Stephen Fry’s English lesson at King’s Lynn hospital

It was more of a case of QEH than QI for actor Stephen Fry who made a surprise appearance at a King's Lynn hospital.

Staff and patients did a double-take as the actor appeared at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for the inside story on how residents from oversees get to grips with the English language - and the finer points of how it is spoken here.

A West Norfolk resident himself, the QI quiz show host was filming for a new BBC 2 series called Planet Word. The first of the five programmes features the hospital's work in teaching its own staff the art of English in Norfolk.

Mr Fry sat in on one of the colloquial language classes run by practice development nurses Julia Saunders and Nikki Plaatjies.

'As you would expect, Stephen Fry was absolutely charming and took an active part in what we were doing. He was also very impressed by the hospital and could not believe just how busy we were, ' said Julia.

Local dialects and words can make life difficult for an oversees staff member who learnt their English abroad, and the hospital runs classes to make sure there can be no confusion when it comes to a mardle.

'If a patient is a local person and announces, for example, that they are about to 'hull-up', then the nurse has to be pretty clear that a bout of vomiting is on the way,' said a spokesman.

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There are also dozens of alternative words for parts of the body and common conditions, many of which never appear in a medical text book, he added.

Planet Word is due to be screened in September.