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 14, Episode 1

David Mitchell is joined by Lloyd Langford, David O'Doherty, Susan Calman and Josh Widdicombe as they lie on the subjects of penguins, spoons, dolls and letters.

Further details

The Truths

Lloyd Langford - Penguins

- King penguins chicks can go for five months without food. Found by Josh.

- Actor Spencer Tracy turned down the role of The Penguin in the 1960s Batman TV series because his character was not allowed to kill Batman. Found by Susan.

- Chinstrap penguins can generate rectal pressure 4 times as great as that of a human, around 7psi, the same as a can of lager. Found by David.

- The collective noun for a group of penguins is a "parcel". Successfully smuggled.

- Penguins have furnishings above their eyes to take the salt out seawater. Successfully smuggled.

David O'Doherty - Spoons

- There are more living organisms in a teaspoon full of good soil than there are people on the planet. Found by Susan.

- A bee needs to visit 28,000 flowers to make a single teaspoon full of honey. Found by Josh.

- 18,000 grains of sugar can fit on a teaspoon. Found by Lloyd.

- A teaspoon full of neutron star would weigh 1,000,000,000 tonnes and cause the Earth to be thrown out of orbit. Found by Susan.

- A teaspoon has a capacity of 60 metric droplets of water. Successfully smuggled.

Susan Calman - Dolls

- A ventriloquist doll won an Oscar in 1937. Edgar Bergen won for his doll Charlie McCarthy and was given an honorary wooden Oscar with a movable mouth. Found by David.

- In her 87-year-long career Barbie's past occupations have included being a diplomat. "Summit Barbie" was released in 1990 to mark the end of the Cold War. Found by Lloyd.

- The Ideal Toy Company marketed their Lost Baby Doll by saying it had been abandoned and needed looking after. It came with a card that read: "I'm little lost baby. You can make me happy." Found by Lloyd.

- Barbie originally had nipples that were removed. The doll was originally based on a semi-pornographic German doll. Some early collectable Barbie dolls do have nipples. Successfully smuggled.

Josh Widdicombe - Letters

- ITV once received letters of complaint when Coronation Street's Ena Sharples was seen eating two chocolate ├ęclairs afters two years after a previous episode made mention that the character did not like them. Found by Susan.

- Pope John Paul I wrote letters to Pinocchio. Found by Susan.

- Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) once wrote a fan letter to Henry Ford praising the Ford V8 as the best car he had ever stolen. Found by David.

- In 1989 a computer error lead to 41,000 Parisians to be sent letter charging people with murder, extortion and prostitution instead of parking offences. Found by Susan.

- The earliest known use of the letters "OMG" to mean "Oh My God" was used in a letter sent to Winston Churchill. Lord Fisher wrote to Churchill in 9th September 1917: "I hear that a new order of knighthoods is on the tapis. OMG (Oh My God), shower it on the Admiralty." Found by David.


- David O'Doherty: 3 points
- Susan Calman and Lloyd Langford: 1 point
- Josh Widdicombe: -5 points

Broadcast details

Monday 29th December 2014
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Susan Calman Guest
Lloyd Langford Guest
David O'Doherty Guest
Josh Widdicombe 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 7 further repeats of this episode

Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

Already a donor or Pro user?