Podcast Review: No Such Thing As A Fish

No Such Thing

Are you always stuck for something to say at dinner parties? Are you lost for words when trying to conjure up conversational gambits? Then No Such Thing As A Fish* may be just the podcast for you. Instalments come out every Friday and are put together by some of the “Elves” who live at the bottom of Stephen Fry's garden, ie they do the research on QI and make Mr Fry appear like the human incarnation of Google.

Every week a gathering of Elves, including Andrew Murray, Dan Schreiber, James Harkin, Anna Ptaszynski and Alex Bell reveal their favourite facts and then riff on them, lobbing in other obscurities and oddities. In the latest podcast, for instance, we discover that before each Space Shuttle was launched inflatable owls had to be removed from it – they were placed there to stop woodpeckers from drilling holes in the petrol tanks. Space travel is always good for the odd fact. Or possibly urban myth. It was said that one astronaut had such a problem with swearing that he was hypnotised before he went into orbit so that he didn’t blurt out rude words on a live broadcast.

Sometimes, however, the team uncover something that may not be absolutely true but they cannot resist telling it because it is such a ripping yarn. This may be the case with “Bumper Harris” who was said to be a one-legged man hired by the Department of Transport in 1911 to travel up and down the escalator at Earl's Court Station to reassure commuters than the newfangled moving staircase was perfectly safe. There is some dispute about the truth of this story but it is certainly much more than quite interesting, so passes the rigorous QI test.

Each podcast is accompanied by footnotes and visuals on the QI website if you want to do further swotting up. All it lacks is the likes of Alan Davies and co chipping in with their comedic quips, but there are still plenty of laughs to be had. One has, however, to pity rather than giggle at the poor Chinese translator of Finnegans Wake, who has been working on the epic James Joyce masterpiece for seven years and is still only a third of the way through. That’s the kind of devotion to a task that would make them the ideal member of the QI Elves team. 

*The title is a quote from the Oxford Dictionary of Underwater Life - the point is that the organisms we call 'fish' are really so distantly related there's no sense lumping them together, unless it's on a menu. We're more closely related to some fish than they are to each other.

**Due to a technical cock-up and not a tribute to Jamaica Inn the volume on this week's episode is a little quiet, but pay attention, it's worth it.

Hello! Thanks for reading all the way down. I wish I could give you a prize. But BTJ needs your support to continue - if you would like to help to keep the site going, please consider donating.

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.