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

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 147 episodes (pilot + 24 series), 2006 - 2020. Stars David Mitchell.

New series to air in late 2020..
Series 17, Episode 1 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra on Monday at 9am.

Series 1, Episode 5

Marcus Brigstocke talks about the Queen, Tony Hawks looks at bras, Frankie Boyle discussed hemp and Neil Mullarkey chats about barcodes.

Further details

The Truths

Tony Hawks - Bras

- Not everyone likes large breasts. Found by Marcus. Accidentally included by Tony.

- Imelda Marcos wore a bullet-proof bra. Found by Neil.

- The Warner Brothers Corset Company introduced the alphabet sizing of bras. Found by Frankie.

- Aviator Howard Hughes designed first cantilevered push-up seamless bra for Jane Russell. Found by Frankie.

- The German word for "bra" is "B├╝stenhalter". Successfully smuggled.

- In 1950s Britain, manufactures listed bra sizes "junior", "medium", "full" and "full with wide waist", which were popularly nicknamed "eggcup", "coffee cup", "teacup" and "Challenge Cup". Successfully smuggled.

Frankie Boyle - Hemp

- From 1776-1937, textiles made from hemp were common. These include the original Levi jeans. Found by Neil.

- From 1631 to the early 1800s, hemp was used as legal tender in the USA. Found by Tony.

- Nobody has ever bothered to calculate how much hemp could fill the Grand Canyon. Found by Marcus. Accidentally included by Frankie.

- Alice in Wonderland was originally printed on hemp paper and author Lewis Carroll was a hemp smoker. Found by Marcus.

- Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Gainsborough painted on hemp canvases. Successfully smuggled.

- The American Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper. Successfully smuggled.

Neil Mullarkey - Barcodes

- In 1949, Norman Joseph Woodland invented the bar code when made a handprint in sand and realised the bars could be a visual version of Morse code. Found by Tony.

- The first barcode scanners were the size of a washing machine and contained components that needed to be water-cooled. Found by Tony.

- Barcodes look similar to a 5th century Irish alphabet called "Ogham" which features horizontal lines and gaps. Found by Frankie.

- In 1998, a New York pop artist made 22-metre high barcode paintings. Found by Marcus.

- Sunlight shining through windows prevents barcodes from being read correctly. Successfully smuggled.

Marcus Brigstocke - The Queen

- The Queen is fond of military marches and keeps a tape of them in her car. Found by Frankie.

- The Queen once drove a train named after her. Found by Neil.

- The Queen strongly dislikes the colour magenta, milk puddings, sailing and any talk of her uncle the Duke of Windsor, formerly Edward VIII. Found by Neil.

- Whenever the Queen stays in a hotel she takes her own Dundee cake, marmalade and electric kettle which she insists on plugging in herself. Successfully smuggled.

- Wherever she goes the Queen takes a black outfit in case she needs to mourn. Successfully smuggled.


- Neil Mullarkey and Marcus Brigstocke: 4 points
- Frankie Boyle: 2 points
- Tony Hawks: 1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 21st May 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