Quiz show where guests get more points for being interesting. Stephen Fry gets to grips with the greats, with Jo Brand, David Mitchell, Sean Lock and Alan Davies.
Browse content similar to Greats. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Good evening, good evening,
and welcome to QI, where tonight's show will be great,
because our theme is greatness itself.
Let's meet four giants of the game show genre. Great Scott,
it's David Mitchell!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Great balls of fire - Sean Lock!
The Great Panjandrum Jo Brand!
What's a panjandrum?
Oh, great, it's Alan Davies.
# Goodness, gracious Great balls of fire! #
-# Oh, yes I'm the great pretender. #
MUSIC: Theme tune to The Great Escape
I just want to hear that for the rest of the evening, actually. Alan goes...
'Thank you for calling Great Eastern Railways...'
LAUGHTER DROWNS MESSAGE
Why are so many great men short?
Are they, really?
David, David, you've hit the nail on the head.
Rem acu tetigisti, as they would say in Latin.
-I'm sure they would.
-It means "nice one, son".
-That's absolutely right. In fact, Napoleon...
-Napoleon was short, wasn't he?
No, he was above average height.
-Everyone was short in those days.
-He was 5'6", which was taller then than it is now.
-He was 5'7".
-Yeah. Average height was about 5'6"-ish.
So it's just the British who decided he was short, put him down a bit.
Yes! It was a particular cartoonist called Gillray.
When we were at war with Napoleon, there was a famous one of George III
with a little Napoleon, based on Gulliver's Travels, like that.
He's actually saying,
"I cannot but conclude you to be one of the most pernicious little odious reptiles
"that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the Earth."
It's a snappy one.
He was three inches taller than Nelson, for example.
-Nelson was three inches shorter than Napoleon. It's certainly true that...
-Nelson was 5'4"?
-Like Danny DeVito?
-He was very... Yeah, a short chap.
-No wonder they put him on such a big column.
Yes, he's tall in Trafalgar Square.
Is that short-man syndrome a kind of retrospective thing
that we've kind of invented more recently and then just gone back and said, "They're all short"?
Yeah. Some of them were short, though, there's no question.
Stalin was surprisingly short. He was only 5'5". Mussolini was 5'6". Franco was 5'4".
-They are all short, Stephen.
Idi Amin was 6'4".
-Yeah, big fella.
-That's my height. Fidel Castro is 6'1".
Mao was 5'9", which is rather tall for a Chinese person.
-Mostly, they're not judged on their height, are they?
-No. They're not.
-They're not. But all...
-We'll let that go.
All I'm saying... There seems to be, historically, no evidence that short people are more power-hungry,
more tyrannical, than people of average or tall stature.
You know how it came about, though.
It's probably the one thing that short people have got to cling on to.
One day, they might be a dictator.
-And we've just taken that away from them. That little hope.
All this not being able to reach things from shelves,
one day, will be made up for when I kill millions of people.
I can stand on their bodies...
Reach the jam.
Everybody knows somebody short who's been particularly angry and abused his position of authority,
-and then you decide he's a bit like Hitler.
-That's it. You notice when a short man has a tantrum...
..and say, "Oh, short man, Napoleon complex."
-If a tall man has a tantrum, you just leg it.
I have to say, I'm rather shocked by this. Heightism does exist.
Short people are paid less, on average, than tall people.
The disparity is comparable in magnitude to race and gender.
-A survey of Fortune 500 companies...
-They should rise up!
The chief executive officers of Fortune 500 companies - 90% are above average height.
Which is astounding, really.
And 30% of those are over 6'2". They're the tallest 4%...
Every now and again, a little short fella breaks through.
I made it!
It is rather shocking that there is this disparity.
Of course, we always notice the powerful, short, rich man with the young, tall wife.
Billionaire, Bernie Ecclestone.
I've seen her with him. She's actually much taller than that above him.
She's bending her knee there.
He has to jump up to slap her on the bum.
He can run through her legs.
Who's the couple on the left?
-That's Carla Bruni and...
