QI (2003) s17e04 Episode Script

Queasy Quacks

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE Good evening! Welcome to QI.
Tonight we are sawing bones and de-oiling snakes in a show all about quackery.
Joining me on Queasy Street are the miraculous and rejuvenating Claudia Winkleman.
Guaranteed to take years off your life, it's Victoria Coren Mitchell.
Good for anything that ails you, it's Stephen K Amos.
And the late Alan Davies.
And their buzzers don't sound well at all.
Claudia goes LOUD SNEEZE - Wow.
- I like! Victoria goes WOMAN CRIES OUT IN PAIN It's someone literally dying.
And Alan goes WET FLATULENCE Anybody else feel the need for a mop? I've given you all some quack medicines.
I would like you to persuade me to buy them.
So, we're going to start with Stephen.
What is your quack medicine? It's a jar of .
Princess Lotus Blossom's Vital Sparks.
And what do you suppose it does? The lotus blossoms, of course, - one of the most famous flowering flowers, er - Hm.
I love a flowering flower.
Don't you? - .
from Japan.
- Yes.
- Obviously, it gives you vital sparks, energy.
- Right.
- Basically, a modern-day superhero supplement.
- Right.
- Yeah.
There is a wave of superhero films at the moment.
- We should all embrace those.
- Yeah.
One of the biggest ones for me last year was, of course, Black Panther.
The Black Panther gets his superpowers by consuming - a special herb.
- OK.
Why don't we just go the whole hog and just call him "Ganjaman"? These were actually sold at the World Fair in 1904 by somebody pretending to be Princess Lotus Blossom and she was trying to give men a vital spark.
What might be the idea behind the pill that men might want to? Oh! Like a .
prop to action? Yes, exactly that.
She was actually a woman called Violet McNeal.
She was from the Midwest and she had nothing to do with being a princess but she claimed to be Chinese.
And does anybody know why she could claim to be Chinese and nobody would know? She used to put on a bit of what they used to call "yellowface".
STEPHEN SNORTS I know! That's what it was called - it was called "yellowface".
Because the Americans had banned all Chinese people in 1882, so people didn't know what a Chinese person looked like.
They just banned them? They just banned them.
The Chinese Exclusion Act.
It's a pretty clear name for an act, - isn't it? They just got rid of them.
- On what grounds? Well, that there were too many of them working and what they wanted to do was to have jobs for, you know, "Americans", who were not Chinese.
And so they got rid of them.
In fact, they got rid of them until 1943, when they allowed in 105.
- That was - That's extraordinary! - Yeah.
- So they didn't know if she was Chinese? No, they didn't know she wasn't Chinese.
She was this woman from the Midwest.
FAUX AMERICAN ACCENT: "Hell, that's Violet! "She ain't Chinese! That's Violet! "Violet, what are you doing?!" They're basically boiled sweets, but she told everybody that this was something that had come from a pouch in the turtle brain called the "Quali Quah".
FAUX AMERICAN ACCENT: "Violet, where'd you get them pills?" There it is, the Quali Quah.
And she would say, "A man who takes these pills will shout out, "'Pong-Woo-Kee!'" - which is, she claimed, Chinese for "Eureka".
So, are these from that era? If I take a couple, will the desk rise? You might just You might just come through it, like that.
Like that tunnelling thing, you know, in Thunderbirds.
I suddenly really want them to work.
I kind ofyeah.
Right, let's try another one.
Alan, you've got some medicine.
What have you got? Oh, well, it's Dr Brinkley's Formula 1020.
And what do you think's in it? I think something drawn from an animal of some sort.
A bodily fluid.
- Hm.
- And then you add it to your own self.
Cheaply priced and almost odourless.
I'm describing myself there.
It was a distillation of goat glands.
- Oh, for God's sake! - What?! - Yeah.
Well, it wasn't actually, it was just coloured water.
The temptation to fire it at the audience is almost - Oh! - Oh! LAUGHTER I'm glad I was looking at you.
I would have thought it was Stephen.
