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 today at 9am.

Series 22, Episode 6

David Mitchell is joined by Lou Sanders, Frankie Boyle, Henning Wehn and Lucy Porter talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as time, driving, The Spice Girls and Scotland.

Further details

The Truths

Henning Wehn - Time

- A "jiffy" is about one 30 billionth of a second. In chemistry and physics, a jiffy is the time light takes to travel one centimetre. Found by Lucy.

- There is no scientific proof to show that time exists. No experiment can be done to prove time's existence. Quantum physics has many experiments to show that time, as we know and measure it in everyday life, doesn't exist at all. Found by Frankie.

- China has just one time zone, despite being the third-largest country in the world. During the summer, people in western cities can witness sunsets at midnight. When crossing the border into Afghanistan, you have to put your watch back by 3.5 hours. Found by Frankie.

- Time passes more slowly for your feet than for your head. Einstein's theory of relativity states that the closer you are to the centre of the Earth, the slower time goes. At the top of Mount Everest, a year would pass 15 microseconds quicker than it would do at sea level. Successfully smuggled.

- The word "time" is the most commonly used noun in the English language, according to the OED. Successfully smuggled.

Lucy Porter - Driving

- Anthony McPartlin received the largest drink-driving fine in British history, of £86,000. However, McPartlin earns £130,000 a week. Found by Henning.

- Pope Francis drives a 2008 blue Ford Focus with cloth seats, in keeping with the humble lifestyle he encourages the clergy to adopt. Found by Henning.

- Some driverless cars improve their driving skills by play Grand Theft Auto. Found by Henning.

- Australia went through a period where it awarded cash prizes to any driver they found sober behind the wheel. Successfully smuggled.

- In Iceland, a driver may be stopped by the police for driving under the influence of the northern lights. Successfully smuggled.

Lou Sanders - The Spice Girls

- Nelson Mandela claimed that meeting the Spice Girls was one of the greatest experiences of his life. Despite this, during the visit Mel B stole some toilet rolls and stones from one of his pot plants. Mandela invited the band to perform at his 89th and 90th birthday parties, but the band declined both times. Found by Frankie.

- Emma Buntonappeared in EastEnders, playing a mugger beating up an old man. Found by Lucy.

- Lou Sanders would be better on Radio 2 because it has a younger crowd. Found by Frankie. Accidentally included by Lou.

- Geri Halliwell sang "Wannabe" at her own wedding. Successfully smuggled.

- Victoria Beckham often had her microphone turned off when performing in the band. She told Claudia Winkleman in a 2016 interview she said: "They used to turn it off and just let the others sing. Luckily, because I used to wear heels I just used to jig about a bit and I got away with it, but it never came easily." Successfully smuggled.

- When she was 12, Victoria Beckham used to dress up as a giant sperm on roller skates for a show on the BBC, as part of a sex education film for the show Body Matters back in 1986. Successfully smuggled.

Frankie Boyle - Scotland

- In 2007, the Scottish Government and the Tourist Board of Scottish spent £125,000 of find a new slogan for the country. The final slogan was: "Welcome to Scotland." Found by Henning.

- The last country Scotland invaded was Panama. In the late 17th century, when Scotland was still independent, Scotland tried to make its own colonial empire by trying to take over Panama and of trade between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. £500,000 was raised for the expedition, around half of the entire capital of the country. Sixteen ships carrying 2,500 Scots attempted to establish a colony, but disease, lack of food, infighting and attacks by hostile Spanish ships wiped out the colony. Only one of the ships returned, and over 2,000 lives were lost. The lost £500,000 almost bankrupted Scotland, trigged the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament, and is argued to have been a factor in the 1707 Act of Union. Found by Henning.

- The Scottish town of Badbea was so windy that children and animals had to be tied to rocks to stop them from being blown away. The now abandoned town was established by people dispossessed by the Highland Clearances. Found by Lou.

- Fewer than 500 people own half the land in Scotland. Since the Scottish Reformation in 1560, when the country was divided into large hunting estates, the land has been owned by, "the most exclusive cartel of landowners in developed world." Found by Lucy.

- Scottish banknotes are not legal tender, not even in Scotland. They are legal currency, and are approved by the UK Parliament, but are not strictly speaking legal tender. Legal tender specifically refers to the payment of a debt. Successfully smuggled.


- Frankie Boyle: 5 points
- Lucy Porter: 4 point
- Henning Wehn: 1 point
- Lou Sanders: 0 points

Broadcast details

Monday 6th May 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

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