-But at least the women have both got handbags their husbands can fit in, which I think is quite nice.
There's no evidence that dictators are shorter. The Napoleon complex is a myth, it seems.
Some great men, on the contrary, are actually tall.
For example, Charlemagne, the immensely charismatic,
civilised, attractive 8th-century King of the Franks, Holy Roman Emperor, founder of modern Europe.
Our researchers have discovered that, in fact...
We've been digging into your family trees in that sort of Who Do You Think You Are? way.
And we've come up with some rather exciting news.
See if you can guess which of you is descended from Charlemagne.
Well, civilised and attractive, it ain't me, is it?
I think Alan.
-Is it all of us?
Yes. All of us, including me and everyone in the audience and at home, if they're European.
He was a love machine.
It's just mathematically certain. The fact is, obviously, everyone has two parents
and four grandparents, eight great-grandparents.
It's that grain of rice on the chess board thing.
8, 16... By the time you get back to the generations just in the 13th century,
you have more direct ancestors than there have ever been human beings.
It's about 80 billion, the number, by the time you get back that far.
-My brain... I...
-All you have to do...
-You have more ancestors than there are people that's ever been?
-The point is you can't, you have shared ancestors.
-Oh, I see.
The point is, they have to be shared.
-Are your brothers here tonight?
-Are your brothers here tonight?
-I've only got one brother.
-And he's not.
-Oh, I was going to say, Phil and Grant, I thought they might be related to you.
Wouldn't that be great, if they were your brothers? Wouldn't you love it?
There'd be a problem with that, cos they don't exist.
I think that would be weird, to find out you were related to someone fictional.
You'd start to doubt your own existence.
-Apparently, we all are.
-Charlemagne's not fictional, he's just historical.
No, no. All our ancestors... All our 80 billion ancestors... Not all of them, obviously.
But of 80 billion ancestors, one of them's got to be Winnie The Pooh.
That's very odd.
There was a man called Mark Humphreys who was, in 1995, at Dublin University.
He discovered that his wife was King Edward III's great-granddaughter 20 generations down the line.
And he looked further into it and realised that so was Hermann Goering
and Daniel Boone, the American explorer, pioneer.
And then he worked out the mathematics of it, and he's the one who's given us that.
I'm just thinking about Charlemagne. That would be a really good name for an aftershave.
-Let's smell medieval.
I'm everybody's daddy.
We're all related to Charlemagne, it seems.
Computer models have shown that anyone living in the 8th century
who had plenty of children and grandchildren is likely to be related to everyone in Europe today.
So tell me - what good did the Great Fire of London do?
# Pretender... #
-I'm risking it here, but I don't care. Wiped out the plague.
It was taught in schools, so you've every reason to think it, but it's just not true. There's no evidence.
Apart from anything else, the plague was already over.
-But it wiped out the conditions in which it could have come back.
because the plague was mostly in the suburbs, not in the city.
The city was not the place that was most affected by the plague,
but it was the place that was destroyed by the fire.
By the time September 1666 happened - the fire - there were very few deaths.
It had almost ended. No-one quite knows why it ended, but it wasn't the fire.
Did it make it easier for them to knock down a load of places that they had their eye on?
Essentially. It gave the chance for Christopher Wren to get some church-building done.
-Especially St Paul's, of course.
-They had lots of grandiose plans
about turning London into a grid or a spiral and then they thought about it for ages and went,
-"Put it back as it was."
-"All squiggly lines and weird corners, please."
-Which it is.
-But I think Christopher Wren was a bit depressed about it.
Yeah. The best thing about the Great Fire of London was that it got Wren an opportunity to build St Paul's.
Now, just how great were the Great Train Robbers?
They're not THAT great, cos they got caught and locked up.
They got caught almost immediately. And they got caught in very stupid ways. Do you know how?
They went to this farm and played Monopoly using the stolen money.
And then they cleared out and left their fingerprints over everything. Over all the Monopoly set.
And they all had form. You know, they were all known blaggers.
So they were rounded up, all 12 of the gang of 15 - one was acquitted, two were never caught.
