Mind-expanding quiz. Stephen Fry asks unanswerable questions with an international flavour. His guests are Jack Dee, David Mitchell, Bill Bailey and Alan Davies.
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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Hello. Good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening, good evening.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
This is Captain Fry speaking in, I hope, a very reassuring tone,
welcoming you aboard this QI international, around-the-world trip.
We have an impressive roster of VIP passengers on board with us tonight,
international man of mystery Jack Dee.
Global phenomenon Bill Bailey.
Seasoned world traveller David Mitchell.
And from another planet entirely, Alan Davies.
And gentlemen, if at any time you wish to get my attention, don't hesitate to use your call buttons.
'Icelandair to Inverness, Gate B.'
'Iran Air to Istanbul, last call.'
'Air India to Islamabad now closing.'
And Alan goes...
'Unexpected item in the bagging area.'
-LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
Good. If you make sure that all your seats are in an upright position, we are cleared for take-off.
Don't forget that this year we are celebrating our ignorance
with the Nobody Knows Round.
FANFARE 'Nobody knows.'
If you think that nobody knows the answer to that question,
then you can wave your "nobody" and you get a big bonus.
But if you wave it and you're wrong, you get a bit of an old forfeit.
What are the points that you can gain by using it correctly?
I think we all agree that nobody in this universe understands QI's scoring system.
So, by that logic, were we to raise the subject of the scoring system and I was to do that, then...
He's made a very good point.
-I wonder what the score is now?
-Yes, the score now...
Amazingly, Bill has three and everyone else has zero.
I either thought one or ten, but three? How could you divide your contribution by three?
Better than you, better than you, better than you. Three!
Let's get going, shall we?
Now, if by some terrible, terrible concatenation of circumstances,
both my co-pilot and I on this flight are suddenly taken ill,
how would you land this plane?
Can't they just land themselves?
I'd stop reading the Kindle on the steering wheel and concentrate.
That would be a wise start, yes.
-Don't you radio the...? The co-pilot is slumped normally in these situations.
-Someone talks you in.
-Somebody talks you in?
-That's what happens in the movies.
-Robert Duvall would probably be good. That's who I'd ring.
-Or Lloyd Bridges in the case of Airplane.
-Presumably, there are legal problems with someone talking you down
because you could sue if it was interpreted by your relatives that you were given bad advice.
So probably these days, the air traffic controller would refuse to give advice and say,
"We're not covered for my saying something..."
You'd have to sign a waiver and text it to them, then insurance would cover you to be talked down.
It is a minefield. Extraordinarily, and happily, it has never occurred in commercial airline travel history
that someone has gone, "Can anyone fly this plane because the pilot and co-pilot are ill or dead?"
It's never happened, but it would be fraught with difficulty.
They have tried various simulations.
For example, those with American civil private pilot licences in America who can fly light planes
were invited on to simulators of big jets.
One of them couldn't even operate the seat that moved him towards the control.
Another one turned the radio off. Another one turned off the autopilot and instantly crashed the plane.
The fact is it's incredibly difficult.
Stephen, am I allowed to say that in your uniform how incredibly unlike a pilot you look?
So what do I look like instead?
Be brutal, be frank.
I think you'd be the chap who calls himself the bursar.
He's got a big leather wallet and takes money for duty-free.
Yeah, CALLS himself the bursar.
-He calls himself the bursar?
-Yes, I think he does.
-Or the purser?
-The bursar is the one that does the money for...
What kind of plane is he flying on?
"The bursar will be collecting money for the end-of-term jamboree."
"Here on Charterhouse Air..."
The bursar with the trolley and then, with the drinks, the groundsman.
Anyway, the fact is it's fraught with difficulty. The first problem is simply getting into the cockpit
because since 9/11, of course, cockpits are locked.
If the pilot and co-pilot were too ill to be able to fly, they may be too ill to let you into the cockpit.
-Do they have a secret knock?
-That's a lovely thought.
-When they give them their lunch, they have to get in.
-So they must have a coded knock or something?
Like... "It's me.
"I've got your...
"I've got your lunch."
Something like that. They go, "It must be the lunch."
Yes, it must be Deirdre with the lunch. The lunches. Why do I say "lunches"?
-Because there's more than one.
-But why is there more...?
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
-You are accruing points at a fantastic rate.
-I tell you what...
-Why is there more than one lunch?
-They have to eat different meals.
-Yes, the pilot and the co-pilot must eat different meals.
-In case one of them gets botulism?
If one is by accident poisoned. And in extra long-haul flights, there are three pilots, not two.
