History QI


History

Stephen Fry asks unanswerable questions about history. With Sandi Toksvig, David Mitchell, Rob Brydon and Alan Davies.


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Transcript


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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Welcome, welcome, and thrice welcome

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to the home of highbrow know-how that we call QI.

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Tonight, we'll be groping down the back of the great sofa of history

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to find those tasty morsels that other historians have so carelessly discarded there.

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And to accompany me on my quest, I have the postmodern Rob Brydon.

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THUNDEROUS CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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The pre-classical David Mitchell.

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MORE CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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The Pleistocene Sandi Toksvig.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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And our very own bowl of primordial soup, Alan Davies.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Each panellist is equipped with a suitably historic buzzer.

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-Sandi goes...

-MELLOW NAUTICAL MELODY

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-David goes...

-GRANDIOSE FANFARE

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Quite long.

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-Rob goes...

-AMERICAN-STYLE MILITARY FANFARE

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-And Alan goes...

-HORN SQUEAKS

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Of course.

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So, as we stroll off into the mists of time,

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let's start with something nice and easy - name a henge.

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Now, look, come on...

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-Seahenge.

-Aaah!

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KLAXON

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-There is a Seahenge, but it's not a henge.

-Oh, right.

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It's a word with the word "henge" in it,

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as "spigot" has got the word "pig" in it, but it isn't a pig. You see?

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So, the word "henge" in it, that's wrong?

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I think you're wary enough, for good reasons.

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-Yeah, you didn't get me there.

-A henge is a specific thing.

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What is a henge?

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You have two of them on the side of a door, or on the top of a window.

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-WEST COUNTRY ACCENT:

-I'll do you a nice henge, sir, yes.

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A hedge bent on revenge, that's what it is.

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-Good.

-It's a very old form of economic investment - a henge fund.

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Wahey! It's not that either. It's one of those archaeological words.

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There's a specific meaning, an embanked area outside

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with ditches on the inside, right?

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And Stonehenge is the other way round, so it's not a henge.

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Even though the name henge comes from Stonehenge.

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A henge is a word for something that's like Stonehenge,

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but not including Stonehenge?

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Basically, yes.

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-It was just Stonehenge.

-Was the word "stone" named after Stonehenge?

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Yes, you're safe with the stone.

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Maybe Stonehenge was just a noise they came up with for Stonehenge,

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which luckily gave them a word for two common sorts of things.

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Probably the noise when they put those top ones up.

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GROANS AND SQUEALS

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People right up until the 20th century were quarrying it. They would actually set fires

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on the lintels, the top bits, to crack the stone and take it off and build things with them.

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-Nowadays it's cordoned off.

-Yes, it is, rather, isn't it?

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-Except the Druids.

-They can do what they want.

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-How long have Druids been celebrating religious services there?

-1970.

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The beginning of the 20th century. There's no evidence

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that Druids had anything to do with Stonehenge.

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So why did they get all these concessions of access to Stonehenge?

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In 1905, when they started doing it, Stonehenge was private property.

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It didn't belong to anybody except the owner of it,

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and then Chubb in 1915, who worked in a lunatic asylum nearby, bought it in 1915...

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-For his wife.

-You're quite right.

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-Yes, he bought it for his wife at auction.

-Yeah, and three years later she gifted it to the nation.

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Re-gifted?

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-Yes, re-gifted.

-Well, it must have been hell to clean. Those top bits.

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So, the Druids have access to it, so presumably, I mean, they can't all have parked miles away.

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They must have little stickers in their windows with a little Druid sign on it,

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which also gets them into Klu Klux Klan meetings.

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Yes, they've just got to straighten up their headdresses.

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There was a mention you made there of Seahenge. What is Seahenge?

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-So that's not a proper henge either?

-No.

-Seahenge, isn't it some bits of old and knackered wood

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that occasionally become visible when the tide is out.

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That's it, 55 bit of old oak in Holme-Next-The-Sea in Norfolk coast

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which was only discovered quite recently.

