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 21, Episode 1

Sandi Toksvig, Jon Richardson, Lucy Porter and Graeme Garden are the panellists obliged to talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as Denmark, hair, smells and fish.

The Truths

Sandi Toksvig - Denmark

- The longest Viking longship ever discovered was found underneath Denmark's Viking Longship Museum. Found by Lucy.

- The name for Bluetooth technology comes from the 10th century Danish king Harald Bluetooth. Ericsson have a statue of the king outside their HQ. Found by Jon.

- The Danish for "King" is "Kong". It is however a myth that the film King Kong was renamed Kong King in Denmark, as previously stated on QI. Found by Graeme.

- Midsomer Murders has a big following in Denmark. In the country it is watched more than their own critically acclaimed crime shows like The Killing and The Bridge, has been aired on the country's main TV channel for the past 12 years, been give the main 9pm slot on Saturdays, and has consistently claimed 30-40% of the audience share. The channel's head of acquisitions has said: "You have a good feeling when you watch it, and if you fall asleep it's fine, because you'll never remember who did it anyway." Found by Graeme.

- Denmark has 406 islands. Successfully smuggled.

Jon Richardson - Hair

- Gregg Wallace is balder than the French king Charles the Bald. This is because Charles the Bald was not bald. Found by Sandi.

- Blondes are better than brunettes when taking penalties in football. According to a 2014 statistical analysis of penalty taking by Prof. Stephen Hawking for the bookmaker Paddy Power, blonde and bald footballers are 15% more likely to score in penalty shootouts than dark-haired players. Found by Lucy.

- Hair is not just able to support the weight of one elephant, but a further elephant if required. Successfully smuggled.

- All bald men are foxy. The word, "alopecia", comes from the Greek word for fox, and could be translated as: "mange on foxes". Successfully smuggled.

- You can extract gold from human hair. The whole body contains trace amounts of gold. You would need 40,000 people to extract enough gold to make a single eight gram sovereign. Successfully smuggled.

Lucy Porter - Smells

- The smell of a happy person's sweat can make you happier. Studies revealed that women show more signs of happiness if they smelled the sweat of happy men rather than neutral men. Found by Sandi.

- Cheetahs and jaguars like the smell of "Obsession" by Calvin Kline. Found by Sandi.

- Men are better than women when detecting a newborn baby on smell alone. Successfully smuggled.

- Dogs only smell good smells with their left nostril and bad smells with their right. Successfully smuggled.

- In WWII, British pilots carried chocolate bars infused with garlic in order to make their breath smell more French in case they were shot down. Successfully smuggled.

Graeme Garden - Fish

- In 1760, the French classified beaver as a fish because of its scaly tail. This meant Catholics could eat them on fasting days. Found by Jon.

- The tripod fish has three legs, or rather three very long fins that it uses like legs to stand on the seabed in some of the deepest oceans. It stands in complete darkness, facing the direction of the current, and waits for prey to drift into its huge mouth. It is a hermaphrodite, so it doesn't need to move in order to produce offspring. Found by Jon.

- The electric eel is not an eel. It is a knifefish, and is more closely related to the catfish and carp than it is to eels. Found by Jon.

- Green herons drop bits of bread onto the surface of water to lure fish. Successfully smuggled.

- The spookfish has long, sharp teeth and six googly eyes. Successfully smuggled.


- Jon Richardson: 3 points
- Lucy Porter: 0 points
- Graeme Garden: -2 points
- Sandi Toksvig: -3 points

Broadcast details

Monday 24th December 2018
BBC Radio 4


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Sunday 30th December 2018 12:00pm Radio 4
Monday 31st December 2018 7:30am Radio 4 Extra
Monday 31st December 2018 5:30pm Radio 4 Extra
Monday 31st December 2018 10:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Tuesday 1st January 2019 5:30am Radio 4 Extra

Cast & crew

David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Graeme Garden Guest
Sandi Toksvig Guest
Lucy Porter Guest
Jon Richardson Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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