Sandi Toksvig looks at some objects and ornaments with Sarah Millican, Cariad Lloyd, Alice Levine and Alan Davies.
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Good evening and welcome to QI,
where tonight, we are ogling an odditorium of objects and ornaments.
Let's meet some ornaments to their profession.
The opulent Sarah Millican.
The ostentatious Cariad Lloyd.
The oratorical Alice Levine.
And, objection! Alan Davies.
And their ornamental noises are from priceless objects
kindly lent to us by the Victoria and Albert Museum. So, Sarah goes...
GLASS WIND CHIMES RING
That's nice, pretty, isn't it? Cariad goes...
MANTLE CLOCK CHIMES
Lovely. Alice goes...
MUSIC BOX LULLABY CHIMES
And Alan goes...
TAPPING ON GLASS
Don't touch the exhibit, sir!
GLASS BREAKS, CRASHING
Well, that's horribly familiar, that.
Right, top question, where are you most likely to come across a UFO?
GLASS WIND CHIMES Yes? Millican?
In the sky?
-MANTLE CLOCK CHIMES Yes?
Not much happens in Reading, so...
Don't you think they'd want to go somewhere where
-the stuff is happening?
-No, because they want to be secret.
The whole of Reading could be aliens, you wouldn't even know.
Why do they want to be secret?
This big assumption that they come here all this way
-and then just hide.
Somebody knows a lot about them, don't they?
Near airports, because they always look like planes, weirdly.
-Yes, that is quite a strange thing, isn't it?
They do look like planes. And the answer is the ocean.
The most common and most dangerous UFOs are
Unidentified Floating Objects.
These are pieces of lost cargo and they lie along the shipping
routes, just under the surface, and they can damage ships tremendously.
an average of about 1,700 shipping containers were lost at sea.
Look at this picture!
That is seriously bad packing, isn't it? That's...
Surely not in one go?
Well, about half of those 1,700
came from a single ship, the MOL Comfort.
The ship actually broke in half and all the containers went into the sea.
-But that's fair enough then.
-That wasn't careless, was it?
Some of the strange stuff that has washed up in the sea,
-in 2008, a six-foot-tall Lego man - my people...
-..washed up on Brighton beach.
The really extraordinary thing is,
I've been trying to find out what happened to it.
It just swam off.
If anybody knows, please could you let me know.
I want to know where the Brighton Lego man is.
I'd like to come and say hello.
Why is it never a Lego woman that's washed up?
Because the Lego woman wasn't beach-ready.
February 2017, £50 million worth of cocaine washed up
on a beach in Norfolk, and I don't know where that is either.
There is a National UFO Reporting Centre, which is
the UFOs that we normally think of, the Unidentified Flying Objects.
It was started by a man called Robert Gribble,
who's a fireman from Seattle and he collects UFO sightings.
And since 1905, there have been 105,000 reports of alien sightings.
A tenth of those have been here, in the UK.
But the photos are never on a camera that's more than one megapixel.
-It's always conveniently grainy.
-A little bit fuzzy.
Anybody know the best place in the UK to see a UFO?
-MANTLE CLOCK CHIMES Yes, Reading!
-I think there's some near us.
Because my dog barks at all other dogs,
but no people, apart from one family near us.
And whenever they walk past, we just,
we look at, my husband and I go, "Lizard people."
And I know that they're walking past going, "He knows."
-No, it's not,
it's Scotland, it's Bonnybridge in Scotland.
-Oh, yeah, yeah.
-It's the place where you are most likely.
-I don't know why.
-Is that one of them? Is that guy an alien?
This is a man called Billy Buchanan, he's a councillor in Bonnybridge.
I'm not sure why he photo-bombed our shot of the sign.
They have 300 sightings a year, roughly, in Bonnybridge.
-Is it all by one man?
-"I've seen another one, and another one."
He has 65 days off a year.
It's also known as the Falkirk Triangle.
The fact is that Bonnybridge is under three flight paths,
including those for Edinburgh and Glasgow Airports.
