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 10, Episode 4

This week semi-regulars Tony Hawks and Lucy Porter are joined by Ed Byrne and Charlie Higson join David Mitchell as they lie about gambling, turtles, teeth and lemons.

Further details

The Truths

Tony Hawks - Gambling

- In 1978 a Chicago man died playing Russian roulette. The man was Terry Kath, who was the front man of the band Chicago. His last words before firing the gun were "Don't worry, it's not loaded." He was believed to have been drinking at the time. - Found by Ed.

- Russell Crowe once worked as a bingo caller as a teenager. He was fired after giving out rude bingo calls such as: "Number 1 - Up your bum." - Found by Ed.

- There are World Computer Poker Championships. Since 2006, computers and their programmers can play against each other. There are two winners at each event: the computer which wins the most matches, and the computer which wins the most money. In 2011 about 70 million hands were played in order mediate the effects of luck and to make statistically significant results. - Found by Charlie.

- In 1995 one man bet £1,000 that Goran Ivanisevic would not smile on camera during the whole of Wimbledon. Ladbrokes offered odds of 13-10. Ivanisevic was so incensed by this that he broadly smiled every time he appeared on court. The man lost the bet. Found by Ed.

- In California it is illegal to raffle a dog unless it has been castrated first. Successfully smuggled.

Lucy Porter - Teeth

- Mao Zedong never brushed his teeth. His doctor said Mao's teeth were green in colour, but Mao defended himself by saying that tigers never brush their teeth either. - Found by Tony.

- Old porcelain false teeth, which were used up to the 1980s, used to be radioactive. In the 1940s manufacturers added radium to dentures believing the glow helped to mimic the look of natural teeth. Under UV lights, the radium false teeth sometimes shines red or yellow. - Found by Ed.

- Unlike frogs, toads have no teeth. - Found by Tony.

- Walruses walk using their teeth. The technical family name, "odobenidae", comes from Greek meaning: "One that walks with teeth." - Found by Charlie.

- The Mediterranean umbrella snail has up to 750,000 teeth. - Successfully smuggled.

Ed Byrne - Tortoises and Turtles

- Turtles 60 million years ago were the size of VW Beatles. - Found by Charlie.

- The Fitzroy river tortoise in Australia breathes through its mouth on land and through its anus in the water. - Found by Lucy.

- The Ancient Egyptians believed that rubbing mashed tortoise brains mixed with honey into the eyes would help cure blindness. - Found by Lucy.

- In warm water the sea turtle's heart rate can be at 40 beats per minute, but in cold water it can be as low as once nearly every ten minutes. - Found by Tony.

- A baby sea turtle's chances of surviving into adulthood are 1 in 10,000. However, if they do reach adulthood they can live up to 170 years old. - ound by Charlie.

Charlie Higson - Lemons

- In the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the Ottomans ran out ammunition and so pelted the Christian enemy with lemons and oranges. This resulted in scenes of laughter on both sides amid the carnage. - Found by Tony.

- In Puerto Rico a traditional hangover cure is rub the armpits with a lemon. - Found by Ed.

- When the drinking straw was invented 1888, inventor Marvin Stone designed it so it was narrow enough to prevent lemon pips being sucked up when drinking lemonade. - Found by Lucy.

- In the nursery rhyme "Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clement's.", the second verse includes the line: "Pancakes and fritters, say the bells of St. Peter's." Other lines include: "Bull-eyes and targets, say the bells of St. Margaret's", "Pokers and tongs, say the bells of St. John's" and "Old Father Baldpate, say the bells of Aldgate." - Found by Tony.

- In Medieval times it was believed that if you accidentally swallowed a fishbone then you should drink lemon juice as it would dissolve it. This results in the current custom of serving lemon with fish. Successfully smuggled.


- Charlie Higson: 1 point
- Lucy Porter and Tony Hawks: 0 points
- Ed Byrne: -4 points

Broadcast details

Monday 21st January 2013
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Tony Hawks Guest
Lucy Porter Guest
Ed Byrne Guest
Charlie Higson Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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