I know. It’s been a while. But I feel like now’s a good enough time to do another QI. Why not?
Besides, we have three more episodes left in what’s been described as the ‘Golden Age’ of QI, and I fear that things are going to go downhill once this series ends.
But…to quote one of tonight’s guests: “Oh, well…WHO WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER? AHAHAHAHAHA!”
That’s right, BRIAN BLESSED, one of the most beloved, yet one of the least subtle, actors in history, gets to be a guest on QI, the CHRIIIIISTMAAAAAAAAS Special no less, alongside Ross Noble and Sean Lock. One sad piece of business is that this is Sean’s last QI, as after this he’d swear off all other panel shows in order to focus on 8 out of 10 cats. The man will be missed, but hopefully he’ll finish strong.
Even the opening makes me laugh- Stephen, in introing Ross, uses his accent to say ‘Russ NuOBLE’. Ross gets a kick out of that. Stephen even intros Brian as ‘FATHER CHRISTMAS HIMSELF!’ And even from the getgo, Brian seems so happy to be here.
The buzzers even know what’s up. Sean’s and Ross’s are quaint little bells. Brian’s is A LOUD SET OF ORGAN CHIMES.
Ross, in bringing up the Nobody Knows cards, to Sean: “Could you, uh, could you just put that card there?”
Ross: “It really IS the Riddler!”
On the first question, about where there’s the most rest days and most expensive Big Macs, Brian, offers a place in Canada where the “BIG MACS ARE BLOOOODY HUGE…and there’s lots of sex.”
Ross: “That would be the greatest voiceover ever. AND THEY’RE BLOODY BIG BIG MACS…”
Stephen: ‘Iceland has more Nobel Prize winners per capita than anywhere else on earth. D’you know how many that is?”
Stephen: “IS THE RIGHT ANSWER!”
Alan, on Iceland: “Doesn’t everybody live on the edge?”
Ross, taking this the wrong way: “What d’you mean?? ‘LET’S TAKE LOADS OF DRUGS! LET’S DRIVE AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!'”
Sean: “Living on the edge in Iceland is just going out in just your pants…”
Also, already Ross is having an amazing time, judging by his ridiculous Icelandic accent which he keeps bringing back.
Early observation- Ross, Sean and Alan are zooming at 500 miles per hour, collaborating…and Brian’s just taking his sweet time. He obviously can’t keep up with them, but he’s at least enjoying himself.
Ross tries to explain a ‘prawn ring’, which is just a circle of prawns, that nobody else seems to understand.
Ross: “You wanna get yourself a tiny sheepdog…and a tank.”
Sean: “You’d need a prawn dog. Not a sheepdog.”
Ross, not getting it: “…of COURSE, uh, what was I thinking-”
Alan, under them: “What is the icelandic equivalent of a sheepdog?”
Sean: “What are you TALKING ABOUT, ROSS? YOU’RE TALKING ABSOLUTE NONSENSE! A SHEEPDOG? FOR PRAWNS? YOU DON’T GET A SHEEPDOG, YOU GET A *PRAWNDOG* FOR PRAAAAAWNS!”
Ross: “That explains why, 1, I’ve lost that competition, and 2, I’ve been banned from Crofts!”
Brian’s not really collaborating with everyone, but right at the start of every question he’ll have an insanely inspired, and really funny, answer. I’ll give him that.
Alan, after Stephen explains the Genghis Khan- icelandic volcano connection: “So what do we have to pronounce?”
Stephen: “Now, THAT’S WHAT- how did you know I was going to ask that as a supplementary question?”
Alan: “…I thought you already did.”
Stephen: “Oh, did I already say it-”
Alan, realizing: “Well, that or I read it off the autocue…”
The whole panel takes turns trying to pronounce the Icelandic volcano. Alan comes closest. Ross’s is too silly. Brian BELTS IT OUT, MAKES IT SOUND NEARLY KLINGON.
Stephen: “…you may have set it off again, by doing that…”
Sean: “I think the umlaut changes things a bit, and I think they way you’re supposed to pronounce it is ‘….ETCH!..”
After Stephen gives the actual pronunciation.
Ross: “And is that translated as ‘Big Smokey Bastard?’
Alan: “Or ‘You Will Go By Ferry’?”
Stephen: “These are icelandic. What’dyou reckon they are?”
Stephen: “Yeah. If I were to tell you that those are empty, does that help?”
Alan: “….HOLLOW LEGS.”
Ross: “Oh, are they Icelandic Cock Pants?”
This week’s Prop Interlude involves trying to pull two interled phonebooks apart. It works so well on Sean and Brian’s side that Sean falls out of his chair and onto Brian’s lap.
And then, Sean, as he emerges from under the desk, bellows, in honor of Brian, “SEAAANN’S ALLIIIIIIVEEEE!”
Stephen, to Sean: “How come your water hasn’t spilled?”
Sean: “It’s an old trick- yeah, me and Brian have been doing this trick for years…”
After 30 seconds of hysterical struggling, and throwing the phone books round with fury, Alan finally separates them.
Stephen, as another prop, hands the teams a sticky ‘lubed rod.’
Alan: “He’s been trying to get me to do this for YEARS…”
Sean: “Sorry, Stephen, but this contravenes my superinjunction…”
[Yeah, but Ian told me…]
And then, they do this Alaskan olympic sport…and Sean falls out of the chair YET AGAIN…
Alan, once again, gets the Nobody Knows bonus because he’s one of the few that remembers it exists.
