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How do you do, how do you do, howdy, howdy, howdy doodie, how do you do?
Welcome to the QI zoo.
Why is it hard to hang on to a hagfish?
-There's a hagfish. Yes?
-It releases mucus. To defend itself.
-The hagfish. It does.
Which works in real life.
If anybody comes at me I just sneeze at them and they're backing off.
Have a look at a hagfish producing slime and tell me you could produce as much.
Here's someone manipulating it.
AUDIENCE GROANS Eugh!
That is producing that.
It can turn a bucket of 20 litres of water into slime in minutes.
-Great party piece.
I actually think... I think my baby daughter might be a hagfish.
That's nothing. LAUGHTER
To be honest with you, I've got that on my trousers every morning.
It also can tie itself into knots, which is another impressive thing.
It literally does a slip knot or an overhand knot.
It is quite bizarre.
Given the choice, if I had to have a special power,
I'd like to be bitten by one of them, because excreting mucus would be...
Like, Spiderman is all very well. Do a bit of climbing and that.
Imagine you were sat in a chair and somebody went, "Do your thing,"
and you went, "Bleaugh." LAUGHTER
Wouldn't it be fantastic?
If somebody tried to get you in a headlock, you'd go, "Bleaugh."
That's exactly it. That's what it does.
Superheroes are meant to help people. How would you help people with mucus?
Spiderman helps people. How would you help people with mucus?
"There's a child that's got his head in the railings. Vv-phhh."
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
You know, that's one.
-That's a good comic book story(!)
This gravy is unnecessarily runny. "Vv-phhh."
LAUGHTER AND GROANS
What's the key ingredient, then, in the world's nastiest cocktail?
I reckon you've got someone there who's a really good, quick typist,
-and she goes, "Bang!"
Why is the Child Catcher now working as a barista?
-I suppose it's to suggest nastiness.
It is, indeed, Sir Robert Helpmann. We're after a nasty cocktail.
-Is it a genuine drink?
-It's a genuine cocktail.
It's served in a bar in a genuine place in a genuine country.
-Some sort of moose?
-In the Yukon, in a mining bar.
The Downtown Hotel in Dawson City. It's a part of a human being.
-Well, toenails is good enough.
-It's a toe.
-A toe. Yeah.
The sourtoe cocktail is the specialite de la maison
-in the Downtown Hotel.
-Where do they get the toe?
Well, there's a whole story there.
It started in the 1960s, when a figure called Captain Dick Stevenson,
he'd been all kinds of things from a male stripper to a miner
-to a lumberjack, you know the way that men are.
-All the usual ones.
He found himself in an old cabin, and there was a pickled toe
that had belonged to a rum-runner back in the prohibition days.
And for some reason he thought it would be amusing to offer,
as a challenge, to put it in alcohol,
and the idea was you drank it. It became a very popular drink.
You kept the toe. It moved from glass to glass.
The important thing was there's a rhyme, which is key,
"You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow,
"but the lips have got to touch the toe."
-The toe has to touch.
Unfortunately, there was a series of accidents.
In 1980, Gary Younger, a local miner, accidentally swallowed the toe.
So they found another one.
This very nice lady called Mrs Laurence of Alberta,
whose middle toe was amputated due to an inoperable corn, donated it.
So you're drinking a toe that not only was amputated but had a hideous corn on it!
-That lasted well.
-I've drunk worse.
I remember being at a party once,
no glasses, drinking Tia Maria out of a dog bowl!
No glasses. Slurp.
"That? That's... That's chicken. It's fine."
It's called a sidetone.
It's when your voice is played back through the earpiece.
So that it's slightly amplified.
You hear your voice back in the ear, which you don't on mobile phones. Except the newest ones.
You nearly did a thing that annoyed me then. Um...
He gets annoyed when you've nearly done it!
It's a new thing I've noticed when people pretend to talk on the phone and they do that.
-Is that getting to you?
-Not that new. I know what you mean.
-That's starting to get on my nerves.
LAUGHTER What if you do that one?
-Where you bring it down, like.
-A flip phone!
LAUGHTER Is that all right?
You know the, err... I've got a touch phone.
-I've got an iPhone.
-Yeah, I've got an iPhone.
I work in a call centre, look.
