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

Series 12, Episode 2

David Mitchell is joined by Marcus Brigstocke, Holly Walsh, John Finnemore and Rufus Hound as they lie about Eton, babies, Russia and hats.

Further details

The Truths

Marcus Brigstocke - Eton

- In the Cameroonian Eton tribe the word for "thank you" is "abumgang". Found by Rufus.

- Eton prefects (or "Pop") are entitled to wear chequered sponge-bag trousers and a waistcoat designed as they wish for the rest of their time at school. Found by John.

- It is cheaper to send someone to Eton than it is to prison, per year. The annual school fees are £32,067, which is £304 less than sending someone to prison in Scotland, £5,581 less than sending someone to prison in England and Wales, and Northern Irish prisons cost twice as much as Eton's annual fees. Found by Holly.

- One of the playing fields of Eton is called Dutchman's. The others are called Agar's, Upper Club, Sixpenny and Mesopotamia. Found by John.

- The Eton word for eating is "socking" and the Eton tuck shop is called the "sock shop". Successfully smuggled.

Holly Walsh - Babies

- A baby can cry so loud it can permanently damage your hearing according to American researchers. They can cry at 115db, which is 5db less than an ambulance siren. Found by Rufus.

- In Costa Rica babies are given coffee to drink. Found by John.

- Babies recognise in region accents. A 2009 study from the University of Wurzburg, Germany showed that babies pick up accents while still in the womb. Found by John.

- A London mum recently named her son John Lewis after going into labour in Brent Cross Shopping Centre. She named the child after the shop's helpful staff who came to her aid. Successfully smuggled.

John Finnemore - Russia

- Ivan the Terrible had an elephant executed because it refused to bow down to him. Found by Rufus.

- The first wife of 18th century peasant Feodor Vassilyev gave birth to 69 children. She had 27 pregnancies between 1725-65. She had 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets. Found by Marcus.

- Russian squirrels have been known to chase and eat dogs. In 2005 black squirrels bit to death a stray dog that was barking at them in a park in Lazo, south-eastern Russia. This may have been causes by a shortage of pinecones in the forest, their normal food. Found by Holly.

- All Russian postmen have guns. In 2005 the Russian Prime Minister passed a decree to supply the staff of all federal postal services with military and civilian weaponry as well as bullets. Found by Holly.

- There are tigers in Russia. Siberian tigers are the largest cats in the world. Successfully smuggled.

Rufus Hound - Hats

- Archaeologists, and for that matter no-one knows who invented the hat. Found by Marcus. Accidentally included by Rufus.

- The Hat Act of 1732 banned the export of beaver-felt from any British colonies to protect the hat making industry of Britain itself. It is widely seen as one of the factors that lead to the American Revolution. Found by Marcus.

- Yang Dacai of Hunan, China, was attacked so often by an angry owl in 2007 he now wears a protective hat which has nails protruding from it. He thought it might be revenge after he removed a nest containing two babies owls form his roof. Found by John.

- There are only two beret factories in France. Found by Holly.

- During the late 19th century there was a craze of hats made out of hummingbird skin. Successfully smuggled.


- John Finnemore: 6 points
- Holly Walsh: 4 points
- Marcus Brigstocke: 0 points
- Rufus Hound: -3 points

Broadcast details

Monday 6th January 2014
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Marcus Brigstocke Guest
Rufus Hound Guest
John Finnemore Guest
Holly Walsh Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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