List of QI episodes (A series)

This is a list of episodes of QI, the BBC comedy panel game television show hosted by Stephen Fry.

The first series started on 11 September 2003. Although not mentioned at the time, all of the questions (with the exception of the final "general ignorance" round) were on subjects beginning with "a" (such as "arthropods", "Alans" and "astronomy"). The following four series continued the theme: the second series' subjects all began with "b", and so on.

The dates in the lists are those of the BBC Two broadcasts. The episodes were also broadcast on BBC Four, generally a week earlier (as soon as one episode finished on BBC Two, the next was shown on BBC Four). Aside from Alan Davies and not adding clip shows, there are six guests that have appeared in ten or more episodes (out of 61), they are Jo Brand (18), Rich Hall (16), Phill Jupitus (16), Bill Bailey (15), Sean Lock (14) and Clive Anderson (10). Excluding the Pilot there have been a total of 51 different guest panellists in the four series to date. The fifth series began to air on BBC Two on 21 September 2007.

Disclaimer: Some facts stated during the series have since been found to be incorrect, in some cases due to a mistake and others by becoming outdated. Where possible these entries have been highlighted.


Broadcast date:

  • Unbroadcast on television but released as an extra on the Series 1 DVD. This is also the only episode in which the scores are announced after each round. On the broadcast episodes, the scores are only revealed at the end of the game.Panellists:
  • Alan Davies (118 points)
  • Bill Bailey (Winner with 132 points)
  • Eddie Izzard (131 points)
  • Kit Hesketh-Harvey (125 points) Topics:


Tangent: The Gibraltarian Minister of Tourism is called Joe Holliday, the Archbishop of Manila is called Cardinal Sin and the German name "Dick Brett" means "Thick Plank".

Tangent: Paul Daniels performing a magic trick based on the legend of King Arthur.

  • 'Butter hamlets' are small tropical fish which can be found in 10 different colours.
  • Tim is the 6th most popular name for a baby boy in Germany. In 1992, the French Government relaxed the laws on what French children could be legally christened and the following year, the most popular name for a baby French boy was Kevin. (Forfeit: Adolph - because Stephen's card was spelt like that and Alan who said the answer was thinking "Adolf" as in Adolf Hitler, the penalty was reduced to -8 points)
  • Richard Gere's middle name is Tiffany. (Forfeit: Gerbil)

Tangent: The name for the Director of Planning & Strategic Development at Aberdeen City Council is Peter Cockhead.Scores:

  • Bill - 15
  • Alan - 25
  • Eddie - 31
  • Kit - 35


Tangent: When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, there were no bathrooms in Buckingham Palace. King George IV had a magnificent marble bath at the Brighton Pavilion, but Victoria had it sawn up into mantlepieces.

Tangent: A pig's penis is a spiral-shape.


Tangent: The Finnish word for "bad news" is "Jobinposti". The Dutch word "Nijlpaard" means hippopotamus and "Koksmuts" means a chef's hat.

  • Guessing the meanings of Dutch words.
    • Pronk - Flaunt
    • Sloot - Ditch
    • Kloof - Gap
    • Lonk - To Ogle
    • Oog - Eyes
    • Wanklank - A discordant noise
  • "Tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog moesten vele Nederlanders tulpenbollen eten," is Dutch for, "During the Second World War, many Dutch people had to eat tulip bulbs," which is a true fact.

Tangent: If dogs eat toothpaste, they hallucinate. Alan admits he heard this fact from someone from the pub. (Although on an episode in Series "B", it is revealed that this fact is true). Another kind of dog hunts deer by biting off the testicles.
Tangent: In Greece, the word for bread and lavatory seat is the same word, "Kolóura".

  • The word "Thespian" means "Awful" in Greek, as in "Awe inspiring." It also means, "Divine".

Tangent: In Denmark, since the Danish word for "King" is "kong", "King Kong" is known as "Kong King".Scores:

  • Alan - 77
  • Kit - 95
  • Eddie - 96
  • Bill - 107

General Ignorance

Tangent: In Greece, the word for lifebelt is also "Kolóura".

