QI (2003) s17e14 Episode Script

Queens

1 APPLAUSE AND CHEERING Good evening, and welcome to QI where tonight, I am queen of a quorum of queens.
Let's meet one's loyal subjects.
Speaking the Queen's English, Colin Lane.
- APPLAUSE AND CHEERING - Thank you.
Hello.
Thank you.
Taking the Queen's shilling, David Mitchell.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING Wearing the Queen's uniform, Sarah Millican.
APPLAUSE AND CHEERING And the Groom of the Stool, Alan Davies! LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE Thank you.
Right, let's hear their queenly quartet.
Sarah goes Playing with the Queen of Hearts! Nice.
Colin goes You are the dancing queen Aw, I love a bit of Scandi music.
And David goes And a homecoming queen And Alan goes MUSIC: Land of Hope and Glory QUEEN'S VOICE: And what do you do? Right.
What can you tell me about the royal "we"? It doesn't smell? - APPLAUSE - Goodnight! Thank you.
And we're off and running.
Hey! IMITATES RICHIE BENAUD: Colin Lane there, edging his first delivery to slip.
- Richie Benaud, it's Richie Benaud.
- Right, yes.
- Was that an Australian accent? - Oh, come on! - I've been working on that since you were last here.
- Really? - They don't open their teeth up.
- "They"? They? - They? - They? - Yes.
- They? - I've busted my crown, you see? - Oh, no.
I'll go over to this side.
What can you tell me about the royal "we"? There was something weird about George III's wee.
I think it maybe was purple and then, they thought he had porphyria.
And then, now, they think he didn't have porphyria, but they were definitely saying there's something up with this guy's wee.
Yeah.
Also, he's gone mad.
Yes.
That is entirely correct, but I am heading in a different direction.
Why might a royal person say "we?" Ah, first person plural.
It is - the majestic plural.
It's known as nosism from the Latin "nos", for "we".
It's the idea that the royal person, instead of referring to themselves as "I", in fact, says "we".
Implying there's more than one of them.
Yes, well, we can trace it back to Henry II, and it used to mean "God and I", that's what it really comes from.
We've got Henry II there and his successor, Richard I, and it's Richard I that introduced the motto "Dieu et mon droit", "God and my right", and that remains the royal motto ever since.
He's got your crown on, Dave, he's got your crown! I like to think this is like a working crown.
This isn't like a Parliament-opening coronation crown Daily.
Yeah, you can wear it all the time, - you can go into battle - Doing the dishes.
- Going to get a paper and some fags.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
- Going to the garage at 3am with the munchies.
- Yeah, yeah.
Here's the thing, the Queen doesn't actually use the pronoun "one" as much as you would think.
They analysed all her speeches since 1952 and she uses "I" six times more often than she says "one".
It's a parody, really, of how she speaks, because it isn't.
- Unless she got bored of it.
- "One's not doing that any more.
" It must be boring being Queen, so, just mix it up a bit.
It must be quite dull, do you not think? Constantly having to open and close things.
I don't think, to be fair, you mean opening as in launching - Yeah.
- .
.
I don't think she closes many things.
You know, when BHS went under APPLAUSE Now, who chews the Queen's food? Beefeaters! Bacteria.
Oh! Yes, I would accept that, except that we are in the land of honey.
- It's a bee? - Is it worker bees, the worker bees? Worker bees, it is.
It's not all the other bees because they divide up into lots of categories.
So, there's lazy ones as well.
There are drone ones, there are scout ones, there are worker ones.
- There are product development bees, aren't there? - Yeah, marketing.
And they've achieved very little recently.
- I mean, it is just honey, isn't it? - Yes.
Unless it's Manuka honey, and then, it's 15 quid.
What are those bees on? But when you compare them to Kit Kat, I mean, Kit Kat, there's orange Kit Kat, there are various others, I mean.
they've really worked on the product development, compared to honey is just honey.
So, worker bees, they pre-digest the queen's food because she doesn't have the necessary glands to digest it herself.