They were pretty inept, is the answer, basically.
-Who's the most famous of the Great Train Robbers?
-You all say Ronnie Biggs.
-What was his role? Was he the mastermind? Is that why he's the best-known?
-No, he was SUCH a small peg in the whole thing.
-Was he the driver?
No, he wasn't even that. He was inside, doing a stretch for taking and driving away,
and the mastermind of the entire event met him and said, "I'm planning this blag..."
"I'm planning a game of Monopoly."
"Just got to pick something up on the way. I've lost all the fake money.
"And the only way of replacing it I can think of..."
"I rung Waddingtons, they didn't want to know."
"'Get a new set,' they said. 'Don't be ridiculous,' I said."
Anyway, the mastermind Bruce Reynolds said,
"If you can find me someone who can drive a diesel train,
"I will cut you in on a big job that's going down."
You can find... I mean, that's like... That's not like someone who can melt diamonds with their eyes.
Someone who can drive a diesel... Apparently they exist. Someone. There must be someone.
The amazing thing, David Mitchell, is...
Biggs found this guy, whose nickname was Old Pete, or Stan Agate -
-no-one knows who he was, cos he was never caught.
-That'll be Old Pete the train driver.
-So his job...
-After Casey Jones had turned him down.
For this, for being found, Ronnie Biggs got a share worth 147,000
which in today's money is 1.6 million.
And all he had to do, Ronnie Biggs, was get this guy, Old Pete, to the scene.
But Old Pete got to the train and said, "Oh, I don't know to drive that."
Biggs still got his share, but Old Pete was useless.
He couldn't drive the train, he'd been lying all the time.
I like the way that Old Pete's like those actors who put on their CV, "Yes, I can horse ride.
"Oh, yes, I can drive a train. I speak Mandarin, too.
"A train? Through China? No problem!"
And that's how he found him, he went through his Spotlight.
Apparently, he was very well reviewed in Much Ado About Nothing.
He's trained in modern dance. That could come in handy.
The Great Train Robbers weren't particularly great.
Most of them were caught because they left fingerprints on the Monopoly set at the safe house.
From criminal bungling to a great scientific mystery.
Why did it take 300 years to give the giant tortoise a scientific name?
-A scientific name?
-Yeah, ie the Latin name. It turned out to be called Geochelone...you know.
-Is it because they just thought that was pretty good? Giant tortoise?
-We'll leave it at that.
-No, I... I was going to say something about... Now it's unusable.
-I'm going to have to say it now.
They thought that...
-This better be good.
-They thought it was a normal tortoise, but closer, is what I was going to say.
I couldn't get that concept. Would it actually be further away?
Then a normal one further away would be an absolutely minute one.
Would they mistake a quite-far-away, normal one for a miniaturised one, that's a bit...?
What you're saying is...
-It's just a thought. Just a certain way.
You know what? I'll go that way.
If there was a tortoise over there, that was giant, and I, for some reason, thought it was just there,
then I wouldn't think it was giant. I'd think it was just... Oh, there's one there, just a normal tortoise.
Oh, my God! It's over there and it's massive!
-You have them on a huge beach with no other points of reference.
-That's not the reason.
-Are they particularly litigious?
-"If you give me a name, I'll sue you."
-It wasn't that. It's a nice thought.
No, they had another property, which was most unfortunate for them.
-What, the tortoises did?
-They were edible.
They were SO edible.
Anyone who saw one, couldn't stop to think of a name for it, they just had to eat it straightaway.
One of those... I don't know what they're called.
Just get one. They're really good.
We just call them "dinner".
There's no Latin name for the pistachio nut, either.
No-one can be bothered. "Shut up with your Latin. Eat them, they're brilliant."
No Latin name for Maltesers.
It's true. None of them made it to London. None of them made it to Europe.
Now, this time... This time we're going to take it...
Leave it. No. We're taking it back.
Ferry coming into Dover, there's a bloke going...
Leaving the door where the tortoise is kept.
No, I haven't been...
We'll eat eight. Now absolutely...
