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

Series 13, Episode 6

David Mitchell is joined by Tony Hawks, Susan Calman, Phill Jupitus and Miles Jupp as they lie on the subjects of school, bears, underwear and bottles.

Further details

The Truths

Tony Hawks - School

- Prince Philip's nicknames at school included "Flop". Phill Jupitus is named after Prince Philip. Found by Phill.

- A School of Undressing was established for women in Manhattan in 1937 as it was believed that poor disrobing technique was driving up divorce rates. The course cost $30 for six lessons and used burlesque dancers as models. Found by Miles.

- Jarvis Cocker was made to wear lederhosen to school and got bullied as a result. Found by Susan.

- Vincent van Gogh once worked as a teacher in Ramsgate. He worked for bed and board, teaching maths, French and geography. Found by Phill.

- The word "school" comes the Greek word "schole", meaning "leisure". Successfully smuggled.

Susan Calman - Bears

- Bears don't speak. Found by Phill. Accidentally included by Susan.

- A "pisley" is a cross between a polar and grizzly bear. Found by Phill.

- Black people never mention a polar bear by name in case they offend it. They instead call it, "The old man in the fur coat." Found by Phill.

- You can tell the age of a bear by cutting one of its teeth in half and counting the rings inside. Found by Phill.

- Polar bears have Irish heritage. Successfully smuggled.

- Some bears sleep in nests. The Asian sun bear makes a nest in a tree and the dens of American black bears are classified as nests. Successfully smuggled.

Phill Jupitus - Underwear

- There is an underwear museum in Brussels. Found by Susan.

- Employees at Disney are not allowed to wear their own underwear while performing in character. Employees are provided with jock straps, cycling shorts and tights to wear instead. In 2001, after two months of negotiations, employees won the right to be assigned their own Disney underwear that they could take home themselves to wash, after concerns that shared clothing imposed a health risk. In a two year period at least three cases occurred where costumed workers got pubic lice or scabies from shared underwear. Found by Susan.

- In 1999 two women in London were killed when lightning hit the metal under-wiring in one of their bras. Found by Susan.

- Abraham Lincoln's widow was declared insane in 1875 and doctors found $56,000 in her underwear. Successfully smuggled.

- A bra has been invented that comes apart and can be used as a gasmask, with one cup for you and another for a passer-by. Dr. Elena Bodnar won the 2009 Ig Nobel Prize for Public Health for her invention. Successfully smuggled.

Miles Jupp - Bottles

- The earliest bottles were made out of cow horn and had leather teats. Found by Tony.

- The first bottle banks were introduced into Britain by Fat Boy Slim's father, Ron. Found by Susan.

- The Perrier bottle is modelled on a juggling club. Found by Susan.

- The Persians bottled tears as they believed they could be used as medicine. Victorian Britons also bottled tears. but for the purpose of mourning. Once the tears had evaporated the mourning stopped. Found by Phill.

- In Croatia there is a bottle of human tears on display in the Museum of Broken Relationships. Successfully smuggled.


- Phill Jupitus: 2 points
- Susan Calman: 1 point
- Tony Hawks: -3 points
- Miles Jupp: -4 points

Broadcast details

Monday 12th 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

Supporters and subscribers get more

Additional content and tools are available across the site for Supporters and BCG Pro subscribers. On this page you can:

  • Broadcast details of 6 further repeats of this episode

Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

Already a donor or Pro user?