"Doves" is the ninth episode of the D Series of QI and the 45th episode overall. It was first broadcast on BBC Four on 17 November 2006, and was broadcast on BBC Two on 24 November 2006.


Numbers in brackets mark appearances - e.g. "(2)" means "(second appearance)".

  1. Alan Davies (45): 54 points
  2. John Sessions (8): -4 points
  3. Andy Hamilton (3): -8 points
  4. David Mitchell (2): -9 points


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  • The bravest species of animal is the pigeon, having won more Dickin medals than any other animal. The medal, an animal version of the Victorian Cross, was organised by Maria Dickin to honour animals who served in war; she also founded the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Out of the 60 occasions it has been awarded since its creation in 1943, pigeons have received it around 32 times. Only one cat got the medal; the ship's cat on the HMS Amethyst, which received it in 1949 following the The Yangtse Incident, for helping to eat all the rats aboard the ship. The pigeons found in London are technically doves, known as the "White Rock Dove".
  • A kamikaze pigeon unit was designed, in which pigeons would be placed in missiles, so as to destroy ships. The pigeons were first trained to peck at a ship and earned grain when it did so. They were then put into a missile to act as a guidance system for it - the pigeon would peck on a glass target to relay a signal to the missile so it turned towards its target, continuously pecking as the ship got bigger to confirm it was on the right course. It wasn't used in combat, but a similar idea was developed for use by maritime rescue services, to find people lost at sea - pigeons would be trained to peck at fluorescent orange dots on a glass screen, awarded with grain, and then on helicopters they would peck at a screen to alert the pilot, when they saw the same colour that life jackets have, due to their good eyesight. Other interesting facts about pigeons include:
    • The Passenger pigeon is an extinct breed of pigeon that used to be found in North America, and had large flocks that were 300 miles long by 1 mile wide. However, in 1896, American sportsmen found what they knew was the final flock of them and finished them off, wiping out 250,000 pigeons in a single day. The breed didn't truly go extinct until 1914, when the last remaining passenger pigeon, called "Martha", died in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo.
    • The Italian composer Puccini was, like all Italians, a greater shooter of birds. During his time writing operas, he had a specially designed gun that he made himself, which he could use to take down 50 snipes in one go. The gun can be seen at his home in Torre del Lago.
    • Picasso was quite keen on pigeons. His father used to paint them until he saw how good his son was at painting, at which point he passed his brushes over to Picasso and never painted again. Picasso also collected fan tail pigeons and named his daughter "Paloma", which is Spanish for "Pigeon".
  • According to the Turner Prize committee, the most influential piece of modern art was Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, for which its function was to be urinated in because it was a urinal. Duchamp's work was unveiled in 1917 and is worth $3.6 million, while he also signed it "R. Mutt", in which the "R" stands for "Richard", a slang word in French that means "Moneybags". Many artists have urinated in it when it was on display, either in support or in opposition of it; one artist who did so got fined $6,500. Duchamp was a member of the Dada movement, and famously did a picture of the Mona Lisa with a moustache and a goatee.
  • The Dik-Dik, a tiny antelope, possess strong survival instincts that causes it to go into hiding upon sensing the approach of unfamiliar animals, such as lions. It is considered to be quite a shy creature, unlike the Dodo, which possessed no natural predators. When humans, dogs, rats and pigs arrived in its habitat of Mauritius in the 17th Century, the Dodo had no reason to be afraid of them, which is probably one of the reasons why it is now extinct. The Dodo is considered to be related to pigeons, and were completely forgotten about until 1860, when they appeared in the book, Alice in Wonderland.
  • According to Moby-Dick, the most useful thing that can be done with a sperm whale's penis is to turn the skin into an apron. Its penis measures 9 feet in length and 1 foot in diameter, and, like a badger, it has a bone within it.
  • Swift Nick Nevison, who never hurt people and who got his nickname from Charles II, rode 200 miles (320 km) from Kent to York in 15 hours, after he had performed a hold-up.[1] Upon reaching York, he played bowls against the Lord Mayor of York, betting him on the outcome of their match, so that when the law came to arrest him two days later, he was able to use the mayor as his alibi; no one imagined anyone could ride the distance in that amount of time. Oddly, the novelist, Harrison Ainsworth, attributed all the deeds performed by Nevison to Dick Turpin in his novel Rookwood, published in 1834. Interesting facts about Dick Turpin include:
    • Unlike Nevison, Dick Turpin would torture old women and young girls for money.
    • He used to live in Epping Forest for a while, before taking a long time to ride to York on the back of his horse "Black Bess". People assume he is the one who rode from London to York, but this is not true.
    • He lived in York under the alias of "John Palmer", and was arrested after he shot a farmer's cockerel, which soon set off a chain of events that led to his eventual identification as Turpin. Needing a character reference, he sent a letter to his brother-in-law asking him for one, but because letters had to be paid for in his time (at about sixpence), his brother-in-law turned it away whilst unaware of who John Palmer really was. As a result, the letter was sent back into the hands of a postmaster who had taught Turpin how to read and write, who recognised the handwriting on the letter as Turpin's, thus immediately grassing him up to the law.
    • The hangman who executed Turpin, was a former partner of his, who did the job in exchange for a pardon.

General IgnoranceEdit

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  • The crime committed by both Burke and Hare, was murder.[2] In their time, a lot of dissection was going on amongst doctors, and a black economy was forming with the selling of bodies taken from graves. The pair decided, however, to simply kill people instead and take their bodies to a doctor called Knox, who asked them no questions; in total, they murdered sixteen people to make a profit out of their bodies. Most medical students nowadays never get the chance to do a dissection on a human body in their studies thanks to .
  • An Underground Fluffer is a worker who cleans hair off the tracks in the London Underground. When a train enters an Underground station, winds of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h) blow hair onto the track, which can be a serious fire hazard, so gangs of six Underground Fluffers work during the night to clean them off the tracks. In the porn industry, fluffers were used to help to keep the male stars erect, but were put out of work when Viagra was created.
  • "E pluribus unum" is the motto of Sport Lisboa e Benfica, and means "Out of many, One". One of the most famous players for Benfica is Eusebio; not only does he have a statue outside the club's stadium, he was also born in Mozambique. The motto used to be used by the United States, but was changed in 1956 to "In God We Trust"; on a Celebrity Episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen answered this to the £1 million question he got - "Which motto of the United States is translated from E pluribus unum?" - which was the motto but not translated from the Latin. The confusion this generated though, led to him being invited back to the show, where he walked away with the amount he previously had gotten to - £500,000.
  • Bonus Question (50 points) - E pluribus unum was a phrase originally used in a recipe for salad dressing. (Fry accidentally said out the answer without realising it was for the bonus question, when he was told to ask it again, Alan buzzed in and gave the correct answer, winning 50 bonus points.)


  1. Dick Turpin
  2. Body-snatching
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