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 3

David Mitchell is joined by Marcus Brigstocke, Lou Sanders, Cally Beaton and Neil Delamere are the panellists lie on the subjects of chocolate, the human body, the Netherlands and rats.

The Truths

Neil Delamere - Rats

- The rat population boomed in Medieval Europe when Pope Gregory IX claimed that cats were the incarnation of Satan. The persecution of cats at the time was widespread before him, but in 1233 the Pope published a paper declaring black cats to be incarnations of Satan and issued a death warrant for every black cat in Christendom. Over time this death sentence was applied to almost all cats, which result in the rat population growing. Found by Lou.

- In 1508, a group of rats was put on trial in Autun, France for destroying a crop of barley. A court summons was posted on roads and neighbouring churches. When the rats failed to appear in court, they were held to be in contempt. However, the lawyer assigned to their case argued that it was unsafe for his clients to attend as cats and dogs roamed the route from their homes to the courthouse and thus safe passage could not be guaranteed. The rats were excused. There is no record of a verdict, but it is believed the rats were acquitted. Found by Lou.

- In New York City, uptown and downtown rats are different species. Uptown rats are found north of 59th Street, while downtown rats are found south of 14th Street. Uptown and downtown rats rarely mix. Found by Marcus.

- Rats cannot vomit. Found by Cally.

- Rats experience regret. Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that rats experience regret after making a wrong food choice. Rats that passed over a food they liked would glance backward at food they passed up. Scans of their brain activity at that moment showed that the part of the brain that experiences regret in humans also showed activity in the rats. Successfully smuggled.

Cally Beaton - The Netherlands

- When the Netherlands was knocked out of Euro 96 in a penalty shoot-out, heart attack and stroke deaths among Dutchmen went up by 50%. No corresponding increase occurred in women. Found by Marcus.

- The 1784 Kettle War between the Dutch and the Holy Roman Empire only had one shot fired, which hit a kettle. To be exact, the conflict was between the Northern Netherlands (today's Netherlands) and the Austrian Netherlands (today's Belgium), backed by the Holy Roman Empire. It occurred when the Northern Netherlands closed off the River Scheldt, denying access to the harbours of Ghent and Antwerp. The Austrian Netherlands sent over three war ships, while the Northern Dutch sent out just one, which fired a shot, hit a soup kettle, and the Austrian Netherlands surrendered immediately. Found by Marcus.

- In Dutch, the word "swaffelen" means, "to hit your penis repeatedly against something or someone." In 2008, the Dutch voted it their word of the year. Found by Neil.

- Tourists to the Netherlands can enjoy seeing the top of Mont Blanc. In 1787 the top of the mountain was removed during one of the early attempts to climb it and is now on display in a museum. It was probably not the very top, but this is how the museum advertises it. Successfully smuggled.

- The Netherlands suffers more tornados per area, per year, than any other country in the world. The UK is second. Successfully smuggled.

Lou Sanders - The Human Body

- Women blink nearly twice as often as men. Found by Marcus.

- Humans are the only animals to produce emotional tears. Found by Neil.

- People with more body hair have higher intelligence. Found by Marcus.

- The vagina has the same acidity level as a pint of beer. Found by Marcus.

- All the organs of Enrique Iglesias are on the opposite side of his body to normal. Iglesias has "situs inversus" a 1-in-10,000 genetic disorder that puts all of your organs on the mirror-side of your body. Other people with the condition include Donny Osmond and Catherine O'Hara. Successfully smuggled.

Marcus Brigstocke - Chocolate

- Discontinued names for Cadbury's chocolate brands include "Nunch". Found by Cally.

- The microwave oven was invented when a researcher walked passed a radar cube and it melted a chocolate bar that was in his pocket. Found by Neil.

- In the USA, bars of chocolate on average to contain eight insect fragments. Anything less than 60 insect parts per 100g of chocolate is deemed safe for consumption by the US Food and Drug Administration. Found by Neil.

- According to sex shops, the least popular form of edible underwear is chocolate. Successfully smuggled.

- Chocolate increases blood flow to a man's genitals. Successfully smuggled.


- Neil Delamere and Marcus Brigstocke: 3 points
- Cally Beaton: 2 points
- Lou Sanders: -3 points

Broadcast details

Monday 13th January 2020
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Sunday 19th January 2020 12:00pm Radio 4
Monday 20th January 2020 7:30am Radio 4 Extra
Monday 20th January 2020 5:30pm Radio 4 Extra
Monday 20th January 2020 10:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Tuesday 21st January 2020 5:30am Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 23rd March 2023 9:00am Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 23rd March 2023 2:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 23rd March 2023 7:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Friday 24th March 2023 4:00am Radio 4 Extra

Cast & crew

David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Marcus Brigstocke Guest
Lou Sanders Guest
Cally Beaton Guest
Neil Delamere Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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