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

The Unbelievable Truth

  • Radio panel show
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2006 - 2022
  • 171 episodes (28 series)

David Mitchell hosts this Radio 4 panel game built on truth and lies. Contestants must try and smuggle truths into lie-filled speeches.

Episode menu

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.

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.


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

Broadcast details

Monday 3rd October 2016
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Sunday 9th October 2016 12:00pm Radio 4
Monday 10th October 2016 7:30am Radio 4 Extra
Monday 10th October 2016 5:30pm Radio 4 Extra
Monday 10th October 2016 10:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Tuesday 11th October 2016 5:30am Radio 4 Extra
Monday 2nd November 2020 9:00am Radio 4 Extra
Monday 2nd November 2020 2:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Tuesday 3rd November 2020 2:00am Radio 4 Extra
Saturday 7th November 2020 12:30pm Radio 4 Extra

Cast & crew

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

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