Hello? D'you want double glazing?
Since the death of Marcel Marceau, the world of mime has gone to chaos.
Absolute chaos. People don't know what they're doing.
That was a hell of a funeral as well, wasn't it.
But when the... The mad thing was, at the funeral, they didn't use a coffin,
they just had him like that. LAUGHTER
Now, a lorry-load of birds are being weighed on a weighbridge.
At some moment, all the birds simultaneously rise off their perches and flap in the air.
-They're all alive?
-They're all alive, yeah.
-Does the lorry weigh less when they rise up in the air?
-Got a yes and a no.
Not in contact with the thing? So no, it would weigh less.
Is it sealed, the lorry?
It's closed. It's got a tailgate, it's all locked up.
They're inside the lorry. You can't see them.
-Wouldn't there be pressure from the air?
-It weighs the same.
It's something very similar to if you weigh yourself, then you do a number two
and weigh yourself again, you don't lose the weight of the number two.
There we're in a slightly different territory.
If you will crap on the scales, yes!
You're right. The answer is not to poo on the scales.
Leave the scales, do the number two, go back to the scales.
-Seriously? You don't lose...
-Of course you do!
-The money I've wasted on enemas.
No, it doesn't, it weighs the same, and I can't remember the reason why.
I know this.
So they all lift off at exactly the same time?
It's the bird, the bird... Lorry system. It's there in the...
-I know it's weird, but...
-Is it sealed?
Is it to do with it being sealed?
If you're carrying a bowling ball and you're on the scales,
and then you throw the bowling ball in the air... It would kill you.
-Because it's sealed.
-And the air's moving. Exactly.
You and the air have created that weight.
Wherever the birds put themselves, it weighs the same.
But the interesting question, and you're absolutely right.
Don't pass it off that easily!
The interesting question is if it's an open-top lorry,
and they're sitting on the perch and they jump up and they jump slightly higher.
Then they're no longer part of the lorry-bird system. Then it would be lighter.
Where does the phrase "there isn't room to swing a cat" come from?
-Cat o' nine tails.
-Cat o' nine tails? No, oddly enough.
It's the kind of thing people think it is.
It's when they flogged people with an actual cat.
The phrase is older than the cat o' nine tails.
It literally means what it says. It's a folk expression, meaning to swing a cat round.
The first use of cat o' nine tails is 1695 in the English language,
and at least 40 years earlier than that, there are references to not being able to swing a cat.
So disappointing when you find that out.
-Do you know where the "whole nine yards" comes from?
-The whole nine yards?
-Alan's doing cat sounds.
-An American term?
Yeah, but how would you swing it, though?
There's that way, but then there's also that way.
LAUGHTER Round and round.
One thinks by the tail, definitely, whatever.
Do you get a big, loopy swing? Or do you get some speed up?
It'd be nice to find a room where there was enough room to swing a cat in. Just.
So the cat's constantly just going, "Ah! Whoosh!"
-By a whisker!
-By a whisker.
How would you use one of these to save someone from drowning?
I've got one here. I have to put gloves on because it's a delicate instrument.
I'm not allowed to touch it.
It's been lent to us by the Wellcome Collection,
one of the best medical collections in the world.
He could save himself by, for example, swimming.
-Rather than going, "Aaah."
Let's imagine somebody had landed on a beach, almost dead from drowning,
-and you have one of these.
-Is it a bellows?
It is a bellows, a set of bellows.
-Pump air into his lungs. Easy.
-You'd think that. No.
-Up his bum.
-Are we saving him from drowning?
-Alan. Alan, repeat what you said.
-Up his bum.
Up the bottom, but it's not air. There's more to it.
-Is it spit? Is it air?
-You unscrew that...tobacco in.
-Are you ordering?
-You put tobacco in and light it.
-Blow smoke up his arse!
-Up the bottom?
Basically, if you're trying to resuscitate someone,
and it's not like someone once wrote it might be a good idea and so we've seized on it.
This was general, mainstream medical belief.
And these were hung up all along the Thames.
On the embankment and on canals and waterways.
People were expected to know, as you might be expected to know where a fire extinguisher was,
where the bellows were.
You fill that with tobacco and, presumably, you puff it like a pipe,
having washed it from its previous use.