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Carhenge, does that mean anything to you?

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-Yes, I do know what that is.

-Yes?

-Well, I'll guess.

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It's that... AUDIENCE TITTERS

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You started really confident,

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then it just slid away from you there.

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It's probably not right, I'll give it a go. I think I know what it is.

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It was featured on the inner liner notes of Bruce Springsteen's album

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The River, in particular reference to the song Cadillac Ranch,

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it's all these Cadillacs that have been... It's not, is it?

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-Yes, it is.

-It is, it is!

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All these cars have been stuck in the ground.

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And sprayed with grey paint.

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-Yes, it's in Nebraska.

-It's interesting, though.

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That obviously looks quite a lot like Stonehenge,

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considering it's made of cars, but you can't help feeling

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he could have made it look more like Stonehenge

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if he'd used something else to make it with.

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-It was a memorial to his father.

-Was he killed in a car accident?

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Does the name Alfred Watkins mean anything to you?

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He wrote a book called the Old Straight Track

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in the 1920s, and he posited something that he called leys.

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They're spiritual lines...

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Yes, people, apparently wrongly, call them ley lines.

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They're wrong to do that. Whereas people who allege they exist aren't wrong to do that.

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But we can show you some ley lines which may make you think again.

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If each one of these letters represented a stone circle or a henge of some kind,

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it would be quite a coincidence, because you would need to get

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above the ground to get them that shape, but actually,

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this map was drawn by someone who was deliberately poking fun at ley lines,

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because this is nothing less than a representation of Woolworths stores in Britain.

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As he says, you can't rule out the possibility that Woolworths

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used aliens to get so exact and perfect a geometrical shape.

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-It does look like if you folded it one more time you'd get a frog.

-Yes!

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-It looks quite origami.

-Surely there are more, or were.

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There are 800.

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So he's been very selective in his choice of Woolworths stores.

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Whereas people who believe in ley lines aren't?

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According to archaeologists, Stonehenge isn't really a henge at all.

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Here's a very famous image, so you can bank a few points.

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How was it made, what is it?

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-It's not a tapestry.

-You've learnt. Firstly, it wasn't made in Bayeux.

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Bayeux is in France, this was probably in Kent. Do we know who by?

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The Normans commissioned it, but sort of Saxon embroiderer ladies did it.

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Yes, absolutely right.

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It's one example of why women's history has completely disappeared,

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because women tended to make things like this phenomenal piece of work,

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but they didn't sign it. So we don't know the names.

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We know the name of the man who commissioned it, but we don't know the names of the women who made it.

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The lack of signature is one of the reasons why women's history has disappeared.

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It's remarkable. You're right to say it's an embroidery, It's absolutely not a tapestry.

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A tapestry is all one material with the different colours woven in at the weaving stage.

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This is a woven piece of cloth that is then embroidered.

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-It's so typical. The women do all this embroidery and the man goes, "Nice tapestry."

-I know.

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-It's very absurd.

-"Couldn't make us a cup of tea, could you?"

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"My hands are raw."

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Is the word "tapestry" named after the Bayeux tapestry but they decided to make it mean something...

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LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE

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Can you tell the British from the French in that picture?

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Are the British the four-legged ones at the top?

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I should say English rather than British.

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The English would be the ones not on horses.

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That's pretty much true. The other giveaway is moustaches.

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Some English fighters were on horses. But the British...

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The English - I'm allowed to say English, I'm unused to

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saying English - had the moustaches.

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Harold's housecarls,

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plus they tended to have battle-axes rather than the lances and things.

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-Great comedy hats.

-They're rather extraordinary.

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They're like party hats, they've got a bit of elastic under the chin.

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-It was done by the same person that did Mr Benn. It's a very similar style, isn't it?

-Yes.

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-"Suddenly the shopkeeper appeared."

-I wonder if they are specific blokes

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that the women doing the embroidery knew.

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"Who you doing?" "I'm doing Reg."

