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 6 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra on Monday at 9am.

Series 16, Episode 3

Elis James, Reginald D Hunter, Maeve Higgins and David O'Doherty talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as the 1970s, toys, the moon and electricity.

Further details

The Truths

Elis James - The 1970s

- The 1970s were bleak. Found by David. Accidentally included by Elis.

- Runnymede Local Council tried to ban Monty Python's Life of Brian even though the town had no cinemas. Found by Maeve.

- The Austin Allegro was more aerodynamic going backwards than it was going forwards. Found by David.

- ABBA were briefly called "Festfolket", which is Swedish for "Engaged Couples". Successfully smuggled.

- Rick Jones, aka Yoffy, destroyed the mouse puppet after filming the last episode of Fingerbobs, while the camera was still rolling. He was so sick of making the show, even though it only ran for 13 episodes, that he couldn't wait for the camera to stop rolling before venting his anger. Successfully smuggled.

- Queen Elizabeth II sent her first email in 1976. He sent it during a visit to an army base at a time when the technology was in its infancy. Successfully smuggled.

Maeve Higgins - The Moon

- After returning from the Moon, Buzz Aldrin got a job in a Cadillac car dealership where he failed to sell a single car. Found by David.

- The Moon is always falling, but it also has a sideways motion of its own, meaning that the falling motion is balanced. Thus it stays in a closed orbit around the Earth. Found by David.

- You can pick up FM radio station signals from the Moon. Found by Reginald.

- Pointing at the Moon was considered disrespectful in Victorian times. Point at it or counting the stars was considered bad luck. One British superstition said that anyone who pointed at the Moon nine times could not enter Heaven. Successfully smuggled.

- The southern grasshopper mouse, the only carnivorous mouse in North America, howls on moonlit nights as it feeds on its prey. Wolves don't howl at the Moon. Successfully smuggled.

Reginald D. Hunter - Toys

- One Barbie doll featured a dog called Tenner which defecated. Found by David.

- Hula hoops were banned in Indonesia. They were also banned in the USSR and Japan. Found by Maeve.

- The Japanese toy Kaba Kick is a Russian roulette toy for kids. You point the gun at your head, and if it doesn't fire you the child earns points. If it fires, you are kicked by a pair of hippo legs. "Kaba" means "Hippo" in Japanese. Found by Maeve.

- Play-doh was originally sold as wallpaper cleaner. Found by David.

- For Valentine's Day 2005, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company released a "Crazy for You" bear, which was tightly bound in a white straightjacket and had its own commitment papers. Despite what the company described as, "unusually good sales", the toy was withdrawn from shops due to criticism from mental health campaigners. Successfully smuggled.

David O'Doherty - Electricity

- The poet Shelly once tied a cat to a kite and flew it into a thunderstorm in the hope it would be electrocuted. Found by Maeve.

- 12% of all lightning fatalities occur while playing golf. Found by Maeve.

- 82% of people killed by lightning are men. Found by Reginald.

- A truck driver who had been blinded in an accident had his sight restored nine years later when lightning struck his hearing aids, while searching for his pet chicken during a storm. Edwin E. Robinson from New England also had his hearing restored and hair started growing on his head again. Found by Reginald.

- Talking on the telephone is the leading cause of lightning injuries inside the home. It is advised that during a lightning storm, you should avoid anything that conducts electricity. Successfully smuggled.


- Maeve Higgins: 3 points
- David O'Doherty: 2 points
- Elis James and Reginald D. Hunter: 0 points

Broadcast details

Monday 18th April 2016
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Reginald D Hunter Guest
David O'Doherty Guest
Elis James Guest
Maeve Higgins Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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