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 11, Episode 2

David Mitchell is joined by Rhod Gilbert, Richard Osman, Lucy Beaumont and John Finnemore as they lie on the subjects of moles, cabbages, trains and the BBC.

Further details

The Truths

Rhod Gilbert - Moles

- It is illegal to kill moles in Germany. Found by Richard.

- In Stelvio, Italy, 1519, a warrant was issued for the arrest of some moles for damaging crops. When the moles failed to appear in court on the specified date they were sentenced to exile. Successfully smuggled.

- A group of moles is called a "company". Successfully smuggled.

- If moles going without food for more than eight hours it will die. Successfully smuggled.

- There are no moles in Ireland. Successfully smuggled.

Richard Osman - Cabbages

- Sauerkraut is as effective as Viagra in the bedroom. Found by John.

- The Ancient Egyptians worshipped cabbage heads as gods. Found by Rhod.

- The largest cabbage ever grown was three times the size of a space-hopper and weighted as much as Beyoncé. It was grown by William Collingwood of County Durham in 1865. Found by Rhod.

- The longest word that you can spell just using the letters used in the musical scale is "Cabbaged". Other words spelt using just the scale include "Baggage", "Defaced" and "Feedbag". Found by John.

- During the First World War the Americans renamed "Sauerkraut" as "Liberty cabbage". Also "Hamburgers" became "Liberty sandwiches" and "German measles" became "Liberty measles". Successfully smuggled.

Lucy Beaumont - Trains

- Construction on a railway bridge near Lake Victoria had to be stopped after 135 workers were eaten by lions. Found by John.

- On the Wakayama Electric Railway in Japan one station has a cat as its station master. Tamara wears a rail-woman's cap and has two feline assistants to help her. Found by John.

- The London Underground has made more money from sales of its map than from tickets. Found by Richard.

- The longest railway platform bench is in Scarborough. It measures at 456ft long, seating 228 passengers at any one time. Found by John.

- The composer Lord Burners made sure his railway compartment was empty by taking his temperature anally every five minutes until everyone else in the compartment left. Successfully smuggled.

John Finnemore - The BBC

- In the early years BBC TV shut down between 6pm and 7pm so that adults could put their children to bed. It lasted until 1957 and was called the "toddlers truce". Found by Richard.

- The BBC once forbid jokes about stammering. In their "Green Book" published in 1949 the BBC also banned jokes about chambermaids, lavatories, fig leaves, honeymoon couples, lodgers, weddings, solicitors, effeminacy in men, the Boer War, and vulgar use of the word "basket". Found by Rhod.

- In 1966 an episode of Pinky and Perky was banned for being too political. It was entitled "You Too Could Be Prime Minister". However, the BBC relented, showed the episode, and it attracted higher ratings than a party political broadcast by Harold Wilson being show at the same time on ITV. Found by Richard.

- When the Empire Service (later the World Service) was launched, Lord Reith announced that: "Don't expect too much in the early days. The programmes will neither be very interesting nor very good." Successfully smuggled.

- British submarine commanders use The Today Programme to decide whether to launch a nuclear strike. During the Cold War if the programme was off air without explanation three days in a row this was to be taken as a signal that the country had been destroyed and they were to open their seal instructions from the Prime Minister. Successfully smuggled.


- John Finnemore: 1 points
- Richard Osman: -3 points
- Rhod Gilbert and Lucy Beaumont: -4 points

Broadcast details

Monday 15th April 2013
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Rhod Gilbert Guest
John Finnemore Guest
Richard Osman Guest
Lucy Beaumont Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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