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

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 135 episodes (pilot + 22 series), 2006 - 2019. Stars David Mitchell.

Another series is in development.
Recording at British Museum. Tickets

Series 17, Episode 1

David Mitchell is joined by Henning Wehn, Rich Hall, Lloyd Langford and Holly Walsh as they lie on the subjects of mosquitoes, flags, roads and North Korea.

Further details

The Truths

Holly Walsh - Mosquitoes

- Mosquitoes urine when they suck blood, as do most blood-sucking insects. Found by Rich.

- When female mosquitoes flap their wings they create a high C note, which attracts male mosquitoes. Found by Lloyd.

- When a Canadian power station hummed a high C note began malfunctioning, it was found that it gummed up by tens of thousands of male mosquitoes, attracted to the sound of the generator. Found by Lloyd.

- Mosquitoes favour blondes when finding people to suck blood from. Found by Lloyd.

- Mosquitoes normally strike at around dawn and dusk. Found by Lloyd and Henning. Accidentally included by Holly.

- Contrary to popular belief, mosquitoes do not actually bite people, but pierce the skin with their proboscis to get at the blood just beneath. Successfully smuggled.

Lloyd Langford - Flags

- Between 1889 and 1968, the flag of the tropical Turks and Caicos Islands in the West Indies depicted an igloo. The artist mistook an igloo-shaped pile of salt on an earlier depiction of the flag for an icy igloo, and drew a door on it. Salt is an import export for the islands. Found by Holly.

- The flag of the Quebec municipality of Baie-James appears to show a swimming owl firing three bolts of lightning from its crotch. Found by Holly.

- Canadian gymnast and acrobat Dominic Lacasse can hold himself horizontally on a bar as a human flag for 39 seconds. Found by Holly.

- During the years 1814 to 1830 the French national flag was plain white. The white flag of surrender was not officially adopted until the Hague Convention of 1899. Successfully smuggled.

- So central are towels to the culture of Belarus that a towel is depicted on their flag. The pattern on the Belarus flag is from a towel called a rushnyk, which is used in all kinds of ceremonies including funerals. Successfully smuggled.

Rich Hall - Roads

- Americans drive on the right because in the days of carriages and wagons the driver sat on the left-hand side, so their stronger right-arm was free to lash the horses. In this position, the driver could see oncoming traffic to his left. Found by Holly.

- A coyote runs faster than a road runner. Found by Lloyd.

- When it was constructed the M6 toll road is lined with 2.5million paperback Mills & Boon novels to make it more absorbent. Found by Henning.

- Highways in the western USA are based on migratory roots of bison. Bison found the easiest roots, Native Americans followed them, and western immigrants they followed suit, building roads as they went. Successfully smuggled.

- On many perfectly straight North-South roads in North Dakota and Montana, a stop sign will suddenly appear in the middle of nowhere, and the driver will have to make a sharp right-hand turn, travel about 20 yards, then turn left again, to account for the curvature of the Earth. Successfully smuggled.

Henning Wehn - North Korea

- The North Korean calendar begins on the day the Titanic sank. It was the day that Kim Il-Sung was born. The calendar was adopted in 1997, the third anniversary of his death. Found by Holly.

- In North Korea, you can be executed for making an international phone call on a mobile phone. In 2014, a 49-year-old lighting engineer was executed for making a call outside the country, and his family was incarcerated in a state security department facility. Found by Lloyd.

- Cannabis is legal in North Korea. It can be bought by the bagful, and it is often used as a substitute for tobacco, which is expensive and hard to obtain. Found by Holly.

- North Korea has made it a legal requirement for all teachers learn the accordion. It is commonly referred to as the "people's instrument" as it is portable enough to take with you on a day of voluntary hard labour in the fields. Successfully smuggled.

- While studying at university it is claimed by officials that Kim Jong-il wrote no fewer than 1,500 books and six full operas. Successfully smuggled.

Scores

- Rich Hall: 3 points
- Holly Walsh: -1 point
- Henning Wehn: -1.5 points
- Lloyd Langford: -3.5 points

Broadcast details

Date
Monday 3rd October 2016
Time
6:30pm
Channel
BBC Radio 4
Length
30 minutes

Repeats

    Cast & crew

    Regular cast
    David Mitchell Host / Presenter
    Guest cast
    Henning Wehn Guest
    Lloyd Langford Guest
    Holly Walsh Guest
    Rich Hall Guest
    Writing team
    Dan Gaster Writer
    Colin Swash Writer
    Production team
    Jon Naismith Producer
    Paywall

    Supporters and subscribers get more

    Additional content and tools are available across the site for Supporters and BCG Pro subscribers. On this page you can:

    • Broadcast details of 5 past repeats of this episode

    Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

    Already a donor or Pro user?