Even more unpleasant than that, - they have the power to put her on a crash diet.
- What? Yes, I know.
So, she gets really big and heavy, she's too heavy to fly, and when they want to swarm, which they do once a year, they put her on a crash diet so that she loses a third of her body weight and so she's ready to take off.
Is there a committee or something, there's some level of management that goes, "You know, the queen's getting a bit porky, maybe?" Well, we genuinely don't know how these decisions are made.
So, for example, choosing a new queen, they seem to select rather randomly a bee at the larva stage and they give it a special diet different from all of the workers.
So, these are queen cups, these are new queens being developed.
Most larvae are fed honey and pollen by worker bees, but occasionally, one is fed only royal jelly which is a sort of protein that's secreted from the glands in the worker bees' heads.
And this one is elevated to royal status and becomes queen.
But I like that you asked the question because, the truth is, - we don't know.
- Oh, thank you very much.
Thank you.
We used to think the royal jelly made the queens develop differently.
And we now think it's not what's fed, but what she is not fed.
So, the fact that she does not get pollen and honey like the others, it actually makes her ovaries grow large, while the others' reproductive organs, the ones that get the pollen and honey, they actually shrink.
It's a terrible life, actually, because when it comes time to get rid of her - she's sick or she's unproductive, she's not having any more babies - the workers kill her by balling her.
Oh, I don't know if I want to know what that is.
No, no.
It's not what I think it is? No.
A large group swarms tightly around her and raises It's better than I was thinking, yeah! .
.
raises her body temperature until she is fatally over-heated.
- AUDIENCE: Oh! - I know! This is awful.
I love that we're all feeling sorry for this queen bee.
But actually, we say "queen bee" - since Aristotle's time, it was always assumed it was a king.
It took until the 1670s, there was a Dutch scientist called Jan Swammerdam, and he dissected a king bee under a microscope and was rather shocked to discover the size of the ovaries which represent a quarter of a mature queen's body weight.
He also learnt this great thing - if you remove the queen from the hive on a stick, all the other bees will follow you, and this is a bee-keeping trick that people use now.
And the most bizarre use was in the 18th century - in show business, there was a bee-keeper called Daniel Wildman and he had a honey shop in London and he promoted it by riding horses standing up while wearing a beard of bees.
And that made people buy from his shop, rather than think he was mad? It's pretty startling, if you have a look.
This is not him, but these are other people who have the skill of getting bees to do as they please.
Do they all have honey shops as well? I think they were just selling tickets in the end because there was a woman called Patty Jones, she wife of the inventor of the modern circus, Philip Astley, and she used to perform horse riding stunts, but she used to have a swarm of bees on her hand imitating a lady's muff.
Ooh-ho-ho! I mean a hand-warmer! So do I! Now, who has sex for 15 years and gets licked to death by their own children? It's going to be an insect or something.
Is it something like a Like a termite? - It is a termite.
- It is? - You're absolutely right, yes.
How did you know that? APPLAUSE Now, just be warned, even if you like insects, I think this is a bit gross, OK.
And I don't really like insects.
- I accept they're necessary.
- Yeah, they are necessary, but this is, honestly, a yellow, pulsating mass.
So, the termite queen, just like bees, is the only fertile female in the colony, and she gives birth to all the rest, but, unlike other insects, mates for life - and I mean, literally.
So, after choosing a king, spends 15 years incessantly mating, to produce the nest colony.
- She produces one egg every three seconds.
- No! I know! And we go, ugh! So, over a quarter-of-a-billion in her lifetime.
ALAN MAKES SPLUTTERING NOISE It's like a paintball machine.
So, you can just see her head at the front and that is her body, and her egg-producing organ becomes so massive that she's rendered entirely There she is.
GROANING I know.
She's played by Olivia Coleman in the film.
APPLAUSE But she's literally pulsating, producing eggs the whole time.
She grows to be too large to leave the cell.
She can be 100 times the size of the other termites.
- Is that the king there, on the end? - No, that's her.
