QI (2003) s17e02 Episode Script

Quintessential

1 CHEERING AND APPLAUSE Good evening and welcome to QI.
Tonight, we are quintessentially Q, and taking their cues from me are the quirky Holly Walsh APPLAUSE .
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the quizzical Cariad Lloyd APPLAUSE .
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the quixotic Josh Widdicombe APPLAUSE Don't know what it means.
Don't know what it means.
.
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and, for the quadrillionth time, it's Alan Davies! CHEERING AND APPLAUSE And their buzzers are quintessentially QI.
Holly goes QI THEME'S FIRST THREE NOTES Cariad goes SECOND THREE NOTES Josh goes NEXT THREE NOTES And Alan goes HOOTER, FORFEIT KLAXON STEPHEN FRY: Tottenham Hotspur 6, Arsenal 0.
Fruity, fruity, fruity! LAUGHTER It was a It was a mishmash - It was.
- Yeah.
- .
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just for you.
Right, here we go.
This is a portrait from the "Ching" dynasty.
First of all, how would you spell "Ching"? Anybody? - With a Q.
- Yes, Q-I-N-G.
So why is this woman so made up? Did she walk too slowly through the make-up department at Army and Navy in Guildford? - Oh, that is the most terrifying thing, isn't it? - Yeah.
My mum paid for me to go for a makeover in one of those.
- Did she? - Yes.
- Er, recently? - No, when I was about 17.
- Right.
I honestly looked like a woman in her late 80s.
LAUGHTER I actually looked like Mary Berry.
That was what happened.
LAUGHTER This is a portrait of Prince Zhu.
He was the uncle of the then-emperor, so we're talking mid-18th century, and his wife, who was called Lady Jiun Tse.
He's about 60 and she's 14.
ALL: Wow! Yeah, it's one of those, you know, - spring and autumn - Oh.
- .
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kind of athing.
But it's very typical of court paintings of the Qing Dynasty because it was traditional for the wives, and indeed, the concubines of the Emperor and his family to be hidden from public view.
- So this posed a problem if you wanted to do a painting - Yeah.
.
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because you weren't allowed to actually see what the woman looked like.
They had to decide to paint the concubines to look like bits From sketchbooks, basically.
We have no idea what she actually looked like.
This is entirely a made-up portrait.
Is that why Yes? .
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her face is kind of neutral Yes.
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compared to, like, his detailed face? I know.
Hers looks like, you know when you buy a kid a colouring book and it's like, "You could add whatever face you want"? Yeah.
Like, that's the basic start of a painting.
It looks like they've started on him, they've really nailed it, - then they realise they've got five minutes to do her face.
- Yeah.
- She looks like an emoji, doesn't she? - Yeah, yeah.
But the whole concubine thing, I mean, it was considered absolutely crucial to Qing Dynasty court life.
So the idea was you wanted to make sure that the emperor had, you know, multiple offspring, so you wanted to make sure he had a very healthy sex life.
In fact, in the 1670s, they started a government branch called The Office Of Respectful Service.
So there's, like, a guy outside the bedroom, seeing how many times - a woman has been in and out that week.
- Wow.
- Wow.
And it mattered because if you went in and out that week, say, three times into the Emperor's chambers - then you would go up in the - Yeah.
- In the concubine standings.
- Sounds quite exhausting the Emperor.
- For him.
LAUGHTER Do you think when they go in, he's just saying, "We could just watch TV and have a chat?" "Let's have a cup of tea and a pillow fight.
" There are some fantastic empresses, so these are the chief consorts.
There's one in particular called Empress Cixi.
So she started as a 16-year-old, you know how you do, a bit of work experience, low grade - .
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you know, concubine.
- Hand jobs.
- Yeah.
- Getting up.
Well, she started out in the lowliest position and then she got herself, over 40 years, to the highest position.
She killed quite a few people on the way - She killed people?! - What? - She did.
- With her hat? - Well LAUGHTER - It does look like a mortar board, doesn't it? - Yeah.
