Baboon v Badger: 10 Years On

It’s been ten years since the question was first posed to David Cameron by an anonymous internet poster on the comments section of the Brighton Argus website – and we’ve worked tirelessly to find an answer: Who would win in a fight between a baboon and a badger? Here’s what the celebrity world has to say…

On February 12th 2009, the Brighton Argus put out a call to its readers. “What would you like us to ask the Conservative leader on his Sussex visit?” they asked. “Post your questions on the comment board below.”

As you can imagine, the good people of Brighton didn’t really feel too compelled to offer any serious questions for David Cameron. Instead the comments section was quickly filled with suggestions like:
– What does swan taste like?

– Does he watch Eggheads?
– Does he think there’ll ever be a boy born that can swim as fast as a shark?
and, from someone posting under what was presumably the pseudonym “GreggWallace”
– Does he agree with me that COOKING doesn’t get TOUGHER than this?

The Argus couldn’t very well put all of these dipshit questions to a prime minister-in-waiting, but they did pick one. A question posed by Brighton Argus poster Holden_Caulfield:

In classic political fashion, Cameron dodged the question when they put it to him. So, in the ten years since, we here at Popbitch (as well as some of our most trusted allies) have been trying to get an answer to it absolutely anywhere else we could find one.

To this day, it still crops up on many Guardian webchats (Wolf Alice, Adrian Edmondson and Professor Green have all taken the time to answer it).

Just last week the question was put forward at the start of Radio 4’s Any Questions. It wasn’t picked to go in front of the panel on the show itself – understandably – but it did get read out before recording as an example of one of the more unusual questions they got pitched. (The producer said she was intrigued by it and would like to speak afterwards to whoever asked it to find out what the thinking was behind it…)

Someone even opened a Baboon Vs Badger themed guesthouse in Ibiza.

The debate has raged on, and we have put the question to dozens and dozens of celebrities in our time. Some of them had more to say than others – but here are some of the more curious, thoughtful and surprising answers we’ve heard from some of the world’s biggest stars.

So – for the final time this decade – we ask: Who would win in a fight between a baboon and a badger?

Team Baboon

The baboon has plenty going for it. Sharp fangs, an extended reach, the sort of shrieking battle cry that could loosen the stools of the hardest men – and it also has plenty of support in the celebrity world.

Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror)

It’s obvious. A baboon could do absolutely horrendous damage to a badger. It could flick one of the badger’s eyes out with its left forefinger and poke the other eye deep into the socket with its right thumb. It could ram its elbow into the top of the badger’s skull and push down hard until the dear beast saw Christmas light dancing in its mind. It could rip a great hole in the badger’s belly and wear it as a shoe for a week, dancing down gravel paths and kicking the badger’s relatives for fun.


Sally Phillips (Smack The Pony; Veep)

Easy. Baboons. There are paedophile warlord baboons. I’ve never yet heard of a paedo badger. And badgers are all sick, overweight and blind. I cannot believe you’re wasting my time with a question this easy.


Keavy And Edele (B*Witched)

We think baboon! They are cheeky little beggars. Once when we were very small, we were on holiday in Portugal and there was a baboon sat tied up. He was showing off as we watched and he picked up what we thought was an apple and threw it at our brother [Shane Lynch from Boyzone]. We though this was very funny until we discovered it was a rock and our brother was hurt. Ooops!


Ron Jeremy (Porn Legend)

Great! I’ve been waiting for someone to ask. Always go with the baboon. They are crazy. And their butts are red.


Daniel Bedingfield (Gotta Get Thru This)

In my opinion, longer reach and the ability to jump out of harm’s way would give baboons the edge… very vicious. A badger’s just too short and stumpy.


Michael Sheen (Twilight; Masters Of Sex)

They throw their shit about, don’t they, baboons? Yeah, I think baboon. You can be as vicious as you like, there’s not a lot you can do if you’ve got shit in your eye.


Adele (19; 21; 25)

A baboon – because they have arms just like people and could probably headbutt well.


Kesha (Tik Tok)

Well, I was in Africa recently and I saw a monkey jerking off. So I guess, a baboon?


Richard E Grant (Withnail And I; Spice World)

The obvious answer would be to say that the baboon would win because it’s bigger. Is there a trick to this question…? Well, baboons would hands-down win it for me.


Kim Wilde (Kids In America)

While I appreciate this is an entirely hypothetical debate, it’s hard to imagine what a badger and baboon could possibly fight over. Although they do both eat some roots and berries, they hardly share the same diets – and, let’s face it, they’re not likely to fight over a flirtatious badger or alluring baboon.

Nonetheless, I accept that anything’s possible. Given a confrontation, I’d very much like to think that they’d be able to resolve their differences by simple debate but, of course, I appreciate that isn’t always possible. You’d only need a bellicose badger or a belligerent baboon and any hope of compromise would go straight out of the window.

