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 6 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra on Monday at 9am.

Series 10, Episode 6

John Finnemore, Henning Wehn, Holly Walsh and Arthur Smith are the panellists obliged to talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as Germany, Beards, Camels and Simon Cowell.

Further details

The Truths

Arthur Smith - Simon Cowell

- Cowell owned 18 pet hamsters as a boy. Found by John.

- When he appeared on Desert Island Discs, Cowell's luxury item was a mirror. Found by John.

- Cowell was offered £1million to become the face of Viagra. He turned it down. Found by Holly.

- As a child Cowell sat on Betty Davis's knee as she learnt her lines. The Cowell's lived next door to a house owned by Elstree Studios, which was rented by visiting actors. Davis stayed there while filming The Nanny in 1965. Successfully smuggled.

- At the age of 12 Cowell hijacked a bus. He held a toy pea-gun at the driver's head and demanded to be driven to Watford. The driver thought the gun was real and took Cowell to Watford. When they got there Cowell was taken to Scotland Yard for questioning. Cowell recalled afterwards that dealing with his angry mother was much worse than the police. Successfully smuggled.

Henning Wehn - Beards

- Brides on the Ancient Greek island of Argos wore fake beards on their wedding night. Found by Holly.

- Elizabeth I enforced a beard tax, which she actually re-introduced when it was first enforced by her father Henry VIII. Found by John.

- In Hurdenburg, Sweden, mayors were elected by putting their beards on a table and seeing which one a louse would decide to live in. Found by Holly.

- Male goats urinate onto their beards, legs and stomachs when they reach sexual maturity. Found by Holly.

- On stage Frederick Chopin only wore half of a fake beard, on the grounds that his audience could only see one half of his face while he performed. Successfully smuggled.

Holly Walsh - Camels

- Camel racing in the United Arab Emirates now use robot jockeys in place of young boys. Found by Henning.

- A female camel is called a "git". Found by John.

- A "cama" is a cross between a camel and a llama. Successfully smuggled.

- In Abu Dhabi it is common to fix camel jockeys to their mounts with Velcro. Successfully smuggled.

- Camel urine is thick and syrupy. Successfully smuggled.

John Finnemore - Germany

- The Germans have the highest average IQ of any European nation at 107. Serbia had the lowest at 89, while the UK is exactly average at 100. Found by Holly.

- Famous Germans include the 19th century composer Englebert Humperdink. The singer Englebert Humperdink was born in Madras, India. Found by Holly.

- King Frederick William I of Prussia had an army regiment consisting of the tallest men in the country called the Potsdam Giants. Found by Henning.

- Garden gnomes are a German invention. Successfully smuggled.

- During World War One some German uniforms were made out of nettles. Successfully smuggled.


- Holly Walsh: 6 points
- John Finnemore: 2 points
- Henning Wehn: -3 points
- Arthur Smith: -4 points

Broadcast details

Monday 4th February 2013
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Arthur Smith Guest
Henning Wehn Guest
John Finnemore Guest
Holly Walsh Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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