- The black bit at the end there - Is her.
- .
.
that's her? - And the rest is egg-producing organ.
- Ugh! - I said it was gross.
Is she having sex and producing an egg at the same time? Yeah, so, she's endlessly shagging.
She goes through about five to ten kings in her lifetime.
I think they just get exhausted.
I think they just can't deal with it.
I mean, does she do it the same way every time? Like, do they have to experiment with the sex life - to keep it fun and, you know? - No, I think she just gets rid of the king.
And she can't move, so, her babies tend to her, they feed her, they clean her, they drink the secretion that she sweats.
Look at this.
AUDIENCE GROANS I did warn you it's revolting.
But when she had outlived her usefulness, so, she's not producing enough babies any more, the children surround her and they lick her to death.
They literally suck the fluids and fats from her body.
Who'd have thought that there was such a disgusting story behind something as lovely as a termite?! Anyway, what's wrong with the Queen in this picture? Nothing at all.
Oh, no, he's kissing her hand.
Sorry, I just realised.
Sorry! APPLAUSE Did you think that was a clean-shaven gentleman? - Is she dead? - She is dead.
Oh! This is Ines de Castro.
So, we are back in the 14th century.
She was the mistress of the then future king of Portugal, Peter I.
He had a wife called Constance, and she died.
He was very sad, so, he immediately moved Ines in and they had three illegitimate children.
Now, his dad was still king then, Alfonso IV, he was furious, so, he had Ines killed.
Well, obviously, Peter didn't like this very much, so, he caught two of the killers and he had their hearts torn out and pulverised before him while he ate dinner.
So, quite cross.
I mean, on the whole, quite cross.
Six years later, he became king.
He announced that he and Ines had secretly married.
He dug her up and GROANING Yes, and placed her on the throne and forced the court to swear allegiance to her and kiss her hand.
So, she's not only dead, darling, she's been buried for six years.
- Well, in which case, they've done a great job.
- Yeah.
- She looks pretty good.
- Yeah, absolutely.
I mean, I look worse than that many days.
But actually, in this country, we had a similar sort of thing.
So, in 1667, 230 years after Catherine of Valois - she was the queen consort of Henry V - died, her tomb was disturbed.
They were doing some renovations in Westminster Abbey.
And, after that, if you paid a little bit extra to your tour guide, they would take you to see the corpse.
It became a sort of tourist attraction.
And Samuel Pepys took his wife and daughters to see it, and this is really weird, he wrote in his diary, "I did kiss her mouth, reflecting upon it that I did kiss a Queen, "that this was my birthday, 36 years old, that I did first kiss a Queen.
" I know! She was 230 years dead.
It still counts.
LAUGHTER If it was his first Queen, was it his first corpse, though? Maybe he couldn't say it was his first corpse because he's already done that, - so, he had to say it was his first Queen.
- Awkward! - Yeah, yeah.
"Oh, the corpse thing? Oh, that!" "I did that ages ago.
That was my 30th.
" - Is that the dead Queen? - I would suggest that - that's a wooden carving of her.
- It looks wood, yes.
- DAVID: If that's her dead body, it's had work.
- Yeah.
LAUGHTER Ines de Castro was a bit of a stiff, you know, even for a royal! Now .
.
who was the first queen to get a Brazilian? Ooh.
Oh.
Cleopatra.
- Why do you think her? - She used to bath in milk.
- She was up for stuff.
- Asses' milk.
- Yeah.
- Yeah, not even normal milk.
- No.
She married several of her brothers.
She was a, you know, what we'd call now - a "weirdo".
- LAUGHTER - No, it is not her.
- Did someone get a Brazilian husband? We are heading indeed to Brazil, if that helps.
I had to have this picture explained to me when I first saw it.
LAUGHTER Well, we know more about you than we thought we did! I'm in the same gang as you, high-five! Go, girl! Honestly, I thought it was caramel, I had no idea what it might be.
LAUGHTER We're going to 1807, we are going to Portugal - the Crown Prince, Dom Joao.
