Sandi Toksvig runs the numbers with Colin Lane, Sarah Millican, Noel Fielding and Alan Davies.
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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And welcome to QI, for a show all about numbers.
Tonight, we will cross the divide and go forth and multiply,
and in addition, we will subtract lots of points from Alan.
Let's meet our four fine figures. The rational Colin Lane...
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..the complex Sarah Millican...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..the imaginary Noel Fielding...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..and the extremely random Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
So, if they would like to grab my attention,
they can count on their buzzers and Colin goes...
# One, two, three, four, five. #
# Five, four, three, two, one. #
-That's pretty good.
-Ah, that's very good. Noel goes...
# Two, four, six, eight. #
And Alan goes...
# ABC, ABC. #
So, here is question one.
Which is the loneliest number?
# Three, four, five. #
It's the obvious one, but it's not that one.
So, maybe two is the loneliest number,
because it's next to the one that gets talked about the most.
And do you know what?
I would make that entirely a correct answer
if it wasn't so horribly wrong. No.
-Three is the magic number.
-Three is the magic number.
Well, I've never tried, but so they say.
-See, I was going to say two, as well,
cos I just thought it depends on what your marriage is like.
-Is it 13, cos it's quite unlikely,
so the other numbers don't want to go near it?
-OK, so it is an unpopular number.
-No, it's quite a high number. So, there's a mathematician...
-You're going in the right direction. NOEL:
-No, we're not going to play this higher or lower.
-102, 103, 104...110.
-Alan gets the point.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
So, there's a mathematician called Alex Bellos
and he wanted to find the world's favourite number.
So, he asked a lot of people and 30,023 people responded.
And the lowest whole number that nobody chose was 110.
-It was everybody's least favourite number. AUDIENCE:
So, QI has adopted it as our favourite number.
That was a very, very lukewarm round of applause.
You prefer number seven, don't you?
OK, well, why might you prefer number seven?
That's a really interesting thing.
-Is it the lucky number?
-It's the world's favoured number.
That is the one that Alex Bellos discovered most people preferred.
And, in fact, there was a National Lottery draw
which rather bore this out.
The 23rd of March 2016,
five of the six numbers were multiples of seven, OK?
So, there was 7, 14, 21, 35, and 42,
and the other one was 41
and so many people chose them,
you got more money from matching four numbers
than you did from matching five.
So, four numbers you got £51 and five right you got £15.
Anyway, have a look at these different numbers.
So, number one, anybody know what that one is
-right there in the middle? COLIN:
-I'm not good on hieroglyphics.
So, what were you saying, Colin? You were making a noise.
-You were just making the noise?
-I was just making a noise.
-What was the noise?
-Yeah. So, that's...
-Weirdly, it's quite close to the correct answer.
It's a man holding his hands up,
and he's most likely called either Huh, or Huuh,
The thing is, there are no vowels in hieroglyphs
and we don't know how it's pronounced,
but it's going to be some kind of vowely-H sound,
and he represents a million for the Egyptians.
-I think he's just going like, "I've no idea how many."
I think he's lost his keys.
Someone went, "Do you know where your keys are?"
And he went, "I don't know."
They're on your elbows, mate.
Let's have a look at the other ones that we've got,
other than our Egyptian.
So, the eye, anybody know what the eye is, another pictogram?
I'll go for five.
No, it's four, three.
-Hmm, hmm, hmm.
-Zero, very good. NOEL:
It looks like I'm working you today.
It's the Mayan number zero.
They had the concept of zero by about 30 BC,
at which time the Romans and the Greeks didn't bother with it.
-Couldn't be arsed.
-They didn't have a number zero.
-Why's it eye shaped?
It looks like the eye's got prison bars over it.
Like they've outlawed looking.
No, the Greeks didn't bother with it, cos maths was more geometry for them,
so the zero didn't make any sense.
In fact, we don't get the zero in Europe until about the 13th century.
Before that, couldn't be arsed.
Let's have another look. OK, number three there.