-And then, "Phht, phht." Like that.
-So it'd be next to the life ring.
-You throw the ring and drag them in.
-I know it seems bonkers.
What happened, apparently - there's an example.
This is before this was invented, and you needed someone with a pipe.
"Blow, man. For God's sake!"
"Is it sucking or blowing? I can't remember."
"I think it's blowing, is it?" "I don't know." "Be sure! He's drowning!"
"I'll do both. I'll suck first."
Is it the shock of the sensation of having smoke blown up your arse
-that makes you splutter back into life?
Apparently, in the 18th century, the late 1700s,
a woman was found drowning and apparently almost dead,
people tried the normal things, and someone suggested blowing smoke up her arse.
It seemed to work!
There was a point when they went, "Kiss of life? Just wait a second.
"Hand me that pipe!" LAUGHTER
It would've been a beautiful sight,
when you've blown the smoke up there, and the person splutters back to life and then takes off,
with the smoke coming out!
"Look at the speed they're going at!"
Bloke on the left looks like he's going to rob his trousers if he doesn't come round.
-There's always a villain in 18th-century London.
-He's generating smoke.
They didn't have an all-in-one device like this.
-The one on the right has the pipe.
-Christ. He has to French-kiss the bloke in the hat.
This has nothing to do with saving a drowning man!
-Perversions of old London.
-I think we've got another picture.
-I hope it's real people this time.
-There you are.
LAUGHTER He's not drowning!
-No, well he's...
-He's just in the pub! He's just in the pub.
It's just that scene from Pulp Fiction.
This is bad, because it means, at any point, people could say, "I think I might be drowning."
Also, as if that's bad enough, as if that doesn't look wrong enough,
the bloke in the background went, "I think I'll get my donkey in on this."
Oh! When you said, "Blow smoke up my ass..."
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
I know. What a strange world we lived in.
-That was mainstream medical science.
That's got stuck in my throat, that!
I went hunting with an Amazonian tribe, with curare-tipped darts.
It was a great experience.
It was the Matis people in the Amazon, in the Upper Amazon.
They sort of... They're huge, these blowpipes they use.
The darts are very, very long and beautifully flighted with the fur of monkeys on the end.
And they just... Phht! And they'd blow them up.
The thing is, they go a huge distance.
-They go right to the top of the jungle canopy.
-They go an enormous distance.
He said, "Do you want to have a go at it?"
-I said, "Yes, of course!"
You went, "Phut."
He said, "You've got to aim at the monkey."
There's a spider monkey, a howler monkey, on the tree.
He said, "Go for it." And I went like that, phht.
And instead of going at the monkey, it went vertically up in the air.
All the tribes, they just scattered. LAUGHTER
I went like this, I went, "Phht" and they all went, "Aaah!"
Standing there going, "What? What?" and one of them went, "Get out!"
-Because it would kill you?
What's the best way to hypnotise either A - an alligator,
B - a tiger shark, or C - a chicken?
-I've seen them do it to sharks.
-What do they do?
Don't they lie them on their backs or something?
Exactly right. You flip it over and it goes...
But I thought that if sharks have to keep moving in order to survive.
Which is why whales have learnt to tip them over in order to make them suffocate. It will kill them.
There's a very small hammerhead shark.
-That is a toy shark.
Or a really big diver. LAUGHTER
A frighteningly big diver!
I think we'd have heard of him.
I think I know how you do chickens.
It's weird, because it actually looks like you're oppressing them violently.
You have to hold them to the ground and draw a line.
Yes. You draw a line from their beak along, and they just stare at it.
That's what they do.
But they're not hypnotised, they're just...
They're wondering, "What's that prat doing scribbling on my beak?"
It's called tonic immobility in animals. That is the example.
There's another way of doing it with chickens.
You take a stick or a paddle, this is a light flagellation paddle
I happened to have in the house.
You fix eyes to it and hold it up to it and it'll stare at it forever.
Our producer tried it on his - we're the kind of show whose producers have chickens,
that's how cool we are.
He said it didn't work at all. They went off to eat things.
You just made that up, didn't you?
No, no. It's in all the books. It says that is a way to hypnotise them.
In all of the books? In all of the chicken hypnotising books?
All of them? How many are there?
Which is why you can't ever let your chickens watch the Muppets.
How would you use one of these to calm a horse down?
-Oh, now. Yeah. Calm it down?
What I'm thinking of is not going to calm it down!
Have they been used? If they're what I think they are, I don't want to touch it.
-It'll only have been on a horse.
-Is it over its nose?
It's that big.
-On the tail?
-You fire an arrow at the horse.
-Well, the points have gone to Alan.
Alan's identified where it goes. Not the full points.
-It's a twitch.
-It's a twitch. She knows, you know.
Of course she knows, she's Claire Balding!
She's here expressly...
I couldn't let Alan get more. I thought I'd give him a go and he's nearly right.
Yes. Imagine you have to give medication...
Are these... Here, I'll do... Chweep. Twin-ng!
-This isn't calming me.
Is this Whose Line Is It Anyway? from about ten years ago?
Imagine you're giving a horse medication.
They're very nervous animals.
They don't like being fiddled around with any more than anyone else.
When they're uncomfortable, they can hurt themselves as much as they can hurt a vet or anyone attending them.
They strike out, so you need to calm a horse down.
There's a very magical thing about horses. It's most peculiar.
What is it, Claire?
If you take their top lip... You can do it with your hands or rope.
To me it looks a little bit severe, I've never seen one quite like this.
You take their top lip and they won't move.
They just go into a state of almost trance-like...
It's a bit like the rabbit in the headlights freeze.
It makes them go completely - phhh.
-Yeah, like that.
-Then you can administer. That's it.
-Alan is a horse.
-Give me the drugs now, the drugs.
-You don't need them now.
-You can sing at the same time.
With some, if you take their ear and it has the same effect.
How did they find that out?
There's been a lot of experimentation going on.
"I suppose we'll try... That went badly. Let's try the lip now."
It was thought originally that it was almost some kind of distraction,
and that if you did that it couldn't concentrate on something else.
It was discovered that it releases endorphins and just gets blissed out.
It's rather nice to know, because it looks a bit cruel.
-I'm fine. I'm fine.
What is the roundest thing in the universe?
-No, just saying.
-Oh, no, Phil!
Is it a black hole?
It's that kind of a deal.
When a supernova has a gravitational collapse, it turns into something called a neutron star.
-Ah, the neutron star!
-They're really round.
That's not round!
That's a supernova, I think. That's a supernova going supernova.
Show us the round thing!
-You're very upset, aren't you?
It only has a diameter of 15 miles or so.
There isn't one near enough for you to see with the eye.
Have you ever noticed how we always have to take Stephen's word for it?
What's interesting is if I had a thimbleful of a neutron star,
it would weigh more than a mountain.
Yeah, but you don't!
I tell you what, imagine how confused the old woman darning your socks would be
if you had a thimble full of it and she was trying to fix a hole.
And the were, "Phoomph!" Space and time coming out of a thimble.
That's no way to treat the elderly.
When you've got a good cleaning lady, you want to hang onto them.
"I'm leaving, Mr Dee." "Why?" "Because of this space business with your thimble. I don't like it."
Could you give us your impression of the average WWII British...
Oh, dear. The average British WWII fighter pilot.
-You look hilarious on the end.
That is a character! I'm going to...
Someone has got to write a sitcom around David Mitchell's character.
You look like you're posing with a successful novelty air force team,
and you've just agreed to have your photograph taken with them for your birthday.
I know you're not, but if they'd invented Gaydar instead of radar...
I'm sorry to say, that would mark high.
"I'm ordering these helmets for my wife's birthday."
In this war film, I think I die about two thirds of the way through.
Breaks the heart of the audience and inspires the hero.
Everyone kills a load of Germans as revenge for my death.
And I'm the old WWI hero with a gammy leg who watches them come back
-and cries because...
-I don't think Alan dies.
I think you make it through. I think I die.
You think I'm going to live, and then right near the end, I die.
Like Von Ryan's Express as I'm running towards the train.
-I get shot at the end.
I'm the plucky woman who was just supposed to do the radio
that's been forced to fly one of the planes.
You look as if you could do it. You've got your sergeant stripes.
How do the pilots talk? That's the thing.
(NASAL VOICE) Red leader, red leader.