A Series (2003)

Episode 1 "Adam"

Broadcast date:

Tangent: Woody Allen famously said, "How can I believe in God when, just last week, I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?" and Carrie Snow said "If God was a woman, sperm would taste of chocolate."
Tangent: Geneticists believe that every woman has a single common ancestor born 150,000 years ago. Scientists call her "Eve" and every man has a common ancestor called "Adam", but it's also revealed that Adam was born 80,000 years after Eve.

Tangent: John then reveals the birth and death dates of Bruckner and Mahler.
Tangent: According to Rita Mae Brown, if Michelangelo was heterosexual, the Sistine Chapel would have been painted basic white and with a roller.

Tangent: Sheep are castrated without breaking the skin of the scrotum.
Tangent: Discussion of Prince Albert's libido and the Prince Albert piercing. Stephen had to tell Prince Charles what a "Prince Albert" was.

Tangent: Burma also means "Be Upstairs Ready My Angel". John gets confused between the acronyms "NOTLOB" & "NORWICH" (Nickers Off Ready When I Come Home).
Tangent: After weeks of being ignored on tour, Clive Morton plucked up the courage to knock on John Gielgud's door. After Gielgud opened it he said "Thank God it's you!, for one dreadful moment, I thought it was going to be that ghastly bore Clive Morton."

  • Edward Woodward has four 'd's in his name to prevent it becoming 'Ewar Woowar'.

Tangent: Kiwifruit use up more than their own weight in aviation fuel getting from New Zealand to Europe.
Tangent: When Sir John Gielgud first heard of the name "Edward Woodward", he thought it sounded like a fart in a bath.

Tangent: A drunken Peter O'Toole once went to see a play, having forgotten that he was supposed to be in it.

Tangent: The average graphite pencil can write for thirty-five miles.
Tangent: Alan's friend at a pub who said to any girl he liked the look of "I've got a nine inch (229 mm) tongue and I can breathe through my ears."

Tangent: In a letter to "The Daily Telegraph", someone suggested that grilled squirrels should have a warning: "May Contain Nuts".General Ignorance:

Tangent: That a ship's captain can marry people and that lemmings jump over cliffs, are both urban myths concocted by the film industry.

Tangent: The Romans believed that buggery caused earthquakes.

Episode 2 "Astronomy"

Broadcast date:

  • 18 September 2003 (BBC Two)Panellists:
  • Alan Davies (-30 points)
  • Bill Bailey (5 points)
  • Rich Hall (Joint Winner with 20 points)
  • Jeremy Hardy (Joint Winner with 20 points) Buzzers:
  • Rich - The sound of a clock bonging
  • Jeremy - The sound of a cannon firing
  • Bill - The sound of a lion growling
  • Alan - The sound of a mouse squeakingTopics:

Tangent: The number of people killed by sharks since records began (roughly 2,200) is equal to just five per cent of the number of toilet-related injuries in the USA in 1996. The total number of people injured by toilets was 43,687.

  • Both tigers and weasels make a 'fuff' sound when they attack. Contrary to popular belief, tigers never roar when they attack, they only roar to tell other tigers where they are. They are mainly solitary animals, who only come together when mating.

Tangent: The national animal of Croatia is the weasel.

  • The best way to escape from a polar bear is to remove one's clothing, leaving items of clothing on the ground while backing away. Polar bears can run at 30 mph and have clear follicles, but they look white, because they reflect the snow.

Tangent: Animals don't follow the line of a finger like humans do. If you point at something, the animal will just look at the end of your finger.

Tangent: Discussion about how most vicious beasts can be subdued by stupid things.
Tangent: Story from The Daily Telegraph about a passing motorist in Dorking, Surrey seeing a horse tied to a post. The horse was tied so close to the post that it couldn't eat the grass below. It was also missing an ear and a back leg. It was also made of wood, because it was an advertisement for a local riding school.
Tangent: According to Douglas Adams' book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, there is a theory that if anyone discovers what the universe is here for, it will be instantly replaced with something more bizarre and inexplicable. Another theory suggests this has already happened.

