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 4

David Mitchell is joined by Joe Lycett, Richard Osman, Sam Simmons and Aisling Bea as they lie on the subjects of ghosts, jokes, Lego and reality TV.

Further details

The Truths

Joe Lycett - Jokes

- The "Yo Mamma" insult is believed to have originated in the plays of Shakespeare. In Titus Andronicus Chiron says: "Thou has undone our mother", to which Aaron replies: "Villain, I have done thy mother." Found by Aisling.

- One of Charles I's favourite jokes was to have the court dwarf placed between two pieces of bread and for the court giant to pretend to eat him. 18-inch tall Jeffrey Hudson would pretend to be eaten by 7'6" Welsh giant William Evans. Hudson later got tired of the jokes and in 1644 he challenged the brother of William Crofts, the Queen's master of horse, to a duel. Crofts came to the duel with a water pistol as a joke, by Hudson was serious and shot Crofts dead. Hudson was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to exile. Found by Sam.

- In the 18th century and up to this day, viola players are the butt of jokes in orchestras, as they were considered to be inferior to violin players. Jokes include: "How can you tell if a viola player is playing out of tune? The bow is moving", "What's the difference between a viola player and a dog? A dog is able to stop scratching", "What's the difference between a viola player and a pizza? A pizza can feed a family of four", and, "What's the difference between a viola and a coffin? Coffins have dead people on the inside." Found by Richard.

- In parts of Georgia, USA, it is illegal for a chicken to cross the road. A 1928 city ordinance in Quitman states: "It shall be unlawful for any persons owning or controlling chickens in the city to allow them such chickens to run at large upon the street or alleys of the city." Found by Sam.

- Tarantula hairs were once used in itching powder. Successfully smuggled.

Sam Simmons - Ghosts

- There is a ghost book called The Haunted Vagina, in which a woman's vagina acts as a portal to the undead. It has mixed reviews on Amazon. Found by Joe.

- Visitors to Alcatraz have reported unexplained banjo music being played. Found by Richard.

- Sam admits to crowbarring a joke into his lecture, saying that Whoopi Goldberg was reporting going to play the role of Chewbacca in Star Wars, credited as Wookiee Goldberg. Found by Joe. Accidentally included by Sam.

- Sting believes in ghosts, claiming that he and his wife came across a ghost of a woman holding a baby in their 16th century house. Found by Richard.

- In 1993 a country music bar in Kentucky was sued when a man claimed that a ghost had beaten him up in the gents. The victim sued for $1,000, the case was thrown out of court when the defence couldn't call the ghost to testify. Found by Joe.

- The ghost of the chicken that Sir Francis Bacon stuff with snow in 1626 in an attempt to prove that frozen meat could be preserved, is said to haunt Pond Square in London. Bacon died of a chill during the experiment. Found by Richard.

Aisling Bea - Reality TV

- The producers of Big Brother gave Marcus Bentley the job of narrating the show because they liked the way he said: "chickens". Found by Joe.

- Pandas in China are played panda porn in order to encourage them to mate. Found by Sam.

- A German reality TV show called Sperm Race, made by Endemol, featured men donating sperm, who then watched the sperm to see which would be first to fertilise an egg. The winner won the title of "Germany's Most Fertile Man" and a bright red Porsche. Found by Richard.

- Channel 4's Guantanamo Guidebook featured seven people exposed to US interrogation methods. Although it was attacked by human rights groups, The Guardian said it was: "An impeccable exercise in liberal journalism" and, "more serious than many TV news bulletins."

- Candid Camera originally began on the radio as Candid Microphone in 1947. Successfully smuggled.

Richard Osman - Lego

- If you have six 8-studded Lego bricks you can combine them in 950,103,765 ways. Found by Aisling.

- The single biggest expense in the video game Lego Universe was hiring a team of moderators to make sure no-one built any Lego penises. The game, which was meant to be Lego's answer to Minecraft, was released in 2010 but shut down just 15 months later due to what it claimed was, "unsatisfactory revenue". However, one developer blame the demise on the huge costs of keeping the game parent friendly, after a craze began for attaching Lego penises to their Lego figures. While the team tried to remove them all, including making Lego penis detecting software, but fans would hide the penises in designs or only make them visible from certain angles. Found by Aisling.

- Since the 1990s the faces on Lego figures have becoming increasingly angrier. Found by Sam.

- In 2011 astronauts took 11 Lego kits into space to see what happens to Lego in zero-gravity. Found by Sam.

- Lego has been used to make artificial legs for tortoises. Found by Sam.


- Joe Lycett: 2 points
- Sam Simmons and Richard Osman: 1 point
- Aisling Bea: -1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 25th April 2016
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Richard Osman Guest
Aisling Bea Guest
Sam Simmons Guest
Joe Lycett Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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