- It looks like a mortar board with a toilet flush on the side.
- Yeah.
LAUGHTER The night before she died, and she knew that she was dying, she's thought to have poisoned her own nephew so that he couldn't take power.
Wow! I know.
She's really a vicious thing.
Wow, let's hope the Queen's listening.
LAUGHTER What an end to The Crown that would be! LAUGHTER Anyway, what do bacteria talk about? Is it Love Island? Other bacteria who aren't in the room.
I love it when by complete chance you're correct.
So they are communicating about where the other bacteria are.
It's something called quorum sensing.
They actually emit and detect each other's chemical signals, and what they basically do is they take a head count to see how many bacteria there are.
And they base their activity on how many bacteria they have detected around them.
Like a fight, like there's ten of us and four of them.
It's like the army gathering and going, "Right we're ready to go over the top now because we've got enough.
" Lots of bacteria that cause human diseases, so cholera, pneumonia, staph infections and so on, they use quorum sensing.
So they wait harmlessly inside us until they agree that there's enough and then they go.
It's a bit like social media, right? So one person tweets but then it is repeated and repeated and repeated until it goes viral and you have enough to make it a story for a lazy journalist.
LAUGHTER It was very first observed in the 1970s.
There are some bacteria called Vibrio fischeri and they live in the bodies of the Hawaiian bobtail squid.
- Isn't that beautiful? - Wow.
So the squid gives them accommodation and sugar and amino acid for food and in return, the bacteria gives the squid the most ingenious defence mechanism, by glowing all of them all at once and generating bioluminescence.
So the squid is able to control this light, which is created by all these bacteria living there, and basically any potential predator that is looking up at the squid will think it's looking at the moon, because the squid can point this light downwards.
What? Isn't it clever? I know, so it's working with bacteria in order to do this trick.
It's called counter-illumination, and the squid can even use its ink to dim the lights.
And it's useless for the bacteria to glow unless there's enough of them.
- That seems like a really fair payment.
- Yeah.
You get that incredible party trick just from getting some bac Like, if I got that every time I'd had thrush, I would I am so in love with the idea of getting thrush - and suddenly being bioluminescent.
- Yeah! - It would definitely be literally the silver lining.
- Yes.
LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE It'd be also a conversation starter cos I'd walk in and I'd go, "Holly, you look great.
"Got through the thrush?" She looks like the moon but she's so itchy.
Oh, wow! A roller-coaster might make you queasy, but what can it cure? Yes? Thrush.
Actually, thrush, with that thing between your legs, that's going to make it worse.
HOLLY: God, I went and did Go Ape yesterday.
It was quite something in terms of the harness.
It's not comfortable.
Been used by a lot of other people.
Are you suggesting it has chafed many thighs? I'm suggesting that the harnesses can communicate with one another.
LAUGHTER I got stuck on a roller-coaster at Alton Towers.
Oh, see? My idea of hell.
- Yeah, I got stuck in the Black Hole.
- What?! This is the kind of audience I want with my anecdotes.
What is the Black Hole like? - So it's a roller-coaster in the dark.
- No! Nightmare.
If I'd have been there, you would have felt a hell of a lot happier.
Lighting it up.
And it's one of those roller-coasters where you're straddling someone.
Sorry, what?! So you get on and you're both in, like, a cart, and one of you has to sit with your legs out - and then the other kind of sits like - Oh, OK.
And you were the one with the legs out? I was the one with the legs out.
- You were with a stranger? - Yes! - Oh! Why? Where are your friends? - I was in a three, and those two paired up.
- HOLLY: Oh, awkward.
And I wasn't going to, like, miss out on the Black Hole and then we just ran out of momentum.
I mean, the cart, not like the conversation.
And we were there for about five minutes, just sat there.
At one point, you could hear the other carts coming down.
It was absolutely terrifying.
And then they got us off in the end and they went, "You can have free tickets to go again.
" We were like, "No!" Just the guy had a soaking wet back from where you pissed yourself.
So it is the back that we are thinking about, OK? - Sciatica.