So you can't get into the cockpit, it's very dangerous, never been done.
If it was on autopilot, you'd be able to fly level, but once you got into the landing situation,
yes, the film scenario would take over whereby you'd be told how to operate the flaps and at what speed,
but there are so many variables in terms of glide paths and vertical and horizontal axes and so on,
it is extraordinarily difficult. There is an auto-land system.
There's no way of flying it remotely from the ground? Just somebody with a Wii or something.
-I don't know.
-Maybe one day.
Someone comes in the room. "What? Oh!"
It's a horrifying thought,
but fortunately it never has yet happened in major commercial air travel.
They say the chances are one in ten if it was an intelligent person and the plane was on autopilot,
-they could be talked down, there is a one in ten chance the plane would survive the landing.
-If it was not on autopilot, probably one in 100.
-This is not reassuring.
There are points if you can give me within five years when the autopilot was invented.
1965 we've got there.
'77 to coincide with the Jubilee.
I'm going to go for 1945.
You're the closest, but you're still miles away. It's 1914.
The first autopilot was used at the Paris Air Show. An American invented it. They were a huge success.
They had a big rubber band on the joystick. "Look, no hands!
"It's flying itself!"
The gyroscope got so popular that they would have the pilots standing on the wings.
-We've got a picture showing you how impressive it could be.
-People were just crazy in those days.
That's when people went over Niagara Falls in a barrel. They were mental!
Those were the days of the barnstormers.
You wouldn't want to be ball boy.
But it's a surprisingly ancient invention. It was the early days...
That's almost before aeroplanes were invented. He probably had this thing in his shed,
-hoping something would be invented he could apply it to.
-It was a gyroscopic corrective mechanism.
Is the modern autopilot still recognisably the same system?
-No, it's more complicated.
-It's not a gyroscope where you put string in and wind it round to get it going?
One of the worrying things about the autopilot is it's on for most of the time you're in the plane.
They switch it off just before they land. They switch it off just as they take off...
They watch the telly, then now and again they go to that channel where the map is
to make sure they're heading in the right direction.
Then they put Michelle Pfeiffer back on.
There are long flights, but where is the shortest commercial flight? Do you know?
I think I might know this. I don't know. I'll try it. I'll go out on a limb.
Is it the Orkney Isles?
-Oh, Bill, well done!
-How many points?
-There's another 4.5 points(!)
-27 and a half, I think you'll find.
-It's between Westray and Westray Papa.
It's usually done in around two minutes, though the record is 58 seconds from take-off to landing.
Do you think people go, "I hope it's a quick one today?"
The distance is shorter than the runway of Edinburgh Airport.
Do they just take off, throw peanuts at you and then land?
Run up to you and rush back again.
But the most bizarre thing about it is a return ticket is £39.
-It's not cheap.
-Why don't they build a bridge?
-I'm assuming there is some sort of gorge to be got over.
-I assume there is too.
You get a certificate and a miniature of Highland Park whisky for doing the flight,
so maybe people just get off on the idea of doing the shortest flight in the world.
The sea's quite choppy round there, so it's quite difficult...
It is a bit like that. They just do the exits and... "Oh, here we are."
Well, there we are.
Ladies and gentlemen, we've arrived at our first destination which is India.
Which of these two gentlemen is going to make the better policeman?
One of them has seen the camera and is about to arrest the photographer.
That seems to be what policemen do nowadays, so I'll go with that one.
-And he's got a Biro.
-Yeah, the one with the pen.
Writing notes down. The other one seems to be more concerned with how he looks.
He's smiling, chatting away. The other one's a bit more sober, more professional.
I think it's the guy in white behind them.
He's plain-clothes. He's mingling in.
You've missed the one detail that the state of Madhya Pradesh
will pay policemen an extra 30 rupees a month to grow a moustache.
-They consider that policemen are better in all kinds of ways.
They're less intimidating, they work better with the community, they're more respected by the public.
-The human race never ceases to disappoint.
It's not just India. The British had weird ideas about moustaches.
In India, they're considered a sign of virility, but at the moment there's a north-south divide.
In the north of India, it's rarer to have moustaches because in Bollywood
and the cricket team, the great heroes tend not to have moustaches,
but in Tamil cinema, everybody has a moustache and that is just considered...
It's Steve Wright in the Afternoon, isn't it?
I've never trusted a moustache. I'm completely the other way.
That's interesting because in the British Army from 1860
it was a regulation that every soldier had to have a moustache.
You could be imprisoned for shaving your upper lip, right up until the First World War,
-then you had the option of shaving off your moustache.
