semi-independent territory of China's Qing Dynasty.
So "outer" just differentiated it from inner,
which was under more direct Chinese rule.
And then it declared independence in 1912,
and finally became Mongolia again in 1992,
but the very first person to use the phrase Outer Mongolia
to mean a place in the middle of nowhere was the American explorer,
the director of the American Museum of Natural History,
Roy Chapman Andrews,
and he is thought to have been the person on whom
Indiana Jones was modelled.
Yeah, and it was an expedition to Komodo
by the American Natural History Museum,
that eventually led to King Kong.
Yeah. Because they went to Komodo Island
and found these extraordinary things, the Komodo dragons,
and they brought one back to America...
And it was a huge sensation,
but the idea of a creature that was terrorising the locals
then became, you know, the giant ape,
so that was the origin of the King Kong story.
-You should have some points for that, I think.
Anyway, Outer Mongolia is now in Mongolia,
while Inner Mongolia is, and always has been,
out of Mongolia.
That's cleared that up.
Name an endangered mammal that eats bamboo.
-Glad you said it! Yeah.
-Not so, why?
-Bill, any ideas?
-Well, they're not that endangered.
-They're no longer endangered.
-Oh, they're all over the place.
-You can't go in any shopping centre in London
without them taking up all the seats.
-Elephants eat bamboo - is there a right answer?
There is, but it isn't panda,
because they are no longer designated as endangered.
-It's a golden bamboo...
-There, look, how cute is that?
-Look at his little face!
Bird of prey!
"There's only the two of us left now!
"Phone the World Wildlife Fund."
"Stop eating the bamboo! That's why they're upset!"
"We're making the same mistakes again and again and again!
"We need to adapt to new habitats!"
"Shut up, I'm eating all the bamboo before the bird comes back."
I love bamboo. I bloody love it!
You can do so much with it.
You can grill it, you can fry it. You can chop it up and it's good.
You can make scaffolding out of it, for building a lemur house.
It's a very flexible plant - everyone knows that!
You can make a xylophone out of it, for God's sake!
There's loads of it - why are we dying out?!
-We should be thriving.
-We're not having enough sex.
It doesn't really look like bamboo.
It looks like he's crimping the end of a joint.
"Yeah, let's crimp it, here we are, that's that.
"Right, OK, come on, everyone."
The Camberwell Carrot.
That's why they're dying out - they're just not doing anything.
Best job ever, I think, in 2014,
China's Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre
started recruiting panda nannies.
-Oh, my gosh.
-You get paid the equivalent of £28,000 a year.
You get free meals, travel, accommodation.
And you get to hug pandas all day.
What are any of us doing with our lives?
Some basic knowledge of pandas is required,
as well as the ability to take pictures.
The work has only one mission,
spending 365 days with the pandas,
and sharing in their joys and sorrows.
Aw. I don't think they have any joy or sorrow though, do they?
-Yeah, what are panda sorrows?
-They're just pandas, aren't they?
I like the little one in the middle.
"I may be small, but I'll take any of you.
"I can take on any of you."
-He's a tough one.
-They're about to drop that one.
And ready... Go!
It would just be the softest crash in the world, though.
This one, this is my favourite.
Yeah, this one. That's the best.
# There's no business like... #
A panda with jazz hands - you don't see that very often, do you?
Now, how many hills was Rome built on?
Six? Six? Five?
-Seven and a half.
-Oh, no, you've done it again!
COLIN SINGS HAPPILY
It's always been known as seven, but it seems to be a misunderstanding.
They used to have a big festival called the Septimontium,
which means "seven hills" - they celebrated the whole thing.
But, actually, when you look at the ancient list of the hills involved
that they are celebrating, there are eight.
And Mary Beard, who's a wonderful classicist,
says, "Something has got confused there somewhere along the line."
There's about 75 cities in the world
that claim to have been built on seven hills.
There are two Romes, two Athens.
There's a Seven Hills in Ohio, which is rather aptly named.
About a quarter of Europe's capital cities claim to be.
Bath, where I grew up, that's supposed to be based on Rome.
-Cos of seven hills, but, you know. I don't know.
Lisbon's very hilly.
They have a funicular railway.
It's like the worst TripAdvisor review.
No, no, on the contrary, it's a very good tip about Lisbon.
It's very hilly -
it's what you need to know more than anything else.
"They said it was hilly on TripAdvisor."
You need to be warned about it - you're absolutely right.
OK, let's stop doing places that are hilly.
-Dublin's not very hilly.
-No. OK, moving on from hilly.
Holland's completely flat, no hills at all.
Amsterdam, no, barely an incline.
Nothing at all. No, there's no crime in Holland or Belgium.
-You can see people coming from miles off.
-Because you can see everyone!
Denmark is very, very flat, and the area that I come from,
there's a tiny little hill, just one,
-and we call it Little Switzerland.
Prague's quite hilly.
Scotland. That's really hilly!
Cardiff isn't, though, really.
Do you know, I can imagine you in a home, somehow.
Will you come and see me?
I'll bring you some mashed banana.
Argentina - that's really hilly.
I'll be in the next bed.
"What was that, Alan?"
Vancouver, but it's not a capital, doesn't count.
-Fiji - is that hilly?
Do you think this is sharp enough to kill somebody?
Yeah, if you have enough intention behind it.
They've got a funicular railway, and don't deny it!
On the subject of Rome...
THAT is hilly - it's famous for it.
They thought it was seven, but it turns out it's eight.
Eight, we know that.
-Does this qualify as entertainment?
The seven hills...
The seven hills of Rome are actually eight.
There are many other places in the world that are also hilly,
and I can't be arsed to tell you about them.
When I am in the company of men in a group like this,
I feel happy about my life choices. And so...
And so, our international odyssey is over,
and it's time to work out what it's cost us.
Let's have a look at the scores.
In last place, we have, with...
Ah, this is magnificent. Minus 57, it's Alan.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
A very creditable minus 3, Bill.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And considering it was her very first show,
she got a full 3 points, Desiree.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Colin, 16 points, you are the winner.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
# Australians all let us rejoice
# For we are young and free... #
-No, you're not...
# Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours... #
And the suburb where they make Neighbours is quite hilly.
The winner takes home this week's Objectionable Object,
and it is this lovely souvenir spider.
-There you go.
-There you go.
It only remains for me to thank Desiree, Bill, Colin and Alan.
And to end this Overseas show,
I leave you with this story about travel.
Muhammad Ali was on a flight,
when a hostess asked him to put on his seat belt.
"Superman don't need no seatbelt," said Ali.
To which she replied, "Superman don't need no plane."
Thank you, goodnight.
Sandi Toksvig ventures overseas to find out about Allotment Annies, who keeps their brothers in a cage, and much else besides.
With Bill Bailey, Colin Lane, Desiree Burch and Alan Davies.