- Well, no, something much more painful.
Possibly even more painful than childbirth.
It's considered to be one of the most painful things - you can have in the world.
- Oh, kidney infection.
- It's kidney stones.
- Kidney stones.
More painful than childbirth.
I have had them.
Unbearably painful.
So in 2018, an Ig Nobel Prize was awarded to two urologists who discovered a really quick way to quash kidney stones.
So they had several patients who said they'd passed kidney stones when they were on a roller-coaster, so they made a silicon cast of a kidney.
They filled it with actual urine, they added three artificial kidney stones and they took it on Disney World's Big Thunder Mountain.
And apparently most effective is riding at the back of the coaster - - passage rate of 64%.
- Wow! Compared to 17% if you sit at the front.
So much better to sit at the back.
Is there somewhere, like, just pictures of two people then a picture of a kidney on a roller-coaster? Yeah, probably, probably! In medicine, a bumpy ride isn't always such a bad thing.
What can you tell me about Philip the Missionary's position? I once sat behind him on a roller-coaster.
Who's Philip the Missionary? Also known as Philip the Evangelist? Anybody had a religious upbringing at all? I can sing Lord Of The Dance, if that's what you mean.
- That's so tempting! - Go on.
- No! I Why did I say that? - You brought it up.
# Dance then, wherever you may be BOTH: # I am the Lord Of The Dance, said he # And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be And I'll lead you all in the dance, said he.
So in a word, no idea who he is.
LAUGHTER Is he in the Bible then? - Which bit of the Bible? - He'll be in the New Testament, surely.
It's in the New Testament, you're absolutely right.
It's in Acts.
He's an evangelist, so he tours the Middle East performing miracles.
You couldn't get tickets, though.
could you? It's hard.
So his So weird when all your hair is on the bottom of your head.
It does look like you could flip his head, just flip it over like that.
And then your mouth would be at the top, though, - that would be weird, and your eyes would be under your mouth.
- Yeah.
And every time you ate, you'd get food in your eyes.
But at least your hair would be in the right place.
But then when it rains, all the water would go down your nose.
LAUGHTER It'd be so beautiful.
It'd be like the, erm Those .
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fountains in What are those fountains called, the fountains called in Las Vegas? AUDIENCE: Bellagio! Bellagio.
My God, I cried when I saw those.
Are those the ones where they fire out and land in a hole? No.
They're my favourite fountain.
Honest to God, it's like being in an old people's home.
He toured the Middle East, did he? He toured the Middle East! Right.
Josh wants to sing Lord Of The Dance again! - I saw a fountain once! - Did you? - OK.
- So he toured the Middle East.
Tell us about the dark room again! LAUGHTER Er ALAN LAUGHING When we going on the roller-coaster? You said we was going on a roller-coaster! I never pissed meself.
I've got thrush! So this is him baptising a eunuch.
Here's what happens.
When the eunuch lifts his head Oh, I didn't know what you were going to say.
I really didn't! LAUGHTER So what happens is the eunuch lifts his head up, he's been baptised and Philip has disappeared.
So the eunuch never saw him again, but went away on his way rejoicing.
Meanwhile, Philip found himself further north at the town of Azotus, so it seems to provide the Bible's only example of teleportation because there's a moment he's there and the next minute, he's in a completely different town.
- So here's the question - Philip aside - Yes.
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do you think that humans will ever teleport? - Mm - JOSH: No.
- Yeah.
Yeah.
Yes.
OK, Holly, why? If you think about it, ten years ago, we didn't have Uber and now we've got Uber.
LAUGHTER - And that's as good as teleporting.
- Yeah, just the same.
There's been times when I don't remember how I got home and then I've looked at my e-mails and I've realised I've got an Uber receipt, and I thought that's as good as - Teleporting.
- .
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teleporting.
Right.
Now for a classic snack to go with a classical question, so How can you squeeze the maximum number of Quavers into the smallest possible space? Yes, Josh.
Oh, no, Josh! LAUGHTER APPLAUSE Want to share yours now, Sandi? Oh, my.