Napoleon is approaching and he takes his entire court, including his Queen, Carlota, and he thinks, "Let's go to one of our colonies," and they head off to Brazil.
So, they go off in a convoy of ships from Lisbon to Brazil, 10,000 people go with him.
And it's unbelievably overcrowded and unhygienic, and a lice infestation breaks out.
So, in order to get rid of the lice, they all, including all the women, they have to shave their heads, they have to throw all their powdered wigs away and cover their heads in pig fat.
Now, they're about to arrive in Brazil, - they want to make a bit of a stir.
- A to-do.
But they've got bald heads and pig fat.
I think that'll do the job, then! They arrive at a place called Guanabara Bay and Carlota and all the other royal women emerged with their bald heads covered with improvised turbans.
And apparently, so the story goes, the Brazilian women thought this was the height of European style, and it became the local fashion.
But the problem is that Brazil is full of a wonderful African-Brazilian population, and I would have thought that the turban thing would have come from that part of the world originally.
- But we don't know.
- So, they were bald everywhere, then? Are you worrying about? Well, I've just grown my winter's coat in.
This one looks not unlike David Mitchell.
Do you not think she looks a bit like Marty Feldman? Yes, crossed with David Mitchell.
This is building up into quite the compliment! Whether the story is true or not about the Brazilians, there is a long history of commoners imitating royals.
There was a man called Guglielmo, Duke of Mantua.
He was a hunchback.
So, we're talking 16th century, and so, all of his courtiers put humps on to compliment him.
- Aw! - You've got to judge that carefully.
- Yeah.
- Because it might look like you're taking the piss.
- Just a bit! Here's another interesting fashion for royals.
Louis XIV, he had a fashion that courtiers should have one long fingernail.
Why was that? My husband's got one special toenail for scratching his eczema.
It's awful, isn't it? - APPALLED LAUGHTER - That's genuinely true.
Is that the sort of thing you were after? I feel, in this show, you and I are in danger of over-sharing.
- And you seem to be fine with that, though.
- Yeah, - as long as he keeps it to himself, I'm all right.
- Right.
- Yeah, yeah.
- He hasn't really, has he, now? - No.
He's only told me quite recently, and we've been together for nearly 15 years.
So, there's nothing I can do about it now, is what I'm saying, I'm stuck with it.
Except maybe pay more attention in the future.
So, the one long fingernail, what do we reckon? Is that a cane that he's leaning on, or is that the fingernail? I want that to be it.
No, he didn't have the fingernail, so, it was the courtiers who had one.
- Everyone else had to have the fingernail? - Yes.
Was it to do with his anus? Let me just get that out of my head.
What are you doing in your head? I'm just imagining GROANING AND LAUGHTER That is your takeaway from this show .
.
a pulsating termite, and a fingernail up Louis XIV's arse.
Now In this - .
.
in this reality, he said, "I want any of you to be ready.
" - Yeah.
"There's no telling who I'm going to ask "to stick their fingernail up my anus, "so, I want you all to grow it.
"I don't want it to be a specialism, "I want to say, 'You, now! Up there!'" No, so, he decreed that nobody was allowed to knock on his door.
- So, instead they - Just scratch.
MAKES SCRAPING NOISES They had to scratch really gently with one finger.
And so, it became a thing that you grew a fingernail especially to scratch on the King's door.
And it really rather suggested you had the King's ear.
I know, weird rules.
Honestly, would've been better off if they'd done it up his arse.
I just think Anyway, moving on.
What was your best chance of seeing the Queen's Ass in the 18th century? Asking really, really, really nicely.
Is she standing underneath some sort of a vacuum that sucked her hair? No, those are Those are bees, I think! - Is it a donkey? - Yes, it is.
- It's not the Queen's bum, is it? - It's not the Queen's bum at all.
This is Queen Charlotte, she was the wife of George the? George III? George III, absolutely right.
- He's very good on his monarchs, yes.
- He's very good.
- I'm tickling it out of him.
