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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Good evening and welcome to QI,
where tonight we'll be suffering all things odorous and odious.
And joining me on our olfactory odyssey are
the fragrant Nish Kumar...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..the aromatic Sally Phillips...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..the musky Ross Noble...
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
..and... SHE SNIFFS
..the unmistakable essence of Alan Davies.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
And their buzzers are particularly odorous. Sally goes...
# You've got to stop
# And smell the roses. #
Oh, I love that. Nish goes...
# Oh, I think I smell a rat
# Oh, I think I smell a rat. #
Oh, I wanted more of that. Ross goes...
# I can smell it, baby
# Can you smell it too? #
Drinks half price. And Alan goes...
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
-Even on a show as high-brow as this...
..that is still funny.
The whole show is about smell, OK, so I've got these -
scratch-and-sniff stickers that they often give out in schools
for good work.
So I've got strawberry, lemon meringue and grape,
and if you do good work and are particularly clever,
-you could have a scratch-and-sniff sticker, OK?
So which would you want to go for - strawberry, lemon or grape?
I've got a cold, I can't smell anything at the moment,
so, really, I'm easy.
You're lucky cos you're next to Ross - it's the best thing.
How dare you! These pants were fresh on last week.
I don't think, Sally... Can I just say, no woman should ever say,
"I can't smell anything, I'm easy." I don't think that's...
Every man's dream is a woman with no sense of smell!
OK, let's start with some smells.
What scent should you wear to attract a cougar?
There's a double meaning at work here.
-Ah, you know me well...
-the...the vampy older lady...
Hi. An excellent example.
You're calling Sally old?
I'm fine with that. Easy, no sense of smell...
It's a hell of a Tinder profile.
Are you swiping left or right at the moment, Nish?
I don't even know what I just asked you. Um...
Well, in 2003, the Wildlife Conservation Society tested
a variety of scents to see which ones big cats find attractive.
-Now, why would they do this?
-Was it too busy in the perfume department of Boots?
Cos the thing about those women, you know in the make-up...
-..they've got those faces...
..and a wild cat can rip at their face and have no effect.
That's how deep the make-up is.
No, what it is, you want to lure the big cats in
towards camera traps for filming.
So they discovered that there's a clear winner -
Calvin Klein's Obsession kept big cats interested for 11 minutes.
By comparison, Nina Ricci's L'air du Temps, 10 minutes.
The effects of Revlon's Charlie, 15 and a half seconds.
-And some mild blistering.
I thought they attracted wild cats with...
piss...of other wild cats.
Well, that's a hell of a night out.
How did you come to think this?
I thought that they made ointments
of the urine of other...
Yeah, they do, but it's called Lynx.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
Right, we're going to play a game now.
-Time to play On The Scent.
OK, I've got some descriptions of perfumes,
and I want you to guess which celebrity they come from, OK?
So, "Focused on the topic of decisiveness and persistence.
"Its composition is based on sophisticated shades of spices
"which are blended with citruses over a masculine, elegant heart
"and a woody, leathery base."
# Smell the roses... #
Is it David Beckham?
-Wait a minute...
-It was the word "leathery".
-Grape, lemon or strawberry?
-I'll have grape, please.
-There you go.
-That was amazing.
-That's amazing, the way you did it.
Do you smell that and you go...
You have to smell it. There's no point just putting it on you.
I can't smell anything - I've told you, I've got a cold.
I never thought I'd say this to a woman, just scratch it and sniff...
Ross can sniff it.
So, it's called Beyond Forever.
-I love it.
-By David Beckham.
OK, here's the next one. Ready?
"The perfect accessory for the confident man determined to
"make his mark with passion, perseverance and drive.
"For those who aspire to create their own empire through personal
"achievement, this dynamic scent is both compelling
"and leaves a lasting impression.
# ..smell it too... # Ross?
Is it Rory Bremner?
Rory could probably do this person, I would imagine.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
I'm very, very pleased to actually have a...
-..a trump sound.
And it's called Empire, by Donald Trump.
-You wanted lemon meringue, didn't you?
-Lemon meringue, yeah.
You want them with sunglasses, or without?
-There you go. I gave you sunglasses...
-Thank you so much.
-..if that's OK.
-I'm going to scratch quite hard.
Are you getting lemon meringue?
Quite a lot on my finger.
No, hang on, that's not lemon...
Oh, you're doing your own jokes there. "Ugh!"