LAUGHTER Unbelievably delicious, aren't they? Bad luck.
I like Twiglets.
I met a man in Sainsbury's dressed as a Twiglet.
Erm You were dressed as a Twiglet? No! No, I didn't even know it was a job you could do.
I would have definitely done it.
Anyway, quaver, where do we get the word from, do you think? The actual word "quaver.
" Is it French? No, we're going to go Middle English.
- What do you think it meant? - Middle English, did you say? - Middle English.
- What, so Quavers have been around since medieval times? No, the word.
I think this batch has been around since medieval times.
- Does it mean to quiver? It does mean to shake.
- It's the letter S.
Look at that.
Isn't that weird? Ooh, look! You are so easily pleased.
LAUGHTER So it began as a meaning of shaken.
Then it became singing in a sort of tremulous voice.
Do you remember when women in church always SHE VOCALISES # Da-a-a-nce, then wherever you may be I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
Yep.
It's like Josh was in the room.
LAUGHTER And then it became the name of a musical note.
Anybody know how long a quaver? A quaver is half a minim.
It's an eighth.
There are semiquavers which are one 16th followed by a demisemiquaver which would be Half.
.
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a 32nd.
A hemidemisemiquaver which is - 64th.
- .
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64th, and a quasihemidemisemiquaver - which is a - A Danish wizard.
LAUGHTER APPLAUSE We almost went for the same Quaver.
What did you say, Josh? - 128th? - 128th.
- 128th.
So these notes are quite rare.
Why is it so rare? So it's rare because it's so fast.
So if you took a work in 4/4 time, so with a tempo of 100 beats per minute, a quasihemidemisemiquaver would last for just 0.
02 seconds, - so that is too short for the human ear to distinguish.
- Oh, yeah, yeah.
But in fact, Beethoven and Mozart used them to describe brief rapid sections in particular movements.
The shortest note in any published work is a 1024th note which should be called a quasihemidemisemihemidemisemiquaver.
That's his brother! Yep.
And it appears in Anthony Philip Heinrich's Toccata Grande Cromatica, which was written around 1820 CARIAD LAUGHS - Look at that guy! - Somebody's pleased with himself, aren't they? "I've used a semidemiquaverquaver" Those glasses look no use to anybody, do they? They're too small.
They're smug glasses.
They're intended to make you feel stupid.
So this is one of the rare uses of this 1024th note, but in the very first manuscript, an extra bar was added to the note which meant it was actually miswritten as a 2048th note, which would be a demisemihemidemi semihemidemisemiquaver.
Oh, my God.
There it is.
Look at that.
That is I mean how fast would that Madness.
Bonkers.
So could we hear? Like, what's the shortest note that we could hear? There is a thing called extremepianochannel on YouTube.
Whoa! You've all got some instruments beside you.
Why don't you bring out your instruments? TRIANGLE CHIMES What I want you to do - you've got five seconds - I want you to play the same note as many times as you can - and count how many times - Counting and playing? Did you used to do that game at school where you'd try - to start and stop a stopwatch as quickly as possible? - Oh, yeah.
I loved that game and I was so good.
OK, ready? Five seconds, going now.
Up! OK? Holly.
How many? TRIANGLE STILL RINGING Alan! Alan! Alan, the bus is here! How many, Holly? I lost count about .
.
erm, 12.
After about 12.
Alan? You've no bloody idea.
LAUGHTER Cariad? 34.
34? - Honestly? - Yeah.
Oh! Josh wins that one.
That's very impressive.
But, I mean, it's A hollow victory if you have to give your own score when you know what the other scores are.
- The most piano key presses in one minute is 824 - What?! .
.
which is 68 and a half every five seconds.
It's a Portuguese American pianist, he's astonishing, called Antonio Domingos, and you can see his work on extremepiano.
Does he just do all the same notes again and again - or is it like a tune? - No, it was just one note but he played it with two fingers.
Most claps in a minute, how many claps do you think? - Well, flamenco people can go very, very fast.
