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This programme contains some strong language
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Oh, how nice. Thank you very much.
Welcome to QI, where tonight it's a lot of noble rot with knobs on.
Nibbling at the upper crust are the incomparable king of comedy,
-CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The quintessential queen of quips, Sarah Pascoe.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The peerless Prince of pleasantries, Jeremy Clarkson.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And Lordy, Lordy, it's Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Right. Please ring down for service.
SMALL BELL TINKLES
SCHOOL BELL RINGS
LARGE BELL CLANGS
And Alan goes...
# Ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding
# Ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding-ding Ring, ring, ring... #
Let's start off by hobnobbing with a top nobs.
Name a nobleman who invented a hot drink you might enjoy with a hobnob.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
That's a drink and a snack, I think.
Hobnobs, of course, are an impostor
and no nobleman would have had a hobnob.
-No, that is true.
-They have the air of a classic.
They do, and yet it's a PR invention.
Actually, there is a kind of '70s hallucination.
OK. So this hot drink is also a kind of PR invention,
which we called by the name of the Lord, but it isn't really.
-It is Earl Grey.
It is a black tea which has been flavoured with bergamot oil,
and it is named after Earl Grey.
Almost certainly nothing to do with it.
Even though I think it continues to say so on the packaging.
What about Lady Grey?
-I like Lady Grey.
-I was going to ask that. That's lovely, that one.
Well, you and me both! But... LAUGHTER
-It's not a euphemism, it's an actual tea!
-Oh, I see.
I'm not into Earl Grey.
-It's like someone's melted some pot pourri in a cup.
The fact it smells exactly like it tastes is weird.
Yeah. You do know you're drunk at a party
if you're eating the pot pourri, don't you?
POT pourri, he started this.
-POT pourri is how it's said, isn't it, Jason?
Oh, why, is there another pronunciation of it?
-I'm going to say Po Pourri.
-Oh, I see.
Po Pourri. I don't know, we don't have it in our house.
Do we know why it's been named after Earl Grey?
-I've no idea.
-Indeed, that is correct.
No, he was probably dead 40 years when somebody first came up with it.
Oh, like Jesus.
If I'd said that I'd be in so much... He probably will be.
Anybody know what Earl Grey IS famous for?
When was he alive?
Well, I can tell you when he was in government, which is from 1830-1834.
-Was it a law? Was it a movement?
-It is a law.
OK, so 1830...
-1832 there was an important law. What was that one, Jeremy?
-Corn Laws. Repealing the Corn Laws.
-It's the Great Reform Act.
-Great Reform Act...
# Ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding... #
-The Great Reform Act of 1832.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
Yes. So the reforming government extended the right to vote
and got rid of the rotten boroughs, when there were, maybe,
only nine voters returning a member of Parliament,
so it's hard to re-establish the authority of Parliament.
But it was also that he led the most nepotistic government
in British history. OK?
It was described as the most
aristocratic administration that has ever been formed.
All but one of his 13 Cabinet members were either peers
or heirs to a peerage and, in the lower ranks,
-large numbers of his own family.
-Did they call it 50 Shades Of Grey?
They should have done. LAUGHTER
-They would have been ahead of the game.
-And pretty sexy.
Tea, of course, the great British cure-all.
There are some historians who consider that tea ought to take
credit for the fact that the Industrial Revolution
happened first in Britain. Why might that be?
-What, keeping you awake?
-No, it's not that.
-What was the question?
No, I was, I'm a bit deaf.
-I'm so glad you joined us.
-You're mocking the afflicted.
-Not at all.
-That's my job!
SHE SHOUTS: Some historians take a view...
It was last Tuesday! LAUGHTER
There are historians who take a view that tea is responsible
for the Industrial Revolution. Why might it be?
-A determination to get tea here quickly?
So, industrialisation, what happens is you get a concentration
of the population in cities and that usually leads to epidemics.
However, in Britain
the health got better rather than worse in cities...
Oh, cos they were boiling the water?
-Because they were boiling the water.
-They didn't have the germs.
Exactly right. So other foods associated, I don't know,
more or less plausibly with eponymous nobles?
Baron Kit Kat?
A Baron Kit Kat sounds like one without chocolate on it, doesn't it?
Beef Wellington. Beef Wellington!
-Which I find too rich. Does anybody like beef Wellington?
-I like it, me.
