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Good evening! Good evening, good evening,
good evening, good evening, good evening...
And welcome to QI for another incongruous ingathering
of irilated information, including -
income tax, inflation and Imperial Rome.
Let's have a look at tonight's four "I's". The I-catching Sandi Toksvig!
The I-watering Al Murray!
The I-rish Dara O'Briain!
And I-I-I! It's Alan Davies!
Right, well let's hear your I-buzzers. Sandi goes...
-That was an ibis.
That was an ibex.
And Dara goes...
CAR ENGINE ROARING
That was a Seat Ibiza!
And Alan goes...
# I-i-i-i-i-i love you very much I-I-I-I-I-I think you're grand... #
And don't forget, if you spot a question
to which you think nobody knows the answer, you can play your Ignoramus Joker, like so.
That's right, there may be a question to which the answer is - nobody knows.
So, describe, if you can, in detail,
the world's most exotic tax inspectors.
Not the ones who brought me into Balham once to...
Were you once given a right going-over?
-A right going-over, yeah.
I'd taken tax advice from Harry Hill, so it was my own fault.
He used to be a doctor, so I thought he knew what he was talking about.
I once spent three days with a tax inspector going through every single decimal point of everything.
And after three days he didn't find anything, and he said to me,
"To be honest Miss Toksvig, I just wanted to meet you."
I know. I wanted to punch him.
Was either of them exotic? Did they have a flowery tie, or anything about them?
Is it one of those tax-haveny things?
No it's not. We're in the Middle East, in an Islamic country,
where people would be very embarrassed by a certain type of person.
A transgender person.
In Pakistan, they have a squadron of transgender tax collectors,
who come, basically, to embarrass people into paying.
They go, "Hiya! You all right?"
First of all, you go to the shop and say, "You owe us this much in tax,"
and they will simply say, "We refuse to pay."
And they say, "OK, tomorrow we will send in a group of transgender collectors,
"who will dance and sing in your shop, until you pay."
# The crying game... #
But only five per cent of people pay tax in Pakistan, don't they?
So it's not working!
There's only so many transgender collectors.
They're very busy! They're belting out I Am What I Am in shops all around the country.
There is quite a transgender,
I suppose the word you would use is "community" in Pakistan.
They have obviously had it very tough,
especially in the more extremist parts of that country,
where such things are frowned upon.
They are classed together with transvestites and eunuchs.
There's a special word for them, which is - higera.
How extraordinary for a mother if she sees her son
putting on her high heels,
immediately she looks at him now, and thinks "tax inspector!"
It is. It's a glamour profession now.
"I have to do this mother, I'm a tax inspector.
"Nothing else is going on."
Will you be wearing that dress this evening?
But they are.
What would we do here? With Morris Dancers, I think, outside your shop.
"I'll pay! I will pay!"
Basically, the governments of the world
are looking for imaginative solutions to raise their taxes.
And that is one - using transgender people in Karachi.
I'm totally astonished. It's boggling, it's brilliant.
While living in Pakistan, was there any point which Osama Bin Laden
didn't pay his taxes and was in danger
of four transgender people knocking on the door of his massive compound?
No wonder he was hiding!
I wonder what that man does for a living? It could be a whole conversation.
-Four of them.
-Four of them turned up, going through his papers, as you can see.
You have come for my tax? I sold you that scarf.
"I think that is a counterfeit designer bag that she is wearing as well.
"I suspect it isn't real."
-He's going to get the hit squad.
-He's going to get the full show.
-Here come the girls.
That's what they sing!
"We are the hit squad, and the first hit will be Cher's I Believe."
-Absolutely. There you
Now compare the tax advantages of being a drug dealer in Tennessee
to those of being a bank robber in the Netherlands.
Is it in Tennessee, they can claim back the expense
of buying the drugs against tax, as a business expense, or something?
-You're in the right area.
-There's some kind of accounting loop-hole.
What they tried in Tennessee was to put a duty on drugs,
as you do on alcohol and tobacco.
So all these criminals who are drug dealers not only went to prison,
-but they had to pay this tax on the drugs.
-Like stamp duty?
Yes, but then constitutionally it was discovered to be against the American Bill of Rights.
It counted as double jeopardy, because they were being punished twice for the same crime.
So now, the state of Tennessee is paying money back to all the drug dealers.
It's paid millions out. About 161 people have received 3.7m.
Because there was a bit of a screw-up. They thought it was a really clever idea
of getting extra money out of drug criminals,
-instead of which they have lost.
