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

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 135 episodes (pilot + 22 series), 2006 - 2019. Stars David Mitchell.

Another series is in development.
Recording at British Museum. Tickets

Series 13, Episode 3

Alex Horne, Lucy Beaumont, John Finnemore and Jack Dee are the panellists obliged to talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as Legs, The Internet, Dogs and The Middle Ages.

Further details

The Truths

Alex Horne - Legs

- There is an African millipede called the "wandering leg sausage". Found by John.

- Hairy frogs have been known to break their legs and defend themselves in a fight by using the broken bone as a sort of claw. Successfully smuggled.

- One of the suggested titles for the novel Jaws was What's That Noshing on my Leg?. This title was one of over 200 suggestions by Peter Benchley's father. The original title was Silence in the Water. Successfully smuggled.

- In 1957 Australian scientists tried to work out why Aborigines were always balancing on one leg. In the end they were stumped. It was however such a common practice that in some Aboriginal tribes the punishment for manslaughter was to be stabbed in the thigh. Successfully smuggled.

- Many elephants use their penises as a fifth leg to support their body weight. Successfully smuggled.

Lucy Beaumont - The Internet

- If you type the word "askew" into Google the page will tilt slightly clockwise. The same happens when you search "tilt". Found by John.

- There is a group of people on the internet who like to swap and collect sick bags. only swaps unused bags and members refer to themselves as "fellow baggists". Found by John.

- There is a website where you can see Somerset cheese maturing in a storeroom. It has been visited by at least 1.2 million people. Found by John.

- The man who sent the world's first email in 1971, Ray Tomlinson, cannot remember what the email said. Found by Jack.

- In Sweden it is legal to name your child "Google" but illegal to name your child "Ikea". The 1982 Swedish Naming Law bans names that are "obviously unsuitable". Other banned names include, "Metallica", "Superman" and "Veranda". Found by Jack.

John Finnemore - Dogs

- Renaissance aristocrats used to warm the hands by placing miniature and toy poodles up their sleeves. Found by Jack.

- John Wayne once claimed he won Lassie in a "highly lubricated" poker game. He gave the dog back in the morning. Found by Lucy.

- David Mitchell would like the idea that the Siberian husky was not technically a dog at all, but instead six cats in a costume. Found by Alex. Accidentally included by John.

- St. Christopher is often portrayed with the head of a dog. This is due to confusion between the Latin for "in Canaan" and "canine". Successfully smuggled.

- As a child Alexander Graham Bell tried to teach the family terrier to speak. He believed that got the dog to say: "How are you grandma?" Successfully smuggled.

- King Henry III loved dogs so much that he carried a basket of bichon frises around his neck. Successfully smuggled.

Jack Dee - The Middle Ages

- Humble pie comes from "umbles", the less pleasant meat in cattle or deer which the poor ate. Found by Lucy.

- People were put to death for adulterating alcoholic beverages in medieval Scotland. In London tavern owners were banned from keeping French, Spanish and German wines in the same cellars in case the owner sold them falsely and mixed them. The punishment was to drink the whole lot. Found by John.

- Medieval inventions included the wheelbarrow, which appeared in Europe between 1170-1250. Found by Lucy.

- Pigeons were the main source of fresh meat during the Middle Ages, especially during the winter months. Successfully smuggled.

- It was thought that gout could be cured by burning a cat's head and blowing the ashes into the patient's eyes three times a day. It was also believed to cure blindness at the same time. Successfully smuggled.


- John Finnemore: 5 points
- Jack Dee: 3 points
- Alex Horne: 1 point
- Lucy Beaumont: -1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 21st 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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