Right, last one. Uh... Ready?
"Bass notes on a leather, peat fire, highland mud, burned rubber
"and white truffle."
# ..smell a rat... # Yes, Nish?
Is it Ross?!
Have you not got your own perfume in the...?
I've released many scents...
..but...but not one that people would pay for.
I quite like the idea of a perfume called Noble Gas.
I think that's...
Oh, yeah. Yeah.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE
I'm going to carry on with this one.
"Heart notes are sharp and tempting with cigar, heather, fir and rubber.
"Top notes complete the fragrance with fresh, spiced notes
"of bergamot, black pepper, pine and whisky."
# ..smell it too... #
It would have to say "creosote" if it was David Dickinson.
-It's a boy...
-Is it George Clooney?
No, it's the best name for a perfume ever, I think.
It is Cumming, by Alan Cumming.
Now, what will the Apocalypse smell like?
-Well, there's four horses, so there's a start.
-A massive barbecue?
-A barbecued horse.
Kind of. What other sort of smells might you find?
Well, there's pestilence. That's going to be a bit...
-Pestilence is very bad.
-A touch of...
-That's going to be odorous.
I can't imagine plague's going to be a barrel of laughs as well.
No, that's whiffy.
Well, here's the thing - there is a perfume specifically designed
to smell like the Apocalypse.
-And I have it here.
Two artists, Jon Thomson and Alison Craighead, they went through
the Book of Revelation in the 1611 King James Bible
and they put together everything that has a recognisable smell.
So it's blood, rocks of the mountains, incense, wormwood,
rod of iron, creatures of the sea, hail and fire, animal horns...
HE COUGHS VIOLENTLY
Eurgh, it smells like racism!
That's a good name for a perfume - "Racism".
So they passed this list to an Edinburgh-based perfume maker,
Euan McCall, and he turned it into a scent.
A reporter for The Guardian newspaper had a sniff
and described it as "digestive".
What do you think it smells like?
Well, it smells, it smells of the Apocalypse.
It tastes of...
Weirdly, it tastes of Romford.
Is it unpleasant? I haven't actually smelled it.
I can't smell anything.
-It gets right to the back of your brain.
Now, why is the second smelliest man in the world so frustrated?
Is he frustrated because everyone's like,
"You must be the smelliest person in the world.
-And he's like, "Yeah, you'd think..."
"Do I have a certificate? No."
Is it Boris Johnson?
-It's a cattle herder from India called Kailash Singh.
Now, he stopped washing in 1974 because a priest told him that
he would have a son if he didn't bathe or cut his hair.
So, it's 40 years later, he hasn't had a single bath or a shower.
He's got six-foot-long dreadlocks.
He's father to seven daughters, and, no...
What, can you believe he's had sex at all? It's...breath-taking.
There's the lovely place of Varanasi,
on the banks of the Ganges there, where he lives.
His family did once try and force him to bathe in the river,
but he fought them off and said he would rather die.
-So they killed him.
But he now says he's going to wash in the next life.
-That's his plan.
But he's only the second smelliest man in the world.
The person currently believed to be the most unwashed man
in the world is Amou Haji.
We don't have a picture of him.
I think it would be too much for the cameraman to get...
No photographer can get near enough.
"Use the zoom!"
"It's too much!"
"The lens is fogging!"
He hasn't washed for over 60 years.
He lives, not surprisingly, in a remote village.
You'd have to do it like the cheetahs - you'd have to set up
-a camera and then try and attract him towards it.
-Yeah, lure him.
Where's his village?
He lives in southern Iran, and he lives on roadkill.
He gets more and more attractive as you go through.
He particularly likes porcupine, and he smokes animal dung in his pipe.
And if he needs a haircut, he burns his hair off with fire.
Hey, stop looking at me.
We've been talking a lot about smell.
How do you measure the unpleasantness of a smell?
How might you decide?
I mean, I don't know, but I once did a fart that was so bad, my dad...
I didn't own up to it, and my dad went and got the Yellow Pages out,
and he was looking for the number of a plumber
because he thought a sewage pipe had leaked.
Did you not have a Labrador you could blame?
-Yeah, dogs' farts are bad.
-Dogs, they're very bad.
My dog used to get up...
The only time she ever left the room was if she'd farted.
She'd be lying there by the sofa asleep,
and I'd be watching Morse or something...
..and then she'd just get up and go in the hall.
