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How very kind.
How lovely. Thank you very much...
and welcome to QI, where tonight,
we are turning positively negative,
in the "Not Nearly, Nearly Not, Neither and No" show.
So let's meet our naysayers -
the never-knowingly under-funny Gyles Brandreth.
And the nearly perfect Jimmy Carr. APPLAUSE
Thanks very much!
The not-half-bad Victoria Coren Mitchell.
And no, no, no, no, no...
It's Alan Davies!
And why not hear their buzzers? Jimmy goes...
# Na na na na, na na na na na
# Na na na na na, na na na na na. #
And Victoria goes...
# No no # No no, no no
# No no, no no
# No no There's no limit. #
And Gyles goes...
# Na na na na na na na na na
# Na na na na na na na na na. #
You look like the games teacher at a school's disco.
And Alan goes...
# No, no, a thousand times no
# I'd rather die than say yes. #
I like yours best, actually. I thought that was very nice.
And so to the first question,
and it's important you don't listen un-carefully to this one.
Alan, don't you not want some points or not?
ALAN GROANS Gyles is writing it down.
Well, that's very difficult to say yes or no to!
-What do you reckon?
-There are three negatives.
"Don't you not want some points or not?" "Do you not...?"
-Do you not want some points...
-Do you not...?
-Do you not...?
-We also don't know whether he does or not.
"Don't you not want some points, or not?"
-Do NOT not want points...
-So, here's the thing...
-It's true to say that I do not NOT want points.
So "or not" so would mean that you...do.
-"Do you want points or not?"
-The answer is...
-Well, it's two questions!
-No, it's just one question with one answer.
But I'll just tell you now -
one answer has a klaxon, and one doesn't. There.
-Do you think I'm giving too much away here?
-Can we help him?
The show's nearly over. I'm filibustering.
-Sometimes with these really taxing questions,
-the thing to do is to translate them into another language.
-Because that makes it simpler.
-Because, as we know,
-you asked the question in English.
-I did, yes.
English - there are 500,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary,
it is the largest language in the world.
-Well, there's more than a million now, in fact.
-Ah, well, indeed,
including all the words you've introduced since the series began.
-In my edition - 500,000 words.
The German language only has about 150,000 words,
-and the French have fewer than 100,000 words.
-Including "le weekend".
-Yes. ALAN BUZZES
-Oh, yes? Have you thought about it?
Yes is the right answer!
-Yes isn't the right answer.
-It's not a yes/no question.
-No, that's what I thought.
But, fundamentally, yes is better than no.
-In your life, maybe.
-Yes, I was enjoying Gyles'...
But, curiously, the answer would have been different...
I didn't mean I would come back to it.
-I wasn't enjoying it that much.
-But interestingly, the answer in French
would have been yes.
Oh, no - no!
In French you could have said, "I don't know,"
which is "je ne sais pas", which is a double negative.
Ah. Or... But if you translate it... What did you originally say?
Is it too early to lose the will to live?
I'm extremely concerned, Sandi, that you,
a role model for women everywhere,
should, in fleshing out the double negative,
come out with the statement, "broadly, yes is better than no"!
That's not what I'll be telling my daughter!
APPLAUSE AND LAUGHTER
There's a lot of these in pop, aren't there?
A lot of these in pop and rock lyrics.
-There's lots of I Can't Get No Satisfaction.
Yes, there is. And if it's a positive double negative,
-like Tom Jones' It's Not Unusual, that's fine. OK?
-Why is that fine?
Well, it never used to be a problem, the double negative,
and then, in the 18th century, they became obsessed with mathematics,
-and it's to do with mathematics.
So they began to codify the language as being illogical
if it didn't fit with mathematical thinking. So, in mathematics,
-minus a minus is a plus.
-Oh, do do this in Danish!
Yes. SHE SPEAKS IN DANISH
No, I won't do it now. APPLAUSE
If you did that, I'd think I'd had a stroke.
I always think that there's a body been found,
as soon as I hear Danish.
You can almost feel the wind on the bridge.
I tell you what, it's a hell of a contortion
if you can feel wind on your bridge.
I'm trying to think what position you'd have to be in...
I don't know, but I'm going to try and sketch it.
Just pass it along when you've done.
There's really nothing wrong with double negatives.
Only arbitrary pedants believe there isn't...not.
Now it's time for my favourite subject in all the world - not.
It's sport. GYLES GROANS
-Yay, sport(!) OK.
Why is the person on the right such a loser?
Is he standing in for someone?
-Oh, is it a centaur?