Two to the power of 74,207,281 minus one.
Is it going to be the highest prime number or something?
It is. The largest prime number. You are on fire tonight.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
It's a Mersenne prime.
It is the largest one they've ever discovered.
It contains 228,388,618 digits in total.
It's basically 2x2x2 74 million times...
That's my lucky number.
But it's impossible to believe these things, isn't it,
that it's not divisible by anything at all?
-That's absolutely mind blowing.
-Mind blowing, isn't it, that that's a prime number?
So, the next one, number four there, eight billion and 85.
Any thoughts what that might be?
-That's a huge number, isn't it?
-Bacteria on your person?
Oh, gross me out.
Bacteria within your person?
SANDI AND SARAH GROAN
Bacteria trying to get out of your person.
I've honestly never felt so filthy.
So, if you were to write out all the numbers from one to ten billion
in words and organise them into alphabetical order,
this is the very first one that would be an odd number.
And that is because eight is the very first number alphabetically.
It begins with E.
Also, all the numbers beginning with eight
have to come before the next number, which would be 11.
So, it goes eight, eight billion, eight billion and eight,
eight billion and 18, eight billion and 80, eight billion and 88,
eight billion and 85,
so, it's the very first one that is an odd number.
OK, would it be a problem if you just explained that again?
Did you wish to take the news with you to Australia?
Look what I brought back from England,
this amazing piece of information, that I still don't understand.
I'm trying to work out a face that I can do that would be
as if I did understand that.
Let's have a look back at the ones we have left in our number cloud.
If I tell you it's a cyclic number, does that mean anything to you?
-No, is it to do with bicycles?
-Oh, I like that.
"How many bicycles in Paris?" that kind of thing.
No. So, if you take this number
and you multiply it by any number between one and six,
the answer will always be an anagram of the original number.
So, it will just keep all those numbers.
Look there, times two, times three, times four.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Ooh!
Good noise! "We don't understand, but we're going to make a noise."
This is the beginnings of subjugation.
This number is an anagram of the other numbers.
Let's have a look at the number 43.
Any idea about the number 43?
What I say my age is.
-Are you older or younger?
-I'm older, yes.
-See, I was being polite.
Boys don't mind about their age, do they?
Do boys mind about their age?
They pretend that they...
-You're shaking your head.
-I don't mind about my age.
-I don't mind about mine.
-I'm 38 and proud.
-Nothing wrong with that.
-I'd no idea. A year older than me.
So, it's a Frobenius number. I'm not helping, am I?
-They didn't even give you an "Ooh".
I'm going to explain it in terms of McDonald's, OK?
So, this is a mathematical problem posed by a German
called Ferdinand Frobenius in the early 20th century.
Let's say it's Chicken McNuggets.
They are only sold in multiples of six, nine and 20.
And 43 is the largest number of McNuggets it's impossible to buy.
You could get 41, because you could have 20 and nine and six and six.
You could have 42 because you could have four lots of nine and a six.
You could have 44, because you could have four lots of six and a 20.
You cannot buy 43 McNuggets.
You'd have to throw some away.
Not even if you know Ronald McDonald?
Now, how did the Danish government convince its citizens to multiply?
This is one of my Randy Scandies.
-I do mean that.
Was it financial incentives?
-There were incentives.
-We all need incentives anyway, don't we?
What, to procreate?
Just, you know, the bit before that, as well.
Right. I'm fine, but OK.
I can narrow it down. It's actually a place called Thisted,
which is in Jutland, so the mainland, the bit that sticks out from Germany.
What happened? 2015, the local authorities were going to close down
the local school and everybody
was very upset in the local area so they struck a deal that the people
would procreate as much as possible if they kept the school
and the leisure facilities open.
Nothing says "I'm bringing sexy back" like a council memo.
Did they all do it? Did they all have to have kids?
Well, as many as possible. They were encouraged to have kids.
I have to say, it's a lovely place, Thisted.
Not a lot to do. Number three on their own website of things to do
in the area is visit the candle shop.
