Stephen Fry asks unanswerable questions about house and home, with Bill Bailey, Eddie Izzard, Danny Baker and Alan Davies.
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Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello.
Hello, and how do you do?
We'll be staying in tonight, ladies and gentlemen,
for a quite interesting look at house and home.
So, let's see who's "in da house," as my father likes to say.
We have, very much at home, Danny Baker!
And hitting a home run, Eddie Izzard.
And a beautifully streamlined homing pigeon, Bill Bailey.
And late with his homework again, my homeboy, Alan Davies.
Well, should my house guests need to attract my attention
they'll need to ring my chimes. Danny goes...
SCHOOL BELL RINGS
And Eddie goes...
DOOR BELL RINGS
And Bill goes...
BELLS RING A TUNE
And Alan goes...
KNOCKING 'Hello? Only me!'
So, eyes down, please, for a full house.
Now here's a lovely, homely picture of a modern family.
But of course they're all rather concerned
about their ecological footprint.
Now how can they legally reduce it the most?
-What is the biggest thing they can do?
Stop, er, breathing.
Yes, and defecating.
DOOR BELL RINGS
-Are we using these?
-No, we never use them.
-It's sort of...
I mean legally, and if you like, biologically viably.
-Yeah, and legally. I mean, it's not...
-How many more...
-..little things are you going to add on to this question?
-OK, I'll trigger the screen.
-Don't drive, car.
That is not the biggest way they could help the environment,
that particular family.
-Insulating your home.
-That would be reasonable, but getting rid of the car would be better.
I know. Eat the dog! RINGS BELL
Or get rid of the dog.
The dog is by far and away the most ecologically...
Never turns the lights off, leaves the telly on all night.
Keeping a dog is the equivalent to two Toyota Land cruisers.
Yes, everyone in the audience is going, "what?".
-There's a simple reason.
-I'm getting rid of both of my Land Cruisers.
And that is the meat it eats.
-It's that simple.
It seems a unfair to put it on the dog. I eat meat.
Yes, but you can't get rid of a human being without being illegal.
That's why I said legally. You can get rid of a dog.
It may be unkind, but that's the point of the question.
Can you do it? Oh, you could just have it put down.
Yeah, legally, not ethically.
Not ethically, no. Definitely not ethically.
But it was there to surprise you. It is a shock.
Even a cat, one cat, one little cat,
is the equivalent to a Volkswagen Golf.
And I'm including the manufacture of the car
as well as the use of the car.
-Wow. So, Stephen, just on a purely technical point...
I've got four dogs, right.
You're killing us all!
Kill your dogs, will you!? I can hardly breathe!
The planet's warming!
I want to know, what kind of fleet of vehicles I can now own.
I'm really keen to know.
-Eight Land Cruisers.
You could have a lot of land cruisers.
You'd be like Mad Max. You could go across deserts.
If you had a bison you could have a Chieftain tank.
-If they ate veg is it better?
-They are just born to eat meat, I fear.
-Well our dogs eat rice.
-They will eat it, but not without meat.
-They'll eat it grudgingly.
-You leave out a Battenburg and that'll disappear instantly.
They had a whole tin of Quality Street, one Christmas, and they took all the wrappers off. Unbelievable.
Yeah, they unwrapped the sweets, the Alsatians.
Did they look through the cellophane and go, "It's all yellow!"
That's how we got them. They had cellophane over their eyes like that, "wow, man."
A little bit of green foil under their claws.
-The thing is, I've got four dogs, two cats, birds, fish, rabbit,
guinea pig - I could probably get like a jet or something.
You probably are using the equivalent of a jet. It's quite serious.
-I can give you the figures.
It takes 43 square metres of land to generate one kilogram of chicken,
much more for other meats.
But only 13 per kilo of cereal, you see?
So someone worked out how much it took, and it's two Land Cruisers per
dog, much more for German shepherds, for example, which eat a lot more.
If you kept two hamsters,
that's the same energy footprint as a plasma television.
And unfortunately, no, hamsters going round on a wheel will not power the plasma television.
Is this some kind of Dr Dolittle death list your reading from?
How many pets have you got to get rid of to get a speedboat?
They're not green shield stamps, you know!
That's what they are in my mind, now.