And just, it's your point there, Alice, isn't it?
I mean, just saying.
But the place in America that you would most likely find a UFO
is Roswell, is the place that everybody thinks about them.
So these are the street lamps in Roswell, aren't they great?
-Well, you're not helping matters, are you?
-No, not really.
Every night at around 7pm, they come out.
I wondered if I could interest you in an insurance policy
against alien abduction?
How much is it?
Well, for about £120 a year,
I can protect you against alien impregnation.
What if I was on the pill?
Or 41, you know.
Well, men are also able to purchase impregnation insurance of this kind,
for protection against the unknown capabilities of alien technology.
So your pill, not really going to be anywhere.
-So far, more than 30,000 of these policies have been sold.
I love these insurance policies.
In 2000, there were three sisters from Inverness who insured
themselves against the possibility of miraculously conceiving
and raising the second Christ.
-I hate it when that happens.
-Hate it when that happens, yes.
Right - you wake up covered in orange paint,
there's confetti everywhere
and you smell of smoke.
What the heck happened?
Now, can anybody, first of all, spot whose face that is, in the picture?
-It's Cariad's face.
How do you not recognise your own face?
Yeah, I mean, no...
So, as a man, sexily posing with spots all over
his body and an orange haze, I wasn't instantly sure it was me.
-Sandi, tell me, what is it?
They are all methods...
I would need to take more clothes off, but I'm not going to,
unlike the picture.
-Those are all methods of dealing with offenders.
So, anybody waking up with those has probably committed a crime,
is the truth of it. Take the orange paintballs,
they're for shop staff in Japan to throw at offenders.
They are the size of a tennis ball
and they are known as "bohan yu kara boru" -
anti-crime colour balls.
And the idea, if somebody's committing a crime,
you throw it at them, and then they are marked and easier to track.
You have to be good at throwing.
Well, this is the main problem with them.
-You might hit the wrong person.
So, they are widely distributed,
and under moments of stress, staff either tend to forget they...
..the staff tend to forget they've got them...
-You have no reflexes at all.
Cariad's reflex is just to go into the position in the photo.
And people forget they've got them or they freeze,
or they see that the robber is armed and think,
"That paintball thing, not going to go so well."
They have signs in the shops where they've got the orange paintballs,
that does seem to put some people off from robbing them, but...
That's what they do in Poundland.
They have a picture of a policeman in the window, because
if they put a picture of a policeman in the window, people shoplift less.
-So they could put a picture of the balls in the window.
That's all they need.
Do you feel like you should say something though,
when you throw it, you should be like, "No!"
-Yeah, like, "Stop!
-"I've seen you."
-I quite like that with a robber,
Do you know, I was on a train once,
and there were some boys who'd had a sherry too many, and they were being
very vulgar and loud and frightening some people over on the other side.
And I suddenly stood up and I went, "That will do!"
They said sorry.
Smoke machines, used in some stores in the UK, they set them off
and it obscures the view of any stuff in the shop, whatsoever.
And makes it like an '80s music video.
"So, we're really mad that you're robbing us, but..."
# Whooooaaa... #
And confetti is another safety mechanism.
When you fire a Taser gun, apparently,
it also releases a tiny amount of confetti.
-Oh, how lovely.
-Well, you know, kind of, "Ow!", but, "Ooh, nice."
"My heart's stopped! Aaaah."
If you look in the middle picture, you can just see little bits,
-tiny, coloured bits of confetti.
-Has somebody literally thought,
"Oh, I mean, it's so sad, let's jazz it up when they get tasered."
It's supposed to deter people using Tasers to commit crimes.
In order to get a Taser, you have to register it with the company,
and then you get a specific number, that number's on the confetti
to make sure that bad people don't use them.
You know what they could have done instead?
when I got married, people threw confetti, which was lovely,
cos it's, like, pretend-y flowers, but some people threw rice,
and I don't know if you know this, but rice really hurts.
It's like being pelted with grit.
So, anyway -
what was Lord Montagu's secretary doing on the bonnet of his car?
I don't know, but she called a lot of people before she did it.
