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Well, hi there, hi there, hi there, hi there, hi.
Hiya, hiya, hi and hello.
Tonight we scale the heights and plumb the depths, for our theme is highs and lows.
Joining me tonight, the height of good manners, Sandi Toksvig.
The highly fancied Rob Brydon.
The highly regarded Fred MacAulay.
And the depths of depravity, Alan Davies.
Your buzzers, if you please. Sandi goes...
-# La-a-a! #
HIGHER NOTE: # La-a-a! #
-EVEN HIGHER NOTE: # La-a-a! #
-VERY DEEP NOTE: # La-a-a! #
Of course, what else? Let's start our journey in the heather-clad Highlands.
Fred, perhaps you can help us as a Scot. I am a non-Scotsman, as are the others.
So which of the tartans here would I not be entitled to wear?
-Oh, good grief!
-Do you recognise any of them?
-I think the one on the extreme left could be a Stewart.
-It is, not just "A" Stewart.
The one next to it, the purple and green, is actually known as the Sikh tartan.
And it's for the Singh... S-I-N-G-H.
A rich Sikh businessman went to the biggest of the tartan companies and said, "I want a Sikh tartan."
-And they obliged.
-It's the Wimbledon colours.
-It is Wimbledon. You're right.
-Green and purple.
-But the whole tartan business is very recent.
It's not an ancient clan thing.
It was only in the 19th century when the Highlands became the playground of the Royal Family
in Balmoral and places like this.
They were never related to families. It wasn't, "We're in Glencoe and we're MacDonalds, so this is ours."
That all happened much, much later and was an invention
of tartan-selling cloth merchants of the Royal Mile and such places.
I fear I might not be able to contribute. I'm welling up.
If there is one you most certainly can wear, it is the Royal Stewart
as we can all wear the tartan of our chieftain
and constitutionally, Her Maj is our chieftain.
-Therefore we, as British subjects...
-So I couldn't wear it.
-You're not a British subject.
-No, I'm Danish.
Is there a Danish tartan made of pastry of some kind?
Yes, that's our entire culture in a nutshell.
-With an apricot plopped in the middle.
And "tartan" is thought to come from the French "tiretain".
-He didn't know how to put that on, did he?
"Oh, I don't know. How's that?
"Don't move. If I move, it'll fall off.
"Take the picture!"
The original tartan was a long thing that went all over your shoulders.
-"I've got my sword in my toe. Agh! God!
"Take the picture, it hurts!"
I'm sorry about the offensive accent.
-It's lovely to see you again.
-But the short kilt, you'll be sorry to know, is an English invention.
It was an industrialist called Rawlinson who had an iron mill in Scotland
who thought this long blanket was a waste of time,
but the short kilt, the skirt, basically, would be a very handy and efficient way of dressing.
Do you know how to get the exact length of the kilt correct when you put it on?
You kneel down, so the bottom hem of the kilt just has to rest on the surface.
That's how we measured our skirts at school.
We wore two pairs of pants just on the off chance.
-We wore a white pair with a blue pair over the top, just in case any boy...
-In case one pair flew off accidentally.
The knicker elastic snapping...
They were terrified we'd have anything to do with boys. I was in a dorm full of girls and quite happy.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
The idea of being entitled to a particular tartan is fairly recent. It comes from England.
But you can't go wrong with Royal Stewart.
How do you win a caber-throwing competition?
Oh, he's a big boy!
It's good to see Mel Smith getting back out into the public...
-It looks to me like he's just caught that one.
-"Whoa! Got it!"
Do you know what's really unlikely? I have taken part in a caber-tossing... I know.
Yeah, I took part in some Highland Games. You have to toss it and then it has to flip over.
-And then it's the direction.
It doesn't matter how high or how far it is. It's not about distance. It's how straight it is.
And you have points deducted for every minute off 12 o'clock you are from yourself.
We can see someone doing a very good one and it doesn't look easy.
-It must be very, very heavy.