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"Look at the way he held his axe. He was lovely before they cut him to bits."

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Their mail, their suits of reinforced defensive clothing,

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Harald Hardrada had a long one which apparently

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couldn't be penetrated by a spear and was known as Emma.

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Was that based on a particularly aloof woman who couldn't be penetrated?

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APPLAUSE

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One's bound to wonder.

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I didn't know until someone told me this recently

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that quite a lot of the names that we use,

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or Christian names, we call them,

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came from the Normans and that invasion. They completely changed the country.

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Yes, including William, and the first few kings.

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-John, Richard.

-Robert, lots of them.

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Is it not when we start to change the language completely, is it not when we get beef instead of cow?

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Because we had two words each time, exactly. We could use the English

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word for the animal, cow, and the French word, boeuf, for the food.

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The British word sheep, and mouton, mutton, can become what you eat.

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You eat the mouton, you eat the beef, but the animal is the cow.

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-But why?

-The Saxons herded them and knew them as animals,

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and the Normans just feasted and ate them because they were

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the upper class, so would use their word for it.

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The only time they saw a cow was when it was on a plate in front of them.

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Quite a lot of what we know about the Bayeux Tapestry,

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we don't know, because it's not from Bayeux and it isn't a tapestry.

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But how can you tell which one Harold is in the Bayeux tapestry

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that's not a tapestry or from Bayeux?

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Isn't there a bit of a dispute about whether he's the one with the arrow in his eye, or someone else?

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Is it like on Facebook, when you run the cursor over it, you get tagged.

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And it says, "You are also in this photo,"

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and it'll have the other people.

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It's not dissimilar.

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There are three tags, all meaning him.

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"Harold Rex interfectus est," which means Harold the King is killed.

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They tell the story narratively from left to right.

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They could all be Harold, or only one of them could be Harold.

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It's impossible to tell. We don't know that he'd an arrow in his eye.

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It's a much later story.

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So is it like a cartoon? Like one of those books you used to flick.

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-Exactly.

-Although not successful in embroidery, I think.

-No...

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It's a cross between that and Where's Wally?

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-Yes, there's a hint...

-A hint of Where's Wally?

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So the one with the blue shield, he's got an arrow in his eye...

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He has. People have always ASSUMED that was Harold.

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So if it's a journey, it's, "Got an arrow in my eye, I'll just get on this horse for a rest..."

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-Continuity! "Where's my shield?"

-..and then the horse has disappeared! "I'm dying."

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-And they've cut his head off on the right...

-Yeah.

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I can't see the arrow in the eye.

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It's not come out very well. I blame bad embroidery.

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You can see him holding the end of it...

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He can't have been that ill though, because he seems to have had time to change his socks.

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-It probably is...

-"I'm dying, get the death socks!"

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LAUGHTER

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Stephen, can I point out... Can I give the seal of approval to his wonderfully LONG socks?

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LAUGHTER

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Rob Long-Socks(!)

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-APPLAUSE

-Oh, dear... They are long.

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Yes - it's probable that it's NOT the same person repeated.

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The other theory is that he's only one of those

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and maybe he's the last one - under the horse, almost,

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cos that's where "interfectus est" - "is killed"... The point is, we just don't know.

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That's good. So we know how we spot the Englishmen, by their moustaches,

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the Bayeux Tapestry isn't a tapestry - isn't from Bayeux -

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and you shouldn't believe anyone who tells you they know how Harold died.

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However, you can spot the Englishmen by their moustaches.

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On the subject of English gentlemen with moustaches,

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could you give us your impression of the average World War II British...

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LAUGHTER

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Oh, dear. ..the average British World War II fighter pilot?

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You look hilarious on the end!

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LAUGHTER

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That is a character...

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Someone has got to write a sitcom around David Mitchell's character.

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You look like you're posing with a very successful team of kind of...novelty Air Force -

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you've just agreed to have your photograph taken with them, for your birthday.

