Sandi Toksvig natters about noodles with Matt Lucas, Jerry Springer, Cariad Lloyd and Alan Davies.
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Welcome to a show
where we will be noodling about with an eNormous array of things
beginning with N.
Please welcome the netholiginous Jerry Springer.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The nonalturantist Matt Lucas.
Thank you. Thank you very much, I'm very happy to be here.
The noctivagant Cariad Lloyd.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And nicky, nacky, noo,
it's Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And their buzzers have been lavishly personalised.
Can you tell we're a bit excited that you're here, Jerry?
'Nope, but yet, but no, yeah, oh, my God,
'I so can't believe you just said that.'
-I don't have a famous catchphrase, so...
# Always Cariad Always Cariad Lloyd... #
'Oh, look, there's Cariad Lloyd!'
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
-You have a theme tune now.
-I've got a theme tune.
You've got walk-on music.
Yeah! And Alan goes...
'Alan! Alan! Alan! Alan!
SHOTGUN GOES OFF
Anyway, moving on.
Now, I've got a list here
of the Christian names of the first 200 parachutists
to land in Normandy on D-Day.
I'd like you to give me the name of any of them.
-Their Christian names?
-Any Christian name.
-Vladimir, we're going to start with.
Another first name?
You have over 200 choices in here.
John. Dave. William.
'Alan! Alan! Al! Alan! Alan!'
Are you suggesting that it's Alan? SHOTGUN GOES OFF
They were dummy people.
They WERE dummy people. You are absolutely right.
The very first Allied parachutists into Normandy
consisted of 200 dummies, six men,
some gramophones and a pigeon.
That's a good night!
It's a classic, yes! Absolute classic!
The 200 dummies were a diversionary tactic, the six men were SAS troops.
I like this, they played battle noises on gramophones
to divert the Germans from the real air drops
which were going on elsewhere.
And the pigeon was a carrier
strapped to the very first man to land,
so the first soldier to land was called Norman Poole.
I think they thought, Normandy, Norman! Let's have Norman.
But the very first ones, there were 200 dummies,
and they were all called Rupert.
Because British soldiers often
referred to their officers as Ruperts.
They were only two foot nine inches tall,
but from the ground, they would have looked full-size.
I've got helmets for you, if you wouldn't mind,
just stick those on there.
Just following orders.
Because we're going to show you, from the ground,
what the parachute drop would have looked like.
It would have looked like this.
It's possible you didn't need the helmets,
but, then, it is possible that you would need them.
-I needed it, yeah.
-So those are replicas, obviously, of Rupert.
They contained firecrackers
so that when they landed it sounded like they were firing.
This one is anatomically correct.
They distracted nearly a full German division, and in 2013,
a Rupert was discovered in a garden shed in the UK,
and nobody knows how he got back.
We have a real one here which comes from the Museum of Army Flying
in Middle Wallop. Don't you love this country?
We have a place called Middle Wallop.
It is accompanied by his curator, Susan Lindsay.
Thank you, Susan.
Do you not think that is the coolest thing?
Because how Rupert survived and made it all the way back to the UK,
absolutely nobody knows.
My favourite story from that time is Lord Lovat,
he was the commander of the first commando brigade.
He took with him his personal bagpiper,
this is very British, to do this.
He took with him Bill Millin, who was his personal bagpiper.
In the hope that he'd get shot?
The story is he walked slowly up and down Sword Beach in Highland dress
playing to encourage the Allied troops,
and then he later piped the commandos
through the French countryside,
and the German snipers said,
"We didn't shoot him because we thought he'd gone mad."
Jerry. Now, this time that we're talking about,
the battle of Normandy,
you were in the UK?
Yes. I'd been born six months earlier, yes.
And where were you?
I was actually born in Highgate, in the tube station.
-During an air raid?
-Not during an air raid, but you didn't know...
Your mother just missed her train and...
Women in the ninth month would often spend nights in the subway
because those were the bomb shelters.
Have you been back to the station?
Yeah, and there's not even a plaque there!
You'd need to have been conceived to have a plaque there, I think.
When you were Mayor of Cincinnati...
-1977, is that right?
1977, '78, yeah.
Oh, my God!
What are you doing in that picture?
Well, you know, when you're mayor,
you also get a lot of ceremonial things to do,
so it probably was some...
Oh, I know. That's when I got circumcised.
That's when everybody got circumcised.
Is it true about Cincinnati,
that there is a full abandoned subway system that was never used,
that's underneath the city, is that true?