And then immediately, I'd have to pause Morse and get up and go.
We both would have to stand in the hall...
..for a period of time until it would clear.
There was only the two of us in the flat.
Anyway, here's a thing -
there's a Danish engineer called Professor Povl Ole Fanger,
and he wants to create a new unit of measurement called an olf, OK?
So one olf would be the emission of air pollutants
given off by a standard person.
And the idea is that any unpleasant smell could then be expressed by
the number of people it would take
to cause that level of unpleasantness.
So you have an average person is an olf.
And then, say that your fart,
you know, well, "Wow, that's like 150 olfs", that it would be.
-That was a lot of olfs.
-That's a lot of olfs.
My wife, her horses... Our bedroom has got a window,
and the horses are out there, and they fart so loudly
that sometimes I have to turn the telly up.
So, on a summer's evening, just lying in bed there,
put the telly on, and just hear...
-HE MAKES FART NOISE
What they're eating, or was it a particularly...?
They have to or they die.
But are they particularly gassy, horses?
Oh, God, yeah, horses, they're shocking.
I don't know how the Queen stands it in that carriage.
-Just buy a car.
That's why the hat's always at a jaunty angle.
Anyway, moving on...
What do the UK's stink pipes do?
It sounds like a barber shop quartet, doesn't it -
The Stink Pipes.
Oh, that's a great title for a band, yeah.
-"And now The Stink Pipes."
-It's an actual thing.
Indeed, you may have passed one on the way to the studio.
I think the nearest one to this studio is at Southwark Bridge.
Are they letting out odours from...the sewers?
Absolutely right, yes.
-You can have another sticker.
-You can have another sticker.
Very well done.
There you are. Purple one.
Yes, you're absolutely right.
They're sort of tall, hollow, cast iron pipes.
They stand at quite often six to eight metres tall,
and their purpose is to ventilate the potentially explosive...
-But do they still work?
-Yes, they still absolutely work,
and they follow the routes of the main sewers.
Lots of them are still in operation.
How cheap is that flat?
Yeah, that's not nice, is it?
You do have to update sewers
because sewer explosions are not uncommon if they are not
properly looked after and the gas isn't released and so on.
So the River Fleet at King's Cross exploded in 1846.
It destroyed a Clerkenwell poorhouse,
and it smashed a Thames steam boat against Blackfriars Bridge.
Can we do anything with it yet?
Has some scientist managed to, you know, like create...
-With the sewage?
-..create power or something?
Well, the gas, they used to burn
the gas off sometimes at the top of the stink pipes.
In fact, in Sheffield, you can still see that,
some of the gas being burnt off.
But whether they could actually power things with sewage,
that would be fantastic.
Right, time for a little food.
I want you to smell this oil and tell me what has been added to it.
There you go.
Is it truffle?
Well... SIREN RINGS
Idiot. I'm an idiot.
That's the thing with being
a worldwide international restaurant critic...
..when I get a taste of the truffle, I can't... Yeah.
Here is the thing -
almost all truffle oil on the market has never seen a truffle.
It's a mixture of olive oil and chemicals
which gives it its truffle aroma.
So what you do is you take methyl mercaptan, which is
the main compound in bad breath and smelly feet,
and you add it to some formaldehyde.
I love the smell of truffle.
The Epicureans said the scent smelled like
the tussled sheets on a brothel bed.
And medieval monks were not allowed to have truffles, because it
was believed that it would make them forget their calling.
I don't know... These are unbelievably expensive.
We have some actual truffles there.
There's some surprising stuff
in the world of food that you wouldn't know.
So you wouldn't know mostly when you buy truffle oil
that it's never been anywhere near a truffle.
And also, can I recommend a book to you called
Extra Virginity: The Sublime And Scandalous World Of Olive Oil, OK?
And it turns out that there's a huge amount of
fraudulent mislabelling in the olive oil world.
Apparently, over 50% of olive oil sold in Italy is adulterated,
and 75-80% in the United States is completely adulterated.
You'd think you're getting that... Well, this is...
They should have, on the extra virgin olive oil,
just have, like, in brackets, "may contain slag".
Definitely, possibly a double sticker on that one, I think.
There's a double, so I think that was definitely...
Now, do you have the ability to sniff out crime?
Depends what kind of crime.
He who smelt it dealt it - that is legally binding.
Today I probably couldn't sniff out a crime,
because of the cold, aforementioned.
