Stephen Fry addresses inequality and injustice with Sandi Toksvig, Clive Anderson, Henning Wehn and Alan Davies.
Browse content similar to Inequality. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Good evening, good evening, good evening!
Goo-o-d evening and welcome to QI,
where the composition of our panel, is intentionally international.
From Denmark, Sandi Toksvig...
From Germany, Henning Wehn...
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING
From Scotland, Clive Anderson...
And from God knows where, Alan Davies!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Tonight's show is all about inattention and ineptitude.
Alan, what is tonight's show about?
Inattention and ineptitude.
That's ten points off for a start, because tonight's show
-is all about inequality and injustice.
-Oh, of course!
And so we unjustly took 10 points away from you,
because this is a show in which nothing will be fair,
from top to bottom,
so let's get it over with and go straight to the scores!
In first place, with -54,
it's Sandi Toksvig!
In second place with +7, is Clive Anderson!
(BUZZER) 'Objection, m'lud!'
In third place with minus sechzig, is Henning Wehn...
(BUZZER) 'Don't mention za var!'
And lastly, obviously, with minus one gazillion, is Alan Davies!
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
So that's it, you've done the scores already?
The scores are already done, but we've still got questions to ask.
And don't forget your nobody knows joker.
There's a question, maybe two, or three,
to which the correct answer is, "nobody knows".
If you wave your nobody knows joker you get extra points,
or maybe you lose them,
or maybe you don't, because the scores have already been given.
It's an unjust game tonight. The first question is easy,
so I'll give it randomly to my old friend, Sandi.
What can you tell me about this chap behind you?
Ooh! Er, well, do you think that the words give it away,
or is that going to be unfair?
Er, the fact that it says, "The Puritan."
-That seems unfair!
-It does, doesn't it?
Because what it is, is the 19th century IDEA of a Puritan,
and in fact the 19th century idea of a Puritan,
which we retain to this day, is completely inaccurate.
The steeple hat, the clothing, no evidence
they ever wore...
They wore a beanie hat, did they?
They wore ordinary clothes, but having their portraits taken,
they usually wore their Sunday best,
which tended to be black.
-So he's not a Puritan at all?
-He's a 19th century idea of a Puritan.
-You were right to say he was a Puritan...
-I was merely reading!
..and I was unjust, you lost 10 points.
-But it doesn't matter because you've already won!
-Do you know, I'm quite relaxed about the whole show?
Now, what can you tell me about the Puritans, in America?
Er, they went over on the Mayflower?
-I keep expecting the thing to go off again!
They didn't go on the Mayflower?
No. The great American myth, if you like,
is the Puritans arrived on the Mayflower,
and they came to avoid religious persecution.
In fact, they came in order to be able to persecute.
-Yeah, but they hated the Quakers.
-They objected to religious freedom in England,
that meant you could have all kinds of, ranges of religion.
In 1660 they hanged a woman just for being a Quaker.
-That's right, the very one.
Obviously many people did come to America to avoid persecution,
but the idea the Puritans came to avoid persecution,
they came to persecute,
they wanted to build a country
in which there could be no dissent from Puritanism.
Puritans, they regarded luxury as sinful, didn't they?
Some of them set off to America and the others opened B&Bs in Britain!
B&Bs, breakfast until seven,
don't call it B&B, just call it B!
If you've got no intention of serving breakfast, don't call it B&B.
Do you know, I once sailed all the way round Britain,
and we finally got to Northumbria, and on the coastline,
there was a house with paint saying,
"Bed and breakfast, hot and cold water."
I thought, "Only in this country, would you feel you must advertise you have both."
Oh yes. Pride!
It used to be hot and cold running water.
Not just a bucket lying there, there's pipes and everything!
In this painting, did the native there, on the left,
did he bring that tree to hide behind, because he looks...
He doesn't look happy!
-See which way the wind is blowing...
-I think he knows what's coming!
It's true, Stephen, the Puritans went on the Mayflower.
They say they landed at Plymouth Rock, but it was Provincetown, so none of it is true.
I'm afraid, yeah, it's a myth.
Every country likes to build up a legend of its own foundation.
Really ugly baby!
It IS a rather ugly baby!
Like a tiny person standing behind the woman...
It's not any use... don't learn that expression, "really ugly baby".
There's never an opportunity to use that in real life.
Little tiny... I'm really enjoying this painting...
They come all the way over, brought one pickaxe and a hat!
It's no basis on which to build a country, is it?