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I know you're not, but if they'd invented gaydar instead of radar...

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LAUGHTER

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..I'm sorry to say that would mark high.

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LAUGHTER

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"I'm ordering these helmets for my wife's birthday..."

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I think in this war film, I think I die about two-thirds of the way through.

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It breaks the heart of the audience, and inspires the hero.

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Everyone goes and kills a load of Germans as revenge for my death.

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And I'm the old First World War hero with a gammy leg who runs and watches them come back, and cries...

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-I don't think Alan dies. I think you make it through. I think

-I

-die.

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You think I'm going to live, and then right near the end, I die.

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Like Von Ryan's Express - as I'm running towards the train, I get shot at the end.

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I'm the plucky woman who was just supposed to do the radio, who's been forced to fly one of the planes.

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You look as if you could, with your sergeant stripes.

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-I look rather fine.

-But how did the pilot talk? That's the thing.

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-Erm...

-ROB: Er...

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HE HOLDS HIS NOSE AND MAKES DISTORTED WORDS

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..we've got a lovely team today who will be furnishing you with the easyKiosk...

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LAUGHTER

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Scratchcards... Minstrels...

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"Clean up in aisle three." Yes.

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LAUGHTER

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-But what sort of people?

-Well...

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-What sort of people?

-Yes.

-Quite posh...

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KLAXON

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I think you'll find you're wrong. LAUGHTER

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That's the odd thing - they so weren't.

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Only 30% of all British fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain went to public school.

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And of that 30%, they were mostly minor public schools,

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and of the Eton, Harrow, Winchester or the top 13, there was only 8%.

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-Just the actors that played them were posh, then?

-That's the point!

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In the war films during and after the war -

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your Kenneth Mores and your David Nivens and so on - they spoke like that.

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Did the Germans know we were sending up the lower classes(?)

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LAUGHTER

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-"GERMAN" ACCENT:

-"Here comes someone who has got no manners vatsoever!"

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LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE

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But there's your Richard Todd on the left, who's playing...

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-Your actual Richard Todd.

-..Guy Gibson I think,

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and there's David Niven from A Matter Of Life And Death, by the look of it.

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And that's how people thought of them, with the moustache and...

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I mean, 30% of them having gone to public school

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is more than the percentage of the population.

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-Yes, you're absolutely right...

-So they're a bit posher than...

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But "posh" is the first word that comes to mind,

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when 70% were state-educated, not privately educated.

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But they didn't speak like Jordan or something, did they?

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-LAUGHTER

-No, nobody did then. No.

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ROB MIMICS JORDAN "There's no way we're gonna drop the bombs

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"over that lot!" LAUGHTER

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"It's a real bloody mess dahn there!"

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LAUGHTER "Right, let 'em go...

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"Look at that!"

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LAUGHTER

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-APPLAUSE

-Oh, dear...

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20% of all the pilots were in fact not even British...

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-Polish?

-Quite a few were Polish and Czechoslovakian, but also from

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the Dominions, the Empire and the Commonwealth.

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Canada and New Zealand and Australia particularly of course. And South Africa also.

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There's one sitting on the plane at the end there, he's obviously hoping for a ride.

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LAUGHTER

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"Is this right...?

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-"Is this where you go?"

-"I'm ready!"

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"I find you get a better view from here..."

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What about modern pilots? Is it any advantage for THEM to posh up their accents?

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-Yes - isn't it something that it's more reassuring for people?

-Yeah...

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The classic British Airways pilot is...

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CLIPPED, POSH VOICE: "Welcome aboard..."

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Nowadays, you've got your Virgin, Buzz and Go,

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-and those guys sound like they're on Radio Top Shop...

-They do!

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LAUGHTER

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DJ VOICE: "Good morning to you, ladies,

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"gonna get this little baby airborne soon as I can...

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"First of all, check out Lily Allen." LAUGHTER

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And they tell you the Christian names of the other...

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Why?! You don't need to know that.