APPLAUSE AND LAUGHTER He promoted this as a distillation that would cure anything from emphysema to flatulence.
- What?! - Which is quite a range, isn't it, of diseases? - Yes.
So, I was quite close! "Cure anything", a cure-all? Yes, but he also looked part goat, I think.
- Yes! Goatee.
- Yes, exactly.
And goats were a big thing for him because, after the coloured water, he thought, "Something more significant is needed.
" And he started transplanting goats' testicles into men's scrotums - as a - Wait a min - Yeah? You can't put a goat's testicle into a man's scrotum.
- Well, as they discovered.
- And, God knows, I've tried.
He was the Goat Gland Doctor and you would select your goat and the goat would then be castrated and the testicles inserted into the patient's scrotum.
- But no, no, that didn't happen.
- Yes! No, it did happen.
And lots and lots of people did it without checking whether he was medically qualified to do this.
Well, these people, were they maybe impotent and concerned with whether they could or could not have kids? A-ha! Ah! - Baby goats.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
It's better when you explain it.
When they castrate .
sheep and goats Yeah.
then the testicles just drop off and shrivel up in the sac, don't they? Actually, that's not true, because I have held a pair of ram's testicles and - Ram's testicles? - Yes, they weren't attached to the ram at the time.
I was making a series about the dictionary and we were investigating the origins of the word "codswallop" Yep.
because nobody quite knows where it comes from, and one theory was that it's related to "cods", which is slang for "testicles".
And, you know, television being what it is, apparently I had to explain this on camera while holding a pair of ram's testicles.
- So, as in "codpiece"? - Yeah, cods, knackers, it's sort of common slang.
- No! - Yes.
And we went to a butcher's shop This is good! No, but they're enormous! Describe Like that? I mean Can I just say, this is not the direction I thought this was going to go? - Right, Claudia, your medicine.
- Yes? What are you going to sell to us? - OK.
- Let's come away, shall we, from virility? Oh, this is excellent.
Theodore Roosevelt's Baldness Salve.
- Ah! - Yeah.
It might not be your head, just an area of your body where you want some more hair! Forearms, legs "Hot, cool.
Check me out!" - Yeah.
- You use this.
- Right.
II use this.
Yeah, before this, I didn't have hair and nowyeah.
Well, it was sold by something called the Scholder Institute and it was sold as something that had been used by both Roosevelt and Houdini.
As it happens, both of them had recently died just before this product came out, so they couldn't say whether it was true or not.
You sent samples of your hair through the post for an "individual diagnosis" by Professor Scholder and he got his diagnosis from a Dominican friar.
It was rather a complicated process.
But a guy called Arthur J Cramp, who was a rather tenacious member of the American Medical Association, he sent in hairs from a fox fur coat, from a Japanese wolf dog, and then a woman with extremely long, lustrous hair, and finally a piece of wrapping twine, and each time he got the same response, which was that the hair was severely undernourished and needed Dr Scholder's cure.
It's actually just Vaseline.
- Yeah, but good.
- Good, excellent.
- But I think I did I mean, we all want some, right? - Yes.
You've sold that to us.
People have asked me whether I have experienced hair loss due to the fact that I'm wearing what is called a "do-rag".
- I thought I'd wear it tonight - Right.
to bring attention to the Great British public that that is - what this is.
- OK.
It's not a hat, it's not a hairnet.
It's a do-rag.
I get confused.
People at the airport, immigration - "Excuse me, sir, "can you take off your ".
bonnet?" And I get quite defensive, I say, "It's actually a do-rag.
" - I long - It is a hat.
I - I mean, not to get too existential, but - Please do.
What is a hat? Well, where do we draw the line? A plastic bag? If you put it on your head, it's a hat.
Right, Victoria.
A cure, please.
Yes, OK.
I have Oh! Tupperware.
Do-Nothing Mitchell's Rest Cure.
My guess is going to be that it's just fresh air in some way.
Well, it used to be known as Dr Diet And Dr Quiet.
And, actually, this guy That's him there holding a clinic, Dr Silas Mitchell.