Tangent: Claims that Ikea stores have no windows to decrease customers' awareness of the passage of time.
Tangent: Stephen Hawking's theory that the universe is saddle-shaped.

  • The colour of the Universe is beige. In 2002, after observing the light from over 200,000 galaxies, American scientists described the colour as pale green, rather than black with white bits, as we'd see it. Using the Dulux paint range, the colour was a mixture of Mexican Mint, Jade Cluster and Shangri-La Silk. They then had to admit that they got it wrong and the colour was a taupe-beige colour.

Tangent: Stephen's skin shade is actually called "Gay Whisper".

  • There are eight planets in the Solar System. Pluto, discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930, does not meet the usual criteria for classification as a planet. If Pluto was defined as a planet, then all of the asteroids could be counted as planets as well. As of the year 2000, 71,788 were discovered with more discovered every year. Pluto is only twice as big as the biggest asteroid, Ceres, and it's also smaller than seven of the eight planet's moons. (Forfeit: Nine)

Tangent: William James' exchange with a woman who believed the Earth was balanced on top of a giant turtle.General Ignorance:

  • Krung Thep is the proper name for the capital of Thailand. Krung Thep roughly translates as 'City of Angels', like Los Angeles. The ceremonial full name for Krung Thep is the longest place name in the world. Los Angeles is also an abbreviation. Only ignorant foreigners call Krung Thep, "Bangkok", a name that hasn't been used in Thailand for 200 years. (Forfeit: Bangkok)
  • Brides do not walk down the aisle of a church; they walk down the central passageway. The aisle is down the side of the church.
  • The earliest known soup is made from hippopotamus.
  • No man-made objects can be seen from the Moon with the naked eye. Even the continents are hard to make out as well. (Forfeit: Great Wall of China)

Episode 3 "Aquatic Animals"

Broadcast date:

Tangent: John Major's Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern and his apparent meanness with honey.

Tangent: The origin of the word for the "order of bees" (Hymenoptera) means wedding in Ancient Greek.

Tangent: Hans Christian Andersen is ranked less annoying than Clive Anderson on Ignorance:

Episode 4 "Atoms"

Broadcast date:

Tangent: Discussion about nitrogen narcosis, the bends and Alan's scuba diving.

Tangent: Stephen reveals he was touched that one of the Big Brother housemates requested one of his books. Alan suggested that they wanted it because the table was a bit wonky. Stephen also reveals he likes the sound of the narrator when he says "Day Eight", because of his Geordie accent.
Tangent: Charles Dickens despised Chelmsford, describing it as "the dullest and most stupid spot on the face of the Earth." He also invented the word 'boredom'.

Tangent: Tmesis, the art of splitting a word in half and inserting another word inside. Examples given were "abso-blooming-lutely", "sen-fucking-sational" and Jo's suggestion, "S-cunt-horpe".

Tangent: Hans Holbein the Younger painted various royal portraits. His painting 'The Ambassadors' contains the image of a human skull, which can only be seen properly when viewed from an angle.

Episode 5 "Advertising"

Broadcast date:

Tangent: Strand cigarettes' "You're never alone with a Strand" advertising campaign was a spectacular failure. Rich thought that Hitler smoked, which wasn't true, but he was a vegetarian. (That was proved to be false in Series "E", Episode 7's vodcast.) Queen Victoria smoked when in Scotland, in order to keep the midges away from picnics.
Tangent: The chief architect of the London Eye shares a birthday with Gustave Eiffel.

Tangent: Alec Guinness allegedly predicted James Dean's death.

Tangent: Discussion of the (legendary) Pope Joan.

  • The Ancient Greeks used blackberries as a cure for piles.
  • Ancient Greeks voted for their leaders until they were invaded by Macedonia in 322 BC. Women didn't get the vote in Greece until 1952.