The guy on the right brought a girl.
And 300 years later it was the mightiest nation on earth!
-Extraordinary! No offence!
-I don't think the man in the hat had much to do with it!
Anyway that was our first unfair question.
Puritans didn't really dress like that. What key role
did a Puritan pig play
in the trial of George Spencer in 1641?
-Is that the actual pig we're looking at?
-No, that is not the actual pig!
Because that's a photograph of a modern pig posing as a 1641 pig.
A rather similar picture of myself at a spa!
Oh, now! You've got two fewer nipples!
Well certainly, the nipples were a surprise!
-But that look of contentment!
-One happy pig.
-It's a pig in clover!
A pig in clover, absolutely!
-George... when did you say, what year did you say?
Are we talking about witchcraft?
We're in New Haven, Connecticut, centre of the Puritan...
-Is this a bit like that monkey they hanged in Hartlepool?
Because they thought he was French, didn't they?
The monkey was hanged because they thought him a French spy.
They knew French people spoke a different language and were small,
and cartoonists had made them look diminutive and nasty,
so they see a little monkey, they buy the propaganda!
-When the monkey was in the dock it was thoroughly evasive!
It didn't give a straight answer to any question!
This, on the other hand, is a Puritan world and I would remind you of Leviticus 20:15...
Not eating pork, presumably?
No, "If a man lie with a beast,
"he shall surely be put to death, and ye shall slay the beast."
-He laid with a pig!
-Did George have his end away with a piece of pork?
He just fancied a bit of crackling, that's all!
It's even unfairer than that.
It so happened that George was a rather ugly fellow,
who was bald and had one eye,
and one day a sow farrowed, I think is the word, a litter of piglets,
one of whom was strikingly similar to George,
and had one eye, and so George was immediately
put in front of the Puritan court, accused of having lain with the pig.
He didn't have the chance to get a super injunction.
He denied it strenuously, as you might!
Typically, Puritans then said, "There shall be mercy shown,
"should you be open and honest."
So he thought, "If I say yes they'll let me off",
so he said, "I laid with the pig",
and they said, "The mercy will be shown by the Lord, but not by us."
For there to be a capital offence there had to be two witnesses,
so they included the pig.
So they brought the pig into the trial to speak against itself,
or squeak against itself, and both George and the pig were executed.
-Both got the chop.
-Both got the chop!
-Did the pig shyly look at George,
in a kind of I-remember-that-night way...
I think the whole thing was just...
The pig came in and said, "That bastard, he never rang...
"..he just used me!"
Some 50 years later, there was the famous mass hysteria in Salem...
-Salem witch trials...
-the witch trials, but this was before them,
there were the bestiality obsessions as well.
-Who's the other witness, though?
-George. George said yes.
-So his confession...
-His tricked confession was counted.
If you'd been there he'd have got off, Clive.
Of course, I'd like to think so,
but these days, you convict people on a confession,
you don't even need the pig!
It seems very unfair to execute the pig.
-If his sin is lying with the beast...
No, Leviticus, I remind you,
"If a man lie with the beast he shall surely be put to death,
"and ye shall slay the beast."
-Does anyone know,
why did the New Haven Puritans abolish trial by jury?
Well, the Bible has stuff about, "Judge not, that ye be not judged."
I think it's in the gospels.
Does that go on to say, "..and don't be on a jury, either."
Oddly enough, you're in the right area.
It's simply that juries are not mentioned in the Bible.
They thought they had no place in life
because they didn't have them in biblical times.
What about a propelling pencil? They wouldn't have that either.
Well, quite. There are Amish communities and various other Brethren who don't.
-It's a sin to use a propelling pencil?
-Well, it's very hard. I agree.
It's a very peculiar world, the world of the Puritan.
Royal unfairness, now.
Who got the blame when the Prince of Wales misbehaved?
Seeing we're in Britain, usually the Germans.
Well, they are Germans, so... LAUGHTER
-Is it this Prince?
-It's not actually this one.
-Is it another Charles?
-It's not, actually.
-All princes of blood.
-Edward VIII was always in trouble.
Queen Victoria said, "If I get the right..."
And, indeed, earlier ones were often in trouble.
What I'm really talking about here, I suppose,
is the business of corporal punishment.
Until very, very, very recently
in human history has it become unfashionable
and indeed considered wrong to strike a child for a misdeed.
-It's now illegal to do so.
-I believe so.
Just on the way here, a small urchin annoyed me!
