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 6 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra on Monday at 9am.

Series 22, Episode 3

David Mitchell is joined by Lou Sanders, Frankie Boyle, Henning Wehn and Lucy Porter talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as Germany, babies, trousers and beards.

Further details

The Truths

Henning Wehn - Germany

- It depresses Henning greatly being asked to do a lecture on Germany for a second time. Found by Lou. Accidentally included by Henning.

- In Germany, it is illegal to give your child a stupid name. The constitution reads: "The State has a right and a duty to protect the child from an irresponsible name choice." If your chosen name is forbidden by the registrar, you can challenge the ruling in court. In 2018, the name "Henning" was the 6,477th most popular boys name in Germany. Found by Lou.

- When Wal-Mart opened in Germany in 1998, they had to restrict their policy on staff smiling because customers found it too weird. The originally policy was to smile at any customer within a 10 feet radius, a practice that customers interpreted as flirting. Staff were also trained to help customers to pack their bags at the checkout, which customers interpreted as attempts to steal from them. Found by Lou.

- Margaret Thatcher wasn't happy with just one Germany. She was bitterly opposed to the idea of Germany reunification, allegedly remarking after the fall of the Berlin Wall: "We beat the Germans twice, and now they're back." Successfully smuggled.

- Prisoners can try to escape in Germany without any additional penalty. The law maintains that it is a basic human instinct to be free, and therefore prisoners who don't break any other laws in the process of escaping are not charged with any offence and no extra time is added to their sentence. Successfully smuggled.

- At the time of broadcast, the most popular board game in Germany is about tiles and tiling. Successfully smuggled.

Lucy Porter - Babies

- There is a baby crawling race held in Lithuania. It is held on a five metre long carpeted track in Vilnius to find, "the fastest crawler in the land." Found by Frankie.

- Babies are pound-for-pound stronger than an ox. This is especially true of their legs. They have a very tight grip. Successfully smuggled.

- Human breast milk contains flame retardant. It contains chemicals polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are also commonly found in plastics, textiles and household dust, and bond extremely well with body fats. Successfully smuggled.

- In the womb, a baby will grow a Tom Selleck moustache, which it then eats and forms the baby's first stool. Successfully smuggled.

- Baby elephants have milk tusks. They also often suck on their trunks in the same way human babies suck on their thumbs. Successfully smuggled.

Lou Sanders - Trousers

- In the UK, trousers cause twice as many accidents as chainsaws. Found by Lucy.

- In the 13th century, a cure for impotence was to put your trousers on your head for 24 hours. Successfully smuggled.

- Rats dressed in polyester trousers get less sex than rats in woollen trousers, according to a study by Dr. Ahmed Shafik of Cairo University. Dr. Shafik won an Ig Nobel Prize for his discovery. Successfully smuggled.

- Donald Trump has his trousers steamed while he is still wearing them. Successfully smuggled.

- Astronauts wear belts to stop their trousers falling up in zero gravity. Successfully smuggled.

Frankie Boyle - Beards

- Victorian doctors prescribed growing beards as a way of filtering out pollutants before they entered the mouth. Found by Lou.

- Beard trimming is banned in the Bible. Leviticus 19:27 of the King James Bible reads: "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard." Found by Lucy.

- When the Noddy stories were first broadcast in America, Big Ears' name was changed to "White Beard" to avoid offending people with big ears. Found by Lucy.

- The entire British supply of yak hair was used to make false beards for The Hobbit films. Successfully smuggled.

- In Ancient Rome, philosophers sported different styles of beard to distinguish what school of philosophy they belonged to. Successfully smuggled.


- Lou Sanders and Lucy Porter: 2 points
- Frankie Boyle: -1 point
- Henning Wehn: -2 points

Broadcast details

Monday 15th April 2019
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Frankie Boyle Guest
Lucy Porter Guest
Henning Wehn Guest
Lou Sanders Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

Supporters and subscribers get more

Additional content and tools are available across the site for Supporters and BCG Pro subscribers. On this page you can:

  • Broadcast details of 5 further repeats of this episode

Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

Already a donor or Pro user?