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  • This is the Technical Difficulties, we're playing Citation Needed.

  • Joining me today: he reads books y'know, it's Chris Joel.

  • Third time's a charm.

  • Everybody's favourite Gary Brannan, Gary Brannan.

  • Join me in my secret expedition,

  • to Noel Edmonds' secret underground bunker...

  • of filth!

  • And the bounciest man on the internet, Matt Gray!

  • Today's show is sponsored by the word cuneiform.

  • Getting highbrow here.

  • In front of me I have an article from Wikipedia and these folks can't see it.

  • Every fact they get right is a a point, and a...

  • You OK there?

  • Might be reaching coffee saturation.

  • I'll start being funny any minute now.

  • Can we just...

  • Good siren noise there.

  • Can we just take a minute to acknowledge how good that siren noise was?!

  • In front of me I've got an article from Wikipedia and these folks can't see it.

  • Every fact they get right is a a point, and a ding [DING].

  • And there's a special prize for particularly good answers which is:

  • ♫[MYSTERY BISCUITS]♫

  • You will put your back out doing that at some point, Gary.

  • All in the name of wit.

  • And today we are talking about Thomas Midgley Jr.

  • Son of Thomas Midgley?

  • I mean one would assume so, yeah.

  • It doesn't explicitly say that here.

  • It'll be under early life. I'm pretty sure.

  • It's not! It just said where he was born. Which was the town of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

  • Also known as a 'Slut Drop'.

  • I said that before I thought about it!

  • - That's a better joke than I was thinking about. - Pennsylvania, you're it this week!

  • Either that, or it's a town at the bottom of a cliff.

  • Above it is a large woodland. With a very heavily disguised edge of cliff.

  • "What are we going to call this place?"

  • That's my impression of a beaver, by the way.

  • I don't know what noise they make when they hit the ground, I've never seen it.

  • A siren noise by the sound of it.

  • Oh, it's a trumpet.

  • Yeah.

  • Yeah. Grew up in Ohio, then. And went to Cornell University with a degree in mechanical engineering.

  • He sounds like an awful person(!)

  • His father was an inventor and he was an inventor and he made, I think a... great change to the world.

  • Although it might not have been for the better.

  • The automatic French horn?

  • Why would you need an automatic French horn, Gary?

  • To save you having the trouble of playing a French horn, dickhead!

  • You've got player pianos, why not player French horns?

  • -Yeah! -OK! Yeah!

  • Come on. It's the general trend towards playerisation of the entire orchestra.

  • They just stumbled on the kettle drum.

  • It's a self-boiling kettle drum.

  • It's just a kettle with the drum attached to it and steam...

  • "That's not quite what we had in mind. But useful in the morning!"

  • Eight am.

  • "But I do have hot water for tea now, so that's good."

  • And everybody's awake!

  • No.

  • That's not what he invented.

  • I'm out.

  • Tom, are you asking us of all the things that could have been invented in the 1900s

  • I was hoping that you might hit on something I could move towards it. But no...

  • Ivory harvesting machine?

  • ...since you went with automatic French horn and ivory harvesting machine, no! Nothing like that.

  • Let me see if I can narrow this down a bit. He was working at Dayton Research Laboratories.

  • Oh! Dayton Research Laboratories!

  • Still no idea.

  • ...which are a subdivision of General Motors.

  • So what would he be working on, in about 1920? This is December 1921.

  • Nuclear powered car?

  • The double decker bus?

  • No, no, but you are technically closer. It's something to do with how cars are powered.

  • Nuclear powered double decker bus!

  • I mean...

  • That's a great film actually.

  • That's combining both noes there.

  • Wait. What film is that? I remember that.

  • - The Big Bus. - The Big Bus!

  • Big Bus, brilliant.

  • All I remember is someone pulling a lever and the flags of all nations popping out of the top of it.

  • Yep. Yeah.

  • Wow!

  • It actually predates Airplane! as well.

  • - It was a comedy, wasn't it? - Yeah.

  • Aaw!

  • Well "comedy".

  • If you want a serious one, did you hear about Supertrain?

  • No?

  • This was a massive flop for NBC, in the US.

  • It was one of the worst, one of the most expensive and greatest television failures of all time.

  • This sounds like it should be in my DVD collection already.

  • You know how they had the Love Boat?

  • I do know how they had the Love Boat.

  • Would you explain the Love Boat for our viewers?

  • The Love Boat was a serial. I think it was probably weekly or something. Where you have a cruise liner.

  • A boat went around, trying to shag other boats.

  • My God! The one with the oil tanker! You should have seen that one.

  • Lubricated.

  • That's kinda what it sounded like.

  • Make sure this one is called the 'Gary Brannan Sound Effects Special'

  • As I have just done a cruise liner shagging an oil tanker.

  • Actually, yeah! Sorry!

  • ♫[MYSTERY BISCUITS]♫

  • Recognise the effort this series.

  • Erm, no. I don't think it was a comedy. It was a kind of a light drama maybe. Romantic drama.

  • Where you had a cruise liner...

  • So was this like Tugs?

  • No, no, no, no.

  • Wow! I bloody love Tugs. Tugs, by the way, to digest...

  • - Digest?! - Tugs was like Thomas the Tank Engine on water.

  • We are now three diversions deep. But keep going.

  • - We'll circle back round. - Tinder username!

  • This is, I think, the third season in a row...

  • where you have referenced Tinder, despite being the one married person at the table.

  • Yeah! The one who's safest to reference it without any eyes swivelling on it.

  • That's fair.

  • But the Love Boat is a giant cruise liner...

  • and you have guest stars every week and romantic things would happen, while at sea.

  • - Right. - But because you're in international waters...

  • there's all manners of deviancy you could get up to.

