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.

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Series 11, Episode 1

Joining David Mitchell are Lloyd Langford, Henning Wehn, Katherine Ryan and Graeme Garden, lying on subjects such as sharks, photography, sugar and Jeremy Clarkson.

Further details

The Truths

Lloyd Langford - Sharks

- Male sharks do not have penises. Found by Graeme.

- The cookiecutter shark is so aggressive that it attacks nuclear submarines. Found by Henning.

- Pigs kill more people per year than sharks, mainly because pigs act co-operatively. Found by Graeme.

- The pigmy ribbon-tailed cat shark is the smallest shark in the world, with a maximum length of 7.5 inches. Successfully smuggled.

- Olivia Newton-John was once president of the Isle of Man Basking Shark Society. Successfully smuggled.

Henning Wehn - Photography

- In 1839 photographs required 15-30 minutes of exposure. The subject would be placed on a posing chair, on a raised platform with their head in a clamp to prevent movement. Found by Lloyd.

- In the 1860s the police photographed the eyes of murder victims believing that they had an imprint of the murderer in them. It was used in the Jack the Ripper case. Found by Graeme.

- Within 200 yards of the Islington flat where George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four there are 32 CCTV cameras. 20% of all the world's CCTV cameras are in Britain. Found by Lloyd.

- The CIA invented a pigeon spy-camera in the 1970s, hoping that the birds would fly over Moscow and take pictures. Found by Lloyd.

- There is a camera that can take up to a trillion photos in a second. Successfully smuggled.

Katherine Ryan - Sugar

- Doctors originally diagnosed diabetics by tasting the patient's urine to see if it was sugary. Found by Graeme.

- On a dry tongue sugar, or in fact anything, has no taste. Found by Graeme.

- The Boston molasses disaster of 1919, in which a storage tank full of molasses on the Boston waterfront burst and a tidal wave swept through the city, killed 21 people and caused $100 million worth of damage. Found by Lloyd.

- In China, fish and chips are served with sugar. Successfully smuggled.

- Henry Ford believed that eating sugar was dangerous, claiming that the sharp crystals would cause lacerations to the throat and stomach. Successfully smuggled.

Graeme Garden - Jeremy Clarkson

- Clarkson starred in Anthony Buckeridge's original radio adaptations of the Jennings at School books in the 1973 play Happy Christmas Jennings, playing Atkinson, a boy who annoyed everyone around him with his constant piano practice. Some extracts from the play are broadcast after the truth is revealed. Found by Lloyd.

- In 2005 Clarkson described one car as "quintessentially German", then gave a mock Nazi salute, mentioned Hitler and set the satnav destination for Poland. Found by Henning.

- Clarkson once annoyed his neighbours by buying a jet fighter and putting it on his front lawn. When the council told him to move it he defended himself claiming it was a leaf-blower. Found by Lloyd.

- An internet petition demanding that Clarkson should be made Prime Minister received nearly 50,000 signatures. Found by Lloyd.

- Clarkson has admitted several times that he has no idea how a car engine works. Successfully smuggled.


- Lloyd Langford and Graeme Garden: 5 points
- Katherine Ryan: -1 point.
- Henning Wehn: -3 points.

Broadcast details

Monday 8th April 2013
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Graeme Garden Guest
Henning Wehn Guest
Lloyd Langford Guest
Katherine Ryan Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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