Tangent: Michael Portillo's exploits as a young Conservative candidate.General Ignorance:

  • A centipede has between 30 and 382 legs. None has ever been found with 1000 legs. It always has an odd number of pairs of legs. The only exception to this is one found in 1999, which has 48 pairs of legs, the nearest to 100 that has been discovered so far.
  • In 1994, 35,000 Americans insured themselves against alien abduction.
  • Purple rhymes with 'hirple' and 'curple'. (Forfeit: Nothing)

Episode 6 "Antidotes"

Broadcast date:

  • 16 October 2003 (BBC Two)Panellists:
  • Alan Davies (8 points)
  • Danny Baker (Winner with 19 points)
  • Jo Brand (13 points)
  • Howard Goodall (17 points) Buzzers:
  • Howard - A typical buzzer noise
  • Danny - A klaxon horn
  • Jo - A repeating-style electric doorbell
  • Alan - A howling wolfTopics:
  • Danish physicist Niels Bohr hung a horseshoe on his wall as "I understand it brings you luck whether you believe in it or not." Bohr also said of quantum physics, "If you're not shocked by it, then you haven't understood it."

Tangent: Edith Evans purchased a painting by Renoir, and hung it low down behind a curtain simply because "there was a hook" there.
Tangent: Howard reveals the information about a Bronze Age instrument found in a bog in Denmark. (The instrument in question is a lur.)
Tangent: Discussion of the Schrödinger's cat problem, which Bohr was intricately associated with.

  • Barbara Cartland, when asked whether British class barriers had broken down, replied "Of course they have, or I wouldn't be sitting here talking to someone like you". She also invented the aeroplane-towed glider. She also claimed to be haunted by a ghost of a young girl. Then weirdly, excavators came into her house and found a skeleton of a young woman in the walls of the house.
  • When asked by a priest if he forgave his enemies, the dying Spanish Captain-General Ramón Blanco y Erenas said "I have no enemies, I've had them all shot".

Tangent: Stephen tells about the time he was in a room with Paul Merton & Nicholas Parsons, in which Paul was writing on a piece of paper, in which he revealed he was writing a suicide note and then asked Nicholas to sign it.

Tangent: The Swiss have their own navy despite being a land-locked country. Disney has the 4th largest navy in the world, if you go by boats alone.
Tangent: Switzerland has 4 official languages, but they use Confoederatio Helvetica on their stamps.

  • During the Vietnam War, the US Military prevented wounded soldiers from swallowing their tongues by pinning the tongue to their cheeks. More soldiers committed suicide after Vietnam than died in combat.
  • Costa Rica has no army, it was disbanded in 1949. The constitution now specifically forbids the country from having an army.

Tangent: The French statesman Talleyrand famously said "I'm more afraid of an army of 100 sheep, led by a lion, than of an army of 100 lions led by a sheep."

Episode 7 "Arthropods"

Broadcast date:

  • 23 October 2003 (BBC Two)Panellists:
  • Alan Davies (0 points)
  • Jo Brand (-38 points)
  • Jimmy Carr (-1 point)
  • Jackie Clune (Winner with 5 points) Buzzers:
  • Jo, Jimmy, Jackie - Call for "Cashier No.1, 2, 3" respectively
  • Alan - Call about a train delayTopics:
  • Australia was discovered by the Chinese. When Cook arrived in 1770, he wasn't a captain, he was Lieutenant Cook. He wasn't the first European, as the Dutch had reached it 150 years earlier; he wasn't even the first Englishman, that was William Dampier in 1688. (Forfeit: James Cook)
  • The term Aborigines comes from the Latin meaning "from the origin" and was first used to describe the pre-Roman people. For some unknown reason, the term "Aborigine" has stuck with the Aboriginal Australians, but there are Aboriginal Canadians and you could even call the Native Americans "Aborigines".

Tangent: The scrotum and sperm.

