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 18, Episode 5

David Mitchell is joined by Frankie Boyle, Holly Walsh, Elis James and Mark Steel lie on the subjects of ducks, words, Oliver Cromwell and astronauts.

Further details

The Truths

Holly Walsh - Ducks

- Kim Jong-il was a fan of Daffy Duck. Found by Frankie.

- There is a delicacy tea from China called "duck shit tea". It doesn't smell or taste of duck faeces, but the name is believed to have been coined by the farmer to prevent rivals from finding out how to make it. Found by Mark.

- The Mayans would paint human sacrifices a shade of duck egg blue. The pigment, Maya blue, is virtually indestructible. Successfully smuggled.

- Ducks have hollow compartments in their bones, and most birds have hollow bones. Successfully smuggled.

- One German duck was caught doing nearly 40kmph in 30 zone. We know this because the duck trigger a speed camera. Successfully smuggled.

Mark Steel - Oliver Cromwell

- Cromwell banned swearing, the most common punishment for which was a fine, but serial offenders were imprisoned. He also banned Christmas, Halloween, theatre, pubs, sport, make-up, Christmas carols, bear baiting and horse racing. Found by Elis.

- Cromwell took receipt of the first pineapples in Britain. Found by Frankie.

- Cromwell was a farmer until he was 40. Successfully smuggled.

- Cromwell introduced the profession of taxi driving, setting up the Fellowship of Master Hackney Carriages. Successfully smuggled.

- Cromwell's brother-in-law, John Wilkins, created English history's first proposal for space travel, claiming it could be beneficial for the economy because we could trade with extra-terrestrial societies. Successfully smuggled.

Elis James - Words

- Until the Romans invaded, the British had no word for "kissing". Found by Frankie.

- The phrase "Right on" first appears in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. It is said by Anthony in Act 3, Scene 2, after Caesar is murdered. Found by Holly.

- In Dr. Samuel Johnson's dictionary, there are no words in it beginning with "X". Found by Mark.

- Classical Welsh has no words for grey, green, brown or blue. Found by Frankie.

- Russian has no word for "bigot". The nearest to it is "fanatic". Successfully smuggled.

Frankie Boyle - Astronauts

- Russian cosmonauts went into space with guns. This was because they might land in the Siberian wilderness, and thus they needed to hunt or defend themselves against attacks by bears. Found by Holly.

- Inside astronauts helmets is a Velcro patch allowing them to scratch their nose. Found by Mark.

- The USA stated its programme to land on the Moon when they realised that nuking it would be too complicated. Successfully smuggled.

- The first words from the third man on the Moon were: "Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me." These words were spoken by Pete Conrad of Apollo 12. Successfully smuggled.

- Space smells like seared stake, hot metal and welding fumes. Successfully smuggled.


- Frankie Boyle: 5 points
- Mark Steel: 3 points
- Holly Walsh: 2 points
- Elis James: 1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 1st May 2017
BBC Radio 4

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Frankie Boyle Guest
Holly Walsh Guest
Elis James Guest
Mark Steel Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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