Is he half-man, half-horse?
Actually, the other guy's riding a horse and he's actually the horse,
and those are fake legs.
No. So, he's a sort of nearly man.
-I don't think we can call them that any more.
The idea, Jimmy, that you would teach me
to be politically correct...
-I'm so sorry.
-You're so fantastic.
I've started a new thing on the show which is my random Scandinavian,
and this is my "randy Scandi", this guy.
He took part in the 1948 Olympics.
His name is Sergeant Gehnall Persson.
He was in the Swedish Equestrian team,
and they easily won gold in the dressage
and then they were stripped of the medal,
because the French, who came second,
noticed that he was wearing a Sergeant's cap.
In those days, Olympic equestrianism was open
only to officers and gentlemen.
It was an amateur sport,
and other ranks were considered to be professionals.
So what had happened - he'd been given a bogus promotion
to being a lieutenant, just for the games,
but he forgot to change his hat.
-But it's a happy ending -
the gentleman rule was changed, and he went on to win gold
at the next two Olympics, just as a Sergeant,
and he didn't have to be a lieutenant.
So from a nearly man, to the world's biggest nobody.
What did these guys do when they realised their cox was too big?
I presume they threw him overboard.
Kind of. It's a really sweet story, this.
So we all know what the cox does.
-The cox tells them...
-He steers the boat.
-Steers the boat, yes.
-Stops them from rowing into things.
From "coxswain", literally a boat servant.
Also shouts "row", which doesn't seem necessary in any other sport.
No-one in the 100 metres has got a guy on the side going,
"Left, right, left, right."
-So this boy is the cox?
-He BECAME the cox.
This is the Dutch cox pair from the 1900 Olympics.
So what happened was they got through to the final
and they had an overweight cox called Hermanus Brockmann,
and they thought it was going to cost them the gold.
So they had noticed that the French crews were using children as coxes,
and so they decided to get one of their own,
and they plucked one from a crowd - this boy.
He'd already been discarded, actually, by the French
as being too heavy.
He's between seven and ten years old,
nobody knows his name,
but with him coxing they won the gold,
and then he vanished back into the crowd.
He is an Olympic gold medallist,
and nobody knows his name.
-Isn't it the sweetest story?
Also, the idea that he was telling his friends,
"I went and I saw the rowing, it was amazing."
"Where did you sit?" "I had a great seat!
"Yeah, I was in the boat."
He's the only anonymous gold winner ever in the Olympics.
The medal was given to the overweight cox
who didn't actually row, Hermanus Brockmann, he got the gold medal.
And he was disappointed that it wasn't made of chocolate.
I think that's the main disappointment
of all gold medal-winners in the Olympics.
Yes, indeed. They sacked their cox and got a lad in to do his job.
And now for something that's not quite the full shilling.
So, I have got three bottles of wine.
I've got a very nicely aged Chateau Brandreth.
-Ooh! How lovely.
-I'll pass that to you down there.
I've got a - this is rather lovely - Jimicar Valley White.
Fruity and fresh. I'll just pass that.
Very excellent with cheese.
And this one...
What are you saying about Jimmy's material?
Cheesy and fruity? Oh, fair enough.
This one goes down very well, I hear.
It's a 1966 Alan Davies Piteous Whine.
There we go. So, Victoria, you know nothing about these wines.
Which one would you purchase, based on the price?
On those prices, I mean, all of them. I'd still get change...
People who have wine stoppers - what's the point of that?
What are they for? Indeed, what are they for?
In restaurants, people go for the one above the cheapest.
Is there not a psychological advantage there?
It is, this is the thing. It's called psychological pricing,
and most... It's also known as charm pricing or magical pricing,
Most people would go for the 5.99,
and there seems to be a subconscious thing
that we prefer precise prices to round ones.
That seems to be a thing.
And also, it's called a left-digit anchor effect,
so the 5.99, it's still in the £5 bracket,
it's not quite in the £6 bracket,
and therefore, we seem more likely...
-Are we still falling for this, people?
Isn't there a theory on this,
that it started because they wanted to make sure
that they weren't being ripped off by their vendors?
If you've got to give them a penny change,
it has to go through the till.
Yes, there was a theory about that,
but there are experiments that suggest
that you do better to price products at £5.99 than at £5.50,
because the 99 feels like a reduction.
It is odd that £6.01 sounds a lot more than £5.99.
-It sounds about 40 quid more.
-Yes, it does, doesn't it?
Also, what a bore to have 99p in change.
That's the reason for not doing it.