-They'll only spend it on drugs.
If you are putting that with bank robbers in the Netherlands,
-It must be that you can claim for the expense of your gun...
-Yes. Absolutely right.
There was someone who was found guilty
of holding the place up with a gun
and he was fined, and his gun was an allowable expense!
So the price of his gun was deducted from his fine.
-Presumably you would need a receipt, first of all.
It is a working expense.
If you commit a crime worth less than your gun,
-you will always be ahead, to a certain extent.
-Very expensive getaway car.
-Use a Porsche as a getaway car.
Very expensive silk stockings on your face.
Presumably you'd have to prove you bought the right thing, appropriate for the crime?
A gun like the picture is fine, if you had a ballistic missile, they're not going to cough up.
-No. I think you are absolutely right.
-Was it Robert Morley who used to run Miss World?
-Eric Morley, I think.
-Eric Morley. He claimed his racehorses
as a tax expense! It went all the way to court with him saying,
"Basically, I am in the business of being Eric Morley,
"and that includes owning racehorses. To keep up my lifestyle,
"and have the swagger of being the man that runs Miss World.
"I need racehorses." And he won!
-He was able to claim it as an expense.
I once bought a racehorse by mistake.
What had you originally gone into the shop for?
I was there as a tax inspector.
You wanted a pint of Activia pouring yogurt,
and you got a racehorse.
Oh, you heard about that little problem I had?
Stay with us, people.
No, what happened was - I was at Epsom,
and somebody had given a racehorse to auction,
to raise money for charity. I was asked if I would auction it off.
I said, "What am I bid for this racehorse?" And I am standing next to the horse,
and nobody bid, so I said "well, I'll start us off.
I said "3,000 guineas." Silence.
-I was the only person who bid.
I had come in my sports car. I had no idea how I was going to get it home.
So, did you have to pay up?
No, the man very nicely bought it back off me.
-How much for?
-Well, I lost on it.
For about a minute and a half I owned a racehorse.
-Did you follow the fortunes of that horse?
I have never been to the races again, too terrifying.
Good Lord! Well, there you are.
Why does this house have bricked-up windows?
I expect there will be a klaxon, but there was window tax, wasn't there?
Yeah, people like to go around the place, point at a blank window and say, "Yeah, window-tax".
"Yeah, there was a window tax so they filled them in."
Because there was a window-tax from the 1690s right up to 1851.
-What is this? Is this a sort of 18th-century fashionably solid curtains?
This is just to balance the house out, basically.
There were a lot of bricked-in ones, but this is an example where it was used to make it
look slightly more symmetrical.
Isn't more likely that they had a child they didn't love
and they bricked him into a part of the house?
If you look at the brick-work, I think there was an extension somewhere... Anyway....
That doesn't excuse the fact that
granny has been living in that slim portion of the house.
And they slide pieces under the door and hope that she eats.
Was there a brick tax at one point?
You can tell the age of some London buildings by the size of the brick.
Is that right? Before the window tax, there was a hearth and chimney tax for fireplaces.
Then they decided the window tax was a good idea.
In the 1850s, they realised that the British glass industry was doing badly.
There's an example. Those were blanked out for window tax.
People were not getting enough light and it was very disadvantageous
for the poor, who lived in dark places.
And also, the British glass industry was getting really depressed.
But on the other hand, the candlemakers were raking it in!
-There is that!
-Is it or isn't it where daylight robbery comes from?
This idea that you've taken away the windows.
The window tax was daylight robbery. I'm not sure.
I don't think it is. It's quite simply that you take something in plain sight.
Shameless robbery, daylight robbery.
-That house would make a very good advent calendar.
-Yes, it would!
Imagine that. Huge chocolate behind those windows!
Scare the life out of the children!
Surely somebody has rung the doorbell in those houses and gone,
"By the way, they've repealed the window tax."
Other countries have chosen other strange taxes.
What do you think they taxed in Amsterdam?
There's a narrowness, the width of the building.
They tax the width of a house in Amsterdam.
Hence you get those extraordinary Dutch narrow houses.
-And all of them have that, like a gable, an extended...
So everything got lifted up because the doors were too narrow to bring things in.
But it results in beautiful architecture, don't you think?
Nobody agrees with me. Everyone thinks it's a hideous sight.
-I think they just look very narrow.
They're nice buildings. Could be a bit wider.
It's the sort of building that I think, imagine if you'd forgotten something on the top floor.
You wouldn't. You'd buy another one. Whatever it was, you'd buy another one.