-Yeah, we didn't get it much at school.
-Did you not?
-I've grown into the taste, yeah.
Battenberg cake which was created especially for
the marriage of Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884.
Are we looking for titled people who give their names to food?
Well, yes. That would be ideal.
I will catch up with you in about five minutes.
It's a new thing. Honestly, have you tried being deaf?
It's bloody difficult!
Put your fingers in your ears. It's all just like I'm underwater.
-I'll lean forwards like that then I can stay in tune.
-If you say so.
Anyway. Moving on.
One way to get a good job is to be a nobleman's nephew.
But how can you improve your job prospects by getting nicked?
Is this Duke of Marlborough type stuff?
No. Not particularly.
We have to think about other words for...
Oh! So if you're trying to get a job, and it would be good if you
got nicked, maybe the job is, like, testing how sharp paper is.
-And are people going to get paper cuts? That meaning of nicked.
-That would be a great job. I would like that.
-Just work with paper
all day, like - those ones are too sharp.
That one's lovely.
What about when you lick an envelope and you cut your lip.
-Yeah. That would be, like, for the boss person
to do that one, with tongues involved.
Half your face falls off.
-That's how the joker got like that.
-An envelope accident.
-..you are in the right area.
-..of cutting your face.
-No, it's nothing to do with shaving.
It is until the Second World War
the tradition of duelling with swords was absolutely woven
into the fabric of life in the higher echelons of society.
We are talking about the German-speaking world,
I should be specific.
And the professional classes
they wore the resulting scars on their cheeks as badges of honour.
And even today there's about 160 student duelling clubs.
We can have a look at them fighting here.
So one of the things is you mustn't move.
You're not allowed to move your feet at all.
You have to keep your left hand behind your back.
-Are they beekeepers or...?
They're a bit like Freemasons.
And so the old boys of these duelling clubs
they absolutely dominate lots and lots of the jobs in big business.
And you can see it's very ritualised,
and they have these extraordinary get-togethers.
They sing patriotic songs and they have such prodigious
beer-drinking contests that they have special puking basins.
Is this before the fight?
I'm very much hoping it's afterwards.
-I very much...
-That would be great, drunk-duelling.
-I'd like to see that.
-I think you did that on about series 16
of Top Gear, didn't you?
They were terrible injuries.
In 1566 the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe
lost his nose to a fellow student.
Sorry, he was an astronomer?
A famous Danish astronomer. So I'm trying on each show, Jason,
to put in a random Scandinavian fact.
-Which I call my Randy Scandi.
He lost his nose and he had to wear a brass
-prosthetic for the rest of his life.
You'd look a bit ridiculous going through airport metal detectors.
That's right. They couldn't get a better nose replacement than brass,
but there were aeroplanes.
Why did they fit a brass one?
-It's a talking point, isn't it?
-They had chewing gum in those days.
-How did they fit it?
-There was an adhesive,
but he is said to have had a green line on his face
where the adhesive... And it's possible he also had
a special gold or silver one for parties.
He's an interesting guy.
He was really concerned about the look of things,
and it is possible that he died from extremely good manners.
So 1601, he was at a banquet, and it wasn't the thing,
when you are at a banquet, to excuse yourself to go and wee.
And he may or may not have died of a burst bladder.
Or maybe he was doing coke?
Which would probably be really tricky with a brass nose.
-I think I'd have denim.
Or gingham for parties.
Like kitchen curtains. There's a hole!
Or you'd have a miniature sword...
"Look, madam, look at my rapier!"
Terrible if you're trying to get off with someone.
"Oh, sorry! Fuck!"
Unless they'd lost their nose as well, and they had a little shield.
That's how you'd know were made for each other.
Literally, been made for each other. I like that very much.
Anybody think women did duelling, or just a boy's thing?
Have you been to the Bigg Market in Newcastle on a Saturday night?
I hope that women did do duelling as well.
Yeah, they did. It was called petticoat duels
and possibly the most famous...
ALAN MIMICS GUNSHOT
A kind of a snatch-and-grab!
Never thought of hiding a pistol there.
So the most famous one, 1892 in Austria,
it was a topless duel...
Oh, that's brilliant! Channel 5, where are you?
..between Princess Metternich and Countess Kielmannsegg
and what I love about it, it's said to have been caused by
a disagreement over a flower arrangement.
That sounds like, "Yeah, well, I don't like the flowers,
"so get your top off!"