- About 400.
No, 300.
About 300, anybody else? - 1,080.
- Wow! By a nine-year-old.
- What?! - A nine-year-old? He's called Seven Wade.
- 180 every ten seconds.
- What, just for fun? - He's not even doing flamenco? - He had his toe in a plug socket.
LAUGHTER I'd absolutely love him in my audience on tour.
Right, Quavers away, instruments away.
For what sort of business would you want to use a queer plunger? I once had a nightmare with a plunger.
LAUGHTER So we had a New Year's Eve party and then the next day our toilet was blocked, and I thought, "Oh, I'll nail this.
" I'd never used a plunger before.
They're difficult to use.
Yeah, I thought I'd just whack it down there, whacked it down and it suctioned just on to the bottom of the toilet, brought it up, all I had was the piece of stick.
LAUGHTER And now I didn't just have to unblock the toilet, - I had to get my hand in there to get the - Oh! OK, so queer plunger - what might you plunge into? - The ocean.
- So, water, you might plunge into water.
It was a term given to con men who took advantage of the rules of the Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned.
So, it was set up in 1774.
So, two London doctors, they were worried that too many victims were being wrongly pronounced dead and sometimes buried alive, and so they developed new techniques of resuscitation.
They offered a reward of four guineas, which is over £500 today, a lot of money, to anybody who successfully brought a drowned man back to life.
Well, swindlers paired up with each other so one would throw themselves into the river and pretend to drown and the other would jump in and rescue him from the brink of death and the two of them would then share the four guineas, and they became known as queer plungers.
How many of you around the table know about WC Fields? - The cricketer.
No.
- That's WG Grace.
He was an amazing early 20th-century actor and comedian.
One of his very first jobs was to drown several times a day.
So he worked at Atlantic City and he would pretend to swim out and then he would pretend to drown and somebody would come and rescue him and a great crowd would gather, and they'd all applaud because he'd been saved and they were all so thrilled and then they would buy beer and hot dogs and it was the beer and hot dog guys who paid WC Fields - to drown several times a day.
- No! The Netherlands was the first country to have a society for resuscitation.
Why the Netherlands? - People falling in canals.
- Lots of water, yes.
Sometimes it's just a really simple answer, isn't it? Do they have fjords as well? - No, they don't have fjords there.
God's sake! - No.
The Netherlands is famously flat and fjords are famously steep.
Right.
So, no.
Do you know what? I'm just glad I didn't say it on national television.
No, that's a good thing.
So the very first society, 1767, the Netherlands Society for Resuscitation, and they had incredibly strict rules about what you should do in order to bring a drowning person back to life.
So first of all, you've got to take them inside and you've got to take their wet clothes off and then you've got to rub them with woollen materials to warm them up.
And maybe, if you really feel it's necessary, give them tobacco smoke up the rectum.
They used to do that in London as well.
- Do you know how I know that? - Yes.
- We had it on this show.
They did indeed.
It was considered an effective means of resuscitation.
- My sister fell in a canal.
- Did she? One of the best days of my life.
LAUGHTER So we went on a canal holiday in Birmingham and ONE PERSON LAUGHS Does that go through fjords? It's got more miles of canal than Venice, Birmingham.
- I do know this.
- Doesn't make it a better holiday.
- No.
And my sister fell in and there was panic and my dad was shouting, "Get the camera!" And then she found her feet cos it was only about that, and my brother threw the plastic Polo and it her on the head and knocked her out.
I thought you were going to say your brother threw her the camera.
So there are other things you had to do, you had to do bleeding of the arms and neck, you had to pour liquor down the throat and then place the person in a preheated bed with a naked person next to them.
Yeah, well, that makes sense.
- To provide natural heat.
- Yes, yes, because that's what happens when you're a keen bivouacker like I was as a teenager.
You, erm No wonder you've got thrush.
You learn that if somebody gets quite severe hypothermia that you should both strip off, get inside a plastic bag together and just keep each other warm.