Then everyone's looking at it, going, "Come on..."
The sea's becalmed.
Days on end, the sea's becalmed. There's one tortoise left.
"Let's just go back and get some more."
After they've eaten that last tortoise,
they're sitting there going, "Oh, we are twats."
"I'm too full."
There were dozens of them...
He collected every species in the world, but he ate that one.
-Done the butterflies, done the beetles, I'm eating that.
The only descriptions of them are comparing them to chicken, beef, mutton and butter
and saying how much better they are than all of those things.
No-one who'd ever eaten tortoise had ever eaten anything better.
The liver, the bone marrow, every part of it was unbelievably delicious.
-Whereabouts were they from?
-From the tropics, mostly.
Are there flights over there?
They are now protected! All 12 species.
If they're that delicious, they can't be. They've just said,
"Yeah, we've protected them. They're all in there, no need to look."
There's a border round them like North Korea.
There's a big pile of shells,
like those piles of tyres you see in a scrap yard.
Some survived, however. Let me tell you about a very extraordinary one.
That bloke there is just befriending that one.
"Come over here, mate.
"I'm trying to think of a name..."
But they are amazing animals, apart from how delicious they are.
Adwaita died in 2006 and he was Clive of India's pet. There he is.
200 years old or something.
255. He was born before Mozart, before the French Revolution.
His death was announced on CNN. That's a heck of a life, isn't it?
-You can list his achievements on the back of a stamp.
Why would he need to achieve... He lived 255 years.
People think probably the oldest living creature, because they don't live so long out of captivity,
like most animals, and he was well cared for. But that's astonishing.
So it lived to 255 years and is massive.
I mean, I've achieved 50% of that.
I don't see why that's so great.
-There are 12 species, all of them endangered.
-Do they all taste nice?
Well, I don't know. But it's very sad that so many other species
were wiped out, because they were so lovely.
They were also used as water stores. They have a special internal bladder
that stores water so perfectly that it's drinkable.
When you slit them open to cook them, you also get a gallon of fresh water.
So they would stack them up on boats - tons of them. They couldn't move.
They didn't need to be fed for months, so they contributed a lot
to whaling, because they were used as a foodstuff and a water supply.
And I imagine if you smash the shell open, there's a little toy in there, like a Kinder egg.
A little game, you've got to get the balls in the holes.
How do they exist in the wild, anyway,
if they're so delicious and slow-moving and massively useful?
They didn't have any natural predators until man discovered them.
They were evolutionarily complacent.
Exactly, like a lot of island species.
And it's only man who crosses islands in the way we do.
Those ridiculous flightless birds on New Zealand.
Essentially, they got lazy. "What's the point of flying?"
Some of them go, "We'll need it one day." "No, you're too anal, you are."
-They waddle up and jump in the wok.
-"Just walk around, it's easier."
Despite being discovered in 1535, giant tortoises
weren't properly catalogued until the early 19th century
because they were so delicious that no samples ever made it back home.
Time for the great test of general ignorance. Fingers on buzzers.
How did Catherine the Great die?
That's quite famous. Unfortunately, I don't know.
Horse. She didn't have sex with a horse.
-..Died on a commode.
KLAXON SOUNDS Oh, no...
On the loo?
You're on fine form.
There are those... Elvis Presley was said to have died that way.
George II died at stool.
-At stool is how they described it, rather splendidly.
Catherine did have a stroke on the loo, the commode,
but she died in bed.
Is that a euphemism?
"I'm having a stroke on the commode!" "We'll leave you there, love, for a minute."
-She did have sex with horses, though.
-No, she didn't. No.
That horse's head is too small.
They did paint them like that. It was a very odd 18th-century thing, painting horses with small heads.
-She never had sex with one horse?
-Nor a donkey.
-She did with lots of courtiers.
-Not quite the same, though, is it?
No, it's not, no.
Her son, Paul, who hated her - he became Paul I, the Tsar -
he spread the rumour, as did the French.
"My mum, right...
"Right, what's she's done, right, my mum. You won't believe it.