It used to be considered,
it used to be considered
not only empirically but in every other sense a good thing to do.
How is he holding that child up? He's got his thumb wedged in his...
It's the only way of holding him up. It's like a bowling ball.
I don't know whether that's Dotheboys Hall from Nicholas Nickleby or similar.
Generally speaking, everybody agreed it was good for children to be beaten.
There was the Bible, "He who spareth the rod hateth his son.
"Withhold not correction from your child.
"Beat him with the rod and thou shall deliver his soul from Hell." Apparently.
Children were always beaten. We are the first generation... I'm not.
I was beaten a huge amount when I was a child at prep school.
-God, yes. From the age of seven to 13 at least twice a week.
I was a bad boy and I was always being thrashed.
-Oh, stealing, lying, cheating, being cheeky, being a nuisance.
-Being a smart arse?
-Being a smart arse.
-Bit too clever for your own good, that sort of thing?
Always telling people what was going on?
Well, they certainly beat that out of you, didn't they?
And I was beaten a great deal and it did me no harm...
It was common practice.
It was outlawed in state schools when?
When was it actually made law that you were not allowed to strike a child?
-Later than you think.
-I'd guess under New Labour.
-It was 1986.
1986 when it was made illegal in state schools to beat children,
and it was a very close vote.
-Under Margaret Thatcher?
-231 to 230.
-In state schools?
-By just one.
And do you know whom state school children have to thank
for the fact they were not beaten from that day forward? It's odd.
-Michael Howard or something?
-No. It's even weirder.
-No, it's just too weird to be believed.
Fergie, Fergie, Fergie. Dear Duchess of York, Fergie.
The manager of Manchester United?
No, the Duchess of York, Fergie, as I just said.
Black Eyed Peas?
That, I will repeat, Duchess of York, Fergie.
I hadn't finished my Fergie material.
A tractor? LAUGHTER
A massive Fergie, yes, you could say.
Well, it so happened the vote was on that day that she was marrowing...
-Marrowing? Marrowing Prince Andrew.
She loved to marrow Prince Andrew.
I think marrowing the prince is illegal.
What a great expression. "Have you time for some marrowing?"
I'm going to Google that when I get in.
Apparently, the traffic held-up enough Tory MPs,
who were likely to have voted to keep beating,
for the anti-beating measure to go through.
-Was this a whipped vote?
I thought you meant she campaigned for it?
No, no. It just so happened the vote, no, happened.
Entirely inadvertent, she did something useful.
By mistake. By mistake, she helped.
When was it, or is it, indeed, illegal in private schools?
You have to pay extra, though. LAUGHTER
-I think it isn't, now.
-It's very recent.
-Under the Human Rights Act, it must.
-Yes. In 1999, basically, is when that stopped being legal.
Until then, children were beaten.
They were beaten for making mistakes,
they were beaten for all kinds of reasons.
But there was this idea also that you learned better,
that things could literally be beaten into you, knowledge could be beaten into you.
What happened when it came to a prince?
You can't have a commoner, even a tutor, beating a prince
because he made a mistake in his algebra.
-You beat his teddy?
-Well, you appointed someone.
A child, a friend of the prince, who,
when the prince made a mistake, you whipped him.
And that phrase, which is in common currency, is whipping boy.
They become peer then, later on, don't they?
Yes. That's the point.
It was actually a much sought-after post.
Fathers would want their sons to be whipping boy.
They were close to the Royal Family. Charles I, for example, had a whipping boy when he was a prince
and he raised him to the Earl of Dysart, a title that still exists.
They became quite powerful people.
The idea was, of course, they would be friends,
that the prince would like his whipping boy,
so that he would try hard.
Obviously sometimes they might think, "I don't bloody care!"
It's a most peculiar idea,
but that's where whipping boy comes from.
Is there an official title? There are titles like Silver Stick-in-Waiting.
This could be Crimson Bottom.
Gentleman of the stool was an existing one, as you know.
It was the one who had to wipe the King's bottom under Henry VIII.
Can't they do anything themselves?
They seem not to be able to.
Um, erm, yes... There is a part of...
-I presume he'd have a long stick.
-Yes, I'd assume they would.
A stick with a rag, do it from a distance.
-There's a part of Germany...
-Sorry for all the mime.
-I've always wanted to be a mime.
This is the only opportunity I get.
It's more fun than walking into the wind.
I suppose you might be, I don't know!
In the Isle of Man, they had corporal punishment until 1976.
