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

The Unbelievable Truth

  • Radio panel show
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2006 - 2021
  • 159 episodes (26 series)

David Mitchell hosts this Radio 4 panel game built on truth and lies. Contestants must try and smuggle truths into lie-filled speeches.

Episode menu

Series 14, Episode 4

Ed Byrne, Holly Walsh, Richard Osman and Henning Wehn talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as Ancient Egypt, ice, rubbish and British food.

Further details

The Truths

Ed Byrne - Ancient Egypt

- The Ancient Egyptians had air conditioning before 1500 BC. It was a form of air conditioning known as "evaporative cooling". Found by Holly.

- If an Ancient Egyptian was a bit unwell they tried to cure themselves by taking a mouse, mashing it up, mixing it with some faecal matter and wolfing it down. Found by Henning.

- Ancient Egyptian women used a mixture of honey, sour milk and crocodile dung as a contraceptive. Found by Henning.

- Ancient Egyptians mourned the passing of their pet cats by shaving off their eyebrows. They also mummified their cats and left offerings for them. Found by Richard.

- In the 19th century the 10th Duke of Hamilton spent £11,000 on an Ancient Egyptian coffin and then had to have his legs cut off in order to fit inside it because it was 8 inches too small for him. Found by Richard.

Holly Walsh - Ice

- Clint Eastwood's first act as mayor of Carmel, California was to legalise ice cream street sellers. Found by Ed.

- In 2000 it was recorded that 2,040 Britons were injured trying to prise apart frozen foods. This is normally due to people using knives to do so. Found by Ed.

- 62% of Canadian ice hockey players have lost a tooth. Found by Henning.

- In Siberia it is so cold that people's breath freezes in mid-air and falls down to the ground as ice crystals. This occurs at -55°C. Found by Richard.

- Although the iceberg got the blame for sinking the Titanic, it actually sank due to a lack of "being able to float." Found by Ed. Accidentally included by Holly.

- If you attend the annual "Frozen Dead Guy Celebrations" in Colorado you can enjoy coffin racing or a frozen salmon toss. Successfully smuggled.

Richard Osman - Rubbish

- The science of rubbish is known as "garbology". Found by Holly.

- In Britain it is not actually an offence to thrown rubbish over your neighbour's garden wall. This is instead counted as trespass, which is a civil matter. Found by Holly.

- The Trash Museum in Harvard, Connecticut, has exhibits such as a large pile of compost, a one tonne "trashasaurus" made out of recycled materials, and an old-fashioned town dump. Found by Holly.

- The Fresh Kills rubbish dump in Staten Island, New York, was at one time bigger in volume than the entire Great Wall of China, making it then the largest man-made structure in the world. Found of Holly.

- Rubbish is mentioned twice in the King James Bible. Found by Holly.

Henning Wehn - British Food

- Edward de Bono, father of lateral thinking, suggested that Marmite should be sent to the Middle East as a way of solving the conflicts there. In that part of the world a lot of unleavened bread is eaten, which contains little zinc. A lack of zinc causes aggression, but Marmite is rich in zinc, so he suggested that it should be sent there. Found by Ed.

- In 1945, Walkers the Butchers started selling cooked crisps because they had run out of meat. Walkers did not invent crisps, but their crisp factory in Leicester is the biggest such factory in the world. Gary Lineker promotes their crisps partly because it is hometown and he played for Leicester City. Found by Richard.

- Champagne is a British invention. The British were the first to develop the method of making it, 40 years before Dom Perignon. Found by Ed.

- Toad in the hole comes from the early belief of fossil hunters that toads could live encased in stone. Found by Holly.

- Captain Beany, born Barry Kirk, is the leader of the New Millennium Bean Party. He dresses in baked bean orange, bathes in baked beans and his party's motto is: "Wind of Change". He won the 2009 "Eccentric of the Year" award from the Eccentric Club in London, whose current patron is the Duke of Edinburgh. He stood in the 2010 General Election, where he beat his UKIP rival by 69 votes. Successfully smuggled.


- Holly Walsh: 2 points
- Richard Osman and Ed Byrne: 1 point
- Henning Wehn: 0 points

Broadcast details

Monday 19th January 2015
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Sunday 25th January 2015 12:00pm Radio 4
Monday 26th January 2015 7:30am Radio 4 Extra
Monday 26th January 2015 10:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Monday 26th August 2019 9:00am Radio 4 Extra
Monday 26th August 2019 4:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Tuesday 27th August 2019 4:00am Radio 4 Extra

Cast & crew

David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Ed Byrne Guest
Henning Wehn Guest
Holly Walsh Guest
Richard Osman Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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