The last episode proved that a panel with three QI legends can still yield negative results. Tonight, there are no regulars on the panel. Two people appearing tonight have their second appearance, and are better known on other shows, as well as having fantastic first episodes- that would be Lee Mack (“BRING ME ANOTHER WIFE!”) and Graham Norton. The third guest panelist is one of those SPECIAL GUESTS…and it’s a very special one indeed, as it’s DANIEL BLOODY RADCLIFFE! Harry Potter himself! This was a tremendous get in 2011, and to have him with Lee and Graham is a nice, concise, if untested, panel. Plus, it’s semi-Christmas themed, and semi-magic themed, so all is well.
Plus, true to the theme, they’re all wearing cloaks and costumes- Graham tries to snap his hood back upon his introduction, but it sticks, and he has to fight to get it down.
The buzzers are all ‘magic words’, like Presto and Abracadabra. Daniel’s is a big ol’ ‘EXPELLIARMUS!’, which made me geek out a bit. Alan’s is just “PLEEEEEEASE?”
Stephen’s first question is, simply, what is the oldest trick in the book?
Lee: “…Debbie McGee.”
The audience is nearly appalled.
Lee: “oh, and it’s Christmas as well…”
Stephen: “Was that charitable?”
Daniel actually knows this, and rolls off the fact that an Ancient Egyptian’s trick was to remove the head of a goose for the king. That’s an astonishing fact, and I imagine he must have known from HP research. He’s very jittery and nervous as he says this, though.
Graham, after he answers that easily: “This is gonna be a VERY short show…”
Alan: “I love this idea that when they cast you as Harry Potter, they just gave you a crash course on everything wizarding…and then you just top it off with a bit of acting in the end…”
Lee: “Can I just ask- what part of pulling a goose’s head off is a magic trick?”
Daniel: “I forgot- AND RESTORED IT!”
Graham: “Ah, yes, the old ‘two geese in my bag’ trick…”
They actually get a magician to do this trick, who appears after they all go ‘Accio Scott’. Once he does, after what I can only assume was an edit, Lee loudly screams “OH MY GOD! HE WASN’T THERE AND THEN HE WAS THERE! WHAT HAPPENED?”
Lee, after the head-removing magician leaves: “I can do the first half of that trick…second half needs a bit of practice. And then, there’s blood everywhere, my wife’s screaming, the children are going ‘where’s the budgie’…”
Graham: “I mean, if that was the first trick EVER….surely people did ‘pull my finger’ before that…”
Stephen talks of a performer named Chung Ling Soo, whose real name was actually Robinson and spoke only Chinese onstage, “UNTIL…he did the bullet trick, and the bullet got caught and killed him, and he went, in English, ‘oh god…something’s gone wrong…close the curtain…”
Lee: “D’you reckon there’s a real magician in China named Chung Ling Soo who goes by the name of Bob Robinson? And he’d only speak cod english. ‘PICK A CYAAD! ANY CYAAD YA LIKE!”
Stephen describes another magician whose stage caught fire, and the audience thought it was part of the trick, and 11 died, “including, and this is not funny…a midget in a bear suit.”
The audience, of course, laughs.
Stephen: “I’d thought I prefaced that by saying it’s not funny.”
Alan: “you people are sick…”
There’s a great moment where Stephen tries explaining to Lee about the ‘i before e’ rule, that there are words where ‘cie’ works in a sentence. And Lee cannot seem to grasp this, and they keep going on for minutes. Lee keeps coming back with ‘ceiling’, even if it has nothing to do with what Stephen is asking for.
Stephen: “…I may explode at any minute now…”
Stephen shows a bunch more examples of ‘ie’ words, even without c.
Lee, still not understanding: “Oh, so now you don’t even need a c, do you?”
Stephen: “No, you…ARE YOU INCAPABLE OF RATIONAL THOUGHT??? I- YOU CANNOT BE THAT STUPID. YOU *CANNOT* BE…”
Stephen: “There are 21 times as many words that break the rule than don’t.”
Alan: “However…if you want to spell ceiling..”
Stephen: “So, something like veil, or weird…”
Graham and Alan: “…yeah, but there’s no C in them…”
Stephen: “It’s I before E, every time…but in weird-”
Graham: “OH, I SEE!”
Stephen: “YOU CANNOT BE THAT STUPID!”
Lee: “WHAT? HE SAID IT! YOU’RE LOOKING AT ME!”
Alan, summing up the last few minutes: “Daniel, you’re the only person on this show who isn’t a complete idiot…”
Stephen says the rule is no longer taught in schools.
Alan: “So they’re all nouns, so it’s ‘I before E, or SOMETIMES E BEFORE I…”
Stephen: “Mostly after C, it’s IE.”
Alan: “If in doubt, look it up you lazy gits…”
Lee: “I before E, except for the following 923…and then you reel them all off…”
Graham: “I before E…thank God for spellcheck…”
Lee: “NUMBER ONE. CEILING. NUMBER TWO. RED CEILING. NUMBER THREE, BLUE CEILING. Help me, lads, I’m running out of colors…”
Stephen, on a game very similar to quidditch: “Like, in quidditch, what do you travel on?”
