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

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 153 episodes (pilot + 25 series), 2006 - 2021. Stars David Mitchell.

Another series is in development.
Series 18, Episode 6 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra on Monday at 9am.

Series 15, Episode 1

Lloyd Langford, Henning Wehn, Sara Pascoe and Miles Jupp all join David Mitchell to lie on the subjects of magic, Austria, swans and onions.

Further details

The Truths

Lloyd Langford - Magic

- Originally the cartoon character Popeye got his strength by rubbing the head of a magic chicken. Found by Sara.

- The UK branch of the Magic Circle once demanded that the EU should increase the size of euro coins to make them easier to perform tricks with. Found by Henning.

- More people have seen David Copperfield perform live than any other performer. Found by Henning.

- Isambard Kingdom Brunel once accidentally swallowed a coin when performing a magic trick for his children. It got stuck near his lung, and when an operation failed to get it out he designed and built a special table to turn him upside-down. After a few hard slaps on his back, the coin came out. Found by Miles.

- The skins of otters have long been held to have magical properties, including protection from drowning. Successfully smuggled.

Henning Wehn - Austria

- There is an Austrian-based TV channel that only shows repeats of The Sound of Music, 24 hours a day. Found by Sara.

- Gustav Mahler composed songs about the deaths of children. Shortly after doing this both his daughters caught scarlet fever, the eldest dying. Found by Lloyd.

- There is an erroneous claim that Austria is the home of the kilt, and Austrian kilts are sold today. Found by Miles.

- There was a "Potato War" between Austria and Prussia. This is a nickname for the War of Bavarian Succession. Found by Lloyd.

- Sigmund Freud believed that morning sickness represented the loathing of the baby's father and the mother's desire to vomit up his baby. Found by Sara.

Sara Pascoe - Swans

- Airline pilots have seen swans flying at a height of 29,000 feet. Found by Miles.

- The Queen, or rather her "Swan Master", gives the Queen's swans flu-jabs every year. Found by Henning.

- In 2006 a German swan once fell in love with a swan-shaped pedalo, and refused to fly south for the winter because the pedalo didn't do so. Found by Henning.

- The collective noun for a group of swans is a "lamentation". Found by Miles.

- Swans taste muddy. Successfully smuggled.

Miles Jupp - Onions

- Small onions were found in the eye sockets of the mummy of Ramses IV. Found by Henning.

- An old Scottish cure for deafness was to mix onion juice with ant eggs and pour the mixture into the ears. Found by Sara.

- Onions foiled an armed robbery in a Michigan branch of Burger King one morning. The clerk said he couldn't open the till without a food order, so the robber ordered onion rings, but was told that they were not part of the breakfast menu, so the robber left. The robber was nominated of a Darwin Award in 2005. Found by Lloyd.

- Ernest Hemingway's favourite food when he was writing was peanut butter and onion sandwiches, washed down with rum. Found by Henning.

- According to research by a Swiss company, a woman's underarm sweat smells like onions, while a man's underarm sweat smells like cheese. Found by Sara.


- Sara Pascoe and Lloyd Langford: 2 points
- Henning Wehn: -1 point
- Miles Jupp: -4 points

Broadcast details

Monday 24th August 2015
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Henning Wehn Guest
Miles Jupp Guest
Lloyd Langford Guest
Sara Pascoe Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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