  • The word Kangaroo means horse in the Baagandji language of New South Wales. When Cook's expedition arrived in 1770, the Aboriginal settlers there saw a horse, which they believed was what the English called a kangaroo. There is a story that when the first English settlers arrived, they pointed to a kangaroo and asked "What's that?" The reply was "kanagaroo" (sic), which means "I don't know". That comes from the Guugu Yimithirr language, spoken around Botany Bay and was first heard on Cook's expedition in 1770. (Forfeit: "I Don't Know")
  • Homo sapiens evolved from a common ancestor that hasn't yet been discovered, otherwise known as the "missing link". Before that, they evolved from squirrel-like tree shrews, before that hedgehogs and before that starfish. Apes also evolved from this same ancestor. (Forfeit: Apes)

Tangent: Jo, Jimmy & Stephen recite bad jungle-related jokes.

Tangent: Stupid answers given in trivia games.

Tangent: The word that takes up the most pages to define in the Oxford English Dictionary is set.

  • The male European earwig has a spare penis. It was discovered by scientists in Tokyo who were looking at two earwigs copulating and they noticed that the male's penis was left in the female, but they then saw the male grow an instant replacement. The male's penis is longer than its body.

Tangent: Alan's story from the Internet about a man with two penises, which leads to Jackie's story about her Australian girlfriend, who when she had a smear test, was told she had two vaginas.

Tangent: Charles Goodyear with his invention of vulcanised rubber.
Tangent: Stephen's father's pronunciation of Volvic and Volvo.

Episode 8 "Albania"

Broadcast date:

Tangent: A "blowjob" is a type of cocktail, made with either Drambuie or Bailey's, whipped cream on the top and is served in a shooter glass. You are not allowed to use your hands to drink it.

Tangent: Jumping backwards and the legend of the Black Country's Jack Darby.

  • In Albanian, "Vetullushe" means "A goat with brown eyebrows". That is one of 30 different words for eyebrows in the Albanian language, which didn't impress Linda, because the Albanians had one word for "very bushy eyebrow", but the British have three. The language also has 27 words for moustaches.

Tangent: The philtrum, the groove above the lip.

Tangent: Franklin was not allowed to draft the American constitution, because people thought he might have put jokes in it.

Tangent: Banana plants walk up to 40 centimetres in a lifetime.

Episode 9 "Africa"

Broadcast date:

Tangent: Syllogisms, Queen Elizabeth and Kylie Minogue and J.Lo.

Tangent: Before becoming famous Clive James and Sylvester Stallone cleaned out lion cages for a living. Before discovering Uranus from his home in Bath, William Herschel was an oboe player in the Hanoverian Army. Before unifying Italy, Giuseppe Garibaldi was a spaghetti salesman in Uruguay.

Tangent: There are over 200 types of Common cold, but contrary to popular belief, they aren't caught by standing in the rain, but if your nose is cold, they can develop faster.

Note: It'd be quite interesting if Galileo did discover them in 1672, as he died in 1642!General Ignorance:

Episode 10 "Alan"

Broadcast date:

Tangent: Julia's time working in Hokkaidō, Japan's northern island. The island is known for having good milk due to the grass.

  • It was a bad idea to ban smoking on aeroplanes, due to companies saving money by using both fresh and recycled air, which increases the threat from viruses.
  • The Alans are a tribe of people who live on the Russian border, since the Huns drove them there in the 4th century. "Alan" means "Rock" or "Pebble", as does "Peter". Alan and Stephen argue as to whether his "Alan" is either a rock or a pebble. Calculus and pessary also mean "rock" or "pebble".

Tangent: Stephen's father is called Alan.

Tangent: Peter tries to prove that nothing rhymes with "rhyme", but he missed out on lime, time and slime. Dorange is Cajun rhyming slang for door hinge.