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I was on a British Airways flight about six weeks after 9/11,

0:17:330:17:36

and everybody was a little bit tense about flying out of New York -

0:17:360:17:39

and tragically, the plane directly in front of us took off and crashed.

0:17:390:17:43

I don't know if you remember, it was a flight going to the Dominican Republic.

0:17:430:17:46

Anyway, we all deplaned...and after about 12 hours we were allowed back

0:17:460:17:53

on to the flight. Anyway, the pilot came on and he said,

0:17:530:17:56

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, this is the delayed flight to London.

0:17:560:18:00

"I know many of you are seasoned travellers

0:18:000:18:03

"and probably don't watch the safety briefing, but perhaps today..."

0:18:030:18:06

LAUGHTER

0:18:060:18:07

Usually Australians get it right -

0:18:130:18:15

I was on an Ansett flight from Perth to Adelaide, and he started off by saying,

0:18:150:18:19

"We're on our way to Adelaide. If Adelaide is not your

0:18:190:18:22

"final destination, now would be an ideal time to deplane."

0:18:220:18:26

He started talking about the safety, then "But that's enough yakkety-yak from me.

0:18:260:18:30

"It's time to push some service down the aisles and some scenery past the window."

0:18:300:18:35

LAUGHTER

0:18:350:18:36

I thought that was very good. Australians are good at that kind of thing.

0:18:380:18:41

Now, accents... You're right, people do like

0:18:410:18:43

what they consider to be an authoritative and reassuring voice from a pilot.

0:18:430:18:48

72% of people interviewed felt at ease if a pilot had a what accent?

0:18:480:18:51

-People like Scottish accents...

-Right. Edinburgh in particular.

0:18:510:18:55

-HE TALKS LIKE BILLY CONNOLLY

-"I don't think that would be very good..."

0:18:550:18:58

But a nice, respectable Edinburgh would make you feel...

0:18:580:19:00

-Miss Jean Brodie.

-That's right. That would be fine.

0:19:000:19:03

You could sit down on the plane, hear "Ding-dong..."

0:19:030:19:05

HE MIMICS RONNIE CORBETT "Ha-ha... This is not the one about the aeroplane..."

0:19:050:19:09

LAUGHTER

0:19:090:19:10

"..that crashes in the river, it's not that one..."

0:19:100:19:13

What about a Geordie accent?

0:19:130:19:14

65% of people said a Geordie accent would make them feel more or less comfortable?

0:19:140:19:18

He can serve the drinks.

0:19:180:19:20

"He can serve the drinks"?! Ooh...

0:19:200:19:23

-I don't want him flying the plane.

-Well, funnily enough...

0:19:230:19:26

Very friendly... But they're likely to be chatting too much and then they'll just crash into Earth.

0:19:260:19:31

..65% said they don't mind a Geordie, they'd like a Geordie.

0:19:310:19:34

Very popular for a call centre.

0:19:340:19:36

-What about Brummie? 76% said they would or wouldn't...

-ROB: Oh, no.

0:19:360:19:40

I'm afraid to say that they would not like...

0:19:400:19:43

It's easy to sort of think, "Sounds like a victim..." You know.

0:19:430:19:46

"Doesn't sound incompetent - sounds unfortunate."

0:19:460:19:50

LAUGHTER

0:19:500:19:52

-And I think...

-I don't want a skilled pilot, I want a lucky pilot(!)

0:19:520:19:55

Exactly! The posh voice... Could be an idiot, but he's lucked his way through life.

0:19:550:20:00

LAUGHTER

0:20:000:20:02

Bet he screws all the stewardesses, and his wife never finds out...

0:20:030:20:08

Yeah, I want him flying. LAUGHTER

0:20:080:20:10

And 83% of men and women polled said they'd be more likely to trust a male or a female pilot?

0:20:100:20:15

-Oh, male. Must be.

-Male.

0:20:150:20:16

I'm afraid so. Yeah. I'm sorry to say.

