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 13, Episode 5

David Mitchell is joined by Tony Hawks, Susan Calman, Phill Jupitus and Miles Jupp as the lie on the subjects of the brain, the Victorians, toads and cooking.

Further details

The Truths

Tony Hawks - The Brain

- Silvio Berlusconi has claimed jokingly that he is bald because his brain is so big it pushes his hair out. He also claimed that: "It's better to like beautiful girls than to be gay", "Mussolini never killed anyone, he just sent people on vacation" and "When asked if they would like to have sex with me 30% of women said 'Yes', while the other 70% replied 'What, again?'" Found by Phill.

- When you need to throw up your bilateral vomitation centre is activated in your brain. Found by Susan.

- Brain surgery has been successfully carried out on cockroaches. Found by Susan.

- During orgasm the female brain switches off. In 2005 Dutch researchers demonstrated using brain scans that many parts of the female brain switch off, including those involved in emotion. It has harder to get results for men as the scanners need activity lasting at least two minutes. Successfully smuggled.

- When you tell a joke the brain's joke centre is activated. Successfully smuggled.

Susan Calman - The Victorians

- After Prince Albert's death Queen Victoria ordered her servants to continue laying out his bed clothes every night. She would often sleep clutching them and one of his coats above his bed covers. Found by Phill.

- The original name of Cinderella was Cinderslut. The term "slut" originally meant someone with a low standard of cleanliness and referred to the dirt and grim the character was covered in. In one 1910 version the character is told to, "Run downstairs slut and put yourself under the kitchen pump" and "Folks would laugh indeed to see Cinderslut at a ball." Found by Phill.

- Hedgehogs were used as a form of pest control, eating cockroaches. Found by Miles.

- In the Victorian language of flowers, sweet peas meant: "You give me lasting pleasure." Found by Miles.

- Victorian women on trains were advised to put pins in their mouths to stop unwanted kissing. Successfully smuggled.

Phill Jupitus - Toads

- In Hamburg toads have been known to explode. More than 1,000 exploded in a mating pond in 2005. They swelled to three times their normal size and made screeching noises before blowing up, propelling their entrails up to a radius of 1m. The toads had been killed by crows which had pecked out and eaten their livers. The natural defence mechanism of puffing up their stomachs kicked in, but without the liver there was nothing to hold the other organs in, causing lungs and blood vessels to stretch and burst, and the other organs to explode out through the wound. Found by Susan.

- One of the horned toad's defence mechanisms is to shoot blood out of its eyes. The horned toad is actually a kind of lizard. Found by Susan.

- One pair of South American toads is on record for spending four consecutive months in the mating position on the long migration to the breeding ground. The female has to walk with the male on her back, but it is arguably harder for the male you can end up emaciated after hanging onto the female with both arms held tightly around her. Found by Miles.

- Rick McMurray from the rock band Ash collects toads. Successfully smuggled.

- Leonardo da Vinci worked on an idea for a toad venom bomb, which also contained arsenic, sulphur, tarantula venom, and the saliva of mad dogs. Successfully smuggled.

Miles Jupp - Cooking

- The word "bride" comes from the ancient Teutonic word for "cook". Found by Susan.

- In Elizabethan times peppercorns were so expensive they were sold individually. Found by Phill.

- The first host of Woman's Hour back in 1947 was a man and featured items such as "Cooking with Whale-meat". Alan Ivimey also presented items such as "I Married a Lion-Tamer" and "How to Hang Your Husband's Suit". It was scheduled after 2pm, when a woman's housework was done and before children returned from school. Found by Tony.

- The official state cooking pot of Utah is the Dutch oven. Successfully smuggled.

- Tightrope walker Charles Blondin once cooked an omelette on a tightrope over the Niagara Falls. Successfully smuggled.


- Susan Calman: 3 points
- Phill Jupitus and Miles Jupp: 1 point
- Tony Hawks: -3 points

Broadcast details

Monday 5th May 2014
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Tony Hawks Guest
Phill Jupitus Guest
Susan Calman Guest
Miles Jupp Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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