Well, the Official Monster Raving Loony Party in this country
has proposed creation of a 99p coin to save change.
It's a very good idea.
Is this genuinely wine, or have they filled the bottle with water?
I haven't opened it to check. Why don't you unscrew it and see?
-This is wine.
-This is wine.
It's Beaujolais. Have we got any glasses?
Do you think you've overpaid for that, or was that all right?
-No, I think that's all right.
-That's not too shabby?
I think I've done well with the cheapest one.
Do you know what? Not terrible!
No, and weirdly, the next subject that I've got coming up
is the bacteria in people's mouths.
In The Meaning Of Liff, which is a fabulous book,
a Kibblesworth, which is a village in Tyne and Wear,
is defined as "the footling amount of money
"by which a price is less than a sensible number",
which I like.
Shall we put the bottles away? Do you want to give me...?
-Give me yours!
-I AM putting it away!
No, give me yours, sweetheart. APPLAUSE
Keep it safe.
So, I got 99 problems, but the pence ain't one.
Now. Just... That's for the younger people.
Here is a not-unknotty poser for you to consider.
What's a really unfortunate name to have on the internet?
There's a Pen Island that has a website.
-Is that right?
-Which doesn't look great.
Oh, Pen Island! OK.
There's actually a company that I've worked for
called Bound And Gagged Comedy,
and if you type in "bound and gagged" - ooh!
I found that once. I Googled "big carthorse" - and, my word!
That could take your eye out.
Sorry - for what legitimate reason were you Googling "big carthorse"?
I get lonely.
Anyway, there are all sorts of names that don't work.
There's a man called Christopher Null, who is from Texas,
and he finds that computers regularly reject anything,
because "null", in lots of programming languages,
basically means "this space is intentionally left blank".
Oh, I see. As in null and void?
-So you type in "null" and nothing appears?
-He's the invisible man! That's what he looks like.
Yes, that is indeed what he looks like.
But he's not on his own, there's been hundreds of people in China
who've had to change their names
because the computer codes don't exist
and they don't have the Chinese sign for it.
And therefore they don't exist so they've had to change their name,
otherwise they can't apply for a driving licence, or whatever.
-And what are these people called?
-I don't know the names of all of them,
because there are several hundred of them.
-There are a lot of Chinese people, that is a matter of fact.
There was a British feminist called Margaret Sandra and, in 1979,
she dropped her surname because she got very irritated.
She went to buy a tumble dryer and she wasn't allowed to buy it
unless her husband signed the form.
-So she became enraged, and she doesn't have a surname.
But the result is, if you don't...
If you don't have a surname on a computer,
you can't easily claim benefits
or you can't book online or you can't...
There's all sorts of things you can't do.
So what does...? Poor Bono and Cher, it must be all kinds of...
-Must be hell.
-The poor things.
-Just being them, actually.
-They've got no white goods at all.
Poor Sting can't get a driver's license.
Down there at the water's edge, bashing their clothes on rocks.
"Why are you doing that?" "I can't get a washing machine!"
-This makes me feel...
-The Edge is no help.
And now, for a total non-event -
who's the best person to invite to a "Don't Come" party?
-A "Don't Come" party?
It's an actual thing that is used now by charities...
-Oh, I think I know what it is then.
It is where, in order to raise money, they say,
"If you give us £1,000, we will not hold this occasion."
You don't therefore need to spend money on having your hair done,
-buying a new frock, hiring a car...
-..taking part in the raffle,
buying a balloon, getting the drugs behind the fountain...
None of these things need to happen.
It's a cheap, cheap evening.
Behind the fountain?
And, what, does this come out of people going,
"I would pay not to go to that event"?
-Yes. So people that want to stay at home.
I would pay not to hear Gyles' after-dinner speech.
I'm not saying that. I...
And you can make the thing sound
as extravagant and glamorous as you like,
and then don't have it.
You say it's at a fantastically expensive hotel
and there's going to be champagne, but don't come,
and then you get more money because people don't want to go anywhere.
So, a "Never Event" is different.
It's the official name used by hospital administrators
to describe errors that are wholly avoidable,
so should never occur.
Like, I should think using a meat cleaver on a patient would be...
Before we rush to judgment, we don't know what's the matter with him.
-That might be necessary.
But, curiously, these Never Events do occur.
I was hosting the British funeral directors' awards recently...
We've got to get you a new agent, dude.
It was quite quiet, initially.
-I hope you opened with that.
-It took place at the end of the day -
they'd had their trade show in the same venue,
and so around the edges of the room there were coffins, caskets,
people looking not unlike this fellow, sort of sitting up in them.