0:20:160:20:18

There we are. So that's your flying done for the moment.

0:20:180:20:21

Despite the stereotype of the Battle of Britain pilots being posh young chaps

0:20:210:20:25

fresh from the better public schools and varsities,

0:20:250:20:27

the great majority were in fact state-educated.

0:20:270:20:29

Now, what might you use these for?

0:20:290:20:32

-Oh, those are fantastic.

-Aren't they great?

0:20:320:20:34

If they're mobile, they look like giant tubas...

0:20:340:20:39

-Tubas is the word that was used, they were called war tubas...

-Sirens? Air raid warnings?

-No.

0:20:390:20:44

Is it an over-large hearing aid?

0:20:440:20:46

-Yes.

-What?!

-Yes.

0:20:460:20:48

LAUGHTER

0:20:480:20:50

APPLAUSE

0:20:520:20:54

-Was it for hearing enemy aircraft?

-It's like an ear trumpet.

0:20:540:20:57

You can hear enemy aircraft coming towards you. And by setting the angles,

0:20:570:21:01

they could determine not just the distance but the direction.

0:21:010:21:04

-Wheel it down to Dover, you can hear 'em in France.

-That's the idea - like sound mirrors.

0:21:040:21:08

They had sound mirrors as well, which were not made of metal but usually of concrete.

0:21:080:21:13

These are Japanese, as it happens. The Japanese used them to detect aircraft coming in.

0:21:130:21:18

We had nothing quite as enormous as that,

0:21:180:21:21

but there have been yokes you put on your shoulders... Look at that.

0:21:210:21:25

And it's extraordinary how much they did give you a slight advantage.

0:21:250:21:29

Well, it looks silly, but I find myself more and more, as I enter my 30s now...

0:21:290:21:33

LAUGHTER

0:21:330:21:35

-..doing that.

-Yes.

0:21:350:21:36

And it makes a hell of a difference. ..Take them away, David.

0:21:360:21:40

-Now - hello, Da... Not yet!

-LAUGHTER

0:21:400:21:42

Hello, David, it's lovely to see you. Now try them.

0:21:420:21:45

Sorry, what...? LAUGHTER

0:21:450:21:47

-Put them there.

-OK, yeah...

0:21:470:21:50

-Hello, David...

-Ouch!

0:21:510:21:52

LAUGHTER

0:21:520:21:54

-You see? Practical proof.

-He's misunderstanding for comic effect, but it's...it's true.

0:21:540:21:59

LAUGHTER

0:21:590:22:00

-Hello, David, lovely to see you...

-It does quite genuinely work.

0:22:000:22:04

-ALAN:

-It makes it sound different.

0:22:040:22:07

-ROB: It sounds much better.

-If you do it... Now, that's very disorienting.

0:22:070:22:11

That's quite nice. And when you talk to yourself with them, you almost fall over.

0:22:110:22:15

-So don't talk to yourself like this. Also, you look like an idiot.

-Yeah...

0:22:150:22:19

-I feel like I'm in front of myself.

-ROB: Yes...

0:22:190:22:22

I think what's nice is it also has a nice warming effect on the ears.

0:22:220:22:25

LAUGHTER

0:22:250:22:27

It's really a win-win-win-win-win, isn't it?

0:22:270:22:29

Yes, I find it very comforting.

0:22:290:22:31

And also it means you can't hear all the horrible things people behind me are saying.

0:22:310:22:35

You'd have to reverse it, like that...

0:22:350:22:37

Shut up, shut up, shut up! LAUGHTER

0:22:370:22:41

Miaow! Get back in the knife drawer, Mrs Sharp!

0:22:410:22:45

Perhaps the really clever thing is the fact that you can

0:22:450:22:47

get the range and elevation from the slight difference in time, like what we were saying about clocks.

0:22:470:22:52

Our own ears receive the same sound,

0:22:520:22:54

but at slightly different times, cos one is nearer than the other.

