The Unbelievable Truth. David Mitchell. Copyright: BBC / Random Entertainment.

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 153 episodes (pilot + 25 series), 2006 - 2021. Stars David Mitchell.

Next new episode is on Monday at 6:30pm. Series 25, Episode 4
Catch-up on Episode 3 on BBC Sounds   Series 25, Episode 3 is repeated on Sunday at 12pm.

Series 12, Episode 3

Henning Wehn, Graeme Garden, Jeremy Hardy and Victoria Coren Mitchell join David to lie on the subjects of trees, doctors, newspapers and Spain.

Further details

The Truths

Henning Wehn - Trees

- It is possible that trees were invented by Jesus's dad. Half-point given to Victoria. Accidentally included by Henning.

- Because some Hindu men believe it is unlucky to get married for the third time, custom dictates that they get "married" to a tree in their third marriage, which is burned, and then their next wife will be their fourth. Found by Graeme.

- It is possible to tell which direction is south by cutting down a tree and looking at the rings. The growth is lusher on the side of tree closest to the equator. As a result, in the Northern Hemisphere the rings are lusher facing south, and in the Southern Hemisphere the rings are lusher facing north. Successfully smuggled.

- The Venezuelan "cow tree" produces a milky juice that you can put on your cornflakes. Successfully smuggled.

- One baobab tree near Wyndham, Western Australia, was turned into a prison in the 19th century. It is now a tourist attraction. Successfully smuggled.

- Another baobab tree in South Africa has been turned into a pub. It is 6,000 years old and can seat 15 people. Successfully smuggled.

Victoria Coren Mitchell - Spain

- "Spain" literally means "the land of rabbits". The Roman name for the country, "Hispania", is believed to come from a Carthaginian word meaning this. Found by Graeme.

- In one Spanish village the devil jumps of new-born babies who lie on a mattress. Castrillo de Murcia holds an annual baby jumping festival dating back to 1620 in which a man dressed as the devil leaps over as many as six or seven babies on a mattress in the street. They believe it cleanses the babies of their original sin. It is considered one of the most dangerous festivals in the world. Found by Jeremy.

- The Spanish word "esposars" means both "wives" and "handcuffs". Successfully smuggled.

- A school (not a state school) in Valencia has a course in prostitution at a cost of €100 and lasting one week. The course "grantees a job on graduation". The course teaches students how to use erotic toys, the most popular positions from the Kama Sutra and the history of prostitution. Successfully smuggled.

- Spanish prostitutes are made to wear reflective vests. €40 fines are issued to those who do not wear these vest on one Catalonian highway. Successfully smuggled.

Graeme Garden - Doctors

- In 2009 a group of doctors opened a restaurant in Latvia called "Hospitalis", in which the dining room looked like an operating theatre, food came on hospital trollies, drinks were served in specimen beakers and you can be served by waitresses dressed as nurses while you wear a straightjacket. It later closed down as it failed hygiene tests. Found by Henning.

- When doctors in Brazil went on strike in 1973 the number of daily deaths fell by a third. Found by Henning.

- Clark Gable was registered as a girl at birth because the registrar could not read the doctor's poor handwriting. Successfully smuggled.

- FLKFLP is an acronym used by doctors that means: "Funny looking kid, funny looking parents". Other doctor acronyms include NFN - Normal for Norfolk; and TUBE - Totally Unnecessary Breast Examination. Successfully smuggled.

- Dr. Martins, the inventor of the famous shoes, was a genuine doctor, who worked in Germany during World War II. Successfully smuggled.

Jeremy Hardy - Newspapers

- There are interesting giveaways which newspapers have used in order to promote their newspapers. Found by Graeme. Accidentally included by Jeremy.

- The first ever edition of the Daily Mirror came with a free mirror. Found by Victoria.

- The then editor of the Daily Express refused to meet John Logie Baird, saying to one journalist: "Watch him; he's got a razor on him." Found by Graeme.

- There was a genuine newspaper headline that read: "Dentist receives plaque". Successfully smuggled.

- During the Roman Republic, by order of Julius Caesar, official notices were posted in prominent places. Successfully smuggled.

- Advertising jingles in the form of rhyming verses first appeared in newspapers in the late 19th century. Some provided the music as well so you could sing the jingle yourself. Successfully smuggled.


- Henning Wehn and Graeme Garden: 4 points
- Victoria Coren Mitchell -0.5 points
- Jeremy Hardy: -1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 13th January 2014
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Graeme Garden Guest
Jeremy Hardy Guest
Henning Wehn Guest
Victoria Coren Mitchell Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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