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 4

David Mitchell is joined by Holly Walsh, Henning Wehn, Tony Hawks and Sally Phillips as they lie on the subjects of ferrets, words, Elvis and education.

The Truths

Tony Hawks - Words

- "Whipmegmorum" is a Scottish word meaning, "a noisy quarrel about politics." Found by Sally.

- "Prozvonit" is a Czech word meaning, "to call someone's mobile so they have your number." Found by Holly.

- The most misspelled word in the English language is "separate", followed by "definitely", "manoeuvre" and "embarrass". Found by Holly.

- The Welsh words for, "cyclists dismount" were translated on a sign as, "bladder inflammation upset". It is believed the word "cyclists" was confused with the word, "cystitis". Successfully smuggled.

- In Medieval times, the intestines were known as the "arse ropes". Successfully smuggled.

Holly Walsh - Elvis Presley

- Elvis refused to play encores. This lead to the phrase, "Elvis has left the building", which was adopted by his stage announcer to inform hysterical encore-hungry fans that the performance had completely ended. Found by Henning.

- Elvis was a natural blonde and dyed his hair black. Successfully smuggled.

- Elvis would visit morgues to look at the corpses. Successfully smuggled.

- Colonel Tom Parker once ran a successful touring act featuring chickens dancing on a red-hot plate. Parker, who was not a real colonel, worked in a circus and achieved minor success with his at "Colonel Parker's dancing chickens". Successfully smuggled.

- Elvis owned a sex-pest chimp who pulled-up women's skirts and looked at their underwear, and threw his own dung at Elvis's guests. Successfully smuggled.

Henning Wehn - Education

- Germans are the height of cleverness. Found by Tony. Accidentally included by Henning.

- People are not wrong to think that Germans are the height of cleverness. Found by Holly. Accidentally included by Henning.

- Henning is not happy with how his lecture is turning out. Found by Tony. Accidentally included by Henning.

- The literacy rate in Iceland is 100%. Found by Sally.

- Ellen MacArthur bought her first boat by saving up her school dinner money. Found by Holly.

- The fee-paying school Eton College was founded to provide free schooling for the disadvantaged. Found by Holly.

- Alexei Sayle once worked as a dinnerlady. In his 20s he also worked as a civil servant, factory floor sweeper and drug dealer. Found by Holly.

- Percentage-wise there are more libraries in prisons than in schools, as by law libraries in prisons are compulsory, but not in schools. Found by Tony.

Sally Phillips - Ferrets

- Brighton is home to a ferret clothing shop called "Ferret Couture". Found by Holly.

- In 2013, Argentinean con artists sold ferrets as poodles. They injected the ferrets with steroids and restyled their fur before selling them for high prices as exotic miniature poodles. Many people who purchased them only learned the truth when they took the ferrets to their local vet. Found by Henning.

- In Newcastle, a woman with a ferret became so drunk she started punching Posh Spice, which was the name of her pet ferret. The 39-year-old woman was found guilty of being drunk and disorderly, and was banned from keeping pets for at least two years. Posh Spice was placed in an animal shelter. Successfully smuggled.

- Ferrets worked at the Large Hadron Collider, with one called Nibbler helping to install the wiring. Successfully smuggled.

- Grumpy Gareth was a ferret that was so antisocial and aggressive that he went to prison. After years in a Plymouth animal rehab centre, the centre took up an over from Dartmoor Prison. Successfully smuggled.


- Holly Walsh: 4 points
- Tony Hawks: 0 points
- Sally Phillips: -6 points
- Henning Wehn: -9 points

Broadcast details

Monday 20th January 2020
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Sunday 26th January 2020 12:00pm Radio 4
Monday 27th January 2020 7:30am Radio 4 Extra
Monday 27th January 2020 5:30pm Radio 4 Extra
Monday 27th January 2020 10:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Tuesday 28th January 2020 5:30am Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 30th March 2023 9:00am Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 30th March 2023 2:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 30th March 2023 7:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Friday 31st 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

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