And you think it's going to fall back on him, but no, it just goes over and...
-It has completely disappeared.
-That could be a man in early January disposing of his Christmas tree.
I love the Highland Games because they do exactly what it says on the tin.
"Weight over the bar" is one of them and you throw a weight over a bar.
-They have "sheaf toss".
-You take a sheaf and you toss it.
For those of us who loathe sport, it's straightforward, I know what's going to happen.
"Hammer toss, I'm going to get out of the way."
-Putting the shot, they used to call "putting the stone".
But again it's a recent invention. People have claimed it goes back to Malcolm III,
the son of King Duncan, the one that Macbeth murdered.
But there's no evidence for this.
The first gathering of these games was in the 19th century.
It was around the time that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert came to Balmoral and they liked it.
-There was one at Braemar, the one the Royal Family go to.
-"We need entertainment.
Around the same time or a bit later, Baron Coubertin, who founded the modern Olympic movement,
he saw them and liked quite a lot of the events. Which ones went into the Olympics from the Highland Games?
-There was poetry in the Olympic Games, as you rightly remembered, but no.
-Well, the hammer which is still there, the shot.
-Not the caber tossing.
-That never made it.
And dancing was another feature which was originally all men, but now is almost exclusively women.
-As is the man on the left.
Can I say "well done" to whoever used the computer-aided design
to put in a blue sky and some shadows?
Very good. Very good indeed.
So what was regularly smuggled into the USA
from Canada for the traditional Burns Night celebrations?
-What do they have at Burns Night celebrations? Haggises?
-Is the right answer.
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
We thought you might be tempted to say whisky,
but this is from 1989 up until 2010.
Haggises were smuggled from Canada into America. Why might this be?
Because the Americans don't approve of inedible food coming.
-There's one element inside the haggis that was contraband.
-There it is. What's the outer casing?
-A sheep's stomach.
-And inside is...?
-It's called pluck.
Pluck is the correct word for the bits of the heart, liver and...?
-Offal, certainly, but one particular...
Lungs, which are known in the butcher's trade as the lights.
Those were outlawed in America because of BSE and their own problems. You couldn't eat them.
There was a trade in smuggled Canadian haggis.
What do we know about the haggis? Which nation invented it?
-I wonder if we're not responsible?
-It might be Danes?
-It might be.
-The first reference to it in the British Isles is in Lancashire.
-But there are lots of theories about where it comes from.
-"Offal" comes from the Danish word for "rubbish".
-There must be some hideous Scandinavian connection.
-Some think it was Vikings who brought it over to Britain.
-It comes from Lancashire?
-That's the first reference to it.
-Do you know the Burns address to the haggis?
-Yes, it's a poem.
It's a poem which, on Burns Night at a Burns Supper, somebody would address it and it comes in...
That's obviously been cut open. Before it's cut, someone addresses it and it starts with...
"Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, great chieftain o' the puddin'-race!
"Aboon them a' ye tak your place, painch, tripe or thairm.
-"Weel are ye wordy o' a grace as lang's my arm." And...
There it is being piped in, but somebody I know was doing a Burns Supper abroad
and they had sent the address over to Germany.
It was translated into German, but the German translated it back
and the line, instead of "great chieftain o' the puddin'-race",
was translated back as "mighty Fuhrer of the sausage people".
-LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
That should stay. It's a lot better than "great chieftain of the pudding race".
"Mighty Fuhrer of the sausage people!"
-What is the date of Burns Night?
-Yes, his birthday.
I love the way you get all your celebrations in one corner of the year, so being Scottish,
you have Christmas craziness, then Hogmanay insanity, Burns Night three weeks later
and for the rest of the year, nothing.
-Just a long hangover.
-But there is a deep love for Burns.
-Absolutely. He was a great man and very forward-thinking.
He was completely and utterly anti-slave trade.
So much so that if you go to the Burns Museum, there is a photograph of Muhammad Ali
who came over to Scotland and visited it because he was a student of Burns,
because of the humanitarian work that he'd done 150 years ago.