I have actually worked with a local wildlife trust who created a safe badger sett in the countryside close to my home so I’d have to admit that my heart would say badger, but my head says that the superior dexterity of the primate would probably prevail.

Also on Team Baboon

Gillian Anderson, 80s snooker legend Dennis Taylor, Andy Bell from Erasure, Ruby Wax, Chloe Crowhurst off of Love Island, Blue Peter host and paranormalist Yvette Fielding, Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, Alastair Campbell and all three of Cleopatra.

Team Badger

Much like in nature, the badger doesn’t roll deep with friends – but it’s more about the quality of the badger’s supporters, rather than the quantity. Wildlife experts, respected intellects and people with first-hand experience of the beasts all tend to swing in the badgers’ direction.

Danny Dyer (Human Traffic)

Lauren Laverne (Radio 6)

Badger. They’re little fuckers. Baboons, they’re all about cuddling and shit. Baboons think they can come up and be all like “Hey, look at me. I’m really cute, hey!” Badger couldn’t give a fuck. Tear your heart out.

I was on the Isle Of Wight, lost, driving around in a van and there was a badger going alongside us as fast as the van. It must have been going about 20 mph. That little shit was jet-propelled. And apparently, they’ll then run alongside you and throw themselves into the middle of the road so that you swerve. Just for kicks.


Stephen Fry (QI)

Badgers are pretty nasty, you know. If it’s an African honey badger – which, if it’s fighting a baboon, is quite likely – I’d back the badger every time.


Danny Foster (Hear’Say)

The badger would win! Don’t be fooled. It’s the quiet ones you have to look out for! Behind that shy exterior lies a calculated fighting machine. Have you seen them teeth and claws?


Alice Lowe (Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace)

I think the badger would win actually – they’ve got really horrible claws. The badger might have more stamina. The baboon would have more cunning ways, with its opposable thumbs, but the badger would stick it out for longer.”


Jon Snow (Channel 4 News)

The badger. It would get the baboon’s goolies.


Mark Ronson (Uptown Funk)

Is it a honey badger? The honey badger is the most dangerous, fearless animal on earth. The strength of the baboon is insane but the honey badger wouldn’t let up until it was dead. I would go with the baboon unless it’s a honey badger, then I would go with the honey badger.

But do you know which one would win scientifically? I mean, have you asked scientists?


It’s a good question from Mark. We’re not sure it’s scientists exactly who ought to be asked, but there are definitely some nature experts we could put the question to.

The Experts

Chris Packham (The Really Wild Show)

A fight between a baboon and a badger would ultimately end in stalemate as each would retreat to its natural habit (those being the trees and the ground). But that’s a boring answer, so I would have to say the wily badger with its ferocious temper and sharp teeth would easily have one over the baboon.


Dan Rees (BBC Natural History Unit)

They do indeed say that the ratel, or honey badger, is the toughest animal in Africa. They have a reputation for attacking a man’s crown jewels (though I am not sure if there are any confirmed cases of this).

I guess the outcome depends on how you define ‘win’. If you mean ‘kill’ then I simply don’t think that either would be able to kill the other in normal, wild circumstances. Badgers are hard as nails, but baboons – male ones, anyway – are very impressive animals. Much bigger, with a thick ruff of protective hair and terrifyingly huge canines. In the wild, the baboon’s greater manoeuvrability would enable it to keep away from the badger.

If you were to confine the two animals however, in some sort of quasi-gladiatorial situation, then I think the badger would win as the baboon would not be able to keep out of the badger’s damage zone and I reckon – in such circumstances, the badger would eventually wear it down.


Lucy Pinney (Popbitch’s Countryside Correspondent)

Every bit of a badger is over-engineered and unusually strong: bones, teeth, even skin. There are many stories of bullets bouncing off their skulls, cars hitting them at 30mph with seemingly no effect. They are also extremely fighty when threatened. There’s a reason farmers go after them with guns and don’t just punch them to get them to leave.

My favourite fact about badgers comes from an interview for The Times that I did with a top dentist called Dr Peter Kertesz. He treats humans four days a week and animals on Fridays. He said the hardest animal to do dentistry on is the badger. Badgers are built like battleships. If you have to do an extraction on one you soon realise that their teeth are fused to the bone and their gums are stuck down as hard as glue. They are exceptionally tough animals. Because they are so tough and have clearly been over-engineered, I’d think they’d win against a baboon.


Hunter S Thompson (Fear And Loathing…)

Obviously we didn’t get a chance to ask Hunter S Thompson his opinion on Baboon v Badger personally (what with him shooting himself to death four years before the question first appeared on the Brighton Argus website) but he did seem to know a lot about the sneaky fighting technique of the badger:

“There was no need to look anywhere else for the evil bastard. He had the fighting instincts of a badger trapped by hounds. The badger will roll over on its back and emit a smell of death, which confuses the dogs and lures them in for the traditional ripping and tearing action. But it is usually the badger who does the ripping and tearing. It is a beast that fights best on its back: rolling under the throat of the enemy and seizing it by the head with all four claws.”