Oh don't, bless the dolphins.
The ecological footprint is a measure of the amount of land needed
to regenerate consumed resources and deal with the resultant waste.
Current figures calculated by the United Nations
are that we are using 1.4 times more than the planet can restore.
-The thing is...
-We evolved from this planet,
we are of this planet, we live on this planet,
-so can't we do what we like?
We are victims of our own evolution, I happen to have come in at this point.
Now I have to turn the out and I can't see where I'm going when I go to bed.
But we appear to be the first creatures
to have evolved to have a knowledge of what we're doing.
-Consciousness, that's what we've got.
-That's where we went wrong.
We also kill each other in huge quantities, that's a good thing.
Maybe we should big ourselves up sometimes.
-Last year thousands of people were killed in wars, thousands of people.
That's the ecological paw print, and it's a bit of a shocker for us all.
But having children is even more disastrous than having dogs.
Unless they start wars.
Unless they start wars.
But as long as it's killing Nazis then we're a kind of cool with that.
-And Hitler had a dog.
-He did, and he killed it!
If you're going to have a war, use animals as weapons and that'll get rid of a few.
If you've got a mortar, chuck a few guinea-pigs down a mortar, phoom!
-That's half a plasma screen already.
Yes, but the one thing about evolution, evolution has never developed an animal with a wheel.
And you would have thought by now,
because they must have seen the car or the bike by now,
but evolution if it's going anywhere, no animal has a wheel.
-The paw's better than the wheel.
It's much better than a wheel.
The Daleks proved this, Daleks couldn't go upstairs.
-Now they fly!
-We invented the wheel then
-after the wheel we had to invent the road and the railway line and things to put the wheel on.
Had nature given us roads, then a wheel might well have been a good evolution.
Where we're going, we don't need roads.
How come some fish fly and we don't?
What about a Blueray player? What are they, a mouse or something?
-I think a Blueray player would be probably a gerbil.
-A gecko would be an iPad.
-Nice! Oh, yes!
The most ecological would be the worm, because the worm eats us.
And you cut it in two and you've got four. No, two.
-That's a conjoined worm, of course.
-You cut two in two you get four.
You're doing wonderfully, thank you all very much.
So there you are, yes, a medium-sized dog has a bigger
ecological footprint than a large car, so draw your own conclusions.
Now many things can influence the value of the house,
but what instantly reduces the value of a house in America by a third?
OJ Simpson lived there.
Is it a tornado cutting it in...two thirds?
Two thirds of it is on one side of the San Andreas fault...
I may say, what it is, is nonsense, but it's the kind of a nonsense
that Americans, unfortunately, seem to believe in.
-Whether or not it's near to a drive-in?
-Portal to hell?
-Well, kind of.
-It's buried on a graveyard?
Haunted is the right answer. Haunted.
Obviously it won't be haunted because...
There's no such thing as ghosts.
Exactly. But, the point is the stigma of haunting is enough.
If it's merely mentioned or that people seem to believe
there are ghosts there, then it will reduce...
Have they told you about the haunting?
-They told you about the ghost?
-There should be ghosts everywhere.
-There should be dinosaur ghosts, cows ghosts, sheep ghosts, worm ghosts...
Yeah, dinosaur ghosts, that's a brilliant idea!
There should be stromatolites ghosts...
-The most plausible thing I ever heard on the ghost front
is the idea it can be the atmospheric thing like
a lightning bolt, it's because of a peculiarity and a magnetic force.
These people are unaware they're ghosts and that's why
they appear to walk through doors because as far as they're concerned, the door isn't there...
and I can kind of buy that!
I can buy that brains are affected by magnetic fields
and there are certain circumstances where it's common for people to feel
chill and dread and to hallucinate and indeed to die
-and this is quite common...
-Yeah, what a night that was.
That's carbon monoxide poisoning.
-From gas boilers and so on and it causes all those symptoms.
As for dead people coming back...
-There should be dead cows.
-I so agree with you!
The Meatpacking District in New York.
Yeah, why do you draw the line? Suddenly it's only human beings.
Because if you pass a field and you see a cow,
you don't say, "That's a ghost!".
If you saw one in your house, you would.
Yeah, but cows aren't going to be in the house.
-They are because...
