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

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 159 episodes (pilot + 26 series), 2006 - 2021. Stars David Mitchell.

Another series is in development.

Series 13, Episode 1

David Mitchell is joined by Alex Horne, Lucy Beaumont, John Finnemore and Jack Dee as they lie on subjects as varied as birds, witches, pubs and shoes.

Further details

The Truths

Alex Horne - Birds

- Some male cockerels will pretend to find food in order to impress female hens. Found by John.

- Medieval Europeans believed birds grew out of trees. Found by Jack.

- Male white-fronted parrots vomit into the mouths of female parrots when kissing. Found by John.

- St. Kevin is the patron saint of blackbirds. Successfully smuggled.

- Frigate birds of feed by chasing after other birds until they vomit, and then eat the vomit in mid-air. Successfully smuggled.

Lucy Beaumont - Witches

- In the olden days, witches would strip and rub themselves with a special ointment before flying. Found by Alex.

- In Norway, broomsticks are hidden on Christmas Eve for fear that a witch might steal them. Found by Jack.

- In Britain it was illegal to be a witch until 1951. Successfully smuggled.

- A witch's preferred take-off route was up the chimney. Successfully smuggled.

- Witches have been sentenced to death for such things as turning their daughter into a pony. In 1727 Janet Horne from Dornoch, the Scottish Highlands, was burned to death in a barrel filled with flaming tar, after being found guilty of turning her daughter into a pony and riding her to a witches coven. Horne was the last woman to be executed for witchcraft in the British Isles. Successfully smuggled.

John Finnemore - Pubs

- The Oaks Pub in Lancashire holds the World Black Pudding Throwing Competition, in which competitors hurl black puddings at Yorkshire puddings mounted on a 20ft high plinth. All money raised goes to charities in the borough. Found by Jack.

- In 2008 a lorry wrongly delivered 2,000 pints of lager to Windsor Castle, when it should have been sent to a pub in Maidenhead called The Windsor Castle. Found by Jack.

- Placing your glass upside down in some bars in Australia is a sign meaning that you could take on everyone in the pub in a fight and win. Successfully smuggled.

- In 1703 the barmaid of a pub called The White Lion was killed by a tiger. Hannah Twynnoy was the first person in Britain to be killed by a tiger because she kept teasing it. Successfully smuggled.

Jack Dee - Shoes

- Each British shoe size is measured in barleycorns, which is a third of an inch. 12 barleycorns equal one hand. Found by John.

- The Statue of Liberty's UK shoe size is size 879. Found by John.

- There is a perfume marketed as smelling of Burton-on-Trent, which smells of Marmite, Branston Pickle, beer and leather shoes. Found by John.

- Shovers are shoes which are designed to also act as hoovers and clean the floor. Found by Lucy.


- Jack Dee: 2 points
- Alex Horne: 1 point
- John Finnemore: -1 point
- Lucy Beaumont: -2 points

Broadcast details

Monday 7th April 2014
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Jack Dee Guest
John Finnemore Guest
Alex Horne Guest
Lucy Beaumont Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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