0:22:540:22:58

I mean, it's minuscule. It's enough for the brain to process it

0:22:580:23:00

and know that the sound is coming from there, not there.

0:23:000:23:03

Some animals, like the barn owl, have this to an extraordinary degree.

0:23:030:23:06

Their ears are actually inside a kind of sound dish - that's what the round shape is in the owl's face -

0:23:060:23:12

and they've got one high, looking down, and one low, looking up,

0:23:120:23:16

and they're able therefore to tell with extraordinary precision

0:23:160:23:19

something they hear, exactly where it is.

0:23:190:23:21

So nature, as always, gets there first.

0:23:210:23:24

So - yes, Japanese war tubas were mobile acoustic locators

0:23:240:23:27

that helped to find enemy aircraft in the days before radar.

0:23:270:23:30

And so time's winged chariot glides us gracefully towards the crack of doom that is General Ignorance,

0:23:300:23:36

or in this case Generals Ignorant - let's see what we really know

0:23:360:23:40

about some of the greatest military leaders from history. Fingers on buzzers.

0:23:400:23:44

What animals did the Carthaginian general Hannibal use to defeat King Eumenes of Pergamon in 184BC...

0:23:440:23:51

-MELLOW NAUTICAL MELODY

-Elephants.

-Oh...

0:23:510:23:54

KLAXON

0:23:540:23:57

-..did he use to defeat who?

-King Eumenes of Pergamon.

0:23:570:24:01

-Right... Him!

-Him, there he is.

0:24:010:24:03

-Is he defeated(?)

-Horses?

0:24:030:24:05

Tigers, lions, leopards, mice...

0:24:050:24:07

-Bacteria.

-Birds, eagles...

-LAUGHTER

0:24:070:24:09

Snakes!

0:24:090:24:11

Snakes... I don't think of that as an animal, really.

0:24:110:24:15

He put them in earthenware pots, threw them at the enemy and onto their ships.

0:24:150:24:19

-Really? What a great idea.

-Snakes On A Plane, almost the first example of it.

0:24:190:24:24

How did Snakes On A Plane come about...? Do you know?

0:24:240:24:27

-ROB: Snakes On A Plane?

-Yes, the film.

0:24:270:24:30

People had more money than sense, and er...

0:24:300:24:32

-LAUGHTER

-Maybe...

0:24:320:24:34

Supposedly a group of scriptwriters were trying to think up the stupidest names - like a pub game -

0:24:350:24:40

and someone said, "Snakes On A Plane!" and they said, "Do you know, that's so crap, it's good."

0:24:400:24:45

It would be scary to be on a plane with lots of snakes, though.

0:24:450:24:49

-I liked the film...

-Is it good?

-Quite scary.

0:24:490:24:51

The key would be whether the plot that leads to the snakes

0:24:510:24:54

being on the plane is believable or not.

0:24:540:24:56

Well, they get out of a thing in the hold.

0:24:560:24:58

-Oh, well, that sounds all right to me.

-Yes!

0:24:580:25:00

-And they're snakes, so they can get through tiny cracks.

-They come up the loo!

-Oh...!

0:25:000:25:05

-Ooh... Anyway. Yes...

-LAUGHTER

0:25:050:25:08

Hannibal defeated the Pergamese by bombing them with pots full of snakes.

0:25:080:25:13

Now, who succeeded Harold as King of England in 1066?

0:25:130:25:16

-Is there a trick to it?

-No - it's just you need to name the person who succeeded Harold

0:25:160:25:20

-as King in 1066....

-DAVID: Don't trust him!

0:25:200:25:23

-The trick is to know the answer.

-I don't trust you. At all.

0:25:230:25:28

Is it the bastard, then?

0:25:280:25:30

Who's the bastard? Oh, dear...

0:25:300:25:32

-KLAXON

-See? You see?!

0:25:320:25:36

-It wasn't a trick.

-Did England cease to exist in some way, or was it changed in name?

0:25:360:25:40

There was another Saxon claimant who was nominally king for 45 seconds, or something...

