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

The Unbelievable Truth

  • Radio panel show
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2006 - 2022
  • 165 episodes (27 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 2 - The Unbelievable Truth Christmas Special

In this special Christmas edition Graeme Garden talks about Christmas tree, Jack Dee looks at Charles Dickens, Armando Iannucci discusses Father Christmas and Sean Lock chats about turkeys.

Further details

The Truths

Graeme Garden - Christmas Trees

- The word "spruce" derives from the old word for "Prussia". Found by Jack.

- Originally, artificial Christmas trees were made out of goose feathers dyed green, stuck on wires. Found by Armando.

- In the Ukraine, they hang cobwebs of the Christmas tree. Successfully smuggled.

- If you bring a Christmas tree into the house you might accidentally bring in a turnip moth. Successfully smuggled.

Jack Dee - Charles Dickens

- Dickens was asthmatic and treated his symptoms with opium. Found by Sean.

- Dickens called his wife "Pig". Found by Sean.

- Dickens had a pet raven called "Grip". Found by Graeme.

- Before arriving at the name "Tiny Tim" in his book A Christmas Carol, other suggested names included "Little Larry", "Puny Pete" and "Small Sam". Found by Sean.

- David Copperfield contains a reference to a kangaroo. Successfully smuggled.

Sean Lock - Turkeys

- Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. Found by Graeme. Accidentally included by Sean.

- King Charles I's favourite dwarf wrestled turkeys. Found by Armando.

- Israel eats more turkeys than any other nation on Earth. Found by Jack.

- Turkeys where driven from Norfolk to London in little leather boots. Found by Graeme.

- Only male turkeys gobble. Found by Armando.

- Sean loves to eat turkey dripping on toast on Boxing Day morning. Found by Jack. Accidentally included by Sean.

- In Turkey, turkeys are called "The American bird". Successfully smuggled.

Armando Iannucci - Father Christmas

- The Dutch refer to Father Christmas as "Sinterklass", which is where we get "Santa Claus" from. Found by Sean.

- It is believed Sinterklass was present at the Council of Nicaea in 325AD where they fixed the date for Christmas as 25th December. Found by Graeme.

- In 2001, a Mother Christmas sued an American store for $100,000 who sacked for having breasts. Found by Sean.

- According to research in New York stores only 1% of children were happy to see Santa Claus. 82% were indifferent and 16% were hesitant. Found by Sean.

- Santa gets more mail than any other fictional character or divine entity. God and Sherlock Holmes come next. Found by Sean.

- Santa Claus does exist. Found by Sean, in keeping with the Christmas spirit.


- Sean Lock: 5 points
- Graeme Garden: 3 points
- Jack Dee: 1 point
- Armando Iannucci: 0 points

Broadcast details

Monday 15th December 2008
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Graeme Garden Guest
Jack Dee Guest
Armando Iannucci Guest
Sean Lock Guest
Writing team
Iain Pattinson Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer


David Mitchell's amiability as host does not stop him from taking the mickey out of his guests when they deserve it. For those who've yet to experience this show, the panellists are each asked to provide a short lecture on a given subject. They pack their talk with lies and bamboozle their opponents with so much duff information in the hope that they'll miss the four pieces of truth that have been slipped in.

Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 15th December 2008

Share this page