-And he was fond of a rhyme.
-And he loves haggis.
"I love all you sausage people," he used to say.
Scottish friends of mine used to say, "I don't know why you go on about our accent being impenetrable.
"Americans find it easier to understand than English."
Then I saw Trainspotting in America and there were subtitles all the way through.
Canadian haggis smugglers plied their wicked trade across the US border right up until 2010.
What would be the quickest way of getting Brian Blessed to the top of Everest?
Tell him they're putting on a production of Peter Pan,
Ken Branagh's directing and he's a shoo-in for Captain...
-MIMICS BRIAN BLESSED:
-"I'd do it like a shot!"
-He loves mountain climbing.
-Of course he does. Has he climbed Everest?
-He had a go.
-He's had several goes.
He got incredibly close. He got to 28,000 feet without oxygen,
the oldest man ever to climb that height.
He had to turn back to save someone's life. His whole life, he'd been wanting to climb it.
He helped save someone's life, so that stopped him going to the top.
He's a Black Belt in judo, he was a boxing champion.
He's the oldest man to go to the North Pole and to 28,000 feet without oxygen. He's extraordinary.
You say he went to 28,000 feet without oxygen, but he must have had some.
No, I mean... Sorry. Without the assistance.
He held his breath all the way. >
"Here we go, OK." BREATHES HEAVILY
Using the very little that is in the atmosphere.
I think the fastest way to get him up is you get a big balloon full of hot air,
then tell him to go up the mountain.
That would be quite... There is a quicker way, but it's incredibly dangerous.
-It's only recently been done.
-Can't you be dropped by a plane?
It's been done once by helicopter. It's unbelievably difficult
because with that little air, the rotor resistance...
And the hydraulic fluids all behave differently. It's a pretty insane thing to try and do.
And the winds gust at 160mph.
It was done by a Frenchman called Didier Delsalle. He stayed on the surface for two minutes.
So it's the highest ever in history landing and take-off that has ever been made.
I thought you couldn't breathe at... I went sky-diving once and it was at 17,500 feet.
AUSTRALIAN ACCENT: They said that's the highest you can sky-dive without oxygen.
This was in Lancashire, which was rather odd.
-How many people who attempt it die, would you say?
-Quite a lot.
A lot of people don't even go halfway because of the altitude sickness.
-What is this condition?
-It's a cerebral oedema or a pulmonary oedema.
Fluid build-up in the brain or the lungs.
So you start to get a headache at about 14,000 feet or something and apparently there are signs
saying, "If you're getting a headache...go back."
"Tiredness kills. Take a break."
LAUGHTER "Feeling woozy? Pull in for a coffee."
"Moto - two miles."
"M&S Simply Food - 12 miles." LAUGHTER
We'll keep going to the M&S!
It's so much better there.
There is the Dead Zone, which has a lot of bodies in it and a lot of equipment.
-Some Nepalese and Sherpas are planning to get rid of the litter.
-They're going to get a skip.
There will be a lot of dead bodies. Brian Blessed is a lover of animals.
He has over 2,000 animals at his house in Surrey, apparently.
-In his house?!
-His house and gardens. He has a lot in his house as well.
-No wonder he shouts! Thousands?
-2,000 creatures of various kinds.
-But that seems a ridiculous number.
-Am I the only person to be staggered by two...
-I know someone with 12 dogs and I think that's incredible!
-He's a remarkable man.
-If it was bees, you could understand, but eland or zebra...
All mixture of creatures. Some tiny-winy and lots of, some quite big and only a few.
He's also one of the few people to have boxed with the Dalai Lama.
-You're making it up!
-No, the Dalai Lama was keen on boxing
and they actually sparred together. Few people can say they've sparred with His Holiness.
-He is one of the most remarkable men.
-I agree. One cow.
When he dies, he'll be able to look back on a much richer life than just about anybody else.
Extraordinary. Acted with the RSC, played Voltan in Flash Gordon!