Yeah, they ran out of money, actually.
And so it was never completed.
-So are there stations?
-So why did they not do it...?
It was before my time.
If I were mayor, we would have finished that subway!
From Normandy to Newcastle now,
we know why you'd take a canary down a coal mine,
but why would you take a dead fish?
Is it one of those fish you put in your hand, you know,
you used to get from the shop for a pound?
Oh, for fortune telling?
A fortune-telling fish. So you'd be like, "There is coal here."
And it rolls over. And goes, "No, the coal-mining industry has gone."
Wow, that's like the saddest fortune fish of all time.
If you brought a live fish down,
they would be dead by the time you got to the bottom of the mine,
so this just saves time.
If you want to have a fish at all, just save time by killing it first.
-Maybe, because in some cultures people eat fish.
So... Maybe the people in the mine are peckish.
OK. We're in Newcastle.
Do they eat fish in Newcastle?
Oh, yes, they do.
They have a little fishy on a little dishy when the boat comes in.
Dance for your daddy, my little laddie.
Is it possible you spend too much time with your small children?
OK, so I'm going to give you a clue.
The fish in the picture is glowing.
It does something down there
that tells you that something's not right,
and it's time to leave? Similar to the canary.
Well, the canary was used, of course, to work out if there was...
-..if there was poisonous gases.
-So the canary would die first.
Absolutely. But in the 18th century in the Newcastle coal mines,
they used dead fish as lights.
So some dead fish, not all, glow faintly,
and they are safer than lamps in mines because of explosive gas.
Unfortunately, the fish have two putrefy
in order to be able to glow,
so the smell must have been unbelievable.
But it is called bioluminescence.
And they glow because of bacteria,
and it's possible that the bacteria glow
to attract living fish to eat the dead fish
and that helps the bacteria to spread.
-That is incredible.
-Yeah. Cunning bacteria.
And it's been known about for years.
Aristotle spotted that damp wood glowed,
Pliny the Elder, he recommended using, I like this,
a walking stick dipped in a jellyfish's glowing slime
as a torch.
When Kanye West played Madison Square Gardens,
-he lit the show just with fish.
That's the same as, you know toxoplasmosis, that bacteria,
and it lives in cats.
It wants to be in cats.
But if it can't get in a cat, say it infects a rat or a mouse,
it will make the mouse not scared of cats any more,
so that it's more likely to be ate by a cat.
-Are you making this up?
They have found that human beings who have toxoplasmosis
are more likely to have car crashes,
so the bacteria is trying to kill you.
So that a cat will find you.
Is this why we have these books, to write this down?
It's also to write down what medication Cariad is on.
It is absolutely true what Cariad is saying.
Absolutely true. The world is so extraordinary,
there are lots of sea creatures that glow
when they are disturbed by a boat's wake.
So that glows.
And this is a serious issue,
so in World War I, there was a German submarine tracked and sunk
because they had disturbed enough bioluminescent organisms.
We could see where it was?
Exactly. It glowed from the surface.
And they can also use it in various ways, for example,
they can inject mice
with a genetically modified glowing herpes virus.
And who hasn't wanted to have that at some point?
Scientists can examine how it moves through the body.
No, I don't know why it's glowing, honey.
Just one of those things.
You get up in the night, and you don't need to put the light on.
I can just find my way.
Now for a question on non-employment.
What is the most painless way of sacking 24,000 people
at the same time?
-Don't tell them.
-Don't tell them?
-Don't tell them.
-Just don't mention it?
Are they dummies again? Are they fake employees that never existed?
They are. And it did happen.
So it was February, 2016.
Nigeria sacked 23,846 employees from the government payroll,
all for the same offence, they didn't exist.
And the move saved £8 million a month.
They were ghost workers.
It's a common problem,
You get real workers collect fictional colleagues' payrolls.
In 2011, a newborn baby was added to the government payroll
and got £90 a month, and a diploma.
You can get high office as well.
In 2007, Andre Kasongo Ilunga became the Minister of Foreign Trade
in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,
despite the fact that he was entirely fictional.
The Congolese law is that there has to be two candidates
for any ministerial post.
So there was a politician called Kasimba Ngoi,
and he really wanted the role.
So what he did was he invented a fake rival, this gentleman.
-And the fake guy won?
Kasimba assumed that the Prime Minister
would choose the person he'd heard of.
But, unfortunately for Mr Ngoi,
the Prime Minister disliked him intensely
and chose the fictional Mr Ilunga.
Mr Ngoi later claimed that Ilunga had resigned.
