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 17, Episode 4

Tony Hawks, Richard Osman, Clive Anderson and Vicki Pepperdine are the panellists obliged to talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as Australia, leather, oil and crisps.

Further details

The Truths

Tony Hawks - Australia

- Some Australian aboriginal peoples greeted each other by grabbing hold of each other's penises. Found by Clive.

- Errol Flynn has a job in Australia where he castrated sheep with his teeth. Found by Clive.

- In Baildon Street, Brisbane, they celebrate Australia Day by holding cockroach races. They have been going for 35 years and have 14 races on the day including a steeplechase. Found by Richard.

- Australia is wider than the Moon. Successfully smuggled.

- According to the poem An Australian Night Before Christmas, Santa's sleigh is pulled by eight white kangaroos named Kylie, Kirsty, Shazza, Shane, Kipper, Skipper, Bazza and Wayne. Successfully smuggled.

Vicki Pepperdine - Leather

- In 14th century Europe it was fashionable for high-ranking nobles to wear a short tunic below which they can display their genitals. In the 15th century a leather codpiece was invented to protect their modesty. Found by Tony.

- The "Arschleder" or "arse leather" sliding world championships are held annually in Neudorf, Germany. Found by Tony.

- Leather has been used to create the first car number plates. Successfully smuggled.

- The Museum in Rawlins, Wyoming, proudly displays a pair of leather shoes made from the skin the notorious 19th century cattle rustler and highwayman Big Nose George Parrott. He is the only man in the USA to have been turned into a pair of shoes after his death. Successfully smuggled.

- In Ohio, women are prohibited from wearing patient leather shoes in public. The law in Cleveland is still technically legal, but is now longer enforced. Successfully smuggled.

Clive Anderson - Oil

- If you type 142.15469 into a calculator, times it by five, and turn the calculator upside-down, it spells the phrase "SHELL.OIL". The sum totals 710.77345. Found by Richard.

- Pilots in the First World War got diarrhoea from inhaling unburned castor oil, which was used to lubricate the engines. Found by Tony.

- The Diesel engine gets its name not from the oil, but both are named after their inventor Rudolph Diesel. Found by Richard.

- Castor oil was used by Benito Mussolini to torture people. He force-fed it to humiliate, torture and kill them. Successfully smuggled.

- It is widely believed that the word "gasoline" does not derive its name from the word "gas", but from the name John Castle, book publisher and petroleum product salesman. In 1862, Castle began selling lighting oil under the name "Cazeline, London", then a rival company in Dublin began selling the same product under the name "Gazeline", from which we get the word "gasoline". Successfully smuggled.

Richard Osman - Crisps

- The inventor of the Pringles can had his ashes placed in one when he died. Fredric Baur requested his children to do this, and on the way to the funeral home they stopped to purchase a can of Pringles to deposit his ashes into. His son Larry said: "My siblings and I briefly debated what flavour to use, but I said: 'Look, we need to use the original.'" Found by Tony.

- Andy Spector of Brighton has a collection of empty crisp packets worth over £20,000. He began collecting them as a schoolboy in the 1970s and now has over 3,000 empty packets. Found by Clive.

- In Britain you can get BBQ Kangaroo flavour crisps. Successfully smuggled.

- Archibald West, the inventor of Doritos, had them sprinkled onto his grave. Successfully smuggled.

- Hugh Hefner has a member of staff to preselect all of his crisps so he never had to eat a broken one. Successfully smuggled.


- Richard Osman and Clive Anderson: 3 points
- Tony Hawks and Vicki Pepperdine: -1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 24th October 2016
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Tony Hawks Guest
Clive Anderson Guest
Richard Osman Guest
Vicki Pepperdine Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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