Were you picking a new home?
AUDIENCE MURMURS DISAPPROVINGLY
-No! It's all right.
-Can I say...?
-He's old and he'll be dead soon.
I'm sorry if I was...
Can I tell you something, Jimmy?
I don't think you realise how this is getting to me,
because this morning, this very morning,
I received a letter through the post
inviting me to be the new face of the Stannah stairlift.
The worst thing about this is...
..my wife said, "I think we should consider this."
Then - this is a true story -
I then phoned them up and I said,
"Have you thought of Nigel Havers?"
It turned out they had. I was about 17th on the list.
I'm afraid this is not the first invitation of its kind I've received,
because I also - this is maybe how they got hold of my name -
I was considered for being the new figure stretched out on the floor
reaching for the alarm.
"Help, I've fallen, and I can't get up"?
That one. But June Whitfield has got that gig at the moment.
But I have had this brilliant idea,
which I've now begun to discuss with them,
because my problem is that I go upstairs
and can't remember why I've gone upstairs.
-So my idea is this -
I attach to the arm of the stairlift
an old-fashioned tape recorder,
I sit in the chair, I press the two buttons,
I tell myself why I am going upstairs.
-And I go up.
It's like the worst Beckett play ever.
And the tape, years later it will be handed down the generations
with all the reasons why Uncle Gyles went up the stairs for ten years.
"For a shit."
Never Events you may not wish to attend
include Gyles Brandreth addressing funeral directors.
Now, have a careful look at this and tell me what's not all right.
First of all, do we know which coronation it is?
-It's Queen Victoria.
-So, does anybody know what went wrong?
They crowned the wrong woman.
A lady called Karen was crowned. She ruled for 80 years.
In a way, it's almost what happened. It's five hours, it was.
First of all, the Archbishop of Canterbury
forced the coronation ring onto the wrong finger -
caused her severe pain,
and they couldn't get it off afterwards.
And three years later,
he did exactly the same thing at her wedding.
He was just not ring-savvy, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Then the Bishop of Bath and Wells
accidentally turned over two pages in the service book,
and he cut out the whole section where they made her Queen.
What do you mean, "the whole section"?
That's surely the whole coronation, isn't it?
But the coronation was invalid,
and in fact she had left the Abbey before they realised
and she had to come back and do it again.
I love that, they had to do a retake.
And then, as the Lords were being presented to her,
the elderly, rather aptly named Lord Rolle, became globally famous
for tripping over on the steps leading to the throne
and rolling all the way down.
Apparently she didn't endear herself to the public until that moment,
and when Lord Rolle fell down the stairs
she got up and tried to help him,
and after that they thought, "Oh, she's..."
-Because she was very young, wasn't she?
-Yeah, she was a teenager.
I mean, it must have been an unbelievable thing.
Now, we turn our attention-deficit
to that slush fund of negative knowledge -
the General Ignorance round.
Fingers not unadjacent to buzzers, if you please.
Name some common Egyptian characters.
-The Eye of Horus.
What are the chances?
I want to know why the Eye of Horus isn't a common Egyptian character.
Because it's a hieroglyph,
and hieroglyphs were only used for special occasions.
-So they were not common, in fact.
Well, I think you'll find
that there were many special occasions in Egyptian life.
Yes, obviously. The thing is,
normal everyday form of writing in Egyptian was hieratic.
So it's a simplified version.
It's a much more cursive version - there it is.
That's a rarefied klaxon.
I think, frankly, Victoria, they've set you up there.
Can only be described as a trap.
You have them on Only Connect, do you not, hieroglyphs?
-Yeah, we do.
-In our first series, it was Greek letters,
and people wrote in and said,
"We like the show, but we find that pretentious".
So we began series three with an apology, saying,
"We'd like to say sorry to anyone that's been enjoying the show,
"but found the Greek letters a bit pretentious. We've listened,
"it's your BBC, you've reached out, we've heard you.
"Please choose your Egyptian hieroglyph."
Well, they're for special occasions, you see.
The thing is, they can have multiple meanings.
So, sometimes they just represent the thing they're drawing,
so it could be a saw of some kind, it could be a tool,
it could be something else.
So the nose hieroglyph, for example, means smell or joy or contempt.
But no vowels. Again, they're like Only Connect, you have a round,
-don't you, with no vowels?
There are no vowels in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs,
and we have no idea how it would have sounded.
Now, what would happen if you dropped a penny
from the Empire State Building?
No, this is about killing people, isn't it?