- Ew! That's my My secret, yeah.
Yeah, an anus full of facts! "The Anus of Fact.
" And that's actually the working title of my memoir! It wasn't a donkey, it was a zebra.
It was known as the Queen's Ass, given to her by the Governor of the Cape in South Africa in 1761.
It was a wedding present.
He sent a pair, he sent a male and a female.
Unfortunately, the male, no stamina, died en route.
But the female arrived, only a year late for the wedding, but, hey! And it was a very popular attraction.
Lots of people had never seen one before and she had stables at Buckingham Gate.
And George Stubbs, the great painter, produced a marvellous large painting.
And apparently, she bred it.
I mean, not! LAUGHTER I say not her personally.
But apparently, they painted white stripes on the backside of a male donkey to persuade her to mate with it.
And it worked and gave birth.
So, what would that be - a donkey and a zebra? - A donkra? - A donkra, I like that.
- A zebrey.
- Zebkey.
It sounds like a condition, it's a zebroid.
- A zebroid? - Oh.
You know how you can't sit very well and go, "Oh, it's my zebroids.
" - Aw! - Aah! - Oh, they like that.
- That's a very good photo.
For 18th-century technology, that's an amazing photo! It does look like a donkey in leggings, doesn't it? Donkeys in tights! Apparently, they use the same technique for breeding race horses.
Some stallions will only mate with mares of a particular colour.
I wear a George Clooney mask, quite often when I make love.
On my bum, you understand.
We've got a dog collar, a hound tether, a game noose and you've got the horn.
What game can we play? - What noose have we got? - A game noose.
Oh, a noose that's up for anything.
- A game noose.
- It's a game noose.
Well, let's just try and work it out.
What might you do with a game noose? So, that's the third one.
Is it where, you know, you don't want to shoot pheasants, but you might encourage them to commit suicide? So, sort of saying, maybe, I mean, you're a pheasant, what is there to live for, you know? Anyway, there it is.
I mean, to be honest, if the pheasant's killed itself, it's not the same thing as eating it having shot it, is it? You could probably make an argument that it's like a vegan pheasant.
LAUGHTER It is kind of what David is talking about, it's about pheasants, but you want to be able to carry them home.
Like little soft handcuffs, or something? Well, I think more you put it round its neck, darling, and carry it home on your belt.
It's like a pheasant clip.
Exactly, darling, yes.
"Where the hell am I going to put my pheasant? - "Oh, I know, I've got my game noose.
" - Yeah.
So, all of these things come from one game.
A dog collar, a hound tether, a game noose and a horn.
From somewhere around 1470, this game.
SARAH: Is it a sex game? Well, it depends how you play it, I suppose! Let's not limit ourselves! Is it cards? It is absolutely cards.
So, the world's oldest full set of playing cards, it's called the Hofjager Hunting Pack.
It's currently at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.
What's the top one? It looks like a balloon whisk.
So, instead of the suits that we have today, if we go through them, the dog collar on the bottom, and then the game noose, - and then the horn, and then a hound tether.
- Oh, OK.
There weren't any rule books until the 17th century, so we don't know what kind of games they would have played.
But this would have been one of the first packs to have a queen.
In Europe, they originally had no queen - they had a cavalier on horseback instead.
But around the 15th century, they start to swap them out and start to have a queen.
But lots of things have changed in games, because the queen in chess was originally the vizier, so, the sort of adviser, the minister.
The chess board was a battlefield, and then, it eventually became the Royal Court, so you get the vizier, the infantry, the cavalry, the elephants and the chariots.
They become the queen, the knight, the bishop, and so on.
In Monopoly, when did they start having the little dog and the hat and all of that? When did that kick off? - That is a very good question.
- Thanks.
- There were, in fact, all just charms off a charm bracelet.
- Oh.
I know.
Sorry.
Yeah, that's a shit answer.
Sorry.
- I don't know, Sarah, but let's hope one day somebody finds out.
- Thanks.
They'll just edit the bit out where I tell you the truth.