  • This was the point. You could have a steady, regular cast for the crew...

  • and guest stars each week, for the passengers on the ferry.

  • Superdeathtrain!

  • Supertrain.

  • Which was NBC going,

  • "Huh. They've got that, what can we do differently so it's not a complete ripoff? Let's put it on a train."

  • Wow!

  • "Let's put it on a nuclear powered train, that goes from New York to Los Angeles, in 36 hours."

  • "That's a great idea. That can't possibly fail."

  • Yes, when you do the math, that means the train is doing about 80 miles an hour.

  • That's hardly impressive.

  • That's hardly impressive at all. No.

  • In fact you can do that on the West Coast Main Line.

  • You actually could.

  • Double width train, so you can get some sets and things like that.

  • - Of course. - Stupid, stupid idea from start to finish.

  • But it was like, "this is the big series. This is what we're going to do."

  • Sounds expensive.

  • Yes, it was massively expensive... it did not work.

  • Why did we talk about Supertrain?

  • - I don't know. We talked about nuclear powered... - Big Bus.

  • - Nuclear powered bus. The Big Bus. - Big bus.

  • Yep.

  • - And then where were we... - And I said nuclear powered cars.

  • - Because it was an invention for the motor. - Because he was working in Dayton...

  • Because Thomas Midgley Jr...

  • invented something about how cars were powered.

  • God, I watched Inception last night. And this is more difficult.

  • That's not surprising, I've seen Inception.

  • What was the invention in the 1920s?

  • That would reduce the...

  • - That would make engines more effective. - Was it an electric car?

  • No it wasn't.

  • No, it was definitely petrol. In fact this was something to do with the petrol.

  • Leaded petrol?

  • Point! [DING]

  • Absolutely spot on.

  • Nice. Nice, harmonisation there.

  • Yeah, that was good.

  • He added tetraethyl lead...

  • The scamp!

  • ...to petrol and discovered it reduced 'knocking'.

  • On heaven's door?

  • Yes! Yes that's why...

  • "Do you need to cure Bob Dylan? Use lead!"

  • (That worked for JFK.)

  • "What did he die of?" "Lead poisoning."

  • Do you know, when it got to unleaded cars, in the early 90s, when it started coming in?

  • They stopped selling four star. Four star petrol used to be leaded petrol.

  • -And two star. -And two star, they stopped selling it.

  • A relative of mine, who shall remain nameless, he's an older gentleman, shall we say

  • Decided he wanted to convert his car to use unleaded petrol. It was quite an expensive procedure.

  • So what he did was, he got unleaded petrol. Put it in the tank, and then bought, through a magazine

  • today it would have been off a dodgy web site, but in those days it was a magazine

  • some 'thing' you could put in your tank, to make your car unleaded.

  • When they came, it was effectively lead shot.

  • So he put unleaded petrol in... lead shot in, which re-adds lead. Let's face it.

  • And he was convinced that his car was running on unleaded petrol, with all the benefits thereof.

  • Genius!

  • So this was the problem. Lead in petrol does reduce 'knocking'. What's the problem there?

  • - It adds lead. - It adds lead!

  • Yes, absolutely. Have a point [DING]

  • It adds extremely toxic lead.

  • Which then gets sprayed out, in the exhaust, over everyone nearby.

  • Which is why we went to unleaded petrol. Which is why we had all that.

  • Because lead is bad!

  • If you didn't know that.

  • What happened in 1923, just two years later, with Midgley? What did he do?

  • [CHORUS] Die of lead poisoning!

  • I mean not quite, I'm not actually giving anyone a point there, because, between the...

  • no one was a third of a point close enough, to get that word.

  • But he did take a prolonged vacation, to cure himself of lead poisoning.

  • What did they call the addition?

  • Lead.

  • No!

  • No. They knew that would not work well for marketing, so with tetra, ethyl and lead, They picked?

  • -Plumbum. -Plumbum!

  • Pumbum, ooh! Latin joke!

  • 'Tis indeed.

  • Yeah, but you can't say 'Putting bum in your petrol tank'!

  • No, they went with ethyl

  • Plumbum petrol.

  • "Plumbum petrol, good for you and your car!"

  • So they had a prototype plant...

  • They started making the stuff...

  • You don't make lead form plants.

  • Isn't a prototype plant a seed?

  • They had a prototype factory. Where they were making the stuff.

  • What happened to the people who worked there?

  • [CHORUS] They all got lead poisoning!

  • Point. [DING] Yes.

  • So this is clearly quite dangerous stuff.

  • Midgley called a press conference, to demonstrate its safety.

  • What did he do to demonstrate?

  • Sprayed it onto some kids!

  • He ate a sandwich made of lead.

  • Killed the journalist, through lead poisoning.

  • He produced a song and dance number 'Lead! It's Great!'

  • He had a lead lolly.

  • Lead lolly, yellow lolly!

  • He turned up on a set, made entirely of lead, and produced a sitcom.

  • -You're all... -Right?

  • -Dancing around... -Did he writhe around in lead shot?

  • -You know like... -What a great age Victoriana was!

  • You know like mud wrestling, but lead wrestling.

  • You know what Matt? You're bloody close enough. No one else is going to get it

  • [DING] He wrestled in lead?

  • No, he poured the stuff all over his hands...

  • Yeah?

  • and then just put the bottle under his nose, for sixty seconds, just sniffed it... for a while.

  • And then died of lead poisoning.

  • He claimed...

  • He's already got the first signs of lead poisoning, of madness, already. Let's face it.

  • Well he claimed, that...

  • Hang on! Lead? He poured lead

  • Not liquid?

  • Poured... the stuff with lead in it

  • The stuff they were putting in the petrol

  • Molten lead over his hands.

  • Argh!