I'll duel you!
Apparently both the women were worried that if they were wounded
and some fabric got into the wound it would get infected.
It's the very first emancipated duel, in that every single person
who took part, all the seconds, the two duellers
and indeed the medic, were all women.
It's hard to say who won.
The Princess, she was injured first, on the nose,
so the Countess got first blood, as it were.
But she was then injured on the arm which is a better wound.
So there's points for where you cut the person, then?
-Who does better.
As long as you come out with both your nipples
I'm sure you'll be all right.
Boobs aren't full of milk!
That's not why we have...
Do you suppose that there's milk all the time?
We've got a baby in the house, there's milk everywhere.
Boobs are sometimes full of milk.
Possibly not those four.
Perhaps they weren't at the time of the duel.
"You are perforated."
I often wonder how we get to where we do.
The rule for German businessman is, "You scratch my cheek
"and I'll scratch yours." How can you tell a nob from a yob?
So we were talking about PO pourri and POT pourri.
How would you know your upper-class from your not so upper-class?
Would they say he's a YOBE?
A NOBE and a YOBE.
It is absolutely to do with what you say.
So in 1954 there was a linguistics professor at Aston University
in Birmingham called Alan Ross. And he devised the terms
U and non-U to distinguish speech patterns
of the English upper classes and what they, unfortunately, called
the lower social strata.
The following year, Nancy Mitford, the extraordinary...
one of the Mitford sisters - there she is on the right there
with her sister's Unity and Diana -
she picked this up in an essay and she said that, nowadays,
you couldn't tell the upper classes, cos they were no longer
cleaner, richer or better-educated than anybody else.
It was principally by language,
and this caused tremendous anxiety in the middle-classes.
So the question is, would you use loo paper or toilet paper?
Do you know, it really is an interesting question.
I was away last week, I was Namibia, and I went up to the man,
cos we were camping. I said, "Have you got any bog roll?"
And he went, "What?" Like, it obviously doesn't work in Namibia.
And I was actually flummoxed, thinking, "Now, what do I say?"
What did you do, did you mime?
-Yes, I did.
Rather than say loo roll.
Which is just... I know.
Here's an interesting fact about wiping your bum.
I worked this out on the last tour of mine, right.
But half the population, right, when they're wiping their bottom,
they stand up, a hand goes back and they wipe, right.
And the other half, they stay sat down and reach in and have a wipe.
And the weirdest thing is one half, until I just said it now,
didn't even know the other half existed.
-How did you get inspired to start this survey?
How did you know that about the other people?
I think I just walked in on someone.
I was like, "What are you doing?"
"This is how you wipe your bum." I went, "It isn't, watch this."
So this is a survey based on two people?
-I started mentioning it on tour.
-Oh, started mentioning it...
-And I noticed that... We'll do it now.
-If you stand up after you finished and wipe your bottom...
..give me a cheer.
If you stay sat down and reach in and wipe your bottom,
-give us a cheer.
50-50. It's weird! It's weird!
I didn't think it is 50-50.
I thought the ones who sit down were a slightly camper noise.
When you go to a festival or any outdoor event,
what is it that causes somebody to sit down on the lavatory
and then completely mess up all the rest of it.
"What shall I do with that? I'll throw it on the floor.
"Then I'll completely unravel all the rest of the bog and then,
"somehow, get all that blue stuff all over the seat."
You think, do you do that at home? I mean, how...?
LSD! They're on LSD.
I'm in a blue box!
I'm more suspicious.
I think they might have known that you were behind them in the queue.
It's every one of them! Every single one you ever go.
They can't all imagine I'm in there.
Although somebody did once push one of those things over
when I was in it. Yes, they did know it was me.
-At least you can stand up.
For women it's really difficult because you sort of have to hover,
don't you? And I remember one time I went to the ladies,
and the lock didn't quite work. This is a very tricky
moment for a woman, because you have to sort of hover...
And I...so obsessed with not making a mess on the seat, I thought,
"Oh, sod it, I'll just sit down." And as I sat down
the door burst open and a woman came straight in
and she went, "Oh, I'm so sorry." And then she shut the door again.
And then she burst it open again
and she went, "You're Sandi Toksvig. Can I...?"
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
"Give us a minute!"
Anyway, moving on.
What's so darn shocking about this map?
-Is "darn" important?
