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

The Unbelievable Truth

  • Radio panel show
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2006 - 2021
  • 159 episodes (26 series)

David Mitchell hosts this Radio 4 panel game built on truth and lies. Contestants must try and smuggle truths into lie-filled speeches.

Episode menu

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

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


Stretched concept made good by Mitchell's quick thinking

It is the unscripted moments that happen in spite of the concept that make this show worthwhile.

Henry Widdicombe, Such Small Portions, 23rd April 2007

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