Stephen explains the members of the expedition bringing all of these random things with them while under heavy lead poisioning
Sean: “I can imagine they went to open a really disappointing shop”
Stephen talks of Scott bringing a player-piano to the arctic, mostly because on his first expedition he’d brought a real one “only to discover that nobody on board could play”
Brian Blessed is capable of adding his own arctic knowledge to Stephen’s stories, in a doubly interesting way. As Stephen tells the story of Scott who raced to the South Pole, and Amundson of Norway who beat him to it, Blessed tells the addendum of how Amundson’s wife informed him of Scott’s death while Amundson was in the bathtub, to which he replied “he’s beaten me to it!”, and that in death he’d conquered the territory Amundsen had physically claimed. It’s a very interesting element.
Ross: “What he should have said was ‘can I have his piano?”
Stephen: “What happens when a penguin steps on a landmine?”
Alan: …I dare say nothing at all-”
Sean, being Sean: “IT FLIES!”
Stephen talks of whalers burning penguins for the oil, which frightens the audience but cracks up Ross
Ross: “‘CHUCK ANOTHER PENGUIN ON THE FIRE, WOULD YA?”
Sean: “That’s brilliant! ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING?’ ‘I’ve just finished BURNING UP THESE PENGUINS SO I CAN BOIL THIS WHALE!’ THAT’S a job!”
Stephen, as with the rest of this series, let’s a special guest go on about his specialist subject; here, Brian is allowed to discuss Yetis, and the place of the abominable snowman, which, in being an arctic explorer, he knows quite a bit about.
Brian, in discussing with Stephen, brings up a ton of intriguing dialogue about yetis, and belief of such, and while it’s not funny and doesn’t involve the other players, it’s still very eye-opening, and I’m glad he’s on the program.
Stephen: “Why did the Spanish Duke of Alba invest in 7,000 pairs of ice skates?”
Sean: “Because he was a millipede.”
Oh, gosh, I’m gonna miss him on this show
Sean goes on a tangent about show-jumping. Dare I say it, but is Ross Noble really the voice of reason on this panel?
Stephen talks of the Spanish buying all the ice-skates for an ice war, just to be safe.
Ross: “THERE IS a Saturday Night program I would watch. It’s Celebrity WAR ON ICE.”
Alan: “Here come the Spanish, they’ve never skated before! WHOOPS! Look out, Manuel, it’s cold!”
Stephen has everyone a cup of ice cream, and asks them to give tasting notes.
Stephen reveals that it’s fox testicle ice cream. Alan sickly scoops one more bite. Ross feverishly shovels more in.
Ross: “Oh, I KNEW IT! I’m a SLAVE to a fox’s bollock, me…”
Stephen: “Well I’m playing with words here, because it’s not ACTUALLY from the testicles of a fox-”
Ross: “PFFFF- AWWWW, WHAT??”
Brian gets a klaxon (?????) for saying igloos are made from blue ice.
Stephen: “Nice thought”
Alan: “Is it actually an apple glue, and it actually is…”
Stephen, getting it: “…iGlue…”
Stephen: “Now, what d’you say to a husky to make it go?”
Brian talks about being in Mongolia and having just a giant wolf in his tent. “It adored me, and I gave it mars bars and such…”
He talks about getting back to his tent with the dog after a hike, and goes “…you have to understand, ladies and gentlemen, even at my age, in my 70s, I’M A RANDY BASTARD. AND I WAS MISSING MY WIFE, HORRIBLY. SO I TOOK THIS GREAT BIG BLOODY WOLF…”
Eventually, this story has a happy ending; Brian just sings a love song to him, and gives a wholesome kiss to the wolf. No penetration, thankfully.
Sean: “You know how earlier you said you don’t suffer from altitude sickness? I THINK YA DO…”
Ross: “I think we’ve worked out- I think we know why Brian’s huskies were goin’ so fast. ‘HEY, HEY! QUICK, HE’S GAINING ON US!”
Another question, on a Loch Ness Monster fake, appeals to Ross, as he’s read up on the legend, and he’s right there with Stephen’s questions on a reporter out to get revenge
Ross: “Ah, yes, he was su- shut up, I know something!”
As he tells this story, Stephen squints a bit, as he’s gotten some details wrong. As Stephen’s about to chime in, Ross goes “If you say no, I’ll punch you in the face!”
For the finale, Stephen gives everyone specific bells, and expects them all to do a bell rendition of ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’, without disaster.
Stephen is essentially stringing the four of them along, but it sort of works.
Sean loses his last show, which is sad but characteristic. ALAN WINS! THAT’S ODD!
Overall: A delightfully fun and well-balanced Christmas show. Obviously Brian wasn’t up to the speed of the other three, but he gave a great deal of information himself, and it was good enough just to have Brian Blessed on QI; the others were also great at responding to his stories, especially the wolf one. Sean was nice here, but this was essentially a passing of the torch to Ross Noble, who was doing his weird, panel-carrying schtick better than he was. Ross is great not only at connecting, but at weird jokes; Sean, also good at both, could battle no longer.
Best Guest: Ross
Show Winner: Alan
Best QI Fact: ice skates for the war
Best Runner: Icelandic accent