Sexy candles for around the bath.
There's been lots of times before, Britain has had its own panics
about falling populations because of the war and contraception and so on.
So, in 1921, the Daily Express
ran a competition to find Britain's largest family.
The News of the World offered a free tea tray
to any mother who gave birth to her tenth child.
Don't want your bloody tea tray, I'll take your head off with it.
And the French still give medals for having large families.
That's still a thing. The Medaille de la Famille Francaise.
How many kids for bronze? What do you reckon?
-Four to five. Silver, six to seven.
Gold, eight plus.
I thought you said 45, for a second there.
There is so much wrong with that picture, I can't begin.
-Why are they creating a human bench for their two children?
-That is worrying.
-Have they glued their heads together?
Maybe they're ventriloquists and that's how they hold their toy.
Just used to holding people like that.
Now, here's something nice.
Cake. You've each got a cake and a knife.
And here is the challenge.
I want you to cut two pieces of exactly equal size.
Now, you can use three cuts to do it, but in such a way
that the cake is still moist for you to have some more tomorrow.
What would be the best way of cutting it?
Could the cake stay moist in my tummy?
-Because then you just half it.
-Then you could just half it. No.
So, the idea is that there is cake for tomorrow.
So, we're going to start with Alan and Colin first.
-What is your...
-Well, my theory is that we cut through the middle.
-This is going to be difficult, but we're going to do it.
-And then, we take the top off.
And we eat the bottom bit.
You're going to eat the whole of the bottom bit?
But that's quite a large piece of cake, isn't it?
We're two men in our 30s, we love cake.
Take the top of. Colin will remove the bottom of the cake.
Then put the top back down again.
That's moist for tomorrow and then we cut this... place that there,
we cut completely in half, like that.
-Two equal pieces.
-Wow, that's very good.
Do you think anybody who likes the filling is going to be mildly disappointed?
So, let's go over to...
-I've got an idea.
-No, do it with the cake!
-I'm just going to draw it first.
-Is that OK?
-Yes, darling, you do what you like.
What if we cut it like, in a way that we could... back together?
We could to get that out of here and then just smush...
That would be better, wouldn't it?
-Shall we do it?
-That was a shambles, what they did.
-The smushing doesn't sound good.
-I reckon we have to do this first.
-Do you think?
-OK, go for it, Sarah.
-Oh, it's tough.
-Delicious is what you're looking for.
-And then, that.
-You've just drawn Pacman, that doesn't make any sense.
So, take out your pieces.
These are our pieces.
Noel, were you calling US a shambles?
Is that what you were saying? There you go.
So, there is a mathematical way of doing it.
There was a man called Francis Galton. An extraordinary fellow.
He was an explorer and he was the very first person to come up with the idea
of a weather map and he was also slightly obsessed with the idea
of sharing a Christmas cake with his wife in an even manner.
So, what he did was he wrote a long treaties on the subject,
which he sent to Nature magazine.
You were absolutely heading in the right direction.
What you do is you cut it right down the middle like this
and then you pull out the entire centre piece.
-Ah, that was it!
-That's only two cuts though.
Wait, I haven't finished. You pull out the whole thing like this
and then you cut that one in half, so then you have two pieces.
-We were nearly there.
-You were very nearly there.
You have two pieces of cake like that and then you simply push
the cake back together.
Looks very similar to ours.
So, anyway that's how you can half your cake and eat it.
Now to a question about wrong numbers.
Where's the worst place in the world for nuisance calls?
What a great picture.
Do you not think you thought more carefully about making
a phone call when you had dial it one number at a time?
If you had to dial someone who had lots of eights and nines in it,
-sometimes you wouldn't bother.
-You just couldn't be arsed.
I mean, are we looking for a country?
-We are looking for a place.
-The country with the most people in?
No, ironically, the place with the fewest telephones for a short while.
So, it's the Pacific island of Niue.
It looks fab, doesn't it?