-Houses are built on all kinds of pieces of land.
I'm not advocating for the Ghost Party over here but...
I love the idea of a Ghost Party. Woooh!
The other parties are just scaremongering.
First appearance of the pipe.
The pipe in high-definition for the first time.
What happened to pipes?
-That's where they went.
-I love pipes.
Would you like to meet the last ever winner of the pipe-smoker of the year?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes!
How do you do!
I answered no!
You're a pipe-smoker?
The first QI was about to start and I was asked to some press for it
and I left the house to go to this interview
and I realised I had no cigarettes -
in those days I was a smoker - and I just saw a pipe
and some tobacco and I put it in my pocket.
You saw a pipe just lying there in the street?
No, in my house! Two days after the Independent article opened,
I was asked if I would be the pipe-smoker of the year!
Did you accept?
I said, yeah. Absolutely!
It confers a kind of respectability, I think. Trustworthiness.
I never think you can truly give directions without a pipe and that's why I envy you, Bill.
Really! Could you tell me where the station is?
What you do, you go down there...
-And recognising a friend! Ah!
Great prop for that.
Now a good haunting
can knock a third off the value of an American house.
Describe the arrangements for moving house in the fourth largest island in South America.
-Largest island in South America.
-Look at your tats.
-I've got them covered up at the moment.
I can tell you the third largest. They just get it in a van and go.
What the hell is the fourth largest?
Its name is Chiloe.
There are the people of Chiloe. It's off the coast of Chile.
Obviously they'll get a yak first. Two yaks.
Actually they called it a yunta, which is like a team of cattle.
The point is, when they move house, they literally move house.
If they have a haunting, if there's a bad spirit,
rather than just leave the house and build a house somewhere else,
they move the house thinking that the spirit will stay behind and I think we've got VT
of them moving house. Here they go.
That's the yunta, and they've got logs and there it goes.
That's cos there's a ghost inside?
-What if the ghost can travel with them?
-Apparently the ghost doesn't.
The ghost goes, "I'm still here!"
Apparently it doesn't.
The ghost gets left behind going, "What happened?"
Do cows have any idea where they're going?
Or are all the houses just at one end of the field?
That is an adventure movie, isn't it? That just looks fantastic.
It's Fitzcarraldo writ small.
I think it's Die Hard with a cow.
-Or the guy in the window's going, "I want to stay here!".
-The person at the door's going, "What the hell?
"I just came down because there was a rumbling."
It's quite a sight.
Apparently tourists come from Chile to watch it.
The ceremony is called the Minga.
They have a great feast called the curanto and they dance a waltz.
So, what kind of person builds a house out of straw?
-Damn you for the "not" word.
-You just wanted to be spanked.
-I just wanted to hear the sound.
I've been making it myself watching - "wooohoooh!"
Like some demented child.
What kind of a person would build a house out of straw?
A straw person would live in a straw house, for example, a scarecrow.
When they weren't working out in the field.
Somewhere you could only get straw to make a house out of?
-Does it have to be a person? Not a bird?
The fact is it's an incredibly good building material for houses.
There's almost nothing not to find remarkable about it.
I was astonished by this. It's more fire-resistant than conventional buildings.
You'd think it was a fire hazard but in fact the straw is so compacted, it just won't burn.
There's no air in it.
It's structurally sound and strong, it's resistant to earthquakes, inhospitable to insects
and rodents, more so than wood, so particularly in America where
houses are wood-framed, it's fantastically useful.
Clean straw has no allergy issue.
It's relatively cheap, it's a below zero carbon rating.
Can be locally grown, excellent insulation and sound proofing
compared to conventional buildings, it's biodegradable
at the end of the building's life, it's easy to work with,
necessary skills are easier to learn than bricklaying.
Sounds great until it rains.
No because that one on the right is that straw house.
It's not left straw like that. You can clad it and plaster it.
Clapboard and everything else.
-You would never know it was a straw house.
-You'd need a a metal roof.
Yeah, the whole thing isn't made of straw but it's straw where otherwise you'd be using concrete or wood.
Why are we just learning this?
I know! It was a 19th-century Nebraskan invention, a baled straw buildings.
In Nebraska, they have huge grasslands and you'd start when it's the nearest material to you.
