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 5

David O'Doherty, Susan Calman, Jon Richardson and Arthur Smith join David Mitchell to lie on the subjects of Yorkshire, fizzy drinks, skin and pirates.

Further details

The Truths

Arthur Smith - Yorkshire

- One old law states that if you are in York's city walls it is legal to shoot a Scotsman with a bow and arrow. However, you could only shoot them if they also had a bow and arrow, and you could not shoot them on a Sunday. Found by Susan.

- Easter Sunday 1461 was the bloodiest day in English history, when 1% of the entire male population was killed at the Battle of Towton during the Wars of the Roses. 28,000 people were thought to have been killed. Found by Susan.

- A popular 19th century Yorkshire cure for whooping cough was to drink a soup containing nine frogs. Found by Jon.

- Yorkshireman Thomas Wedders had the longest-recorded nose, at 7.5 inches. Successfully smuggled.

- Fell Beck waterfall in Yorkshire is twice as high as Niagara Falls. Successfully smuggled.

Jon Richardson - Fizzy Drinks

- Fizzy Milk was described by its inventors Coca-Cola as: "Like a birthday party for a polar bear." Found by David.

- There is a Peruvian rival to Coca-Cola called Inca Cola. Found by Susan.

- One member of Coca-Cola staff was fired for marrying someone who worked for Pepsi. Amanda M. Blake of Northampton, Massachusetts was fired in 1985 after she refused to leave her fiancé who left Coca-Cola to work for Pepsi instead. Found by Susan.

- Since the birth of Jim Carrey, drinks have been kept fizzy by the use of a ring pull. Carrey was born in 1962, the same year ring pulls were invented. Successfully smuggled.

- Irn-Bru is not actually brewed, but it does contain iron. Successfully smuggled.

Susan Calman - Skin

- There are certain fungal infections that make skin glow in the dark. Found by Jon.

- A postage stamp-sized slice of circumcised foreskin takes just 21 days to grow big enough to cover nine basketball courts. Found by Arthur.

- The speed which any form of sensation reached from the skin to the brain is between 120-180mph. Found by Jon.

- You inhale 700,000 skin flakes each day. Found by David.

- In Troublesome Creek, Kentucky, a number of residents have blue skin. These people are descendants of French orphan Martin Fugate, who had a genetic defect. Successfully smuggled.

David O'Doherty - Pirates

- Pirate crews were democratic, with all crew members voting on major decisions. The captain was elected and could be impeached. All booty was distributed among the crew, with the captain getting a larger portion and the rest divided equally among the crew. Found by Arthur.

- Gambling was normally not allowed on pirate ships. Truth revealed by David Mitchell. No points given to anyone.

- Pirate Henry Morgan had a career-injury which resulted in 600 pieces of gold being given to him in compensation, a total worth £100,000 in today's money. Found by Arthur.

- There is only one recorded case of pirates burying treasure. Scottish Captain Kidd buried some on Long Island as he sailed into New York. He hoped to use it as a bargaining chip as a way of avoiding punishment, but was unsuccessful and was hanged. Found by Arthur.

- Pirates drank rum because they believed it stayed fresher longer than casks of water. Found by Arthur.


- Susan Calman and Jon Richardson: 6 points
- Arthur Smith: 2 points
- David O'Doherty: -2 points

Broadcast details

Monday 21st September 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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