-Darn is very important, yeah.
-So it's something to do with knitting?
-No, not that kind of darn.
In the United States what might darn be for?
-People who say "darn"?
Yes, people who say "darn". It's a euphemism for "damn" from 1781.
And this is its Gi-z score.
It's statistics, people.
There was an analysis done of nine billion words in...
Blue's bad, but orange is really bad!
Nine billion words in American tweets and then they geocoded them,
so they analysed where they are, pinpointing it on a map.
And then they displayed them as heat maps.
So this is "darn".
And if you look at the more the word is used, the darker the red colour.
And the less it's used, the darker the blue.
So it shows that darn is used very heavily
in the northern-central states, well, in tweets, at the very least.
So have a look at this one.
What words do you think this map represents?
It's another American swearword.
You're close, it's "gosh".
So heavily used around Texas -
you can see where the red is and hardly at all up in New England.
They don't use "gosh" very much.
-I like these ones.
-Is this words that people use when they jizz?
Is that what it is?
"Gosh darn it!
"I'm sorry, Miss Ellen."
This show's changing, isn't it?
Yeah. And I'm just trying to wrestle it back.
So have a look at this one.
Very heavily used in New England,
hardly used in the south-east at all.
Goddamn! It's "asshole"!
-Asshole. Of course.
-Do they not use it, then?
-They don't say "asshole" in Arkansas?
-Or the Carolinas?
-Not used in Florida.
-It's not used in Montana, cos there's nobody there.
It's not often you see a map of the Gi-z score for "asshole", is it?
Not now Stephen's gone.
So here's the question.
Do you think that people who swear a lot are more articulate
or less articulate?
Cos they've got more words.
That's exactly right. No, it's exactly right.
Like "wank" and "bloody", and things like that.
People who don't swear haven't got those words.
You were doing so well,
and now you're hardly going to appear in the programme at all.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
-It's just going to be you going, "What?"
It's since I started wearing cardigans my ears have gone wrong.
-Is that what it is?
-I think you're putting them on wrong.
No, there's a swearing fluency test,
and if you do the test and you ask people to write down how many
swear words they can think of in two minutes,
the people who will succeed best are the people who are the most
articulate, although it depends what language you speak, so Japanese,
very, very few swear words.
Dutch bargees, they can swear uninterrupted, most of them,
for two minutes without repetition or hesitation.
-Can they really?
-Yeah. Dutch is really good.
-They've got, what's that word, "Swaffelen".
-What does it mean?
Well, you certainly couldn't say it on Dutch television.
It means to bang your penis against the Taj Mahal.
Who amongst us hasn't had that urge?
Jeremy, when I finish this show,
if I get into trouble for googling that, I'm coming after you.
Anyway. Moving on.
What can't you have knobs on in Canada?
It's against the law in some places.
Isn't everything against the law in Canada, really?
They're very polite, Canadians, they're like America with manners.
They are incredibly nice and Vancouver always wins the best place
in the world to live, because nothing ever happens there.
-OK, so it is Vancouver that we need to be in.
And it was a law passed in 2014.
You cannot have doorknobs at all in Vancouver.
-Are they trapped inside?
-They can't get out.
Has anyone heard from anyone from Vancouver in the last year?
"It's the best place to live in the world,
"we won't let you out again!"
No new buildings, domestic or commercial, is allowed to have
doorknobs on them. They can only have levers. Why might that be?
Is it when it gets caught in your pocket as you wander past?
Really annoying, isn't it?
No, it's to do with the elderly and the infirm.
-They can't turn the knobs.
Yes! The idea is to make all buildings work for everybody,
so that you don't have doorknobs any more.
Anyway, a year before the ban was introduced
there was a pro-knob lobby.
They were up in arms about the incursions of the nanny state.
And the president of the Antique Doorknob Collectors Of America,
Allen Joslyn, said, "To say that when I build my private home
"and nobody is disabled, that I have to put levers on
"strikes me as overreach."
And they do have one rather telling objection,
because the advantage of door levers is not restricted to
the old and the infirm. So, operating a doorknob requires
-pronation and supination of the wrist.
-Yeah, a dog can get in.
That's the point.
To be fair, that dog deserves to be able to open a door.
Yeah, that's true.
-If that's skills he's got.
-But they prefer levers to knobs
because if you haven't got an opposable thumb
you can't possibly work it.