Why suddenly in the First World War?
"We're fighting total war. The moustache, that was ridiculous."
Surely, if they think...if we need moustaches, we need them more than ever now. It should be beards.
They give you a certain... Don't they?
I think so.
But this "beh-h-h" sort of moustache is...
Thank you. It's going to win a war, isn't it?
But as you can see there, that's typical British soldiers, all of them with moustaches.
I'm just imagining that that moustache is going to have its own website by the end of this.
How long do you imagine the longest moustache in the world might be?
-Well, that's a little bit too much.
-It's 14 feet. There it is. It's pretty impressive, isn't it?
-This man makes a living out of it.
He was in the film Octopussy. I don't know what he did with his moustache...
-But it's pretty impressive.
-Do you distrust him?
If he turned up to do a bit of woodwork in the house
and he just... "I'll measure 14 feet."
-You wouldn't want to stand at a urinal.
-Trailing it around on the floor?
He's ringing them out!
Now you get to see a picture of some interesting moustaches.
And I have actually... I have what you might call moustachabilia.
These are real things used by people with moustaches.
This is simply to drink. It's a silver, beautifully-made thing you put in a cup
so that you can sip through here without...
-without staining your moustache.
-Keeps it out of it.
-Nice and dry.
With soup, you'd want a soup spoon. You just sip through that part.
So you take your soup like so and you just...like that.
Again, I keep my moustache nice and dry. What else have I got here?
They hadn't invented the straw at this point?
Albert Finney had this in Murder On the Orient Express. At night this went round your ears.
Like that. Look at that.
LAUGHTER Wh-What's that for, though?
- You say you want to keep your moustache. Keep it from what? - Escaping!
Wild creatures of the night? I don't know.
-People might come and nibble at it.
-There's a slight air of gimp about it.
-The odd thing is that people using that spoon and drink cover
are people who don't want to look stupid. "I don't want to look like a complete arse,
-"so excuse me while I get out all my paraphernalia."
-It is true, what you are saying.
Oh, dear. I'm going to take my moustache off now.
Mm. Now what did Mussolini want Italians to eat to make them big and strong?
He had a national propaganda day for this foodstuff
and he wanted Italians to take to it.
-Was it a vegetable?
-Not nuts, no.
-It's something Italians do eat. They have a specialist dish. R...
-Which is made from...?
And he wanted Italians off the habit of eating pasta and onto rice.
-They didn't take kindly to this and so here are some...
-..Italian ladies growing rice.
-And singing while they do it.
-As they did it.
He had on his side the Futurists. You probably know about the Futurist movement.
-Like the Dadaists...
"Not yet". Very good! Much too quick. That was brilliant.
The Futurists were an art movement and they were pretty witty.
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, one of the great Futurists,
said pasta made Italians lethargic, pessimistic and sentimental.
This caused outrage. He opened his own restaurant and had some extraordinary dishes.
Way ahead of Heston Blumenthal and anybody like that.
My favourite one is Aerofood. Pieces of olive, fennel and kumquat
eaten with the right hand,
while the left hand caresses various pieces of sandpaper, velvet and silk.
All the while, the diner is blasted with a giant fan and sprayed with the scent of carnation
to the music of Wagner.
Isn't that a dish?
I think somebody should have the guts and the wit to open a Futurist restaurant.
There was Chicken Fiat. The chicken is roasted with a handful of ball bearings inside.
When the flesh has fully absorbed the flavour of the mild steel balls, it is served with whipped cream.
And Excited Pig - a salami skinned is cooked in strong espresso coffee, flavoured with eau de cologne.
Have you been to a motorway services?
-I quite like the idea of a chicken that tastes a bit of metal.
Moving to another country now, which international head of state
snubbed Jesse Owens after his triumph at the 1936 Olympics?
-Oddly enough, it's not true. It's what the whole world thinks.
And we know this from no greater source than Jesse Owens himself.
It's a really rather sad and very typically unfortunate story.
Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, stage-managed, of course, by Hitler.
On the first day, Hitler congratulated only German winners.
Someone said to him that he should either congratulate all the winners or none of them,
-so he said, "I won't congratulate any winners." So he didn't personally...
-Look at the far right.
-..he didn't personally congratulate Jesse Owens.
The bloke on the far right is just going like that.
That bloke on the far right is called Hermann Goering.
-Surely they're all on the far right?
They're all taking bets on how high the high jump was going to go.
-The one on Hitler's left is thinking, "I didn't get the memo."
How To Dress.