-"Fly, my beauties!"
You can't ask for better than that, can you?
Since the record-breaking flight of Didier Delalle in 2005,
the quickest way of getting to the top of Everest is by helicopter.
If you were on top of a mountain, how could you tell how high you were without electronic instrumentation?
I went up the Old Man of Coniston earlier this year.
I have to say he was very accommodating.
I think he enjoyed it. And at the top there
they've got a thing that tells you where you are. But that's not what you're getting at, Stephen.
You're thinking of somewhere fiendishly clever.
-You can if you have a spirit stove and a kettle.
-I have one here...
-Is this to do with the temperature?
-Not the temperature.
-The boiling point?
The boiling point, yes. At sea level it is 100 degrees Celsius,
but every 1,000 feet up you go,
boiling happens at one centigrade lower.
Climb 1,000 feet and it's 99 degrees Celsius at which water boils.
By the time you get to, say, Mont Blanc,
it's about 84 degrees and by the time you get to Everest, it's 70 degrees it boils at.
You could never be completely accurate. Mountains must be sinking.
Actually, Everest is growing by a tiny amount every year.
-It's dead people...
That's basically what it is! That's a terrible thought.
Conversely, if you tried to boil an egg down in the Mariana Trench, in the deepest part of the ocean...
-You couldn't get the fire to light.
-There is that problem!
But it would be 584 degrees before water boiled.
So it would be far too hot. The higher you go, you could put your fingers in it and not get burned.
-Is it to do with air pressure?
-Such a British notion. "I wonder how tall it is. Let's make tea."
-This tea is cold.
-We couldn't live in this trench! You can't make tea.
It's called hypsometry, the art of determining your height according to various metrics.
There are other ways, not on a mountain, to tell temperature.
-Animal ways, which are surprisingly precise.
-Finger in your bum.
-Mm. Yeah. Mm.
-I was thinking of the field cricket.
-Of course, sorry. Field cricket in your bum.
-So...if you count the number of chirps...
-Yes, you're right.
Below 13 degrees Celsius, it doesn't chirp at all.
At 13 exactly, it chirps at around 60 a minute, one a second.
-And then the rate increases with temperature. So 140 a minute tells you it's 22.5 degrees Celsius.
-The quicker he's chirping, the hotter it is?
-And it's quite reliable. 22.5.
In hot countries, you're tossing at night, you can't get off.
No... No! No!
-I'm simply not having it.
-It sounds like it.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
You can tell what the weather will be like with your coffee.
If you get a cup of coffee, before you put the milk in, if the bubbles go into the middle...
Let me get this right. ..it's going to be low pressure.
-So you can tell if it'll be a nice day or not. Or look out the window.
-Bubbles in your coffee.
-The simplest way to calculate the height of your mountain is to boil a kettle.
Now the time has come to abandon the uplands of knowledge and plunge into the abyss of general ignorance.
Name a country where English is the official language.
Go on, my children.
Yes! It's the right answer. Very good.
I'm afraid not.
-Yes, I think it is an official language.
Absolutely right. Very good.
-No, darling. No, it isn't.
-You know when you're thinking, "It sounds crazy, but...
-"Go on, be brave. Leap into the abyss."
-Odd use of the word "thinking".
-So we haven't got an official language, obviously.
-The point is that it has never arisen here.
An official language is defined as one which, in statute, is enshrined in the legal system
as a language that can be used in documentation. So it's never arisen.
In America, nor has it arisen. Theodore Roosevelt said everybody should learn English,
but if it's suggested as an official language, Hispanics complain.
Maybe just make them both official languages.
In Canada it's an official language because French is there.
-No. Not in Australia.
-So what's the deal with the map?
-To show English-speaking countries and lure you into our web.
-Yes, it worked.
-It did, I'm afraid.
Many countries have English as the official language, but not England.
Where do modern Huns live?
-Any offers? Come on.
-I can't think where they might be.
-Why do we associate them with Germany?