Daniel: “Well, a broomstick…”
Alan: “Yes, but that is special effects, though.”
Daniel: “Yeah, and it’s very, very painful.”
They show footage of this horse-polo-quidditch sport, played in an empty arena.
Alan: “Look at how popular it is, I mean, look at the crowd!”
Daniel does mention that several american universities have adopted quidditch as an inter mural sport, just on land instead of, like in the air.
Daniel, deadpan, very Mitchell-esque: “It’s a lot less exciting then, you know, in the films…”
Stephen reveals that ‘muggle’ was a 1920’s term for people who smoked marijuana, which Daniel is amused as hell by.
Graham: “Is that a drunk person not finding the toilet?”
Stephen stops his current fact just to laugh at that one.
Graham: “They’ll feel terrible waking up…”
Lee: “That’s a relationship that’s not gonna survive…”
Lee: “What’s the horse doing?”
Graham: “He’s operating the video.”
In order to figure out the definition of Dumbledore, Stephen asks them to think about the first part, something that rhymes with it.
Alan: “Jumble…mumble, crumble-”
Stephen: “Don’t try me too hard, Lee Mack.”
Stephen: “How did Hogwarts tackle drinking problems?”
Lee: “Is that a character? Drinking Problems?”
Daniel: “Must have been one of the ghosts…”
Lee: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Special Brew…”
Graham gets a question correct by guessing ‘SAILORS!’
Stephen: “Went straight to your mind, didn’t it?”
Graham: “I just thought ‘who drinks?’ SAILORS!”
Lee: “This isn’t fair! [Daniel’s] getting questions about Quidditch, and [Graham’s] getting questions about sailors!”
Stephen says these sailors would be working with an ethyl alcohol called ‘pink lady’, which reportedly would make you literally go blind if you drank it.
Graham: “We’ve all been told things like that, and it didn’t stop us…”
Also, Stephen said that they added hogwarts juice, which would make the sailors vomit and relieve themselves if they drank it.
Graham: “And also…REGULAR alcohol makes you vomit and go…that’s a night out, isn’t it?”
Daniel riles off a fact about the Harrying of the land, which neither Lee nor Alan can contribute to, so Alan just starts staring off into space, picking at the folder. Lee joins in, and he and Alan just start goofing off, like kids in the back of the class.
Alan: “Sorry, what was this about magic?”
Stephen: “People of the north were ruthlessly killed.”
Alan looks at Lee, whose expression drops.
Stephen: “What animal was the subject of Beatrix Potter’s first novel?”
Alan: “I bet it’s NOT Peter Rabbit.”
Stephen: “That is the right answer!”
Lee: “Thank god you stopped me…”
Stephen: “Actually, her first work wasn’t a children’s book.”
Alan: “Was it the book they based the film Boogie Nights on?”
Stephen: “…it’d be so wonderful if I went ‘YES! 100 POINTS!”
Alan: “And Rollergirl was based on Beatrix Potter’s mother…”
Stephen gives the panel Christmas crackers, with jokes inside.
Graham: “Did you write these? Because they sound like you might have… ‘knock knock’
Stephen: “Who’s there?”
Stephen: “To who?”
Graham: “To WHOM.” *winces*
Lee has a much better one (What kind of cheese can you give a bear to coax it out of his cage? C’MONBEAR!)
Lee: “I had no idea bears LIKED cheese!”
Graham: “They love it…”
Stephen, seeing exactly where this is about to go: “NO. I’M NOT GOING TO…”
Alan’s joke: “What disease can you get from decorating a Christmas tree?”
The episode ends with a few tricks, Alan going first.
Alan: “If I could ask Lee to be my Debbie McGee…”
Lee: “I am not falling for that one again…”
Alan’s going to saw Lee in half, which is great, because Lee is still being Lee the whole way through. Halfway through the demonstration, he goes “HANG ON! SAWING? I DIDN’T SEE THAT!”
As Lee’s closed in: “OOH, HELLO! I can see why Phill Jupitus wasn’t invited on this week!”
Graham’s got a different approach- he’s going to guillotine Daniel. Even he’s saying “this feels very wrong, doesn’t it?”
Best part about this show is that they end it with Lee sawn in half, and Daniel’s head lopped off. They don’t have a silly resolution, they just have Stephen sign off, even thanking “the late Daniel Radcliffe.”
Overall: An amazing episode that’s electrified a middling Series H, thanks to a panel that was completely on, some amazing jokes and round-to-round continuity, and a few timely additions that didn’t take away from the realness of it all. Lee was, again, at an all time high, having fun and fitting right in. Graham also had a really nice show, and it’s a shame that this was his last appearance on QI. Daniel was quiet, but still added enough that it wasn’t a loss- besides, this was Daniel Radcliffe on QI, and that alone is a milestone. It was just a fun episode, one worth rewatching, not even at the holidays.
Best Guest: Lee
Show Winner: Daniel
Best QI Fact: Beatrix Potter’s mushrooms.
Best Runner: CEILING!