What type of wood did they administer it with?
Well, I know I'm going to get a buzz on this
because it's normally called birching.
It doesn't matter anyway!
So did it depend on how bad you'd been?
If you were really bad, it was holly, and they left the leaves on,
but if you weren't so bad, it would be like willow fronds.
-Or balsa wood.
-Hazel. Yeah, they used hazel.
In Britain, birching, as it was known,
was banned in 1948,
but they didn't stop it until the 1970s in the Isle of Man.
They tried to keep it by saying, "OK, what about if we let them keep their trousers on?"
In America there is still the tradition
in some parts of birthday spanking.
Yeah, where you go to school and because it's your special day,
as a special treat, the teacher takes the paddle out and you get a few.
Some people say, "We have to ban it. It's cruel."
Others say, "No, we can't. It's a tradition."
So they have to carry on thrashing the kids.
It's like family Christmas, no-one likes it,
still, because it's a tradition, everyone has to go through it.
We get the idea of bringing a tree in for Christmas, that's a German idea.
Yeah, I don't know. Did we invent Christmas?
A lot of elements of it.
I say, come on. Either we invented it or we didn't.
It's like that terrible joke, I'm sure you must have been told,
about the couple who adopt a German baby.
-You know it. You must know it.
Is there only one joke that involves a German baby?
It doesn't speak. Is that the one where he doesn't speak until he's about five?
They take him to be tested.
-Want me to say the punchline?
-They think, "Is he stupid? Deaf and dumb?"
Everything functioning normally. He's fine.
ALAN AND HENNING TOGETHER: Then one day...
-We're all going to say it together!
Go on, Alan.
Then they give him, he has some apple strudel.
-And he says...
-"This apfelstrudel is a bit tepid."
And they say, "Wolfgang! You've never spoken before!
"After all these years, why haven't you spoken before?" And he says...
"Up until now, everything had been satisfactory."
It's a great joke.
-Like a relay joke.
This is the most fun a Danish person has had with a German since 1945.
DON'T MENTION THE WAR BUZZER
Oh, dear. There we go...
The war. I mean, I have to chip in now. The war.
It's always World War II, it's never any of the more current ones.
And everyone in Britain takes personal credit for Britain winning it.
Even people that weren't born at the time of World War II,
they still take personal credit for Britain winning it.
I'm personally a lot more annoyed by Brits that are now in their 70s
and they bang on about how they helped win the war.
Let's do the maths. If you're in your 70s now, how old were you at the end of World War II?
-10 years old?
How did you help win the war when you were just 10 years old?
-You did not help win the war.
-By not eating bananas.
You were nothing but a drain on British resources.
You've got to admire his guts, haven't you?
every 70-year-old Brit effectively fought on the side of Nazi Germany...
..and lost the war every little bit as much as we did!
-Yes, well. Moving on.
Manx birches were actually made from hazel wands.
Back home to Britain, now.
From 1875 to 1956,
what was the next best thing to a first-class train ticket?
-Second-class train ticket.
That's the problem.
You weren't to know, being a cursed foreigner and all.
-They went from first to third.
-There was no second-class.
But there were ladies only carriages.
-There were ladies only carriages.
-That would be quite nice.
And there were no smoking carriages, but mostly there were smoking ones.
-She's got no idea where she's going.
How it came about was that Gladstone insisted there be
a third-class service for poorer people and train companies hated it.
They ran these useless services that were
third-class only, known as Parliamentary trains.
They were no good to anybody, just to apply the law.
Then they had a smarter idea and they said,
"We'll upgrade the third-class to second-class
but call it third-class and get rid of the second-class.
So we're obeying the law by having a third-class,
but it'll cost what second-class used to cost.
It's a very bizarre British solution.
They had clever ways. How do you think they used chimney sweeps?
-On the railway?
Strapped to the front of the train, keeping the rails clean.
No, it was a very naughty trick.
They'd sit in third-class.
Yeah, what train companies hated were the genteel people, clerks,
who didn't have much money but had to be well-dressed.
What they would do is they would put chimney sweeps in
and put soot over them so third-class carriages
were so dirty, these people thought, "Oh, God. I've got to pay the first-class fare."
Don't say this out loud. I'm sure Ryanair will get ideas.
-Brilliant! We'll do the same thing!
Or easyJet, since you're in easyJet colours.
I'm sure it didn't happen all over,
but these were some of the tricks they resorted to, apparently.
-Which one's Dick Van Dyke?
-They're really happy, aren't they?