But the Prime Minister said he would only accept
the resignation in person.
Eventually, Ilunga was sacked.
-Possibly for non-attendance.
-For not turning up.
Now, which is worse, death or Norfolk?
Well, you could leave Norfolk.
Yes, that's a very good point.
But it's not the English county of Norfolk, that we are talking about.
Sometimes I think the questions on this show
aren't quite what they seem.
Let me give you a clue, OK. So which newly-discovered continent,
beginning and ending in A,
were most British convicts transported to in the 18th century?
No, nor Australasia.
You are absolutely right. So 1718 to 1775,
they were sent exclusively to America,
at least 52,000 of them.
It wasn't America yet.
No, it wasn't even America yet.
And some people estimate that as many as a tenth of the migrants
to America during that period were, in fact, British convicts.
And Australia was only used after
the American War of Independence broke out
and everybody thought, "What a dangerous place.
"Let's send them somewhere else."
But the Norfolk we are talking about is in Australasia,
which is what you mentioned.
It's a tiny little island called Norfolk Island.
And in 1825, it was established as a penal colony for a penal colony.
So it was for people who had committed crimes
while already serving a sentence in Australia.
Oh, my God.
Not a place that anybody wanted to go.
In fact, people who were sentenced to death on the mainland
thanked God that they were not going to Norfolk Island.
Some people hated the island so much,
they openly committed capital crimes.
They openly would kill somebody just to be taken back to Sydney
to be tried and executed, because it was so horrendous.
Now, in which country is the very highest peak of the Alps?
Isn't Mont Blanc the tallest?
-OK, so where is that?
-Where is it, Matt?
Italy, I think.
-Yeah, it's on the border.
-It is, exactly on the border.
The French-Italian border, in fact,
passes directly over Mont Blanc's peak.
The very highest peak of the Alps is not there.
-Not Mont Blanc?
-Neither in France, nor in Italy.
-So we'll go for Switzerland.
I want you to think, unlikely, and I want you to think, you know...
like a flat place.
Is it that the Alps go much further?
No, it's in the Netherlands.
-There was a Swiss geologist called Horace-Benedict de Saussure,
born in 1740,
he led the very first expedition up Mont Blanc.
When he got to the top, he took the top as a souvenir.
It is now in the Teylers Museum in Haarlem in the Netherlands.
I'm going to guess it's not quite that big.
And it's not floating in a museum.
He was a fantastic polymath, de Saussure.
He was described as the inventor of climbing, or Alpinism.
Did he invent climbing?
-Well, he invented...
-People were climbing in the Alps before,
and he came along and went, "I will call this climbing."
People must have been climbing before then, yeah.
Just boys making things up. It's not right, is it?
You've never had that on your show, have you?
-People making things up?
-That would be so wrong.
That would be very wrong, Jerry.
It would be a good topic for the show,
"My friend claims he invented climbing."
And the women who love him.
You can say any sentence in the world, and as long as you add,
-"and the women who love him"...
-..then you've got a show.
My labrador, and the women who love him.
This thing of taking the top off,
so there was an artist called Oscar Santillan in 2015,
and he removed the topmost inch of Scafell Pike.
He made everybody very cross in Cumbria, the managing director,
Ian Stephens, of Cumbrian Tourism said, "This is taking the mickey.
"We want the top of our mountain back."
Yeah, you'd get a mohel for that.
A mohel? That's a Jewish gentleman who does circumcision?
That's right, yeah.
Yeah, that's painful.
It happens when you're eight days old, so in theory,
-you don't remember it.
-But you two are both in pain still.
I'm still limping, yeah.
I don't care if it was a subway station, I'll remember it.
Wow, I'll never see Highgate station the same way again.
So, if you want to get really high, go to the Netherlands.
But what is Britain's biggest national secret?
If we tell it, it won't be a secret any more.
Ah, well, that is true,
and that was the thing that worried people for a long, long time.
-So we're in London.
-Was it the London Tower or something?
It is a tower. Tower is right, Jerry.
Is this some enormous building that isn't supposed to...
Yes, there is an enormous building
that was a secret for years and years.
-The BT Tower.
The BT Tower is exactly right.
It was built in 1965,
it was considered such an important part of the telecoms infrastructure
that it was classified as an official secret.
Because no-one can see it!
No, it was Britain's tallest building,
it contained a public viewing gallery, and a revolving restaurant.
I went to that place once for a charity event.
And Rick Astley was singing.