He's not really a quack but sometimes good doctors come up with kind of quacky ideas.
Look at the do-rags on them three! Said no-one ever.
He's the father of neurology.
But he also came up with this idea, women in particular, that it was incredibly good for them to lie down, do absolutely nothing for six weeks.
And they were not allowed to do anything except be spoon-fed, maybe get up and go to the loo.
They had to drink pint after pint of milk and they were banned from reading and writing.
So, Virginia Woolf did the cure.
Her doctor prescribed it when she'd had a nervous breakdown.
She writes about it in Mrs Dalloway.
Charlotte Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper, which is a book about a woman going mad because of this rest cure.
But it was particularly given to women and it was thought that this would cure them of, I don't know, the hysterical idea that they wanted to work.
- Or read a book.
- Or read a book.
Think of all the laundry that's mounted up after six weeks.
But he was also a good doctor.
He coined the term "phantom limb syndrome".
He in fact was the first reported case of something called - "Mitchell's Disease".
- We've all been there.
Right, this next question makes me all of aquiver.
Why might you invest in a vibratory chair? VICTORIA'S BUZZER Perfect noise for it.
Because you're furnishing your vibratory? Oh! I want a vibratory! Yes! It's a new room in Sexy Cluedo.
Go in there, you get beaten to death - by an Art Deco vibrator.
- Yes.
It's a good place to go if you're mixing something in a bowl.
Well, there is an entire museum in the United States called the Museum Of Questionable Medical Devices.
It's in the Science Museum in Minnesota.
It was called the Battle Creek Vibratory Chair and it's from 1900.
There it is there.
It shook the patient violently to help waste pass through the intestines.
It also cured headaches, apparently.
It was installed in John Harvey Kellogg's sanatorium in Battle Creek.
Kelloggfamous for? Cornflakes.
Cornflakes, absolutely.
He was an odd fellow.
He believed that all sex was bad.
- I mean, everything.
- All sex? - All sex, yeah.
He was married for a long time but it's said it was never consummated.
And he produced huge quantities of semen.
I can't look at that now! "I just shook this in my chair.
" There's also, in this Museum Of Questionable Medical Devices, there's a 1970s foot-operated breast-enlarging pump, which looks completely There it is! Yeah.
Oh, is that so you can be discreet under the desk? LAUGHTER Psshhh! Pfffft! Do you mean, to pump milk out? Nope! The idea was it would make your breasts larger if you pumped at them.
Now, to a different kind of quack.
What am I saying here? SHE BLOWS A BIRD CALLER - Oh, adorable.
- Thank you.
I mean, "It's time for tea! "Get all your mallard friends.
I've laid out the area.
" "But do not bring bread!" - Yes, no, bread is very bad for ducks, that's a very good point.
- Hm.
But you mentioned mallards.
Most ducks don't quack.
But it is predominately female mallards who make this particular noise.
And why do you think they make it? Is it a duck rape alarm? Because isn't that a famous? - Consent is not big in the duck world? - No, not at all.
- They're nasty to each other sometimes, yeah.
- Yes.
And I think the mating thing is pretty horrible - hashtag quack-quack.
They mate for life and they're in love.
I believe that.
I saw it on a Valentine's card.
Oh, no, that's swans.
- Yeah.
- Yes, the sex act is a forced one for ducks.
Yeah, and they chase them down and then they keep their face out of the water by holding their neck up with their beak.
It's very unpleasant.
And then they impose themselves upon the female.
In the middle of Hampstead Heath! It's not right.
So, the females give these bouts of loud monotonous quacks, particularly during their pre-laying period.
Why might they do that? Sobut is it because they're fertile? It is because they're fertile but it isn't what you might think, which is that they are looking for a mate.
Because they quite often will do it when the mate is right there.
Weirdly, we now think it's because they're drawing the attention of any predatory mammals who might be in the area.
So, what they want to do is, if the predators come, they think, "Not going to stay here and nest, it's not safe.
" And so they're actually trying to attract the very thing that might have a go at them.