Well, no, it is rather sad. Hitler decided that he wouldn't congratulate anyone,
so he didn't snub Jesse Owens at all. According to Jesse Owens,
"When I passed the Chancellor, he arose, waved his hand at me
"and I waved back at him. Hitler didn't snub me. It was..." Who snubbed him?
-So Hitler wasn't such a bad guy after all...
-The jury's still out.
-We know he's bad, but he didn't snub Jesse Owens.
-The King of England.
The President of his own country. It's a terrible story here.
"The President didn't even send me a telegram." He won four golds.
"When I came back to my native country, I couldn't ride in the front of the bus,
"I had to go to the back door, I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the President."
He had to use the goods lift at the Waldorf Astoria to get into the reception
for returning US athletes as he wasn't to use the front door.
-Sammy Davis Junior couldn't go in the front of hotels in Vegas where he was performing.
-He went in through the kitchen.
-I know. That still happens to me sometimes.
Moving on elsewhere again, where does the rainwater that falls into this creek go?
-It's in Wyoming, I should say.
You're very good at this. As you probably know, round about the Rockies
there is the Continental Divide and rainwater that falls on one side drains into the Pacific,
-the other to the Atlantic, but in this particular place...
-It's called North Two Ocean Creek in Wyoming.
-It's a big one.
-Nobody, as you rightly say, knows. And there it is.
Now fasten your seatbelts as we head into a spot of unexpected general ignorance.
Name the world's largest pyramid.
Don't know the name of any.
-That one in the middle.
Oh, Jack! I'm so sorry.
-Am I really that predictable?
-I'm afraid you are. Terrible thought.
Well, well, I don't know. I'm going to say something that will be wrong, like Giza.
Well, that's where we're looking.
-The three great pyramids of Giza.
-It's not an Aztec one, is it?
Yes, it is. I don't expect you to know its name. If you did, you'd get 40 points.
I don't know its name, but I'll spit out some consonants!
-It's called Cholula.
-It was on the tip of my tongue.
-It's not Opl-lopl-opl...?
-No, it's not Popocatepetl.
It's Cholula. Although it's got a flat top and it's not as high, its cubic capacity is much bigger.
It's 4.3 million cubic yards as opposed to Khufu or Cheops' 3.36.
-It's not actually a pyramid.
-According to archaeologists, that qualifies as a pyramid.
There is a word for a pyramid with a flat top.
It's on the sign.
"Due for completion early BC497."
It's called a frustum. When was the First World War first named as such?
The outbreak. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.
-You think it was straight away?
-Before it started.
It would be an act of a pessimist to call it that early.
- It's going to be some point after 1939, isn't it? - A realist, surely.
"There's going to be more of these." KLAXON
Excuse me! I think what I said, people in the box,
is AFTER 1939,
which may contain 1939, but does not mean it.
OK... No, no, no.
I think "After 1939" and "After the Second World War" are not synonymous.
This is just giving you time to type "After 1939".
Why not just type, "Mitchell is a cock"?
-I wouldn't put it past them!
No, the surprising news is that it was in 1918 that it was first called the First World War.
A British officer, Lt Col Charles a Court Repington,
recorded in his diary for 10th September that he met Major Johnstone of Harvard University
to discuss what to call the war. Repington said to call it The War was no good.
-To call it the German War gave too much credit to the Boche.
"I suggested the World War," Repington said, "Finally, we agreed to call it the First World War
"to prevent the millennium folk from forgetting that the history of the world was the history of war."
In 1920 he published a book called The First World War, 1914-18.
-Wasn't it called The Great War?
-Yes, but there was another Great War before that. Do you know it?
-Napoleonic, yes. So wars do change their names. There you are.
And with that we reach our final destination. Please remain seated for the scores.
My goodness, me. Well, I'm afraid very much in the bucket class,
with minus 44, is David Mitchell!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Standing room only at the back. With minus 27 it's Jack Dee!
-With a surprising amount of leg room, at minus 10, Alan Davies!
Which means... that tonight's First Class passenger with four points is Bill Bailey!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
So thank you for flying with QI International. My cabin crew, David, Jack, Bill and Alan, and I
wish you a pleasant onward journey. And don't forget the wise words of Halvard Lange, PM of Norway,
who said, "We do not regard Englishmen as foreigners. We look on them as rather mad Norwegians."
Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2011
Email [email protected]
Stephen Fry hosts the mind-expanding quiz in which the aim is to be interesting.
Stephen asks unanswerable questions with an international flavour. With Jack Dee, David Mitchell, Bill Bailey and Alan Davies.