We've got a lovely team today who will be furnishing you with the easy kiosk...
Scratch cards, Minstrels. Like that.
-Clean up in aisle three.
What sort of people were they? That's what it comes down to.
What sort of people? Quite posh. KLAXON
I think you'll find you're wrong.
They so weren't. 30% of all fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain went to public school.
In fact, of that 30%, they were mostly minor public schools,
and of the Eton, Harrow and Winchester, the top 13, only 8%.
The actors that played them were posh.
That's the point.
In the war films during and after the war,
Kenneth Moore and David Niven and so on, they spoke like that.
Did the Germans know we were sending out the lower classes?
(GERMAN ACCENT) Someone who has got no manners whatsoever!
The first time I did scuba diving, I made a basic error.
You know you have a big lead weight belt and a big buoyancy jacket,
lovely floaty, floaty buoyancy jacket, very heavy lead weight.
Which one should you take off first?
So I took the buoyancy jacket off,
handed it to the bloke, and... SPLUTTERS
He just grabbed my hand. I went, "Whoa!"
I thought I could die, but I was laughing.
"Oh, what am I like? Oh, I'm dying."
Wouldn't it be awful if your last words were, "What am I like?"
From testing spells, you'll like this, to spelling tests.
I before E, fingers on buzzers, excepting after?
No. That just isn't the rule. Why isn't it the rule?
-Because of words...
-Words where it's not.
When E comes before I after C.
There are more exceptions to the rule than the rule itself, by quite a long way.
-Ceiling. Is "ceiling" one?
-They've been counted. Would you like to know?
Yeah. Err... Yeah. There are 923 English words that have a C-I-E in them.
-Do we have to name them all?
No. That's C-E-I.
-C-E-I is what you said.
-The rule is, the supposed rule is...
-I before E, except after C.
I'm saying, in fact, there are 923 which break that rule.
-I before E, except after C?
-We're looking for words where E follows C, aren't we?
No. The rule is, it should be C-E-I.
-According to that.
-Oh, you're saying it's wrong!
There are 923...
I know one which it isn't. Ceiling. That's not one.
-"Ceiling" isn't one.
"Ceiling" isn't one of the ones you're looking for.
-Yes. I want the ones I am looking for.
So I repeat - not "ceiling".
I'm looking for the ones I'm looking for. So give me a C-I-E.
God... I may explode at any minute.
-"Receipt" is CIE.
-Those are the ones that conform to the rule.
The rule is looking pretty good right now.
Yes. But now I know them, and I didn't think I knew any.
Yes. The point is there are lots and lots.
These are ones with E-I without the C in front, obviously,
as well as the C-I-E. Congierge.
Oh, you don't even have to have a C in it now!
No! They're E-I! Are you incapable of rational thought?!
Are you... You cannot be that stupid!
You cannot be that...
Can I just say, you really are going to have to work on your Bruce Forsyth patter.
MIMICS BRUCE FORSYTH: "Are you really capable of rational thought?!
"I tell you! Are you a human being? I don't think you are."
No. But work it out.
-These words don't count. They're not even English words.
-You can't have "hacienda" and "congierge".
-The point is
there are 21 times as many words that break the rule than don't.
However, if you want to spell "ceiling"...
-If you want to spell "ceiling"...
Or "conceit" or "deceit". But if you want to spell "veil" and "weird"...
Yeah, but there's no C in them.
It's I before E, every time, except after C.
But in "weir"... That's the point!
Oh, I see!
You cannot be that stupid!
He said it, and you're looking at me!
Why do I get the blame for his stupidity?!
I've got my own, thank you!
Daniel, you're the only person who isn't a complete idiot.
It's become clear.
-No, I assure you, I am...
-"Stephen" begins with S...
What about my surname? Am I spelling that right?
-There's an I and an E in that.
-It's I before E always.
According to the rule.
-But the rule's wrong, Stephen!
-Yes, the rule is wrong.
The rule is officially no longer taught in schools
-because it is so clear.
-Oh, really? Is it not at all taught any more?
The rule now is it's I before E, but sometimes it's E before I.
Mostly after C, it's I-E.
If in doubt, look it up, you lazy git.
-I before E except for the following 923.
And then you reel them all off.
Thank God for spell check.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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