It was wonderful. And I went to the loo, which is in the middle,
and when I came out of the loo it had revolved,
and I came out right on stage next to him.
He was going... # Never going to give you up... #
It was technically illegal to take photographs of the tower
under the Official Secrets Act.
It wasn't included in any Ordnance Survey maps
until the mid-1990s.
In a 1978 case a judge would only refer to it as location 23,
and in 1993 the MP Kate Hoey
spoke in parliament to state the location, she said,
"I hope I that I am covered by Parliamentary privilege
"when I reveal that the British Telecom Tower does exist,
"and that its address is 60 Cleveland St, London,"
which, the restaurant was fantastic.
Did you ever go to the revolving restaurant?
-It was just glorious.
And in 2009, BT said they were going to reopen it,
and anybody who's ever had a promise from BT
will know that'll never happen.
You get a lot of e-mails saying your order's on its way.
What's the best cure for nostalgia?
Is it actually living in the actual past?
And staying there?
And then you don't need nostalgia, cos you're still living in it.
But wouldn't you be nostalgic for the hundred years before that?
Would there not be a period... There's always going to be a period.
-Like, even the Dark Ages.
Do you get nostalgic, Jerry?
If you smell something, it brings back a memory.
-Straight away, isn't it?
-Cigarettes in pubs.
Do you miss them?
-Smell affects your memory part more than sight, or touch,
or anything. It instantly affects your memory.
My wife, when she smells beer on me, she knows where I've been.
Are there things you're nostalgic for, Alan?
I'm not a nostalgic person, no.
-That's probably good.
-I think the future's going to be great.
The past, whatever.
I'm nostalgic for when Alan used to be nostalgic.
-That was a lovely time.
-Those were the days.
Well, in the 18th and 19th century, it was seen as a deadly disease.
-To be nostalgic.
It was known as Schweizenkrankheit, or Swiss illness,
because Swiss soldiers were apparently particularly prone to it.
And in the American Civil War more than 5,000 men were diagnosed
with nostalgia and 74 allegedly died from it.
In fact, the Unionist army was forbidden
from playing Home Sweet Home in case it brought on an attack.
No doubt the past makes you upset.
I found, when I wrote my book, this is not a plug, it's out of print.
No-one bought it.
It was part-memoir,
that meant a lot of going back through childhood memories.
And it's not pleasant, it's not nice.
It's much better to look forward, that hasn't happened yet.
You can invent it.
The only one thing I would like to have is my grandmother's trifle.
Oh, was it particularly good?
It was so good. She died in 1974, and it went with her.
-No-one knew how to make it.
-Have you tried to recreate it?
I don't even know how she did it. No-one knows.
Grannies everywhere, write down all your recipes
so that we can continue to have them.
Funnily enough, I just bought a book for my kids
for all the things that I've learnt from previous generations,
and I'm starting to write the recipes down.
Yeah, I think that's a good idea.
So if you've just tuned in,
this evening's episode was a tribute to Cariad,
Jerry, Sandi and Alan, who all, very sadly, died of nostalgia.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
So they still haven't worked out what the best cure is.
A Russian general came up with it in 1733.
Vodka. Did it involve vodka?
It didn't involve vodka.
What he did was, he warned the troops
that the very first man
to come down with a case of nostalgia would be buried alive.
And cases plummeted.
The suspected causes of nostalgia
were unfulfilled ambition, poor hygiene,
coming from farming stock, and masturbation.
Those were the...
I've got two of those.
Me too, and I've never been on a farm.
It was declassified as a disease as late as 1899.
What was? Oh...
They say that's still troublesome.
I miss it.
Actually, it can be useful. It is thought to protect, slightly,
against cold. So people can stand the pain of icy water for longer
-if they focus on nostalgic memories.
-Who writes this stuff down?
So you mean if you're trapped in a freezer by a gangland criminal
you just say to someone,
"Do you remember when we weren't trapped in this freezer?"
You're going to make it.
I think you have to think about Grandma Davies's trifle.
Oh, I see what you mean, yeah.
Now for something completely different.
Alan. Are you a narcissist?
I know I don't like looking at myself.
I would take either of those two lives ahead of my own!
Yes or no, are you a narcissist?
No, I'm not.
That is correct.
And this is a complete reversal of the usual format,
because whether you said yes or no, we are going to give you two points.
-And that is because in the standard modern test for narcissism,
research shows that narcissists feel so good about themselves,
they don't mind admitting it.
So if you think you are a narcissist, then you are.
Would you say that you were a narcissist?