-But why Germans?
-The Huns are an ancient...
But it was only ever applied to the Germans in 1910.
-It was all the Kaiser's fault.
-He made a speech in 1910
-when he was sending German troops off to China.
-Look at that outfit! I love those. Look at them.
-You'd get up. "Oh, God, I'm stuck!"
He was sending troops off to China to fight in the Boxer Wars
and he said, "Take no prisoners, we will sweep down on them like the Hun."
-He was merely comparing himself to Attila the Hun. The Huns didn't come from Germany.
They came from the East, certainly. They weren't a people. They were an army you could join.
-Attila was the most famous.
-Did you ever in your time at Dundee drink in the Speedwell Tavern?
-In the '70s, when I was a student there,
it was owned by a chap called Ian Thompson, who had a German wife called Connie,
-who used to stand at the cash register and her nickname was the Hun at the Till.
-Oh, very good!
So the answer is that the Huns were an army, not a tribe and no modern country is descended from them.
-What do you suffer from if you are afraid of heights?
It's all Alfred Hitchcock's fault. Vertigo is not a fear of heights.
It's a condition of dizziness. People who are afraid of heights can get vertigo,
-but most of them have a particular phobia.
-Yes... Usually we use Greek, don't we?
-So there's a high city in Greece. Acropol, as in Acropolis.
And an acrobat flies high. So it's acrophobia.
-As opposed to agro.
-As opposed to agoraphobia.
-The guy's gone a bit far to take a photo of his shoes.
You remember the movie Vertigo with James Stewart and Kim Novak.
The story is that James Stewart smuggled the Yeti's hand out of India
and took it to the United States. James Stewart and his wife, Gloria.
They thought they'll never check his luggage. He put it in her underwear.
-It was transported out of India.
-A strange connection between Vertigo and the Yeti.
-It's a very good one.
-To weave and link.
Lots of people say they're scared of heights, but I don't think they are. Everyone is, to a degree.
-Is it to do with perspective...?
-It's a pretty straightforward, logical evolutionary defence
-against this not being a safe place to be.
-Like in I'm A Celebrity when they don't like the rope bridge.
-That's the perfect example.
Fear of heights is acrophobia. Vertigo is a spinning or whirling experienced when stationery.
Which point on Earth is furthest from the centre?
-The centre of the Earth. Which point is furthest from it?
-The top of Mount Everest.
-You'd think it would be.
-Yes. Very much so.
It being the highest point on Earth so furthest from its centre.
-The South Pole?
-The Earth isn't round. It's a funny shape.
It's flattened at the poles so the South Pole is nearer to the centre.
It bulges at the Equator. That's the point.
-Somewhere in Japan?
-No, not Japan. In South America. The Andes.
-At the end of your armes.
-Chimborazo, at the time, people thought was the highest on Earth. 20,500 feet.
-High enough for me.
Oh, yes. Very, very high. Because it's so close to the Equator,
it's on the bulge part. It's only a degree off the exact Equator.
So it ends up being 1.3 miles further from the centre of the Earth than Everest.
-And snow on the Equator. That's quite unusual.
Do you know how you should say Everest? Because it's named after...
-Everest Double Glazing.
The boot may be on the other foot there.
It was named after George of that name, Surveyor General in India, but he pronounced it Ee-verest.
-It should be Mount Eeverest.
-I like that.
Look! The tea is not boiling on Mount Eeverest.
Which brings us to the high point of our evening - the scores.
Suffering altitude sickness, in first place is Fred MacAulay with 8 points!
Fred is closely followed by the high-flying six-pointer, Sandi Toksvig!
In third place, we have with one point the mildly adventurous Rob Brydon!
That's good for me!
Lurking down in a Mariana Trench of his own making with -39 is Alan Davies!
It only remains for me to thank Sandi, Rob, Fred and Alan
and to leave you with this timely proverb about ambition.
The higher a monkey climbs, the more you can see of its bottom. Good night.
Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2010
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