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

The Unbelievable Truth

  • Radio panel show
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2006 - 2024
  • 177 episodes (29 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 23, Episode 1

David Mitchell is joined by Holly Walsh, Henning Wehn, Tony Hawks and Sally Phillips as they talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as actors, rules, dogs and Finland.

The Truths

Tony Hawks - Dogs

- When he last did a recording of the show, Tony brought his pet dog Coco, and she urinated on the carpet. Found by Henning, accidentally included by Tony.

- Lord Kitchener had six spaniels named Aim, Fire, Shot, Bang, Miss and Damn. Found by Sally.

- A farm labourer named Selvakumar from Tamil Nadu, India, married a dog in a traditional Hindu ceremony in 2007. Found by Henning.

- In 2015, a cat won America's National Hero Dog Award. Tara won the award for saving her four-year-old owner Jeremy Triantafilo from an attack from a vicious dog. Found be Henning.

- A dog ate the first draft of John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Successfully smuggled.

- A Chihuahu's bad dreams will be a lot more frequent than a St. Bernard's bad dreams, as small dogs dream more frequently than larger dogs. Successfully smuggled.

Holly Walsh - Actors

- Michael J. Fox's middle name is Andrew. Found by Sally.

- Well over a 100 million words of fan fiction have been written about Benedict Cumberbatch. Much of it describes an imagined homoerotic relationship between his version of Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman's version of Watson. Cumberbatch has described tropes of this work thus: "It's always like one of them is tired, one comes back from work, the other is horny, a lump appears in his trousers and then they're at it. It's usually me getting it; I'm biting Watson's dog tags." Found by Henning.

- Woody Harrelson's father, Charles V. Harrelson, was a convicted hitman. He was jailed for 15 years in 1973 for the murder of a grain dealer. In 1981, he was given two life sentences for the assassination of a district judge. Found by Sally.

- Laurence Olivier once petitioned the press to moan about British Rail no longer serving kippers anymore. Successfully smuggled.

- Christopher Lee once went to France to watch a public guillotining. Successfully smuggled.

Henning Wehn - Rules

- The Bible says you should not swear on the Bible. Found by Sally.

- The Pope is not allowed to be an organ donor. When he dies, the Pope's body belongs to the entire Church and must be buried intact. Found by Holly.

- Russian criminals used to tattoo images of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin to their chest to protect themselves from firing squads, in the belief that the squads could not defile these images. This meant that the criminals would get a painless death being shot in the head, rather than a more painful death being shot in the vital organs. Found by Tony.

- Catherine I of Russia ruled that no men were allowed to get drunk at her parties before 9 o'clock. Found by Tony.

- We can all think of rules we don't need anymore. Found by Sally. Accidentally included by Henning.

- It is OK to catch a taxi if you have the plague, so long as you inform the driver. Found by Sally.

Sally Phillips - Finland

- Finland has an annual Restaurant Day, where anyone can set up a restaurant for a single day. Found by Tony.

- Due to global warming, Finland is expanding in size every year. It grows by seven square kilometres per year due to the melting of three kilometre ice sheets that covered the country during the Ice Age. Found by Holly.

- Finland is home to the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championship. Found by Henning.

- Finland has the densest population of blondes in the world. Successfully smuggled.

- One highlight in the Finnish calendar is National Sleepyhead Day, where the last person in a family to wake up is thrown into the sea. Successfully smuggled.


- Sally Phillips: 3 points
- Tony Hawks: 1 point
- Holly Walsh: 0 points
- Henning Wehn: -1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 30th December 2019
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Sunday 5th January 2020 12:00pm Radio 4
Monday 6th January 2020 7:30am Radio 4 Extra
Monday 6th January 2020 5:30pm Radio 4 Extra
Monday 6th January 2020 10:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Tuesday 7th January 2020 5:30am Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 9th March 2023 9:00am Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 9th March 2023 2:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 9th March 2023 7:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Friday 10th March 2023 4:00am Radio 4 Extra

Cast & crew

David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Tony Hawks Guest
Henning Wehn Guest
Holly Walsh Guest
Sally Phillips Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

Share this page