"She's had sex with a horse."
"That's why I'm so good at showjumping."
Anyway, despite all the salacious gossip, Catherine died in bed,
where she was being cared for, following a stroke.
In cold weather, where does most of your heat escape from?
It's supposed to be 75%, that's what I've been told.
Is it not just that your head is more naked than the rest of you?
Yes, but you only lose 10% of your heat. If your arm was exposed, more would escape from your arm.
If people went around with bare buttocks a lot, in the cold, people would say,
"You really should put on a buttock hat, because you lose most heat through your buttocks."
"Ridiculous, no need in these days to cover your buttocks all the time."
Everyone used to wear hats. Now they go around bareheaded a lot.
It sounds wrong, but I'm glad my grandmother's dead.
Because that would blow her mind.
-I'm not glad she's dead.
But she died a long time ago, so it doesn't affect her at all.
-You're glad she isn't here to hear it.
At the same time, it's a shame she never saw me on a plane
sitting next to Lionel Blair. That would have been a lovely moment.
Has that happened to you?
She died before I was able to tell her that. She would have seen that
as the absolute pinnacle of human achievement.
-So it is.
-Yes, it was very nice.
There's nothing special about your head and heat loss. On a cold day,
you would lose more heat through an exposed leg or arm than a bare head.
What was the lingua franca of Ancient Rome?
I knew that's not going to come up.
-Very good, yeah.
-That's the way you've got to think, Jo.
You've got to think - what they wouldn't put up.
I did that deliberately.
-Yeah, I know!
-She's going for the record.
-It's like shooting the moon, when you play Hearts, or one of those games.
-Such a brilliant game.
-What does lingua franca mean?
A language commonly used - everybody's second language.
-Is it Greek?
It is Greek. Greek is the language people would use in Rome
if they weren't Latin speakers.
Finally, how many men have been President of the United States?
46 or something?
-Well, should we ask the great man himself? Shall we ask the current President?
-Is he here?
Is he here tonight?
-Ladies and gentlemen...
-What a waste of a guest!
I'd have given up my seat and sat in the audience for this one.
Here he is. The President, but which number, of the United States?
I thank President Bush for his service to our nation.
As well as the generosity and co-operation he has shown throughout this transition.
44 Americans have now taken the Presidential oath.
He's wrong! He made a mistake.
He's only been on once and he's wrong already.
He is currently known as the 44th, just as Bush was known as the 43rd,
but they aren't. Bush was the 42nd, and he's the 43rd. Do you know why?
One of them was invisible?
Is there someone who was President for a bit and then stopped, then came back?
There was one non-consecutive President, who was the 22nd and the 24th.
Why did they count him as two?
Yet they count Clinton as one.
Because his terms were consecutive.
This one was the 22nd, then Benjamin Harrison was President,
then he was 24th. This was Grover Cleveland.
I think if I was setting that system up,
-I'd have gone for the number of different men.
-You get a new number if you're a different man.
-Not if there was a gap.
-But there's only been one gap, and for some reason, they didn't do that.
When he took his second oath,
he was called the 24th President, although he'd been the 22nd.
-He was actually Stalin.
-He does look a bit like him.
So not only did he rule Russia, kill millions of people,
he was two Presidents of the United States.
-It's a weird system.
-That's a CV.
-Now we know what he was doing in between presidencies.
Barack Obama is the 43rd person to become President, because Cleveland
held the position twice, making him the 22nd and 24th President.
It's a great shame, but that is the end of the show and time to look at the scores.
My word, my word, my word!
In first place with four points,
it's David Mitchell!
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
In second place with plus two is Alan Davies!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
In third place with minus six is Sean Lock.
Thank you very much.
But in fourth place with minus ten, it's Barack Obama!
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
Barack, where are you? Minus ten.
Which means tonight in fifth place, with a very impressive minus 46,
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
It only remains to say thank you from David, Sean, Jo, Alan and me,
and to leave you with this thought from the great Jack Handy.
Before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you criticise them,
you'll be a mile away, and you'll have their shoes! Good night.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]