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Can you answer the toughest questions from your favourite quiz shows?

Try your hand at the conundrums that confounded even the professionals…

Published: Wednesday, 31st January 2018 at 4:21 pm


1. What’s the biggest thing in the ocean you’ve never heard of?

2. Describe the original rules of charades.

3. Can you tell a sardine from a pilchard?

Scroll down to below the picture to see the answers.

Programme Name: QI - TX: n/a - Episode: Generics (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Sandi Toksvig, Alan Davies - (C) Fremantle Media/Talkback - Photographer: Brian Ritchie TL

The Elves’ answers…

1. It’s called the ocean sunfish, or the common mola, and is essentially a giant head covered in mucus. They’re about 6ft by 8ft, weigh up to a ton and spend most of their time sunbathing on the surface of the ocean. They grow to be 60 million times heavier than their larvae. Only one human death has been attributed to a mola, and that was a man who was accidentally flattened by one leaping.

In the Oceans edition of QI Sandi asked, “What’s the biggest thing in the ocean you’ve never heard of?” That’s the ideal question as far as we’re concerned because (a) the answer turns out to be fascinating and disgusting in equal measure; (b) it’s the kind of thing you can’t believe you’ve never heard of before; and (c) it tempts Alan to answer with his usual refrain, “blue whale” and get a klaxon for it. Ticks all the boxes.

2. Charades came to the UK from France in the mid-19th century and was codified in a guide by the Brothers Mayhew in 1850. The rules were slightly different. You were given a two-syllable word, then you performed an act for the first syllable, then the second, then the whole word. Everyone stayed quiet until you finished, then the guessing began.

In the recent Christmas episode of the “O” series, we got the panellists to play this original version of charades. It went awry when Romesh Ranganathan had to mime “muffin” and his mum, who was in the audience, got involved – much to his chagrin – and when Holly Walsh seemed to think that “pie shark” and “bum ring” were reasonable guesses.

3. The terms sardine and pilchard do not relate to specific species, they describe ways of packing fish. The United Nations and the World Health Organisation cite 21 different species that could be classed as sardines. Moreover, no fishing organisations seem to agree on what the difference is between the two.


When we asked this question, a picture of a fish appeared on the screen and Sandi said, “If it were an optical illusion it therefore would be a red..?” It wasn’t even a trick question, she was just looking for the word “herring”, but for some reason Claudia Winkleman roared, “SNAPPER!” as her answer. It was so loud, unexpected and growly that all the panellists fell apart laughing for about five minutes – not least Claudia, who looked at one point as if she might have to be resuscitated!


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