OK, who told you this? Was it someone holding a massive bin liner? "Come on, Holly! Come on, in you come!" "We've got to stay warm, Holly! Akela said!" Is this why you were at Go Ape yesterday? Now we come to the quintessentially QI brand of torment that is General Ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers, please.
What's the tallest building in Europe? The Shard.
KLAXON It isn't the Shard.
Well, it is the Shard, so LAUGHTER I'm in charge.
It's not the Shard.
I will give you that the Shard is the tallest building in the EU at the time of recording.
Possibly not at the time of broadcast.
The top four are all in Russia.
- Oh.
- The Lakhta Center in St Petersburg tops the list at 463 metres.
Look at that.
Isn't it astonishing? Tallest building in the world? - Anybody know? - I think I went up it in Dubai.
It is in Dubai, you're absolutely right.
It's called the Burj Khalifa.
This is astonishing.
It is nearly a kilometre high and it means that at the top of it, the sun sets more than three minutes later than at ground level.
That is how high the building is.
And during Ramadan, there are clerics who have pointed out that Muslims who live and work there, they have to stop fasting at different times depending on what floor they're on.
So one Dubai cleric reckons that people living above the 80th floor should fast for an extra two minutes and those on the 150th floor and above should fast for an extra three minutes.
I was doing a gig in Dubai with Jack Dee, we went up to the top of that.
You've never seen someone .
.
less excited.
LAUGHTER Europe's four tallest buildings are all in Russia with the Shard coming in a paltry fifth.
Right, final question.
What activity causes carpal tunnel syndrome? Masturbation.
KLAXON APPLAUSE I hope it's not masturbation because my grandma had it and she didn't seem the sort.
It's an RSI thing, right? Isn't it quite common with typing and that sort KLAXON Who knows what carpal tunnel is? It's where the tendons get inflamed in your wrist? Yes, so it's the canal that connects the arm and the hand.
It's in the wrist, and various tendons pass through it.
And what happens is when one of these swells up, it compresses on the nerves that are inside this channel - and leads to pain, numbness and tingling.
- It's really painful.
It's unbelievably painful.
You won't get it pretty much from typing or from playing video games or any of those things.
Those cause problems like tendonitis.
Yeah.
It's idiopathic, so idiopathic means we don't know.
It is an unknown cause, the swelling.
And yet I'm still wrong twice.
LAUGHTER And that's been our pleasure.
But the chances of getting it are increased with obesity, pregnancy, smoking, arthritis, diabetes, any of those things.
The only work-related activity that we absolutely know it is related to is the long term and repeated use of vibrating hand tools.
So in a way .
.
Alan was right.
KLAXON In 2018, Kim Kardashian, she revealed that the doctor had warned her to stop taking selfies - because she had injured her wrist from doing so many.
- What? So when she was filming an advert, she recruited one of her production assistants to take her selfies for her.
Now, this is a marvellous concept, to have somebody You're so rich that you have your own selfie taker.
So I have decided we needed a selfie elf, so, Anna, if you're going to come on, please, and be our selfie elf.
Thank you very much.
APPLAUSE I've got a stick now.
So if you could all come in for the selfie.
I reckon this is going to be more popular than the Ellen DeGeneres one.
You've got this, but you can't be in it, darling.
No, because you're the selfie elf I'm not having you in it.
- AUDIENCE: Aw! - No.
So are you in? Are you in? If you're taking selfies or playing computer games, you won't get carpal tunnel syndrome, but you should probably get out more.
Which leads us to the scores.
In first place with No, it's supposed to be on here.
Where is the thing? - Oh, there it is.
- Oh, no! - What?! LAUGHTER In first place, with two points, it's Holly! APPLAUSE In second place, with one point, it's Cariad! APPLAUSE In third place, with minus five - Josh.
APPLAUSE And in last place, with minus 27, it's Alan! APPLAUSE My thanks to Cariad, Josh, Holly and Alan.
And I leave you with this quintessentially QI quote from quondam quipper Oscar Levant.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility.
"There are so few of us left.
" Goodnight.
APPLAUSE