-Nothing. It wouldn't kill someone.
It would not kill somebody.
-It's too light.
-It's too light, absolutely.
-It's like you could drop a duckling, and it would float.
It's incredibly light, and also...
Wouldn't a duckling fly? Oh, because a duckling can't fly yet.
It can't fly, but they can fall out of nests and float to the ground,
-and you know how I know this?
Because I had a roof terrace that had a pond on it,
-and some ducks came and moved in...
..had ducklings, and they all threw themselves off the roof.
-Three stories up.
-Quickly say there's a happy ending!
-And I ran down the stairs,
and they were all wandering about in the car park.
Did they get hit by a car?
No, somebody rounded them up and put them in the box
and took them back up the stairs, whereupon they did it again.
-What was it about living with you
that made them want to jump off a roof?
That's just what they do.
Because they're so light,
they won't plummet to the ground and die - they'll float.
It's the same with the coins, they're fantastically lightweight,
and they also have too much air-resistance.
But if you had a whole bag of them...?
If you really, really wanted to kill somebody...
that is perfectly possible.
A pen would make it. That would drill a hole in your head.
-That is not a good thing.
But, in fact, it's an academic question,
because the coins mostly don't hit the ground at all.
What happens is the design and height of the building
creates so much strong updraught,
that the tossed coins tend to be pushed back towards the building,
and they land on the ledges and roofs of the lower floors,
where the maintenance crew say, "Thank you",
and collect them all up.
Indeed. This is not connected with the pennies,
but can I just tell you
about one of my favourite creatures in the world?
It's called the hero ant.
It's a cliff-dwelling ant in Madagascar.
Not a looker. Not a looker, I'll be honest.
It's got the most fantastic way of removing predators from the nest.
It grabs them and holds them and then jumps off the cliff,
and then when it hits the bottom it lands softly,
and then it lets go and climbs back up to the cave.
-Don't you think that's fantastic?
-That's rather fantastic.
I mean, you probably shouldn't try it with a home intruder.
-That's worth mentioning. But, yeah, for safety.
A coin dropped from the Empire State Building
would never reach the ground, and if it did, it wouldn't do any damage.
Finally, a quick health check.
Put your hand up if you haven't got haemorrhoids at the moment.
Put my hand up where?
I don't mind getting the buzzer, but when you're so gleeful...
I've always got... I've had haemorrhoids for about 25 years.
The thing is, everybody's got them. We are born with haemorrhoids.
There isn't anybody who doesn't have them.
They're cushions, they're sort of made of veins
which are a normal part of the anatomy, like your eyelids or lips,
possibly not quite so pretty.
And they're there to stop the stools leaking out of your bottom.
They explained all this to me when I went to the audition for the job.
It's only when they become enlarged or inflamed
that they cause problems, but we have them all the time -
we all have haemorrhoids all the time.
Well, you know what? I think... Shall we go Embarrassing Bodies?
Will I whip one out? So we've all got them at all times?
We do, but there's a myth that if you sit on a cold surface
or, conversely, on a radiator, it causes piles,
and that's simply not true.
-And spicy food - not true.
Well, there is another old wives' tale
about reading on the loo, can cause them.
-That may be true.
-What do you have to read?
Is it like a spell? An incantation?
No, it's sitting or standing for too long - strains your rectum.
-Yes, you mustn't push.
And also, never resist the call to stool.
Is that another way of warming up for an actor?
Harry Hill told me that with his medical hat on -
"Oh, you must never resist the call to stool."
I like that. That's very good.
They think Napoleon may have lost the battle of Waterloo
because he had a terrible attack of piles
that made him not sleep the night before.
Well, they captured the moment, didn't they?
That is a man with piles.
"Your horse is ready." SHUDDERS
And David Livingstone,
thought to have died on the banks of the Zambezi from burst haemorrhoids.
-If a haemorrhoid bursts in the forest...
It's lovely that we're at the haemorrhoids section of the show, anyway.
Yes, absolutely. So, let's have a look at the scores.
And in first place, with -1 point, it's Gyles.
In second place, with -5, Alan.
And in third place, with -8, Victoria.
So, it's thanks to Victoria, Jimmy, Gyles and Alan,
and I'll leave you with this - in the 1950s,
the American philosophy professor Sidney Morgenbesser
went to a lecture by the English linguistics expert JL Austin,
who claimed that, while some languages use double negatives
to make a positive,
no language uses a double positive to make a negative.
And from the back of the room
came Morgenbesser's distinctive New York drawl, "Yeah, yeah".