It's nice to have the stairs up, maybe in a spiral, but there should be a pole down.
-Have you ever been down a fireman's pole?
No, I haven't. LAUGHTER
-He tried to keep a straight face!
-In the most serious way.
It raises another question. Why don't firemen live in bungalows?
Why the pole? Why not be on the same level as the fire truck?
SANDI: Because you've got to jump into your boots, haven't you?
No, you can just put them on. Just put the boots on.
It's Wallace and Gromit you're thinking of!
-Going into a fire isn't enough of an adventure. It's not exciting enough.
-It's quite scary.
I visited a fire station in Indiana and they said, "Go on, jump."
And there's a pole and I suddenly realised, "I don't want to do this."
I eventually did it, and it's horribly squeaky as well. Like nails on a blackboard.
Is it like a slide that's warm?
It should have been oiled, I feel.
Oil's flammable. They can't show up at a fire covered in oil!
LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE
You're quite right. I don't think these things through!
Surely, there has to be training because if you jump
and don't grab with your skin, if you grab it with cloth,
you'll go straight down at nearly terminal velocity.
-You grab it with your legs.
-You get nasty burns.
That would be an ironic thing, to get a burn on the way to a fire!
While they're going down, they're putting their hats on and...
-The fire engines...
-The fire engines take up all the room.
Two machines abreast is usual and all the living quarters were next door.
Sorry, I just thought of breasts and...
-Two machines per breast!
It was an odd moment, Alan, but I was with you.
-Some sort of pumping going on. Lifting machine, or a...
Anyway, talking of large tax bills,
name the best paid sportsman of all time.
-It's not going to be one of those.
-I was going to say one of those.
-I was going to say that one on the left.
-No, not the best laid!
-Pub crime! Pub crime from Alan Davies.
-Is it of all time?
-Of all time.
It's going to be relative, so it's going to be someone in ancient Greece.
-Imperial Rome is indeed where we need to be.
-Is it a gladiator of some description?
-It's not a gladiator.
-A charioteer by the name of Gaius Appuleius Diocles.
He was a Lusitanian Spaniard and he was the greatest sportsman of his age.
He wasn't a looker though, was he?!
Well, that may not be accurate, but we know...
-Horsey, shall we say that?
-You're judging by the horses.
-After a while, you do turn a little bit like the animal that you work with.
He won 1462 races,
which racked up 35,863,120 sesterces in prize-money.
It's recorded in a monumental inscription, exactly that amount.
He's called the Champion of all Charioteers and if you compare this to the average wage,
and use all the calculations that people use to determine these things,
his career winnings amounted to an equivalent of 15 billion.
Quite an astonishing amount of money.
That would make Tiger Woods pale! Fantastic!
Tiger Woods the first to earn a billion,
so he's certainly the best paid of our time, but not of all time.
-I wish charioteer was rhyming slang.
You know, a queer.
I think we've got enough words!
We've got "iron" and "ginger".
He's a charioteer.
If we let on...
-- What he could tell you was...
-Yeah, Ben Hur.
-Ben Hur would suit, I think.
If you tried to reclaim it, if you tried to empower yourself
by using a word we invented and was never slang at all
and you were going, "Well, yes, I am a charioteer and none of you can say it."
It's our word. We got it back for ourselves.
He's a charioteer of fire! Yeah.
-Down the pole...
You reclaimed that in under a minute. That was the fastest ever.
It was pretty good, wasn't it? Well, anyway....
This was in 146 AD, that he retired as the richest sportsman
and they had four horses. There were up to 12 teams, and they would go round a lap,
like Ben Hur there, and the skill was the cornering.
It was incredibly difficult. He won nearly 1,500 races doing that.
Is it true, or is it a myth that people were killed in the filming?
In the original Ben Hur, the silent one, I think people were killed in that.
-In the silent one, they go at phenomenal speed.
-Yes, they go very, very fast.
And nobody minded in those days.
No, you couldn't hear a thing.
Just a card comes up.
Do you know the connection between Ben Hur and Billy the Kid?
Do you know who wrote Ben Hur, the novel?
I feel like I did know it and now I don't.
It was a man called Wallace, the Governor of New Mexico, and he was the one
who signed Billy the Kid's death warrant.
-That's fabulous trivia!
Well done, you. I think you should get an extra point for that.
-I'm reminded of an injustice that we did to you last series, Dara.
Do you remember, we did this thing about a louse that goes into the tongue of a fish?