Totally fine. What about you, Jerry?
Would you say you're a narcissist?
No, I've got a mirror, that depresses me.
I mean, you're asking the star of the Jerry Springer show!
Me, a narcissist?
In mythology, of course, we get narcissism from...
Narcissis gazing in a pond.
That's a beautiful picture by John William Waterhouse.
He became so transfixed by his own reflection
that he was unable to drag himself away, and he stayed there,
and was eventually transformed into a flower.
What flower was he transformed into?
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
-What did you say?
No, it's one of those weird things, it's not connected.
So you'd think that the scientific name for the daffodil is connected,
but in fact, that's related to the narcotic quality of the bulb.
Did he turn into a lily?
We don't know. We've no idea.
So why did you ask us, then, you don't even have the answer!
Some things are unknown, Matt.
That's OK. Anyway, now it's time for our weekly brush
with general ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers, please.
Which of these two men has stronger muscles?
'I can't believe you've just said that!'
Well, the one on the right certainly has bigger muscles,
but maybe the muscles on the left are stronger
because they're not as strong,
and yet they're still working.
Stop now! Stop now, you're doing so well.
Or is the answer, we just don't know?
Pound for pound, body-builders have weaker muscles than normal people.
So one of the reasons body-builders are so strong
is that they have a large amount of muscle.
But the muscles they do have are, in fact, weaker.
Here is the thing. If you don't have muscles,
but you have a really good imagination,
you can exercise your muscles.
So say your hand is in a cast.
You can prevent yourself from losing muscle mass
by simply imagining yourself using your hand muscles.
-Well, I'm just imagining myself winning the show.
I'm imagining myself using my hands.
Now, which of Shakespeare's plays wasn't performed at first
because it was believed to be cursed?
# Cariad Lloyd... #
Is it Richard II
because the language was so provocative?
It's a good choice, but it is not Richard II.
Is it Midsummer Night's Dream, in which I played Bottom,
and got the best reviews of my career?
Is it the one that was playing when the Globe was burned down?
It is the one that was playing.
Oh, No Sex, Please, We're British.
Run For Your Wife!
1613, it was a production of Henry VIII.
I was going to say Henry VIII!
The very first recorded performance at the Globe,
and they fired a cannon,
as one of the special effects,
and it hit the straw of the thatched roof
and the theatre burned down.
Absolutely nobody was injured,
the only risk to life was one man's britches caught fire
and his friend put him out with a bottle of beer.
Theatres used to burn down all the time.
And one theatre was burned down about four or five hundred years ago
because one guy advertised
that he could squeeze himself into a quart bottle on stage.
And so thousands of people turned out to see him, and when it was...
Weirdly, he couldn't do it.
Weirdly, he couldn't do it, and there was a riot,
and the theatre burned down.
Why don't they do that on Britain's Got Talent?
-What is the play that actors have often treated as being cursed?
Macbeth. And the reason you're not supposed to say Macbeth
is because, traditionally,
when repertory companies were doing a play, and no-one was coming,
what they would do is quickly put on Macbeth,
which was in their repertoire,
because people always came to see Macbeth.
So if you were putting on Macbeth,
it was that the thing you really wanted to do was a disaster.
But nobody was superstitious
about the Scottish play in Shakespeare's lifetime.
Name America's biggest fault.
Now, it's not, is it NOT going to be the San Andreas fault?
It is NOT the San Andreas, you're absolutely right.
It is not even the most dangerous fault line in California.
So here's the thing, California sits across two continental plates,
the Pacific and the North American.
There's dozens of fault lines between them.
And the maximum size of earthquake
that the San Andreas fault could cause is
8.2 on the moment magnitude scale.
The nearby Cascadia Subduction Zone, just off the coast,
is far more dangerous.
A huge rupture along it could release an earthquake
30 times stronger than the San Andreas.
That is half as large again as the quake
that caused the Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004.
It is a huge thing.
They estimate a big earthquake would cause a tsunami up to 100 feet high.
Yeah, yikes indeed. And that brings me to the matter of the scores.
Well, my goodness,
in first place with a magnificent seven points, it's Cariad.
In second place with minus 26, it's Jerry.
In third place with minus 36, Matt.
I'm very proud, thank you.
And Alan, with a breathtaking minus 56,
Our thanks to Jerry, Cariad, Matt and Alan.
Tonight, I'm going to leave the last word to Jerry.
Watch this show, or I'll kill my dog.
Just kidding. Just kidding.
Take care of yourselves, and each other. Goodnight!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE