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 15, Episode 2

Arthur Smith, Jon Richardson, Susan Calman and David O'Doherty all join David Mitchell to lie on the subjects of pets, bacteria, zombies and water.

Further details

The Truths

Arthur Smith - Pets

- Napoleon Bonaparte's wife Josephine had a pet orangutan that joined her for dinner dressed in a white cotton blouse and could juggle Viennese cakes. Found by Susan.

- The five most popular names for pet cats in the UK are Charlie, Molly, Poppy, Willow and Oscar. Found by Susan.

- Dorothy Parker had a pet canary called Onan, so called it spilled his seed on the ground, in reference to the Biblical figure of the same name. Found by Susan.

- The oldest pet goldfish was known to lived to the age of 43. Found by David.

- Jeremy Bentham had a pet teapot. Successfully smuggled.

Jon Richardson - Bacteria

- Gonorrhoea is relatively speaking the strongest organism known to man. It can pull up to 100,000 times its own body weight. Found by Susan.

- Studies suggest that one-in-five office mugs contain traces of faecal bacteria. This is mainly because people clean the mugs with bacteria-ridden brushes instead of a dishwasher. Found by Arthur.

- There are more bacteria in your mouth then there are people in the world. Found by Arthur.

- The first bacteria were called "animalcules", as in "molecules". Successfully smuggled.

- Listening with headphones can increase inner ear infection by 700 times. Successfully smuggled.

Susan Calman - Zombies

- The Canadian government organised a "Zombie Awareness Week" to help educate people, especially younger people, about real emergencies. Found by Jon.

- It used to be thought that to release a zombie from its bondage you should offer it some salty food or water, and then it goes back to its grave. Found by Arthur.

- Humphrey Bogart appeared in a zombie film. He played a vampire zombie in The Return of Doctor X. He did not like talking about it in interviews and considered it a low-point in his career. Found by Arthur.

- People once thought that if you fed a zombie red pistachio nuts it would break its trance and allow the zombie to die. Successfully smuggled.

- 8th October is World Zombie Day. Successfully smuggled.

David O'Doherty - Water

- Most people think that water is clear. Found by Arthur. Accidentally included by David.

- Ships travel faster in cold water because it allows greater buoyancy. Found by Arthur.

- Tortoises drink through their mouths, noses and tails. Found by Susan.

- Humans lose half-a-pint of water in perspiration through our feet every day. Found by Arthur.

- Egyptian pharaohs masturbated into the Nile to ward of drought. Found by Susan.

- Water is not clear, but it is really, really, really light blue. Successfully smuggled.


- Susan Calman: 8 points
- Arthur Smith: 1 point
- Jon Richardson and David O'Doherty: 0 points

Broadcast details

Monday 31st August 2015
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Arthur Smith Guest
Susan Calman Guest
Jon Richardson Guest
David O'Doherty Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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