- Gosh, that's clever, isn't it? - It is clever, isn't it? - Yes.
Yes, like leaving your car doors unlocked if you go to look round a house.
Yeah, exactly that, yeah.
OK, I hadn't thought of doing that, but that's very clever.
The other possibility, of course, is that there's already a pair of ducks there and they're sending out a message saying, "We've moved in.
"Don't any other ducks come, because this is ourthis is our place.
"So go away.
" Now, let's all have a go.
You've all got a duck caller.
There is a human sport of duck calling, so trying to get the water fowl to come in order to be shot, and the best duck callers take part in a World Championship Duck Calling Contest, which is in Arkansas in every Thanksgiving.
Well, why don't we all go? I don't know! - Why aren't we there? - I know! Let's see if we're good enough.
THEY BLOW ON THEIR BIRD CALLERS LAUGHTER Victorian children used to make their bird callers by cutting the larynx from a recently dead goose.
And blowing through it.
- Oh, thank God television was invented.
- I know.
But look what they used to do if a child had no legs! You just had to muck in.
Anyway, in 1850 there was a 12-year-old who accidentally swallowed his goose's larynx that he was blowing through and he started honking like a goose every .
every time he breathed.
And there was a German doctor who eventually performed a tracheotomy on him and there's a medical paper entitled On The Removal Of A Larynx Of A Goose From That Of A Child.
Mallards quack to check for predators and avoid becoming a sitting duck.
AUDIENCE GROANS Ugh! Would you like to meet Vomiting Larry? No.
What? Have you got a thing about vomit? I'm just closing my eyes.
You continue.
- No, we're not actually going to show vomit.
- OK.
We're just going to talk about it a lot.
Oh, I thought somebody called Larry was just going to come and be sick.
Yeah, it's going to be a volcano - or some kind of weird beetle - Of course.
- .
or something.
It's not a volcano, it is a humanoid simulated vomiting system developed by a UK's Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire by researcher Dr Cat Makison Booth.
- And there is Cat and there is Vomiting Larry.
- Sorry.
Sorry! - Sorry.
- It's fine.
Cat, I believe that Larry can vomit on command.
- He can.
- But why would you invent such a thing? So we're looking at infection transmission, so we want to identify how far vomit spreads so that we can help clear it all back up again and prevent transmission of fluid.
I kind of wish he was full, though, now, - so we could get Alan back for earlier on.
- Yes, for shooting you with goat gland.
Presumably, I'm going to guess, it's further than we think the little pool of vomit? Yeah, it would kind of fill, with all the droplets and splash, most of this bit of the studio.
- No! Wow! - Yeah, but you wouldn't be able to see it, so when you come to clean up the main bulk, you'd stand in it, spread it everywhere.
So you're just carrying on spreading, even when you think - you've cleaned it all up? - Yeah, yeah.
Can I? Why is he called Larry? Because the head of the system is called Airway Larry.
So it's for when medical students are practising laryngoscopies.
- Yeah, obviously.
- So that's where the Larry came from.
- Oh! Do the medical students not provide enough vomit? I mean But they can't do it on command, so, you know - I think it has to be one, two, three, go.
- Yeah.
- Like that.
OK, so now, we can't have Larry actually vomit, you'll be very pleased to know.
- However - Vomit! Vomit! Vomit! Come on, Laurence.
We do have a film of Larry.
We're going to have the film without sound, but if any of you lovely people would like to join in and create the sounds that you imagine Larry might make, then help yourselves.
- Why, of course.
- Yeah, let's have a look.
You only have to ask once! Here we go.
ALAN: Urrrgh.
LAUGHTER Urrgh, God, I'm dying! Arrrrrgh! It's coming out of my arse as well! LAUGHTER APPLAUSE You know when you're being sick and you can't turn round quick enough, because you know it's going to "Oh no, oh no! No!" Pffft! "Argh, argh, God! Flush it, flush, flush it.
" Cat, I'm so sorry, darling.