They do look happy. Happy, lucky sweeps.
Now for some sporting iniquity.
What did cricketer Thomas White invent in 1771?
The Yorker. To hear a German say, "the Yorker" gives me great pleasure.
-I don't know what it means.
-It's a fully pitched-up ball.
-Great to hear a German say it.
-What's a googly, then?
-A googly is a...
A googly is a leg spinner's off-spin. It's disguised.
-Comes out the back of your hand.
-How does the Duckworth-Lewis method work?
Nobody knows that! Far too complicated.
No, he didn't invent any particular type of bowling or batting,
but he looked at the laws of cricket
and noted that there was a glaring omission and he thought, "Splendid."
-Oh, the big bat!
-Yes, he came up with a bat that was wider than the wicket.
-This enormous bat.
It was Chertsey Vs Hambledon, which is the equivalent of Surrey Vs Hampshire.
After 1774, they incorporated a law that said a bat must be
no wider than four and-a-half inches.
This fellow, Thomas White, I suppose you could call him a cheat,
but he was within the laws of the game.
There was an American footballer, Lester Hayes.
Does that ring any bells? Of the Oakland Raiders.
He had such success as a catcher in the late '70s
that he was the defensive player of the year.
The reason was that he covered his hands
and gloves with an adhesive called Stickum.
He actually admitted, he said,
"Without Stickum I couldn't catch a cold in Antarctica."
That's so clearly cheating. They must've spotted that.
There wasn't a rule against it. They had to introduce one, which there now is.
There was a jockey at Belmont in New York who, in 1923,
died of a heart attack when on a horse and won.
The horse won.
Of course, the bookies didn't want to pay out.
There was a rule that said a jockey had to be in the saddle
but there was no rule to say he had to be alive!
He was a brilliant jockey if he clung on even though he was dead!
-Exactly! Pretty amazing.
The lucky punters were paid out.
And so to that part of the show that's always
unfair at the very best of times, General Ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers, if you would. Here is the Old Bailey.
What is the statue of Justice on top looking at?
-No, she's not.
No, you can see, there. No blindfold.
That particular statue is not blindfolded, but sometimes it is.
People often at the Old Bailey would say,
"Members of the jury, if you look up...
People would go, "He wasn't even telling the truth about that!"
There are many statues of Lady Justice,
some of which are blindfolded and some of which aren't.
Why did lepers start carrying bells?
-DON'T MENTION THE WAR BUZZER
-I forgot about that.
LAUGHTER We haven't!
I don't know. Probably it wasn't their choice to wear the bells.
Probably it was more the other people telling them
to wear bells so they could escape.
-As a warning, you mean.
No, to keep people away.
It was to attract people to give them alms.
Not arms in that sense. To give them money.
"I've lost my arms, please give me some alms."
-No, to give them money.
-Come here and give me money.
After the Black Death and the extraordinary decimation of the population in Europe,
sickness become something people were much more worried about.
Then the bells were used as a warning, but they were originally used to attract people.
People were not that frightened of lepers, and for good reason.
Leprosy is nothing like as infectious as people think it is.
For a start, 90% of the human race is immune to it.
Most of us are unlikely to catch it, even if we were to lick a leper.
LAUGHTER Now, there's a game show!
Why do I see Noel Edmonds presenting that?
Wish is father of the thought.
It's quite hard to catch, it's nothing like the jokes of bits falling off and so on.
You can get nerve damage which, if not attended to,
can lead to necrosis of the ends of the fingers,
but the idea that bits fall off you is good for jokes but not true.
Never let the truth stand in the way of a mediocre joke.
Exactly. A mediocre joke, exactly right.
Which of you has the fewest hairs on your head?
Well, may I just volunteer myself?
So it's me. I'm going to lose 10 points.
And even more hair, being annoyed about that.
It's one of the strange things.
There's a splendid man called Dr George Cotsarelis
at the department of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania.
He has determined that actually, you have the same number of hairs on the scalp as everyone else.
It's just some of them are only visible under a microscope.
So that's roughly like not having them, really.
By the same token, humans may look less hairy than chimpanzees,
but we've the same number of hair follicles, about five million,
on our bodies as chimpanzees.
And so we come to the scores.
These are very interesting, and it would be very unfair of me not to share them with you.
-So, that's all from Sandi, Henning, Clive, Alan and me.
Because, as William Goldman said,
"Life isn't fair, it's just fairer than death."
That's all. Goodnight.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]