However, there is a county in Colorado, Pitkin County,
which has gone the opposite way to Vancouver and banned all levers.
You can only have doorknobs. Why might that be?
-Absolutely right. It is bears.
"Look at them. We can't get in, what are we going to do?"
"I'll pick you up. You go through the window."
Anyway. What did the royal families of Europe
wear under their uniforms during the 19th century?
They were naked.
They had rather fine underwear.
-What was the question? I've forgotten this one as well.
What did royal families of Europe wear
-under the uniform during the 19th century?
It's closer to the skin even than your underwear.
Just loads of lice all around.
That that's even a thought in your head is a worry.
-Tattoos is exactly right.
There was a craze for tattoos.
According to the Harmsworth monthly pictorial magazine
the Grand Duke Alexei of Russia was most elaborately tattooed.
And they were lots of them - Prince and Princess Valdemar of Denmark,
Queen Olga of Greece, King Oscar of Sweden,
the Grand Duke Konstantin
and, in fact, also in the UK, King Edward VII,
and his son George V.
Edward VII had five crosses, which he had done on a visit to Jerusalem
when he was the Prince of Wales, when he was 20.
And then George, his son, had the same design done
by the same artist 20 years later.
And my favourite story features a random Scandinavian,
a Randy Scandi of sorts,
Napoleon's marshal, Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte,
he was a revolutionary firebrand, and he rose to become
King of Sweden and Norway,
and had turned against Napoleon.
He reigned for 26 years after Bonaparte's deposition and
while he was king he never allowed doctors to see his naked torso.
And there is a reason, that became apparent after death,
when he was found to have a tattoo from his revolutionary days
that said, "Death to kings"!
And his heirs are the royal family of Sweden to this day.
-Anyway, lots of kings have had tattoos,
but we can't show you any for regal reasons!
-All right, that's enough!
Now we descend from the airy mansions of the nobility
to the bleak basement that is general ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers, please.
What was this person's first name?
-It is Queen Victoria...
-..but it isn't her first name.
She was born on 24th May...
..and christened Brian.
Could it be something, Gertrude or something German?
She was named both after her godfather, Alexander I of Russia,
and her mother as well. When she was a child she was known as Drina,
and when she became Queen, so 1837,
in the official documents she is originally Alexandrina Victoria,
and then she decided that she wanted her first name removed
and never to be used again.
But I think it was part of her wanting to be her own person,
because her very first royal act, when she was 18, and she became
queen, was to have her bed moved out of her mother's bedroom
and to have her own bedroom.
That is quite old to still be sleeping in your mum's room.
-Especially if you're queen.
-Fair play, I'm in charge now.
The Victorians were nearly the Drinians.
Under the Emperor Diocletian, the Roman Empire had four capitals,
please, name two of them.
No. Any more for any more?
-What had four capitals?
KLAXON The Roman Empire.
-Not Rome, not London.
Keep going, I don't think you're going to guess.
Venice, Tripoli, Florence.
When he came to power, so 2804 AD,
the Roman Empire, it was threatened to collapse
and he did this brilliant thing. He decided to do a tetrarchy,
and that is to be ruled by four emperors.
And so he had four capitals.
They were Nicomedia, which is in modern-day Turkey,
Sirmium, in modern-day Serbia.
Mediolanum, which is modern-day Milan.
And Augusta Treverorum, modern-day Trier.
And actually it worked so well
that Diocletian was the very first emperor to be able to retire.
He retired to the Dalmatian coast,
so that's modern-day Croatia, and he grew vegetables.
So that's the real moral about outsourcing.
-Don't get too stressed,
-give other people your job and grow some vegetables.
-Just delegate, man.
Don't worry too much about it. All of which brings us to the scores.
Well, a fantastic and outright winner,
in first place with eight points,
You'd better check them!
In second place with minus five,
Thank you so much.
In third place, minus 21, Sarah.
And with a commendable minus 64...
It only remains for me to thank Sarah, Jason, Jeremy and Alan,
and finally, in case you're feeling envious of the nobility,
spare a thought for Lord Ivy.
The head of the Guinness family in the 1980s
was injured in a traffic accident in Dublin and taken to hospital.
Under the Irish system, people earning more than £11,000 a year
had to pay for their treatment, so when he arrived they asked him,
"Do you earn £11,000?"
To which he replied, "Some days I do, some days I don't."