The norovirus, presumably one of the things that you've been looking at, is that right? Yeah, that's the key thing we're looking at.
So it's really infectious, can be infected with ten viruses and you can have kind of a thousand million in a litre of fluid.
- So, highly transmissible.
- Wow! It's like the Ferrari of the virus world, - isn't it? - Definitely.
- This is actually the norovirus here.
I mean, it looks like candied popcorn.
- But it's actually the norovirus.
- Yeah.
- Well, thank you so much for bringing Larry in.
Dr Cat Makison Booth.
Here's another question to make you queasy.
What happened when Michelangelo took his socks off? Oh, don't say some of his foot came away.
- Oh, no.
- Oh! Apparently, he didn't wash, but his skin used to come off if he took his clothes off.
So, this is thought to be a portrait of him by Raphael.
It's sort of having a go at him.
Raphael was a kind of young buck and Michelangelo was quite old by then.
And he has Michelangelo playing Heraclitus, sort of the weeping, grumpy philosopher, because Michelangelo was incredibly grumpy.
But according to Michelangelo's biographer, "He wore stockings "of dog skin constantly for months together, "so that when he took them off, "the skin of the leg often came away with them.
Actually, there's a really fascinating thing about Michelangelo that they've fairly recently discovered, that you can probably tell a Michelangelo sculpture.
So if you take something like the Rothschild Bronzes, there are three ways, in fact, the experts now say you can find that it's a Michelangelo.
The first thing is that the first and second toes are splayed in the figure.
And he always depicts the abdomen as not having a six-pack but an eight-pack.
And he gives his sculptures unruly pubic hair.
And the suggestion is that one of his favourite models must have had all of those attributes.
The toes and the eight-pack and the unruly pubic hair.
I wouldn't say that's unruly.
Well, it's not had a comb, has it? I like that that's now what we're all looking at.
It was what we were all looking at anyway.
I'll tell you what, the Milk Tray man's let himself go.
Alan, why might I syphon four gallons of gas up your bottom? How did you get a photograph of that, you swine? I'm talking about hydrogen.
Is it going to have an enema effect? Is it a colon cleanser? - It is a It is a medical thing, so - Is it flammable? It is exactly flammable and that is why it matters.
- Oh, ho, ho! - Yeah.
So - Boof! - This is not exactly - Wow! - Oh, are you actually going to do it? - Yeah.
There was an American military surgeon who was called Nicholas Senn, and he came up with a system for checking whether you'd been shot in the guts.
So one of the things they would do is, they would pump hydrogen up your backside and then set fire to the gas as it escaped from the wound in your stomach.
So we're talking about the late 19th century.
It was a huge problem for surgeons to work out whether a wounded patient had their intestinal canal pierced by a bullet.
- Can't you just put them under water, like an inner tube? - Yes.
If you did the surgery and it wasn't necessary, it could kill somebody.
So they needed to work it out.
And so he came up with this system.
It was called Rectal Insufflation of Hydrogen Gas.
And it's a bit like a plumber looking for a leak in a gas pipe.
If it had gone in, it would escape through the hole.
And he did try it.
And if there was no hole, they would just explode.
Yes, well, he did try it on several dogs first, - to the point where their intestines ruptured.
- Oh, God! I know.
HE HOWLS - Pfft! - But then he decided to try it on himself and he had his assistant pump six litres of gas up his bottom.
Can I just read this, cos it's awful? "He found that the escape of air or gas from the rectum "was prevented by an assistant pressing the margins of the anus "firmly above the rectal tube.
" He tried it on two patients.
It never really caught on.
He's quite clear that the entire thing was devised because he fancied his assistant.
Also, sometimes I think with these stories about research, they just get to the end of a long day and they think, "Let's see what happens if you stick a load of "hydrogen up their arse.
" I think that's enough from the ANALS of medical history.
AUDIENCE GROANS It's time to move on to that sick puppy that is General Ignorance.
So tell me, what's the technical name of the first patient in a disease outbreak? Keith.
Oh, the audience will know.
Who What is it? AUDIENCE: Patient Zero.
KLAXON Ha-ha-ha! See, you fell into that trap immediately.
No, it's the Index Case, or Index Patient.
People do think that it's Patient Zero and actually it's based on a mistake.
The very first time that was given was to a man called Gaetan Dugas and he was a French Canadian flight attendant, who allegedly contracted HIV in Haiti.
And he spread it, allegedly, to lots of men during his lifetime.
And he wasn't referred to as Patient Zero, he was Patient O, and the O stood for Outside California.
But people now think that it was Patient Zero.
Which is cleaner, the gents or the ladies? CLAUDIA'S BUZZER Yeah? - I mean, I haven't used that enough.
- No.
- We all agree.
Yeah, that's a very good noise, isn't it? Ladies.
KLAXON I know! I mean, come on! So there was a study at the University of Arizona, and apparently ladies' loos are germier.
Why might that be, do you think? Cos we chat in there for quite a long time.
- We spend longer in there, but also we take children in.
- Ah.
You know, crazy germ-carriers.
How are those two floating through the doors like that? That is slightly disturbing, isn't it? Women wash their hands a lot more than men.
Men less likely to wash their hands at sporting venues.
They had a study at Turner Field Baseball Stadium in Atlanta - men wash their hands just 65% of the time when they're at a sporting venue.
I don't know how this works.
It says here the study involved "researchers discreetly observing.
" I would say it's considerably less than 65% of men - Oh, would you say? - .
wash their hands after they've had a wee at the Arsenal.
I think there's about five of us who use those sinks.
In fact, at the old Wembley Stadium, you'd go to wash your hands and then usually there'd be about six blokes pissing in the sink.
Either of you ladies think that it's worth putting down - toilet paper on the seat? - No.
- No, why? No, because you slide off, don't you? I don't have the time.
Can't go, "I'll be out in a minute, "to have fun with my friends.
" "Don't worry, we'll see "the fireworks another time.
" Every time I've ever used a public loo, I've always stood there going, - "What are they doing in there?!" - That's that.
- Is that what it is? - Yeah.
It's that.
- Sort of crocheting their own seats? No, but here's the good news - it's a complete waste of time.
The toilet seat is designed to not keep bacteria on it, whereas toilet paper - unbelievably absorbent.
- And squatting? - Well, I'm more inclined to hover myself.
Yeah, so hovering, hmm, also a bad idea.
The pelvic floor muscles can't relax and so your bladder doesn't fully empty.
It's also a waste of a superpower.
- I mean, if you can hover - Yeah.
APPLAUSE It turns out that the gentlemen's lavs are cleaner than the ladies', despite the smell.
After you've been drawn, hanged and quartered, how many parts do you end up in? Hmm, quartered would suggest, um, what, is it? Is it four? - KLAXON - No! - Five.
- It is five.
Why is it five? - Do they put your head somewhere else? - Head, yeah, absolutely.
So it's your head plus the four quarters of your body.
What used to happen sometimes is that the various body parts could be spread all over the country.
So, William Wallace, after his execution, his four quarters were sent to Newcastle, Berwick, Perth and Stirling.
But his head remained on London Bridge.
And there used to be a thing called the Keeper of the Heads.
So about 300 years, the London Bridge Gatehouse was home to the Keeper of the Heads, and his job was to display the traitors' heads to good effect.
Take down the old ones.
You know, "Oh, that one's looking a bit tired.
" - I'll take that one down.
- A bit maggoty.
All of which brings us to the cruel and unusual punishment of the scores.
Coming in first, with surgical precision, oh, my goodness, with eight points, it's Stephen.
Oh, my goodness.
Thank you so much.
Thank you.
In second place, it's Alan.
Seven actual points.
And in third place, with minus five, Victoria.
Minus six, it's Claudia.
But Claudia is not last.
In last place, with minus ten, it's the audience! Which means I only have to thank Claudia, Stephen, Victoria and Alan.
And I leave you with this quirky quotation from George Carlin.
"Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do 'practise'?" Thank you and goodnight.
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