0:25:400:25:45

Well, for a few months, yes. Yes.

0:25:450:25:47

-Edgar Atheling.

-ROB: Ah.

0:25:470:25:49

And er, he was 15 years old. But Saxon kings were...

0:25:490:25:54

-How did you become a king if you were a Saxon?

-Did you have to be nominated?

0:25:540:25:58

You had to be from one of the five or six families... and then you'd be elected.

0:25:580:26:03

-By what, by votes? They would vote for you?

-Yes.

0:26:030:26:07

Edgar the Aetheling. 15 years old. But of course William had won the battle,

0:26:070:26:10

and so he came after him and he tried to fight - he couldn't raise an army, he went abroad...

0:26:100:26:15

-He didn't live a very successful life.

-He was 15, so he wouldn't have been able to do anything.

0:26:150:26:19

Edgar the Aetheling was proclaimed king after the death of Harold,

0:26:190:26:23

and reigned for two months before William was crowned.

0:26:230:26:25

Why did Julius Caesar wear a laurel wreath?

0:26:250:26:28

GRANDIOSE FANFARE Was it because he was bald?

0:26:280:26:30

Yes, is the right answer! Absolutely right. He was very vain.

0:26:300:26:35

According to Suetonius, his baldness was a disfigurement of which he was deeply ashamed,

0:26:350:26:39

and so he chose the laurel wreath as one of the things he had a right to wear, and wore it all the time.

0:26:390:26:45

"The laurel wreath is going to do wonders for you, Julius...

0:26:450:26:49

"What it's going to do is take attention away from your baldness.

0:26:490:26:53

"Now, they come in a variety of colours and styles -

0:26:530:26:56

"we're going to start you off with a very simple, traditional one."

0:26:560:26:59

He was also supposed to have invented the comb-over, cos Suetonius...

0:26:590:27:03

He invented the comb-over?! LAUGHTER

0:27:030:27:05

I shall quote you Suetonius in translation. "He used to comb forward the scanty locks

0:27:050:27:10

"from the crown of his head, and of all the honours voted for him

0:27:100:27:13

"by the Senate and people, none did he receive more gladly

0:27:130:27:16

"than the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath at all times."

0:27:160:27:19

He must have looked like a '60s footballer who'd come through a hedge!

0:27:190:27:23

LAUGHTER

0:27:230:27:24

It would be like leaving your Christmas cracker hat on all year.

0:27:240:27:28

LAUGHTER

0:27:280:27:29

So, with that display of general incompetence, we reach the end of recorded history.

0:27:290:27:34

All that remains to see is who has learnt its lessons,

0:27:340:27:37

and who is condemned to repeat its mistakes endlessly...on Dave.

0:27:370:27:42

LAUGHTER

0:27:420:27:43

And taking their place in history tonight

0:27:430:27:45

with a magnificent plus 2 points

0:27:450:27:48

-is Rob Brydon!

-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:27:480:27:51

Happily dancing to the music of time in second place with minus 4,

0:27:550:27:58

-it's David Mitchell!

-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:27:580:28:01

Hanging grimly on to past glories with minus 27

0:28:030:28:07

-is Sandi Toksvig!

-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:28:070:28:11

And finally, sadly no more than a forgotten obscure footnote...

0:28:130:28:17

-with minus 29, Alan Davies!

-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:28:170:28:20

Well! That's all from this historic edition of QI,

0:28:260:28:29

so it's goodnight from Sandi, Rob, David, Alan and me.

0:28:290:28:31

I leave you with Winston Churchill's remark to Stanley Baldwin in the House of Commons.

0:28:310:28:35

"History will say that the right honourable gentleman was wrong",

0:28:350:28:38

he remarked. "I know it will - because I shall write the history."

0:28:380:28:42

Goodnight.

0:28:420:28:43

APPLAUSE AND WHISTLING

0:28:430:28:45

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0:29:040:29:06

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0:29:060:29:08

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