But, I mean, I guess you could smell certain types of crime?
Well, they did some research in the Karolinska Institute in Sweden,
a Professor Mats Olsson,
and people can tell a criminal by smell as well as by sight.
So they showed some video clips to people of crimes being committed,
and asked them to smell, at the same time,
the body odour of the person who was committing it.
And when there was a line-up, just by the smell of the person,
they were able to work out, 70% of the time, which is exactly the same
as a visual line-up, they were able to work out which person it was.
If the shirt don't whiff, you must...acquit.
That is the law.
I cannot wait to see the Swedish version of Sherlock,
-cos it's just him going...
"Smell-a-mentory, my dear Watson."
-LAUGHTER AND GROANS
-Hey, come on!
Oh, no. You've blown it.
-Has he got any stickers?
-Have you got any stickers, Nish?
-He hasn't got any.
-No, cos I was going to ask for them back.
-Take one back.
But there are places... So in Alaska, Florida, New York,
they use scent line-ups.
But to fair, they use dogs, rather than human beings,
because the human can smell with,
we have about five or six million odour-detecting cells.
-A dog, how many do you reckon?
And actually, even rabbits have more than us -
they have 100 million.
So, what we're going to do now is we're going to test out
how a dog does on sniffing things out.
I have here some contraband, which I am going to give to you, Alan.
And what I would like you to do is put it in your pocket...
-Put it in my...
-..and go and hide in the audience.
Go and hide in Croydon!
So the audience have got special masks to put on.
So if they could put, those who've got masks could put them on.
-Oh, my God!
-Urgh, it's like a sea of... It's awful.
Now this is a very special episode of Jonathan Creek.
I never thought I'd be involved in a live game of Where's Wally?
OK. We now welcome please to the studio, from the RAF Police,
Corporal Sam Robson-Rodriguez and Rex.
Sam, thank you so much for coming in and supplying us
with the dummy contraband.
Tell me about Rex and what his job is.
Well, Rex is a five-year-old black Lab.
His main job is to search for drugs
anywhere we want to put him, basically.
And how's he trained?
How do you make him be able to do that?
Well, we start searching for, like, their toys, and then we just
associate the toys with the drugs, so then they think they're searching
for their toy, whereas in fact, we want them to search for the drugs.
And how many scents can Rex recognise, do you think?
He's trained on all the main scents,
and basically anything you can make out of that.
-So, he looks keen to get going.
-Right, Sam, please, over to you, my lovely.
-Thank you very much.
Rex. Come here.
I do hope nobody in the audience has got anything...
-Do you know what? I really hope somebody does.
That would be... Wouldn't that just be the best bit of telly ever?
If you just... If he dragged someone to the floor and just,
just dragged them out.
-A live drug-bust on QI.
He's so far...ignoring everybody. So that's good for that side.
How will he...? How will he show if he knows?
-They have either a stand indication or a sit indication.
Is he sniffing your crotch, Alan?
-Is it in your left pocket?
-Oh, my God!
Let's have a round of applause, please, for Rex and Sam.
Sam and Rex, very good. Thank you very much.
And thank you to all my Alans. What a very, very spooky sight that was.
-That was very, very spooky.
-It was extremely unpleasant.
Right, it's time for the stinking miasma that is General Ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers, please.
In which country was the full bikini wax invented?
# Smell the roses... # Sally?
I think I'm going to fall into a hole. I'm going to say Brazil.
It's not right, is it?
-SIREN RINGS No.
-It's not Brazil.
It's not Croydon. Any more? Any more?
It is America. It is in the United States.
So, there's a woman called Jonice Padilha
of J Sisters salon in Manhattan.
They pioneered the Brazilian bikini wax in the early 1990s,
and Playboy tried to patent it as an idea.
And in order to stop them doing that, she said, "Oh, no, no,
"you can't do that, it's tremendously popular throughout
"my entire home country, and therefore it is unpatentable."
And that is... You have to use proper wax there.
Never just think you can use honey.
You speak from experience, then?
Oh, it stings in so many different ways.
The salon still exists and it's opposite Trump Tower.
So you can actually have a Brazilian
and avoid being grabbed by the pussy at the same time.
They came up with the process after other salons refused to wax
-that area, apparently.
Apparently one of the world's most expensive car waxes
is also Brazilian.
It is called Carnauba wax, made from a palm tree
that only grows in north-east Brazil.
-Handy if you've got a hairy car.
You can get a French wax as well,
but it only waxes a strip down the middle of the bonnet.
Why should you be worried about how you store your toothbrush?
Is it to do with things that crawl around at night
and crawl about your brushes?
-Do you think there are things crawling about your bathroom?
If you put your toothbrush in the wrong place,
it's more susceptible to interference from...from...
Are you worried about the Wombles?
There is a common belief that if you keep your toothbrush
in the same room as the toilet,
it will get covered in faecal matter.
So, here is the good news...
Well, to be fair, that is true, but that's only after my wife
and I had a bit of an argument.
She told me two or three days later, so, you know...
It's true. Your whole house has got faecal matter,
but it has no effect on you whatsoever. It's fine.
According to the American Dental Association, there's "insufficient
"clinical evidence to support that bacterial growth on toothbrushes
"will lead to specific adverse oral or systemic health effects."
It's good, it's good to know, now I can use my toothbrush to just
buff me downstairs. Free from worry.
It's good to know you don't have to worry about creatures
crawling around your toothbrush.
Really, really small cougars at night.
Can you name an animal well known for playing possum?
-Is this a trick question?
I've been playing this game for 15 years now...
-and I smell a rat!
SIREN RINGS A possum, yay!
-Feigning death, right, is that what that is?
It is, it's called thanatosis.
But it isn't the possum that does it,
it is the expression that we use - it is the opossum.
-So it's one of those great confusions.
IN IRISH ACCENT: Which is an O'possum. An O'possum.
The opossum is on the right there, the little white-faced one.
And the possum is on the left. They're both marsupials.
The possum actually lives in Australia,
the opossum lives in the United States.
And apart from them both being marsupials,
there's not really much that they have in common.
The similarity between the name
stems from Captain's Cook's voyage to Australia.
The naturalist Joseph Banks, he mistook the animals
that he saw for American opossums.
We were in Australia when my daughter was very little, and
we used to go... The only way she'd go to sleep at night is if we
could go out in the street and find a possum, and then she could rest.
-And they used to walk along the telephone wires -
that was the best place to find them.
We had possums that lived in our roof, and they used to sigh.
So you'd be watching the telly, and you would, you'd hear in the roof,
you'd hear, "Oh..."
They do it quite a lot, and you'd be sort of like, "They're off again."
And then, "Oh..." There was one day, I was in the house by myself...
What were you watching?
Well, this was the thing - I was watching documentaries,
and there was a "Oh... Oh..."
-Did they want you to change channels?
I put it onto the music channel - not a peep out of them.
According to the Guinness Book of Animal Records,
the smelliest animal on Earth is the zorilla, or striped polecat.
You're going to love this.
The emissions from their anal glands not only stink, but can temporarily
blind predators and cause painful burning sensations on the skin.
So that is a seriously stinky creature.
Yeah, and you can't get it out of your jeans.
The smell, or the animal?
"So, sorry, officer, er..."
Just have a look at this VT, which I really love.
The karaftohelix snail, it does the complete opposite of playing possum.
Have a look. Rather than retreat into its shell,
it goes on the offensive.
It uses its shell - look at that - as a battering ram to hit.
-Oh, that's very cool.
-Isn't that wonderful?
That is very cool, to be able to do that.
If I could swing my arse like that...
-You wouldn't be wasting your time sat here, would you?
If you think you see a possum playing possum,
then they're probably dead.
So, let's check it out.
In first place, coming up smelling of roses with three points,
I still haven't got a sticker.
In second place, with minus two, Alan!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
In third place, with minus three, Ross.
In last place, stinking the place out, with minus five, it's Sally!
So, we like to give a prize.
Taking home tonight's prize, a truly odious odour -
the actual scent of the Apocalypse goes to Sally. There you go.
It only remains for me to thank Sally, Ross, Nish and Alan.
And I leave you with this tall tale from a toilet.
Tallulah Bankhead was in a cubicle in the ladies'.
"Do you have any toilet paper?"
she asked the occupant of the next stall.
"No," came the reply.
"Then, do you have any Kleenex?" she asked.
"Sorry, no," the lady said again.
"Then, can you change a ten for two fives?"
Thank you, goodnight!
Sandi Toksvig considers all things odorous and odious. Why is the world's second-smelliest man so frustrated? Sandi has the answer. With Sally Phillips, Ross Noble, Nish Kumar and Alan Davies.