Fact File #7: Polar Bears

Polar bears camouflage themselves by covering up their black noses with their white paws. There could be a polar bear standing in front of your fridge right now and you’d never know. In fact, there probably is. In fact, there definitely is. Run!

Contrary to popular belief, polar bears do not enjoy Fox’s Glacier Mints. They prefer to eat sea lions, fish and Werther’s Originals.

Polar bears are playful animals. You often see them in the zoo doing the Hokey Cokey, although for some reason they get stuck on the “in out in out” bit and never quite make it to the “shake it all about” bit. They are funny!

Polar bears are solitary beasts. They claim to be single by choice, but come on. Like that’s fooling anybody.

Polar bears are often portrayed as the innocent victims of climate change, but when was the last time you saw a polar bear buying an energy-saving lightbulb? Put up or shut up, polar bears.

I adopted a polar bear through the Word Wildlife Fund. She writes to me twice a year, which is nice. I don’t know what I’m going to say when she asks about her real parents though. It’s a worry.

The popular advert in which two polar bears enjoy a bottle of Coca-Cola was faked. CGI was used to conceal the fact the bears were actually drinking Fentiman’s ginger beer.

If you were bitten by a radioactive polar bear, you would not develop the proportionate strength and speed of a polar bear; nor would you gain any other powers, such as the ability to turn practically invisible just by covering your nose with your hand. You would most likely die quite quickly of massive blood loss and trauma, or slowly of radiation poisoning. That sort of thing only works with spiders, apparently.

God, if you think polar bears are so great, why don’t you go and live in one?

More facts next time, fact fans!


1849: Centaurs were tolerated in polite society as long as they observed Victorian mores regarding clothing ie hiding their horsey bits under a skirt (or a kilt for the males). They could learn to sit on chairs, but were often privately sneered at for their insistence on using a dessert spoon for soup, cutting bread rolls with a knife, and vigourously mounting each other between courses whenever they felt like it. 'Its how we do things in Narnia' was not considered a valid excuse.

More Historicals.

Why Bother?

Why Bother?, first broadcast on Radio 3 in 1994, is a series of improvised conversations between Chris Morris and Peter Cook, in character as Sir Arthur Greeb-Streebling. In this episode Sir Arthur outlines his plan to clone Christ and mass-produce miniature Jesuses in co-operation with the Japanese.

Because there’s a lot of people out there, people who are yearning to find Christ and who don’t have the time to go and look for him in person, who would like to have Christ through the letterbox.

He also talks about bees.

Recorded in 1993, when common concensus seems to have been that Peter Cook had drunk his talent away, Why Bother? reveals a performer who still delights in the fizzy brilliance of his own imagination, and who is still sharp and very funny. Lovely stuff.

And it was all ad libbed:

HD: No preparation?

CM: No. I think the preparation that existed, existed only in terms of the things we had already done. I was already quite used to going and imposing bollocks interviews on people anyway from any direction so it didn’t seem much different, except with him, obviously, you could keep an idea going for much longer. There was an idea that was cut from On The Hour which I was still rabidly insisting should get on air somewhere, about an archeologist having discovered a fossil of Christ as a baby and what that would mean for the whole Christian religion. So we’d get the tapes rolling and let’s talk about Sir Arthur and religion or experiments, whatever. I just said “Sir Arthur, you are going to address the Royal Society tomorrow and reveal that you have found the fossil of Christ as child.” From that, he said there came a whole series of larval stages and it developed from that.
It’s trying to keep some sort of logic going. It was a very different style of improvisation from what I’d been used to, working with people like Steve [Coogan], Doon [MacKichan] and Rebecca [Front], because those On The Hour and The Day Today things were about trying to establish a character within a situation, and Peter Cook was really doing ‘knight’s move’ and ‘double knight’s move’ thinking to construct jokes or ridiculous scenes flipping back on themselves, and it was amazing. I mean, I held out no great hopes that he wouldn’t be a boozy old sack of lard with his hair falling out and scarcely able to get a sentence out, because he hadn’t given much evidence that that wouldn’t be the case. But, in fact, he stumbled in with a Safeways bag full of Kestrel lager and loads of fags and then proceeded to skip about mentally with the agility of a grasshopper. Really quite extraordinary.

From this great interview with Chris Morris.


1866: The only known picture of celebrated British woman spy Pam Snowy, whose name was rumoured to be a fiendish anagram. It is said she agreed to this photograph on the proviso that she could wear one of the many incredible disguises that had made her such a valuable agent of the British Empire, thus displaying her prowess and retaining her anonymity. Tragically, she was at this point so old and bewildered she didn't realise that she had put her false beard on upside down.

More Historicals.

Fact File #6: Hippos

Hippos feel pretentious when they have to refer to more than one of themselves as “hippopotami”. They tend to avoid other hippopotamususes for this reason.

They also avoid octopususes.

If you sucked all the fat out of a hippopotamus, you’d be very poorly indeed.

The hippo is Earth’s 4th biggest land mammal, after the elephant, the rhino and some Americans.

Hippos are closely related to whales, but they rarely visit or even send Christmas cards because they think the whales are a bit up themselves.

The word “hippopotamus” is derived from the Greek word “hippopotamus” which means “hippopotamus”.

Hippos are quicker than you’d think. They can achieve speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Faster if they’re on rollerblades.

Hippos can be found in African regions south of the Sahara, and in zoos world wide. And I think I might have seen one in a wig working in the Greggs on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough.

Hippos are responsible for making me write two dubious “fat jokes” in this post. Hippos are a bad influence on me.

George out of Rainbow is not a real hippo. If a camp puppeteer tried to stick his hand up a real hippopotamus for a children’s TV show, there’d be hell on.

More facts next time, fact fans!

Pointless Prequels

New prequels coming soooooon*:

  • Honey, The Kids Are Still Fine.
  • The Night Of The Living.
  • The Italian Jobseekers.
  • O Brother Why Don’t Thou Leave Me Alone?
  • Where’s Red October? Oh, Wait, There It Is. Panic Over.
  • All The Days Before The Day The Earth Stood Still, When The Earth Didn’t Stand Still.
  • Average-Looking In A Range Of Colours.
  • although for sheer pointlessness none of them could beat

  • The Phantom Menace
  • Eh? Eh? Am I right? Eh? See what I did there…

    *not really, they are just jokes.

    Fact File #5: The Vikings

    Vikings had long hair, moustaches and spoke a bit like the Swedish chef off The Muppets. Ooh, scary.

    Wednesday was named afer the Viking god Wodin, Thursday was named after his son Thor, Friday was named after his wife Freya and Saturday was named after Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were just named after days of the week.

    If you see a Viking at a bus stop, do not get on the same bus as him as it is probably going to the snowy wastes of Asgard, no stopping. And the sandwiches are really expensive at Asgard bus station.

    Contrary to what you might have seen at York’s Yorvik centre, Vikings were actually quite realistic.

    Only one Viking helmet has ever been found, in a Viking grave in south Norway. It didn’t have horns, but it did have a little propeller on the top.

    Vikings called their long ships “longships” and their long houses “longhouses”. This just demonstrates the basic lack of imagination which meant they couldn’t stay in on an evening and entertain themselves with a game of charades or Boggle or consensual sex; hence all the going out and rape and pillage and whatnot.

    The word “Viking” came originally from the verb “to vike”, meaning “to have long hair, a moustache and speak a bit like the Swedish chef off The Muppets.”

    More facts next time, fact fans!