-Yes, I remember that. It was revolting.
-It was revolting.
It goes into the fish's tongue, eats it,
and becomes the fish's tongue, and lives inside them.
And you said, "But surely fish don't have tongues?"
And I brushed you off in I'm sure in a friendly way. I said, "Silly".
No, you stood over me, I remember, with a cane, and hit me.
You said, "Your impertinence! You're here at my mercy!"
-It turns out fish don't have tongues.
-You're right so I'll to give you some points for that.
They've things that look like tongues where a tongue would be, but they aren't muscle
and don't have taste buds. They're called basihyals.
They're quite a common dish in Newfoundland, is cod's basihyal.
Sorry, is he going to get points for something, and we weren't even there?
-I know loads of stuff I haven't said.
No, no, I'm OK, because I came on in series two and since then,
I mentioned about the dribble point of water being zero.
On series three, I came back and they said,
"Oh no, we've had e-mails that actually, the temperature is 0.01",
so I was one hundredth of a degree off on this and they docked me points the following year.
-I'll happily take them, I'll take them, yeah.
-What goes around comes around.
-Don't feel bad.
-You may get points next, two years' time.
Some day, when you least expect it.
Stephen might appear and go, "Some points."
It isn't actually a tongue and it doesn't have tastebuds, as I say, but what's it actually for?
Fooling Dara O Briain?
Getting bits out of your teeth.
No, it's too late. Nobody knows that's the answer. You could have waited, but nobody knows.
If I do it now, can I have points in three years?
-I have not understood this game.
You're not alone.
On the subject of numbers, what is the smallest uninteresting number?
-What do you think is an interesting number?
-They're all interesting to me.
-I love numbers.
-Three sounds interesting, more interesting than two.
Three's the magic number.
Three is sexy, four his like someone who's going to fall out of bed.
We've got to go quite high - they've fascinating properties.
It doesn't make sense to me.
Is the smallest most uninteresting if it was the smallest most uninteresting number?
It's a paradox - it would make it interesting.
In that sense, it is interesting but nonetheless, it is, in mathematical terms, the least interesting number.
But we're aware of the paradox. So, we're ignoring the paradox side of it, because it is quite interesting.
There is a number...
And is it only of numerical interest or does it have a physical interest as well?
Do you know the Hardy-Ramanujan story, do you know that?
I know so many Hardy- Ramanujan stories(!)
There was a very, very great mathematician,
probably one of the three greatest mathematicians ever
called Ramanujan, who was an entirely self-taught Indian from Tamil Nadu, a remarkable man.
He was the first Indian to be a Fellow of the Royal Society and to be Fellow of an Oxbridge college.
He did some collaborative work with GH Hardy at Trinity College Cambridge,
who was then the most famous mathematician around.
But he ended up in a hospital. People thought he may have had tuberculosis. He was dying.
-It's an incredibly sad story.
-Three years, I think he was there for.
But remarkable work. Anyway, Hardy went in one day to sit at his bedside
and couldn't think of anything to say and said, "Well, Ramanujan,
"the licence number of the cab I came in was rather dull.
"1729, that's not a very interesting number, is it?"
And Ramanujan instantly said,
"On the contrary. It's the smallest number that is expressible
"as the sum of two cubes in two different ways."
Which is pretty extraordinary, I think you have to admit?
You've got to have quite a mathematical mind to see that.
That, for example, is an interesting number.
I feel like Homer Simpson at the moment.
-Anyway, there is...
-There is a number?
So we can get this and put these people out of their misery, their mathematical misery?
There is an online encyclopaedia on integer sequences which lists
thousands of sequences of integers which all have different qualities
and the smallest number, which does not appear in any of these lists
and is therefore uninteresting, is 12,407.
But as Sandi said, that makes it interesting.
-You feel kind of sad for it.
Now it's the most famous number in the country!
It now becomes, we hope, the most famous, after 1729.
But it will now go on a list of Qi facts. So now it will be on a list.
Google it now and it will appear.
Yeah, but in pure mathematical terms, in arithmetical terms, it will remain uninteresting.
You could stick it on Big Brother.
You could let it win Britain's Got Talent.
Mathematicians will always regard it as dull.
What happened, Sandi, is that it is still arithmetically uninteresting
but it has become culturally interesting.
-I think that's the difference.
On that bombshell, let's move on.
Now for something terribly important.
Why did the MoD want the PM to join the AA?
The present - David Cameron PM? Or any?
The Prime Minister was Harold Macmillan.