Also on Team Badger

Uma from The Saturdays, Charlotte Hatherley from Ash, Jamie Morrison from the Stereophonics, Dom Joly, Tommy Wiseau from The Room, Anne-Marie Duff and 2010 UK Eurovision entrant Josh Dubovie.

Fence-Sitters, Fudgers and Fantasists

They say that if you ask a stupid question, you’ll get a stupid answer – and we’ve had plenty of those in our time too. Rather than avoid the question outright like David Cameron did, some of the more imaginative celebrities we placed the question in front of came up with some weird and wild answers…

Rick Astley (Never Gonna Give You Up)

Baboons have an obvious advantage – an electron force field. That said, most badgers are now fitted with adamantium claws, so I would have to choose the badger.

New Order (Blue Monday; World In Motion)

This depends on the terrain. Badgers are very tenacious and would not travel well. However, if a baboon were to step off an EasyJet flight at Ringway and pop up to our neck of the woods (Macclesfield) it may well be riled up enough to go for it.


Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV)

A baboon and a badger? Who comes up with these questions? Jesus Christ. A baboon, right? Don’t they just tear your arm straight off and smack you round the head with it? I think so. They’re pretty strong. Or possibly a badger with a machine gun? Or a badger with a rocket launcher?


Nik Kershaw (Wouldn’t It Be Good)

I was recently in Tesco, minding my own business, when I became aware of an altercation developing somewhere near the frozen peas. A baboon was accusing a badger of careless trolleycraft.

The badger apologised and was trying to explain the difficulty of maintaining control of a trolley when you haven’t got opposable thumbs. The baboon (unreasonably I thought) removed the badger’s fish fingers from his trolley, rubbed them on his wife’s red, tumescent arse, and returned them to the trolley.

At this point, the badger’s wife got involved and all hell let loose. Teeth were bared and fur began flying. The contest was evenly matched, although I believe the badgers would have prevailed were it not for the fact that the male baboon had an Uzi 9mm.


One surprising thing that we couldn’t help but notice in our research was that the question tended to divide double acts.

Miller And Armstrong

Ben Miller: Badger. No question.
Alexander Armstrong: Are you mad?! A baboon of course.


Fabio And Grooverider

Fabio: The baboon is bigger. How would a badger beat a baboon?
Grooverider: He would tire him out. Like George Foreman.


The only double act that seemed to share any consensus was Winnie the Pooh and Tigger – when someone who was working at Disneyland Florida asked them both who they thought would win and they both agreed that it’d be a badger.

(FYI: Buzz Lightyear was also asked the same question and simply shrugged…)

Shirkers and Stick-In-The-Muds

Unsurprisingly, David Cameron wasn’t the only person to refuse to answer the question. The list of celebrities who didn’t want to indulge us was surprisingly short – but we thought they deserved a shout-out as well.

The people who had their people refuse us were:

Gordon Brown (Former prime minister)
Simon Pegg (Shaun Of The Dead)
Dominic West (The Wire)
Trevor Horn (Producer extraordinaire)
Abi Titmuss (TV)
Toto (Africa)
Ruth Badger (The Apprentice)

And the people who gave their own refusals?

Rob Delaney (Catastrophe)

Fuck off. I hate questions like that.


Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys)

I have no idea.


Noam Chomsky (Philosopher)

Can’t manage, I’m afraid.


Richard Bacon (Radio 5)

I hope they both die.


Alain De Botton (Philospher)

What a fun idea – but do forgive me if I stay out of this one, I really have nothing interesting to say.


Also: the management of The xx once stepped in and interrupted us when we put the question to them, saying they didn’t want them getting involved in “that”.

So what can we learn from all of this? Precious little, to be honest. The only real lesson to be taken from it is that the drugs that pop stars were taking in the 80s clearly had some lasting and devastating effects.

And what hope of getting David Cameron to finally answer the question – a full decade later? Well, given that he’s gone into hiding after punting the country off a cliff, and has since been suspected of fucking a dead pig in the mouth, there’s very little chance that he’d take questions from us now.

Which means it’s probably time to lay the question to rest. Fun while it lasted though…

If you want a copy of our original 2009 toilet book Popbitch Presents: Baboon V Badger – which contains over 130 celebrity answers to the question: including further answers from Derren Brown, Suggs, Tim Burgess, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Rowetta, Garth Jennings, Bodger from Bodger & Badger, Edgar Wright, Paul Weller, Abz from 5ive, Spike from 911, New Hampshire Senator Martha Fuller Clark, Jon Ronson, Jerry Dammers and MORE – we have a few limited copies left.

Find out more here

Thanks to: Rich Johnston for the illustrations, the Brighton Argus and Holden Caulfied for the question, and to GO, LMES, WB, SW, MT, CC and campanology for being so dedicated to helping us find an answer to this ridiculous riddle.