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

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 153 episodes (pilot + 25 series), 2006 - 2021. Stars David Mitchell.

Another series is in development.
Series 18, Episode 6 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra on Monday at 9am.

Series 21, Episode 6

David Mitchell is joined by Henning Wehn, Lou Sanders, Zoe Lyons and Lloyd Langford as they lie on the subjects of the Houses of Parliament, wolves, trains and punishments.

Further details

The Truths

Henning Wehn - The Houses of Parliament

- The Houses of Parliament has a "Bishop's Bar". It caters exclusively to members of the House of Lords, both spiritual and temporal. Found by Zoe.

- It was only recently that KGB operatives were forbidden to clean the toilets in the Houses of Parliament. The KGB in question was a cleaning firm owned by Kevin and Gina Brown, KGB Cleaning, who held a contact with the House until 2010, when it was discovered they were employing illegal immigrants as cleaners. These cleaners would have had unchecked access to the offices of MPs and senior government ministers, including the Prime Minister. Found by Lou.

- In Parliament, the day starts with prayers in both Houses. This has been carried out since 1567. Members pray for the wellbeing of the Royal Family, and for guidance and wisdom from above. Attendance is voluntary. Successfully smuggled.

- During the financial crisis, Parliament foolishly rejected the solution that bankers should be tied into a sack and thrown alive into the Thames. This was during the financial crisis of 1720, after the bursting of the South Sea Bubble, and the proposal was put forward by Viscount Molesworth, who lost a lot of money in the bubble. Successfully smuggled.

- In 1423, Henry VI was about to make his first visit to Parliament when he burst into tears and had to be carried home. Henry VI was just under two-years-old at the time. Successfully smuggled.

Lou Sanders - Wolves

- One Norwegian boy escaped from wolves by playing some Megadeth at them. When 13-year-old Walter Acre encountered four wolves on his way back from school, he took out his phone and played a Megadeth song at them at full volume. Upon hearing the music, the wolves immediately scattered. Found by Henning.

- In Germany, there is a man who lives with a pack of 29 wolves. 86-year-old former paratrooper Werner Freund has spent the last 46 years living with wolves in the Werner Freund Wolf Park. He is known as "Wolf-man" and his wife Erica is known as "Mrs. Wolf-man". Found by Lloyd.

- Wolves run on tip-toes. Found by Lloyd.

- Wolves generally have a good sense of fair play, or as scientists dub it: "A sensitivity to inequity." Successfully smuggled.

- The world's longest treadmill was built for wolves. Researchers at the Wolf Science Centre in Austria constructed a seven-foot wide, thirty-foot long treadmill for wolves in order to study how the animals cooperate when they are on a hunt together. Successfully smuggled.

Zoe Lyons - Trains

- Early critics of trains argued that women should not use them, for fear that women's bodies were "not designed" to travel at 50mph. They feared women's uteruses would fly out of their bodies as they accelerated to that speed. Found by Lloyd.

- Sigmund Freud had a phobia of trains. He believed it stemmed from a train journey taken with his family when he was three-years-old. He recalled his sexual excitement on seeing his mother naked on the overnight train and of feeling frightened when the train pulled into a station at night, with the gaslight appearing to him as, "spirits burning in Hell." Found by Lloyd.

- One of the earliest railway excursions was to see a public hanging in Bodmin Gaol. The trains were halted below the walls of the gaol so that 1,100 passengers could was the execution of James William Lightfoot on Monday 15th April, 1840. Found by Lloyd.

- In France, it is illegal to kiss someone else on a train. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, it is illegal to kiss on French railways, and it is also illegal to take photos of police officers or police vehicles, even if they are just in the background. Found by Lou.

- In the Netherlands, trains are fitted with laser cannons that fire at leaves on the line. Successfully smuggled.

Lloyd Langford - Punishments

- You can be arrested for handling salmon in suspicious circumstances. Section 32 of the 1986 Salmon Act relates to, "handling fish in suspicious circumstances". It states that any person who receives or disposes of any salmon in circumstances where they believe the salmon has been illegally fished can receive up to two years imprisonment. Found by Zoe.

- A pear of anguish was a torture device shaped like a pear that was inserted into a part of the body, normally the vagina or anus, and gradually opened by turning the stem. It was used on women accused of witchcraft, men accused of homosexuality, and in the mouths of people accused of lying or blasphemy. Found by Lou.

- Lisa Scott-Lee from Steps supports the death penalty. Successfully smuggled.

- The man who built the stocks in Boston, Massachusetts, charged so much that he was the first person to be put in them. Successfully smuggled.

- The bell run to mark the death of Ivan the Terrible's son Dmitry was tried for treason, found guilty and exiled to Siberia. Successfully smuggled.


- Henning Wehn: 4 points
- Lloyd Langford: 3 points
- Zoe Lyons: -1 point
- Lou Sanders: -4 points

Broadcast details

Monday 28th January 2019
BBC Radio 4

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Henning Wehn Guest
Lloyd Langford Guest
Lou Sanders Guest
Zoe Lyons Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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