It must have been a warm day.
Was she a cog in the patriarchy, but she was getting paid for it,
so in a way it was OK, because of the time?
It's possible I love you, Cariad.
He was Lord Montagu of...?
-Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. Was is Beaulieu famous for?
-Motor Museum. So cars, we're talking about cars.
This is a bit like how they used to entice you to buy lots of things.
Like washing machines, you're like, "Do I want a washing machine?
"Oh, a sexy lady is sat on it! I now want that washing machine."
He was particularly associated with one motorcar.
-A British-made one?
-Yes, beautiful, amazing...
-No, possibly, I think, the...
-A Ford Ka.
The most beautiful car of all time.
-Rolls-Royce, absolutely right.
-Oh, was she the lady?
-Yes, the iconic figure.
The Spirit of Ecstasy.
Eleanor Thornton, she was the secretary to
John Walter Douglas-Scott, Montagu, second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu.
A motoring pioneer.
And he commissioned a figure as a personal mascot
on the front of the 1910 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost.
It was called The Whisper.
And so the original one was like that,
because, allegedly, it was a secret love affair that they were having.
It's not that secret if you've put it on the front of all the cars.
Was his wife like, "Oh, right, I see,
"so you based that on your secretary, but nothing's going on?"
To be fair, you wouldn't necessarily know who that was.
You'd be like, "Does he work with anyone with one eye,
"a moustache, a crew cut
"and one mono-boob?"
Over the years, people have put lots of ornaments and the choice
is not always suitable for the sort of things that people have had.
So there's been...
-Oh, my God.
-So that's why they standardised it.
The Whisper became the Spirit of Ecstasy,
because they didn't want people doing that kind of thing.
The DVLA has a banned list of licence plates that runs
to 46 pages, things that you may not have as your licence.
-Well, kind of.
So, this one is supposed to be rude
if you read it in your rear view mirror.
So can anybody work it out?
-I nearly just did that!
I haven't got a mirror with me.
Yeah, it's supposed to be oral sex. Anyway, it's banned, it's banned.
"Ban! Possible humour, banned!"
"Possible smiling, banned!
"No smiling on the road, banned!
"Do not think of sex! Banned!
"Stop it, stop it!"
-See if you can work out these other ones?
Doggers. "Banned! Banned! No intercourse."
-"How dare you! I feel sick!"
-What's the bottom one?
It's fair enough to ban alcohol.
I love that Sarah just went, "Oh, scrotum, are these available ones?
-In America, you can buy these, OK?
-Do you know how to handle them?
-Hang on a second...
Hang on a minute.
I've totally got this. "Cough."
When you said cough, did you just breathe in a little,
have a little sniff?
-She did, she went, "Cough," and then she went, "Wahey!"
This is a sight you will see nowhere else in the world.
Alan, is that normal size?
Well, they're a little small.
They're called truck nuts.
-And they are genitals for your car.
-Do you know what, I'm all right thanks.
-Oh, come on. "Banned!"
Well, they have been banned in some states.
Have they? Truck nuts? What, you hang them on your truck?
Yes, look, there. See the picture.
What's wrong with that?
Right, moving on.
Describe the world's best-dressed crab.
MUSIC BOX LULLABY CHIMES Alice?
I'm going to say a little bit of lime, some chilli, some mayo,
and then just, yeah, served with, like, brown bread, probably.
-That does sound delicious.
-Sounds good, doesn't it?
-But I'm actually talking about a live crab.
-You didn't say that.
No, I didn't. I should be clearer.
-A lot of the things you've said tonight have been ambiguous.
-And that's difficult for me.
-Welcome to the show.
Is it in a shell suit?
I'm proud to be your friend.
No. There's something called a dresser crab,
or indeed the decorator crab.
And what it does is it gathers material from all around itself
in order to blend in with the surroundings.
So it's basically making camouflage clothing.
They cover their shells in seaweed, in sponge and pearls,
chewing on the material in order to make it fibrous,
and then it attaches it to itself.