Niue. So, in the early '90s, people were constantly woken up
by heavy breathers because the country was the home of an extremely
lucrative sex line business and people often used
to dial the wrong number.
There were only 387 telephones on the island and the phone numbers
only had four digits so people were often misdialling.
So, this is people ringing the wrong number and expecting a sex line?
-So, if they're already heavy breathing, they've started already.
I didn't know this.
Maybe it was just a helpline for asthma, people with asthma.
Nothing sexual. That guy's trying to ring nine people at the same time.
That's not going to work.
So they had a terrible time because people were constantly getting wrong
numbers and Belgium was another country that ran sex lines
for quite a while. When they were banned,
this is the most brilliant thing, they started a new thing,
which was cookery lines with recipes read
in the most sexual way possible.
-They had to read out sexy recipes.
-What's a sexy recipe?
Toad in the hole.
I can't think of anything more exciting, I think.
I quite fancy a toad in the hole.
Last time I had that, I had a football under my arm
and a catapult in my pocket.
Two weeks ago.
We are going to make our own nuisance call this evening.
There is a number that anybody can ring in Sweden
and it's a scheme set up by the country's tourism authority
to celebrate 250 years of free speech in Sweden
and its called Ring a Random Swede.
It's genuinely a random thing.
We've no idea who we're going to get.
We've already pre-selected a question from a member
of the audience and the question is why do you eat rotten fish?
Does anybody speak Swedish?
Here's the marvellous thing about Scandinavians,
-their English is really coming along.
So, the marvellous sound department are going to put the call through
now and obviously we'll have to explain what it is we're doing to this person.
MAN SPEAKS OWN LANGUAGE
-Hi, my name is Sandi, I'm ringing I'm from London.
Robin. Hi. You're my random Swede that I'm ringing.
Is it your first phone call from an English person?
Well, this is kind of exciting, Robin, because I'm ringing you
from a live television studio from London.
You're on the BBC right now, is that OK?
OK. I tell you what, we'll have a round of applause from our audience.
Maybe you can hear that.
So, what do you do Robin?
Are you actually in the shop?
OK. So, we have a question from our audience.
You may be buying this now, what do I know?
Why do Swedish people eat rotten fish is the question
we want to ask you.
It was lovely to speak to you, Robin.
-His English was pretty good.
-That English coming along.
Yeah, coming along.
You'll never meet an unfriendly Swede, that's my view.
No, darling, that's because they're usually drunk.
It's a Danish-Swedish thing.
Let's play How Many People In The Audience...
Each of my panellists has got a coloured card
and the audience also has coloured cards
and I'm going to get them to stand up and I want you to
tell me which item on this list relates
to the number of people who are standing.
We're going to start with Colin, what colour is your card?
-So, could all the blue card people stand up please?
What do you reckon, Colin?
How many people do you think that is?
It's about 182.
-It's 230 people.
It took 230 people to do one of these five things.
Selfie fatalities in 2014.
It is not. It is something a little bit more substantial.
-Built the Eiffel Tower.
-Built the Eiffel Tower is absolutely right.
Built by 230 people in two years.
Sit back down again and we will come to Sarah.
What colour is your card?
-I have red.
-So, could I have the red cards standing please?
How many do you think that might be?
So, have a look at the list, what do you reckon?
I think maybe the selfie fatalities.
You keep going for that one. It isn't that.
It's the world record number of children born to a single mother.
-All of you are now related.
It's a woman called Valentina Vassilyev.
She had 16 pairs of twins,
she had seven sets of triplets
and four sets of quadruplets in 40 years, between 1725 and 1765.
In total, 27 births.
Her husband, Feodor Vassilyev,
went on to have a further 18 children with his second wife.
So, he left her?! After all of those kids!
I think she died. I think she died.
It's unbelievable, isn't it?
But, the way she was having children,
was like someone was unscrewing her and...
Let's have a look at yours, Noel. What colour is your card?
White. Let's have all the white cards stand.
How many people do you reckon that is?
-49, almost exactly right.