OK.
I believe they were charms from a charm bracelet! LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE - Did you get that from your Anus of Facts? - Yes.
Yeah, I've just popped into my own anus and Now it's time for the short walk to the chopping block we call General Ignorance.
Fingers on buzzers, please.
What's the oldest object in the Crown Jewels? Is it the Queen? LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE It's not a bad guess.
Homecoming queen! Wow, that's really loud! I'm sorry, I turned the volume right up.
It's an old spoon.
Yes, you are absolutely right.
It is an old spoon.
APPLAUSE - Another one out of the anus.
- Yeah, I know.
- How old, David? - How old? Well, most of the Crown Jewels were lost at the Civil War.
Almost everything is post-Civil War - ALAN MAKES SQUEAKING SOUND - .
.
and there's the odd thing left.
The anus speaks! There's only a very few things from before that, so, from before then.
So, it's late 12th-century, so, it's a ten-and-a-half-inch-long anointing spoon, it's one of only four things that we have which predate the Restoration.
The other three are some 17th-century swords.
It's from about the time of Edward the Confessor.
You get a set of coronation regalia which gets passed down from ruler to ruler.
But then, of course, as you say, the monarchy was abolished and the new government decides to melt everything down.
But there was a guy called Mr Kynnersley.
He was the Yeoman of Charles I's wardrobe, and he bought the spoon for 16 shillings - about 11 days' wages at the time, so it's not a complete fortune.
And when the monarchy was restored, he returned the spoon.
- Did they give him 16 shillings? - No, he just gave it back.
- He just returned it.
- What a lovely gesture.
- Yeah.
Now, who wrote the Queensberry Rules? The Marquess of Queensberry? I didn't say it! I never said it! He endorsed them, he did not write them.
They were written by a Welshman called John Graham Chambers.
So, he founded the Amateur Athletic Club.
He's probably famous for the fact that he rode beside a man called Matthew Webb - anybody know what Matthew Webb did? - He was in a sketch double-act.
- Sketch double-act, yeah! He was the really funny one.
He was really, really funny! LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE Matthew Webb - first person recorded to swim the Channel in 1875.
But you said the first person "recorded".
Does that mean that other people did it and just didn't tell anybody? - Yeah, ssh! - Ssh! - People have been doing it for years! I mean, we don't know, do we, because they didn't tell anybody? - Exactly.
Yeah.
Just kept it quiet.
- It's like the moon.
Who knows how many people have been popping up to the moon? And it wasn't Columbus that discovered the Americas, the Vikings went there ages ago.
- The Vikings probably went to the moon.
- Yeah.
I think the strangest adoption of the Queensberry Rules boxing was a sport, it was called horse boxing and it was the invention of a guy who invented it in Berlin, an African-American boxer called Bobby Dobbs.
It's essentially a boxing match but you just sit and punch each other .
.
on a horse.
While the horses have a little chat.
Yeah.
Can you think of a quicker way of making horses despise humanity? Well, apparently, in 1912, it was demonstrated at a tournament in Germany.
They thought of putting this into the German Army's proper officer training.
"The new sport will be valuable for the soldier on horseback "in time of war as, when he loses his weapons, "he will have to fall back on his natural means of defence.
" It didn't work out as a sport.
Anybody know why? Can't hold the reins? - Horses did not want to stand still.
- Ah! Which brings us to the final fanfare of the scores.
In first place, oh, with a sovereign eight, it's Sarah! APPLAUSE AND CHEERING I'm really happy.
In second place, with minus one, it's David! CHEERING AND APPLAUSE In third place, with minus seven, Colin! CHEERING AND APPLAUSE And in fourth place, with a magnificent minus 25, it's Alan! - What?! - CHEERING AND APPLAUSE Which means I have only to thank Sarah, David, Colin and Alan, and leave you with this queenly quotation - when Edward VII was asked if his mother, Queen Victoria, would be happy in heaven, he replied, "She will have to walk behind the angels, "and she won't like that.
" Goodnight.