There aren't that many trees and things for wood.
So how big can the structures get?
-As big as any. You know...
-The sky's the limit.
Big question - can a wolf blow it down?
It'll huff and it'll puff and I think it will fail to blow it down.
If a wolf came back and saw that... "Ha-ha! Oh..."
The wolf would be going, "this is not supposed to happen!
"I've got a brick one to come yet!"
The wolf would be going, "I love what you've done here."
The early Nebraskan settlers even tried them with balls of tumbleweed compressed.
And it blew away?
There was a house built of hay, it was a schoolhouse in Nebraska.
It was eaten by a herd of cows.
That was bad but they wouldn't eat straw.
This information throws everything into chaos.
A man of straw is supposed to be weak and now we're learning it's right up there with concrete.
Now the pigs have got a panic room anyway...
Straw is cheap, strong, warm and fire and earthquake resistant,
making it an excellent choice of building material.
Now, the Queen is coming for tea.
What should you do with your lavatory seat?
Cover it with money!
-Wear it round your neck with pride.
No. There is a rumour, an urban legend, a nonsense, a fallacy,
that you have to get a new lavatory seat for the Queen's visit.
Put clingfilm over the bowl. See if she complains!
I don't know why that pleases me so much but it really does.
There was a rumour - but it's a nonsense -
-that she carried her own calfskin one around, a calfskin lavatory seat.
But apparently Prince Charles did have his own.
He was given one as a present and he liked it so he used to carry it around.
Charlie's got his own seat and he goes around with it?
No, he was given it and he used to take it around as a joke.
-As a joke?
-I mean, the people who deal with royalty, they do say...
And they would have bolted it on in a trice.
-No-one would take the joke.
"We've made nine of them."
I don't know how that works in the toilet but...
People powering the toilet.
A royal flush.
You can be sucked out of a jet toilet.
You can get wedged in and create a vacuum.
Then the whole plane sucks in on its own.
-Goldfinger himself goes out of the window.
-But not out of the loo.
ALAN IMITATES FLUSH
Isn't it funny how you just have to press the button and then you think,
I'll have to press it again because it didn't, and then woah!
Stand well back. You don't leave your tie dangling over. Waah!
According to Buckingham Palace, the idea that the Queen requires a new lavatory seat is a complete myth.
Though you might want to run a damp cloth over the old one.
So, homing in now on General Ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers, please.
When did slavery become a criminal offence in England?
It was one of these odd little New Labour laws, in about 1996, '97, '98.
What an odd law, to outlaw slavery.
It's political correctness gone mad!
-I'm going to be odd and say it was a bit late.
-Yes, that's exactly right.
It was 1807 when the slave trade was ended, and then finally, in 1834,
it was illegal anywhere in the British Empire to own a slave.
It has never been illegal to have a slave in England until April 2010.
I'm saying I could have had you as a slave. Legally.
-You mean this series I'm finally free?
You know what?
I'll be one of those slaves that just goes back to the master. "I don't know what to do now.
"Can I work for you any way, please?"
There are now estimated to be 27 million people held essentially in bondage, in slavery, on this planet.
-But the show will be over soon and you can go.
-More than there ever were in the days of cotton picking and s on.
-In the world?
-Yeah. That is the estimate. It's a pretty grim problem, still, slavery.
The point is it was never illegal in England because it was never recognised as a state of being.
I wish I had known that!
There were laws against kidnapping and abduction, and false imprisonment,
and sexual trafficking and all that we might associate,
though it was not illegal for one human to own another human, which it now is.
This isn't one of those laws where they thought, "That needs clearing up. It's a loose end from history."
It kind of was. In 1967, there were a number of obsolete crimes that were taken care of.
Barratry had been illegal right up until 1967, which is vexatious lawsuits.
-What they call a vexatious litigate, someone who just keeps coming.
-The singer, towards the end of her life when she did have a mania,
but she was probably the last person to be done for vexatious litigants.
-But if you kept prosecuting someone for it, you'd be prosecuted...
Any way, there's scolding.
Scolding was a crime in 1966, but not in 1967.
-With hot water, you mean?
-No, not scalding. Scolding. Scolding! "You!
"What time of the night do you call this, Eddie Izzard?"