It's got, like, little, tiny Velcro bits on its claws and legs.
I love this one, it's seriously getting dressed-up.
That's Cardiff on a Saturday night, that is.
That's proper getting ready.
And they're found off the coast of Australia. They're tiny.
Just over 1.5 inches.
And sometimes what they do is they put noxious stuff on them
to ward off predators. It's called aposematism.
It's called Lynx.
Other sprays are available.
But there are lots of what we call augmented animals,
so, animals who make themselves look a bit different.
One of my favourites, Uraba lugens caterpillar.
-It keeps its old heads and wears them as hats.
Oh, my God.
That is hoarding gone mad.
As it grows, it sheds its exoskeleton
and the protrusion on the top of the head remains,
and eventually it has a stack, which it uses both as a weapon
and as a false target for any would-be predators.
It's known as the Mad Hatterpillar.
-Yeah, I mean it would be, wouldn't it?
Found in Australia and New Zealand. Isn't it wonderful?
-He doesn't even need that.
-Look how much you'd remember him anyway.
"You know the one, do you remember the guy,
"you met him last week, he had five heads on his, five heads as a hat."
-Five-Head Gary, yeah.
-Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
There's another one which is a beetle that lives
in the Costa Rican rainforest.
It's called Nymphister kronaueri
and it disguises itself as an army ant's bottom.
So, that looks like it's just an ant,
but the bit that is a protrusion,
as if the ant has got terrible haemorrhoids, is actually a beetle.
And what it does is, it bites onto the ant
and then it rides around disguised as an army ant's bottom.
-What a life.
-We've all done it.
-What a life, I know.
Do you think the ant knows what's happening,
why it's got an extra bum?
Or do you think the ant is like, "Oh, my God, the piles are back?"
-It'd keep going like that, wouldn't it?
-"What the hell is that?"
"There's something... I'm sure there's something..."
And the beetle's like that.
"Oh, no, no.
"You never see me."
-And every now and then it goes...
-HUMS TWILIGHT ZONE THEME
"I can hear something, I can hear something."
But then the ant will shit in its face.
"Ugh, you ruined it!"
"You were behind me, you cheeky beetle!"
All the other ants are going,
"You haven't put on any weight, you look fine."
"Oh, really, are you sure?" "You look fine."
Then the five-head caterpillar goes,
"Have you seen him? He's hanging onto his arse."
"Shut up!" "He's hanging onto his arse."
"Well, he can't possibly be living down there."
"He is, he's on his arse!"
"There's a beetle on the ant's arse."
"There's a beetle on the ant's arse?"
"Yes, I can see it from here."
"Swap places, swap places." "All right."
"Oh, there is, there is, there's a beetle on the ant's arse!
"Go and have a look." "All right."
"I can't get up there, why am I always at the bottom?"
-Something like that.
-I like that they're all from the same animal,
but they're all from different regions, different places.
Isn't there a thing - you can have your bottom made bigger?
-Can you do that?
-Bottom implants, yeah.
I just eat more.
How do you guarantee that it goes to the bottom?
-You just sit a lot.
Now, what is the lady at the back of this picture saying?
"What's going on?"
-Has she got a mask on?
-She has got a mask on.
Is she wondering how she's keeping her mask on?
Because I can't see any elastic.
That is exactly the question. So, these are black velvet masks.
We haven't got black velvet ones, but we have got masks for you.
They were worn in the 16th century, and the way you kept them on,
there's a sort of a bead, but we've done a button for you there.
And you put that in your mouth.
If anyone turns on now, this is like an episode of Black Mirror.
So the answer is, she's not saying anything, because she's using...
-Because she's got a button in her mouth.
-She's got a button...
-MOCK MUFFLED: She's got a button in her mouth.
Is exactly right.
She's saying, "I'm not marrying a hippo."
The glasses are a triumph, if I may say so.
I have a re-occurring nightmare and it's this. This, right here.
Why might she be wearing it? What's the reason?
Is it scars from horrible sexually transmitted diseases?
She's proving how rich she is. So how is she doing that?