-What does that represent? COLIN:
Everybody's gone for the selfie fatalities, what do you reckon?
You should have gone for the selfie fatalities.
That number of people, very sadly, in 2014, died taking a selfie.
16 came from a fall, four from a gunshot, one from an animal,
I don't know what the story is, I've no idea.
The most common place apparently to die taking a selfie is in India.
Followed by Russia.
I tell you what, Alan, why don't you get the whole audience to stand up?
Everyone please rise.
-Here we are.
-AUDIENCE RISES NOISILY
-So, that's the entire audience.
-Oh, I've heard that noise before.
Turn your back for two seconds.
625 people is the QI audience.
I can tell you it represents people who died in a certain way.
They didn't die together. It was 625 individual incidents.
-It's an accident in the home.
Coming to panel shows?
The word coming is going to be most...
-It's the number of people in 2014
who died from autoerotic asphyxiation.
Sit down, you dirty bastards!
Sorry, I'm confused. I thought for a moment you were all autoerotics.
That's how to explain the dangers of autoerotic asphyxiation
using our studio audience.
All of which talk of hard sums brings us to the insoluble equation
that is general ignorance.
So, fingers on buzzers, please.
In terms of numbers, which is the most common vertebrate in the world?
No, we never leave out the klaxon.
We'll get some more. We'll get some more.
7 billion humans.
I can tell you already there are more chickens than there are...
-Chickens, that should do it.
-It's not rats?
It's not rats.
-I have got it.
People who died of auto asphyxiation.
-It's a fish.
It's a fish called the Bristlemouth and it's tiny.
It is smaller than your finger but if it opens its mouth up wide it's
got these incredible needle-like teeth.
It's an amazing fish. It glows and it eats even smaller creatures,
which you can see there, called copepods, but they are not vertebrates.
But this is the largest number of vertebrates in the world.
They live in the sea between half a mile and three miles down and until
the 21st-century, so they got the very fine dredging nets,
we didn't really know how many there were.
The estimate now is that there are as many as a dozen
-per square metre of ocean surface.
And they disguise themselves as diagrams.
The most common animal in the world is an invertebrate.
It's the nematode worm.
Four out of five of all animals is a nematode worm.
Anything that comes at you like that without any eyes...
That's why some of us made the life choices we did.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The word noon comes from the word nun, which meant nine,
so with that that in mind, if you had to meet a ninth-century nun
at noon, what time would you noodle off to the nunnery?
Noon means nun, which came from nine, you're meeting the nun at nine.
Nun, what time would you meet if you were meeting the nun at noon?
There isn't a nun.
-Anyone else want have a go?
-Just call them, instead.
Until the mid-12th century,
the word noon meant three o'clock in the afternoon.
You were so winning, as well. You just destroyed your score.
It goes back to old Christian prayer times,
so it used to be that the day began at 6am,
so that was known as the prime or the first hour
and then you have terces, so the third hour, that would be 9am today.
-Nonny's the ninth hour.
-That guy in the orange has got my haircut.
He's praying for a new one.
"Please, I don't want to be in Cabaret any more!"
Until the Middle Ages, noon was 3pm and all this talk of time makes me
realise it must be time for the scores.
In last place with -41 is Alan.
It should be Sarah next, but we're going to skip over that
and we're going to put in third place Colin, with -9.
Thank you. And in second-place, Noel, with one point!
So, Sarah actually got -26, but I was supposed to do a gig for Sarah
and I let her down by becoming the new host of QI and I couldn't do it,
so this week's winner, to make up for it, is Sarah Millican!
That's all from Sarah, Noel, Colin,
Alan and me. And I leave you with this number-related,
neolithic newspaper nugget from the Eastern Evening News.
When two men stole six sheep from a farm at Mumford,
they found that they could only get five of them into the back of their van.
So, the other one had to sit in the cab between the two men.
But the men had to pass through Watton on their way home.
Fearing that the sheep sitting in the cab might be conspicuous,
they disguised it by putting a trilby hat on its head.