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 22, Episode 5

David Mitchell is joined by Sindhu Vee, Susan Calman, Graeme Garden and Tony Hawks as they lie on the subjects of kings, snakes, make up and hats.

Further details

The Truths

Tony Hawks - Kings

- King Herod's first wife was named Doris. She was the first of ten wives he had. Found by Graeme.

- Charles VI of France, aka Charles the Mad, believed he was made of glass. It was reported that he wrapped himself up in blankets to protect his buttocks from breaking, and reinforced his clothes with metal rods to prevent his body shattering into a million pieces. Found by Graeme.

- There was king known as Halfdan the Bad Entertainer, also known as Halfdan the Mild. He was known for the lack of food, drink and entertainment afforded to his men. Found by Susan.

- In 1909, Kasier Wilhelm II once cost Germany a valuable arms contract when he smacked the King Ferdinand of Bulgaria on the bottom in public and refused to apologise. Found by Sindhu.

- There was king called Eystein the Fart, an 8th century king of Norway whose nickname is believed to be a reference to him being a windy loudmouth. Successfully smuggled.

Sindhu Vee - Snakes

- Snake bite symptoms include bleeding from every orifice. This occurs when bitten by a boomslang snake, which can cause you to bleed from the gums, nose and pre-existant cuts and scratches. Victims also report seeing with a yellow tinge, which may be due to bleeding inside the eyes. Death normally takes 3-5 days. Found by Susan.

- Snake charming is illegal in India. The government has been trying to rehabilitate snake charmers by turning them into snake rescuers, with people calling them to rescue snakes from cities and suburban gardens. Found by Susan.

- One snake bite symptom is the reversal of puberty. A bite from a Russell's pit viper an cause people to lose their sex drive, fertility, armpit hair and pubic hair. This is because the bite causes bleeding in the pituitary gland, which helps create and control hormones responsible for sex functions. Successfully smuggled.

- The copperhead snake smells of cucumber when touched. Successfully smuggled.

- In New Zealand, snakes of any kind are illegal. Successfully smuggled.

Susan Calman - Make Up

- The Romans believed that eyelashes fell out because of too much sex, and used coal to make their lashes look fuller. Found by Sindhu.

- Nightingale droppings are used in face creams. Found by Tony.

- Women swallow most of the lipstick they apply. A 2005 study revealed that during an average lipstick wearer's lifetime, she is likely to swallow over 1.5kgs of lipstick. Found by Graeme.

- China reportedly executes people and harvests collagen from their bodies to sell to cosmetics companies in the west. Successfully smuggled.

- Almost all the Botox in the world is made in a single factory in Westport, Ireland. Successfully smuggled.

Graeme Garden - Hats

- George VI's coronation was not broadcast on the radio, for fear that men listening in pubs would not remove their hats during the ceremony. Found by Susan.

- Beau Brummell never raised his hat to a lady, for fear of not being able to replace his hat at precisely the same jaunty angle. Found by Susan.

- A 17-year-old girl tried to smuggle an endangered chameleon through customs at Manchester Airport by wearing it as a hat. Found by Susan.

- It is forbidden in Madagascar for pregnant women to eat eels or wear hats. Successfully smuggled.

- In the 17th century, "Biggins" were a popular form of headgear. They were plain, close-fitting nightcaps, often tied under the chin and normally worn by children. Successfully smuggled.


- Susan Calman: 4 points
- Graeme Garden: 3 points
- Sindhu Vee: -1 point
- Tony Hawks: -6 points

Broadcast details

Monday 29th April 2019
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Graeme Garden Guest
Tony Hawks Guest
Susan Calman Guest
Sindhu Vee 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?