Oh, to keep her skin so white?
-I was going to say, she looks almost as pale as me.
So, the idea is to avoid sunburn.
The most complete example that we have of one of these
is the Daventry Mask, which was discovered - there it is -
in Northamptonshire, found inside a wall while they were
renovating a 16th-century building. And the idea is...
They've spent about five seconds making that, haven't they?
"You'd be better off not going out!"
The lady in our painting is actually wearing something called
a moretta muta, it was a Venetian variation on the mask.
Does anybody know what this painting is?
It's a wonderful painting of Clara the Rhinoceros, from 1751.
This is a sort of sad story,
17 years, she was toured round Europe, and of course it was
an extraordinary thing, nobody had ever seen rhinoceroses.
They've just taken the horn off, is that what they've done?
Well, as far as we know, the year before she was displayed in
Venice, she had rubbed the horn off in Rome, where she was on display.
So, clearly, an animal in some distress. And she eventually...
Whenever I'm in distress, I rub a horn. Always. Yeah.
Eventually, she came to Britain. In fact, she died in Lambeth,
at the Horse and Groom pub, where she was being shown for sixpence.
We've all died at the Horse and Groom.
Now, where would you find these ornaments?
-MANTLE CLOCK CHIMES
-That is an orchid.
That's genuinely called something like the...
Oh, like, the hanging willy man, or something.
-It's called the orchis italica.
"Ha-ha-ha! The orchis italica!"
It's known amongst gardeners as, like, the naked man, isn't it?
-It is called the naked man orchid, is its nickname.
-People who can't do Latin, like.
-"My naked man's come up lovely this year."
"I've got 16 naked men in my garden."
"I've been giving a lot of attention to my naked man."
Which is funny, because the orchid is named after the female genitalia.
That's where the Latin comes from.
I think the orchid's name means testicles.
You've got your genitalia round the wrong way, which...
-That could explain a lot.
-I can help you with that.
But orchids come in the most wonderful shapes.
There's one shaped like the laughing bumblebee, on the left there.
-The other one is the swaddled baby.
And then the one on the right, it's a birthwort flower.
-Do you not think it looks a bit like Darth Vader?
That's an STI.
"I'm not going to come in,
"I'm just going to send you a photograph of it."
"I can't get any clothes on with this thing.
"Could we Skype? Could we Skype it?"
It is known as Dutchman's pipe, is its nickname.
Oh! You do not want one of those.
And apparently it stinks, it smells of rotting flesh.
-No, orchid means testicles, because in...
-Sorry, I got my...
No, it's all right. In middle English it was called Bollockwort.
The next time you're backstage with somebody and a marvellous orchid
has been delivered, you go, "Oh, nice bollockwort."
I think we should bring that back.
Bollockwort is much better than orchids.
I've got two lovely bollockworts, actually, on my windowsill.
-Good for you.
One of the UK's rarest plants is an orchid,
it's a beautiful thing called the ghost orchid.
It was first discovered in Britain in 1845,
and isn't it delicate and amazing?
I like the one with the cock more.
What I like about you, Sarah, is you're reliable.
Now, the object of the game is to avoid the klaxons,
as we play General Ignorance.
So, fingers on buzzers, please.
What would a medieval knight call this?
-Chain mail. KLAXON
-No, it's just mail.
Is that like saying PIN number?
Yes, it is what's called a Victorian pleonasm.
It's when you use many more words to explain something than
is necessary, you don't really need that many words.
-Isn't that QI?
-It is QI, yes.
In Lord Of The Rings, you know they had all that chain mail?
So, it took seven years to film the Lord Of The Rings films,
and there was a man whose only job was to slice a thin plastic tube
every single day, and in that plastic tube he made the chain mail.
And on the special features of the DVD of Lord Of The Rings -
it's, like, 40 hours, you can watch it...
-Wow! We're lucky you're here tonight.
-Yeah, I know.
And this man, they said to him at the end, "So, you've been doing this for seven years."
He went, "I wouldn't take back a day, it's been the best experience of my whole entire life."
