The Unbelievable Truth. David Mitchell. Copyright: BBC / Random Entertainment.

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 153 episodes (pilot + 25 series), 2006 - 2021. Stars David Mitchell.

Another series is in development.
Series 18, Episode 6 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra on Monday at 9am.

Series 1, Episode 1

Marcus Brigstocke talks about coffee, Tony Hawks looks at cats, Frankie Boyle discusses Michael Jackson and Neil Mullarkey chats about beards.

Further details

The Truths

Tony Hawks - Cats

- According to folklore, a cat sleeping with all four paws underneath them is a sign that cold weather is on the way. Found by Neil.

- Many people in history have detested cats. Found by Neil. Accidentally included by Tony.

- In 19th century Belgium, cats were used to deliver post until it was discovered cats lack the discipline for work. Successfully smuggled.

- According to Hebrew folklore, cats came about because Noah was afraid that rats might eat all the food on the ark. He prayed to God and God made a lion sneeze a cat. Successfully smuggled.

- When subjected to an electric current of at least 50 volts, a cat's tail always points towards the north. Successfully smuggled.

- The composer Brahms hated cats so much that he would sit at his window in Vienna and shoot at them with a homemade harpoon made out of a bow and arrow. Successfully smuggled.

Frankie Boyle - Michael Jackson

- Michael Jackson was born on the same day as Lenny Henry - 29th August, 1958. Found by Tony.

- Michael Jackson was a former Jehovah's Witness. Found by Neil.

- The original name for "Billie Jean" was "Not My Lover", since Quincy Jones feared that people would mix-up "Billie Jean" with the tennis player "Billie Jean King". Found by Tony.

- When Michael Jackson first did the moonwalk he was phoned at home by his neighbour Fred Astaire, who said it was the best performance he had ever seen. Successfully smuggled.

- Michael Jackson is extremely ticklish, especially around the feet. Successfully smuggled.

Neil Mullarkey - Beards

- Russian Tsar Peter the Great imposed a tax on beards, because he wanted Russia to be more like Western Europe. Found by Tony.

- A man's beard grows fastest when he anticipates sex. Found by Tony.

- The fear of beards is "pogonophobia". Found by Marcus.

- The only member of ZZ Top who does not have a beard is called Frank Beard. Found by Marcus.

- In Ancient Egypt, both Queens and Kings wore false beards, held in place by a ribbon tied over the head, which was attached to a gold chin strap. Successfully smuggled.

Marcus Brigstocke - Coffee

- Coffee is considered a Christian drink, and the drink was baptised by Pope Clement VIII. Found by Tony.

- The most expensive coffee in the world consists of beans that have been through the digestive tract of the Asian Palm Civet cat. Found by Frankie.

- Cindy Crawford rubs ground coffee beans and olive oil into her thighs to keep them smooth. Found by Frankie.

- In 1656, the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire banned coffee and closed coffee houses of Turkey. The penalty for drinking it was to be sown into a leather satchel and thrown into the Bosphorus. Found by Neil.

- The cappuccino gets its name from the foam topping which resembles the hooded robes of the Catholic Capuchin friars. Successfully smuggled.


- Tony Hawks: 7 points
- Neil Mullarkey: 4 points
- Marcus Brigstocke and Frankie Boyle: 0 points

Broadcast details

Monday 23rd April 2007
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Neil Mullarkey Guest
Frankie Boyle Guest
Tony Hawks Guest
Marcus Brigstocke Guest
Writing team
Iain Pattinson Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer