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 20, Episode 3

Arthur Smith, Jack Dee, Lucy Porter and Lloyd Langford are the panellists joining David Mitchell who are obliged to talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as rabbits, inventions, butterflies and drugs.

Further details

The Truths

Arthur Smith - Rabbits

- Cuba has used sniffer rabbits to help find people in collapsed buildings. Found by Jack.

- In the 18th century, Mary Toft claimed to have given birth to 17 rabbits. She hoaxed several doctors, but later admitted her fraud. Found by Lucy.

- In France, the phrase: "Poses you a rabbit", means "being stood up". It originally meant to run away without paying for something. Found by Lloyd.

- David Mitchell is unwilling to sing the song "Run Rabbit Run." Found by Lucy. Accidentally included by Arthur.

- In Queensland, it is illegal to own a pet rabbit unless you can prove you are a magician or a scientist. You can be fined AU$44,000 and sent to jail for six months for breaking the law. Found by Lloyd.

- In the 1700s in England, shooting a rabbit that wasn't on your land was punishable by death. It was one of 222 capital offenses at the time which also included cutting down a tree, going out at night with a blackened face, being in the company of gypsies for a month, impersonating a Chelsea pensioner, writing a threatening letter, and damaging Westminster Bridge. Successfully smuggled.

Jack Dee - Inventions

- One French inventor made a piano out of pigs to King Louis XI. Pressing the keys made the pigs cry out in different notes. Found by Lloyd.

- One Victorian invention was the anti-garrotting cravat. It was made in 1862 due to a widespread but unfounded garrotting panic. It shot out spikes to protect the wearer. There were also anti-garrotting gloves and belts that fired live ammunition. Found by Lucy.

- "Mammarism" or "Breast gazing" is the practice of reading a person's character by looking at their nipples. It was invented by a former palm reader from Ireland. Found by Lloyd.

- In the 18th century, one invention designed to cure drowning was to use bellows to blow tobacco smoke up victim'' rectums. Found by Arthur.

- The beehive hairdo was invented because the shape of the hair fits perfectly under a fez. Successfully smuggled.

Lucy Porter - Butterflies

- Butterflies can get drunk by consuming the juice of rotten fruit. Found by Lloyd.

- Butterflies have 12,000 eyes, but can only see the colours red, green and yellow. Successfully smuggled.

- Some butterflies drink blood from the open wounds of animals and even humans. Successfully smuggled.

- The female butterfly has a stomach attached to her vagina. Males try to prevent other males from mating with the same butterfly by blocking the vagina, so the stomach helps to dissolve the blockage, allowing the female to mate again. Successfully smuggled.

- The Aztecs sacrificed butterflies. Successfully smuggled.

Lloyd Langford - Drugs

- William Shakespeare is the first person known to use the word "drug" as a verb, when Lady Macbeth says: "I have drugg'd their possets that death and nature do content about them, whether they live or die." Found by Lucy.

- Squirrels have been known to dig up and consume cocaine, becoming aggressive as a result. Found by Lucy.

- Under Pope Pius XII, the Vatican made money from a fertility drug made out of nun's urine. Found by Lucy.

- Every year Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar had to write off 10% of his cash holdings because they were eaten by rats. Successfully smuggled.

- Scientists have recently produced an antidepressant that causes you to orgasm when you yawn. Successfully smuggled.


- Lucy Porter: 8 points
- Lloyd Langford: -1 point
- Jack Dee: -4 points
- Arthur Smith: -8 points

Broadcast details

Monday 16th April 2018
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Lucy Porter Guest
Jack Dee Guest
Arthur Smith Guest
Lloyd Langford Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Richard Turner Producer

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