-But what's it for?
-To make fake chain mail,
they couldn't give them real, because it's too heavy.
So they made it out of plastic and sprayed it silver.
-So, why are they remaking it every day?
-Cos there were so many extras,
there was so much to make, they had to constantly make it.
Had everyone thrown it away at the end of the day?
No, it's plastic, so it just kept breaking.
And also, Viggo Mortensen probably was, like, really living it, because he was so...
Moving on, medieval battles were full of mail-on-mail action.
Working me arse off here, people.
What would you have seen tumbling across the prairie
after George Washington made a terrible joke?
MUSIC BOX LULLABY CHIMES Alice?
The answer is, we don't know whether he ever made a joke,
is the truth of it. But we do know it wasn't tumbleweed,
because during his lifetime there was...?
It's native to Russia, not to the USA, and it arrived in the USA
long after he had passed away, in the late 19th century.
It was accidentally imported in shipments of flax seed from Russia.
Although when you drive now, you do see it just like that.
And a single tumbleweed can become the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.
They can bury houses, they can fuel forest fires,
-I mean it is fearful stuff.
-Oh, my God!
As it tumbles, it scatters seeds up to 250,000 per plant.
So it keeps perpetuating itself.
And in 2016, there's a rural city in Australia called Wangaratta,
and they were hit by a type of tumbleweed called hairy panic.
-That could be your wrestling name, Sandi.
"Here she comes, all the way from Denmark, it's Hairy Panic!
"She's small, but she's fierce!"
Right, does anybody fancy a cup of tea?
-Tea all round?
-Yes, please. Yes.
Yes, I feel there's not enough tea breaks.
-So what I'm going to do, I'm going to...
-Do you have any herbal?
No, I haven't.
Right, anybody know, to the nearest 100ml,
how much water did it take to make this tea?
-To make the whole pot?
-To make the cup of tea I'm giving you.
So one cup of tea, I'm going to... I've given you a little bit of milk.
And everybody gets two sugars, you don't have to use them, but I'm...
So, that's what I'm asking. There's a cup of tea.
-Do you want sugar?
-Do you guys want sugar?
-That's piss weak, Sandi.
I didn't actually... I didn't make the tea.
I have people for that.
To the nearest 100ml?
Do you mean to the cup or in the flask?
Yes, so one cup, to the nearest 100ml,
-how much water did it take to make the tea?
-I sense a pattern here.
-Ten... You're getting closer.
Yes. The answer is 52,000ml.
-Oh, to grow the tea plants?
-That's why it's so weak.
-That wasn't the question!
-It was, to make this...
I'm trying to work out how much that is.
Yes, but it's QI.
Oh, I forgot what programme I was on!
52 litres of water, roughly, go into white tea with two sugars.
So we'll see how it breaks down.
Around 30 litres to make the amount of tea in a single tea bag.
Ten litres to make the dash of milk.
And six litres needed for every teaspoon of sugar.
So, 60 billion cups of tea consumed in Britain every year.
So that gives us a footprint of 3,000 billion litres of water.
That's about ten times the volume of water in Lake Windermere
that is needed to make the tea for Britain.
Imagine making Lake Windermere into a giant cup of tea.
Now that you have dodged that round, let's take a look at the scores.
And in fourth place, with a magnificent -34, it's Alan.
-Thank you very much.
In third place, with a very creditable -29, Sarah.
In second place, and considering it's her first show,
what an incredible score, -18, Alice.
And, finally, in first place, with four points, Cariad!
Tonight's prize, Cariad, obviously...
This lovely pair of truck nuts. There you are, congratulations.
Thank you, thank you.
It only remains for me to thank Alice, Sarah, Cariad and Alan,
and you've all been so great it's practically criminal, so let's
break out my favourite object - confetti cannons. There we are.
Ready? Steady, fire!
Sandi Toksvig looks at some objects and ornaments. Along the way, discover where you can find an actual UFO and meet the world's best-dressed crab. With Sarah Millican, Cariad Lloyd, Alice Levine and Alan Davies.