Did the MoD want the country to become part of the temperance movement?
-Was there some...?
-No, it's not that AA.
-The Automobile Association.
-The Automobile Association, exactly.
So, Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister.
-What was going on in the world around that time?
The Cold War was at its absolute height.
And they knew that Kennedy had this system where wherever he was,
he could retaliate if the Soviets sent missiles
and they thought, well we'd better have a similar system.
And they thought, well...
There's Lord Mountbatten, chief of staff,
and they said, "We better have men going around with the Prime Minister
"who've got radios and things in case there's news of a Soviet attack."
They said it was too expensive, and the Prime Minister said,
"I don't want people following me around all the time."
They said, "We'll use the system the AA use."
Basically, the idea was that they would get a signal
from the AA to the car if the Soviets had launched a strike.
That would mean the Prime Minister could then stop off at the nearest telephone
and issue the order for a counter-strike.
And there were some very exciting memos.
This is very British. You'll like this.
Brian Saunders, the secretary to the minister, said:
"It will presumably be necessary for someone to make
"a daily or weekly call to the AA control station
"as a check that they're in working order, and I understand
"that if an emergency arose while the Prime Minister was on the road,
"the proposal is to use the radio to get him to a telephone.
"Perhaps we should see that our drivers are provided with four pennies."
Imagine stopping... "All right, we've got the signal!
"There are bombs on the way from the Soviet Union.
"Stop off at the nearest kiosk." And nobody's got any money.
But they thought about that. But no!
The Prime Minister's private principal secretary replied:
"Shortage of pennies should not present any difficulties such as you envisage.
"In such cases it's a simple matter of have the cost of any telephone call transferred
"by dialling 100 and requesting reversal of the charge."
This is all true!
"This doesn't take any appreciable extra time. The system works in both normal and STD telephone kiosks
"and our drivers are well aware of it."
So, we were safe all the time.
The Prime Minister would have got a message, said,
"Look, there's a red kiosk", would have stopped,
got in and called up the operator and said,
"I want to call the Ministry of Defence bunker and could you reverse the charge?"
It's the Prime Minister here, get off the line.
Now it's time to include all of our incompetencies into one
easily managed inquiry that we call General Ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers. What does the eye represent on the US dollar?
SIRENS AND BELLS
Oh, I knew it. You fell into our trap.
The eye was used as a symbol in freemasonry after the design of the dollar.
It is just an All-seeing Providence, supposedly, that's just to show..
It's a bit trippy though, isn't it?
-It is a weird thing to have on.
-Benjamin Franklin, it's true, was a Mason.
He was the only one on the design committee of the dollar bill who was a Mason.
But, he wasn't on the final committee and the eye was not used as a Masonic symbol until after.
-A committee designed that?
-It would be remarkable to get that passed at committee.
-They go, "Yeah, why don't we stick a..."
-We're all agreed!
A floating eye on top of a pyramid!
We'd like a floating, freaky, disembodied eye. We all like that? Sounds like a great idea!
-Let's all do that.
-I still want the cock and balls.
Are you sure we just don't want light and natural scene, maybe a river, something normal?
No, no, no, a floating eye, a floating, disembodied all-seeing eye above a pyramid.
What could be more American than that? OK.
All right. What noise does a mute swan make?
-And you're allowed to do an imitation, if you like.
I could break your arm.
Does that, doesn't it?
HE MOUTHS SIRENS AND BELLS
Oh! Dear, oh dear, oh dear.
Well, you'd think being called a mute swan... I'm afraid again you've fallen into our trap.
They hoot, don't they, like a goose?
There's a range of noises that swans make -
hitting, snorting, grunting and indeed honking.
They do all those noises.
They do it more quietly than other species of swan
and therefore they were called the mute swan.
They make a very loud noise when they fly.
They're the heaviest bird that flies in all nature.
They're rubbish landers, though, they are.
They come in, and the feet are going like this.
-That's my swan impersonation, landing on the Thames.
Which brings us nicely to the swansong of the scores
and what remarkable reading they make too, ladies and gentlemen.
In first place with a majestic plus 11, Sandi Toksvig.
And in a very creditable second place, with plus six, Dara O Briain.
And first time up, Al Murray can hardly be ashamed of minus 13.
And Alan is all too used to bringing up the rear with minus 22.
All that's left for me to do is to thank Sandi, Dara, Alan and of course, Alan
and I leave you with this piece of sound financial advice from Will Rogers:
"A fool and his money are soon elected."
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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