-12.00. 12.30. I don't know.
-Give you a good scolding.
-And that was illegal?
-That was illegal.
-And now it's legal?
-Eavesdropping was illegal.
Challenging someone to a fight was also illegal until 1967.
What about going round a roundabout more than three times?
That certainly wouldn't have been a medieval law, would it?
Well, I don't know. If you had a horse and cart and a couple of hours spare.
-On the medieval roundabout.
-The medieval roundabout.
-Yes. Any way. There you are.
Due to a quirk of English law, it only became an offence
to keep a slave in the year 2010, so you just missed your chance.
Who lives in the tiniest houses in Europe?
-German. Belgians. French. Italians.
Whoa, interesting. No.
-Ireland. Czech Republic.
-Anglesey. The Welsh?
-We got that easy!
-Our country. Where we live.
-Yes. We have.
-We have, in Britain. We have the smallest by quite a way.
It's rather embarrassing. Easily the pokiest accommodation in Europe.
Yeah. In terms of overall floor space, that's where we live.
Isn't that tragic? Compared to America.
Yeah. We have a miserly 76 square metres on average.
-We're quite crammed together, aren't we?
But even given that, our houses are jolly titchy, it seems.
Until you told us we weren't that bothered. But now...
-Where does the phrase, "There isn't room to swing a cat" come from?
-Cat o' nine tails?
Cat o' nine tails?
No, it's not, oddly enough. You'd think it was.
It's the kind of think people think.
-It's when they used to flog people with an actual cat.
it means what it says.
It's just a kind of common folk expression meaning to swing a cat round.
But the first use of cat o' nine tales was 1695 in the English language.
And at least 40 years earlier than that there are references to not being able to swing a cat.
It's so disappointing when you find that out.
-I think it's good.
-The whole nine yards?
-The whole nine yards? No.
-Alan's doing cat stuff.
-It's an American sports thing, isn't it?
-How would you swing it, though?
There's that way, but there's also that way, up and down.
LAUGHTER Round and round.
I think it's by the tail, definitely, whatever.
Do you do it in 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.
The cat's close and you just go, "Ah!"
By a whisker!
-By a whisker.
The whole nine yards, I believe, is not a sporting thing, it's America's and the B52s going
over Nazi Germany, and they shot the whole nine yards of bullets.
-Oh, right, it's a nine yard...
-It's 10 yards in American football.
Everyone thought it was something to do with American football.
Nice. If that's true, there will be points in it.
-I think that's quite interesting.
-Yes, I'm excited.
So, yes, it turns out the British build the meanest houses in Europe.
Why don't any bleaches claim to kill 100% of all germs?
They'd get sued if you found a living germ left?
No, it's not that.
It's because they don't kill...
They probably do kill 100% of all germs, it's just almost impossible to prove.
What's left behind, we just don't have the technology to inspect whether or not there
are any germs left. The fact is, certainly you can prove 99.999% of germs are killed by bleach.
-When you wipe up afterwards, you put more germs back in.
-You often do.
Because everyone pees on their hands and then goes and gets mints.
Looking like that when they do.
I save time. I just take the mints to the loo.
-Those are those things in the urinal, you can't eat them.
-I thought they were mints.
Good! So, no bleach claims to kill 100% of germs because some microbial remnants
left after the standard test are just too small to measure.
They come pretty close, though. And so we end our weary journey homewards and it's time to look
at the house of cards that represent our scoring system.
Home and dry, in the lead, with an astonishing plus three, Bill Bailey!
Very well played.
Just about keeping the home fires burning with minus 16, Eddie Izzard!
-I'm second? Second?
I'm second. Minus 16.
And with home in sight at minus 17, Danny Baker!
Pippe me by a minus point. Minus one.
It's a terrible shock, but finally, home alone with minus 19, Alan Davies!
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
THEME TUNE PLAYS
That's all for this homely edition of QI,
so it's good night from Eddie, Danny, Bill and Alan and myself.
And now it's time to bolt the door, drink up your cocoa, and then off to
bed with the lot of you, but not before I snuggle down with this thought from a recent survey.
30 years ago, 65% of men, on leaving their house, kissed their wife goodbye.
Today, 88% of men when they leave their wife,
have to kiss their house goodbye. Good night.