Tangent: The Australian version is Reg Grundy's, undies. Listerine was an example of rhyming slang that has moved on one. If you are "Listerine", then you are an antiseptic, and septic is rhyming slang for American (Septic tank, yank).General Ignorance:

Episode 11 "Arts"

Broadcast date:

  • 20 November 2003 (BBC Two)Panellists:
  • Alan Davies (-18 points)
  • Bill Bailey (-2 points)
  • Richard E. Grant (Winner with 12 points)
  • Linda Smith (5 points) Buzzers:
  • Richard - Trumpet fanfare
  • Linda - Harp
  • Bill - Bagpipes ending in dischord
  • Alan - Donkey heehawTopics:
  • Pigeons do not like going to the movies, because they see the world ten times faster than humans. To them, a film is a slow slide show.

Tangent: It cost £105,000 to clean the pigeon crap from Trafalgar Square.

  • It was once believed that a pigeon's arse could be used to suck out the poison from an adder's bite. Pigeons are the only birds that can suck.
  • The ant has the largest brain in comparison to its body size. There are 8,000 species of ant. (Forfeit: Human)

Tangent: Alan's problem with an ant infestation in his house.

Tangent: Louis Daguerre asked a woman to take her top off to demonstrate his prototype camera.
Tangent: Alexander Graham Bell believed that one day every town in America would have a telephone.
Tangent: Bill's dad was taken around a computer in the West Country and the owner claimed that in the future, there would be eight of them.

Episode 12 "Advent" (Christmas Special)

Broadcast date:

Tangent: Sami (the people who originally herded the reindeer) means "plebs" in Ancient Swedish.

Tangent: Insurance companies and their avoidance of paying out.

Tangent: The Chinese dish "Three Squeak".
Tangent: John Gielgud once advised a young West End actor not to pause during a performance, because when he paused he heard someone in the audience say "Oh, you hideous beast, you've just come all over my umbrella!.General Ignorance:

DVD Extras

In the DVD (released late 2006), there were some extra features which contained some quite interesting facts. The order in which they were put on the disk is the order in which they were recorded in 2003.

Episode 1

No Extras

Episode 6

Tangent: The word, Hello was created by a competition in the New York Times, as the word used to answer a telephone call, instead of Ahoy!

Episode 2

  • An adder's bite is generally no more dangerous than a wasp. No-one in Britain has died of an adder's bite since 1977, when a 5-year-old girl died.

Tangent: Stephen's inability to read out passages in a different tense
Tangent: Using the correct tense when using none/not one.
Tangent: Stephen makes a mistake while reading out the final scores.

Episode 9

No Extras

Episode 10

Episode 5

Tangent: Two-thirds of the world's lawyers live in the United States, American children get $65 billion of pocket money per year, there are 15,000 practising vampires in America, most of them living in Seattle, 10,113 virgins insured themselves from giving birth to the Messiah at the millennium and Americans are twice as likely to die from liposuction than in a car crash.

Episode 4

  • William Shakespeare invented the phrase, "Vanish into thin air". Hamlet contains the clichés, "It's cruel to be kind", "To the manor born", "To thine own self be true" and "Neither a borrower nor a lender be".

Episode 7

Tangent: The fable of Athena and Arachne and how the word arachnid came into existence.

Episode 3

Episode 8

No Extras

Episode 11

  • The country that consumes the most apples per head is Turkey, with 36 kg per head of population. The United Kingdom is the lowest in Europe at only 10 kg per head.

Tangent: The banana is the most traded item in the supermarket. The UK eats the most bananas per head of population anywhere in the world.
Tangent: Stephen fluffs an explanation, blurting out 'piss and arse and wank!' Alan suggests it coud be used as a trailer for the show.

Episode 12

  • Genghis Khan never fought the Sami (the inhabitants of Lapland), because they always hid from him, because he was so brutal.
  • The opening for the show had to be re-shot - leading Alan to go into a hissy fit at the amount of rubbish strewn around as a result of the crackers. This led to a delay, which in turn led to banter about Easter, Pancake Day and Yom Kippur QI specials (since the show is filmed in the summer and shown in the autumn) - and when Stephen launched into his opening monologue, he fluffed it anyway.


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