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 6

David Mitchell is joined by Marcus Brigstocke, Lou Sanders, Cally Beaton and Neil Delamere are the panellists lie on the subjects of religion, kissing, languages and the Vikings.

The Truths

Neil Delamere - The Vikings

- King Harald Bluetooth was converted to Christanity when a priest called Poppo successfully underwent a trial by ordeal, which involved putting his hand in a red-hot iron glove without getting burnt. Found by Lou.

- The Yorkshire greeting, "ey up", comes from the Vikings. It is believed to come from an old Norse expression "se up", meaning, "look out", or, "be careful". Found by Marcus.

- In Viking times, children who were not tough enough where thrown into the sea. Physically incapable or sickly children were sometimes abandoned in the woods as well. Successfully smuggled.

- Viking names included Kolbeinn Butter-Penis. Successfully smuggled.

- King Harald Hardrada tied kindling to the legs of birds and sent them flying as burning weapons. Successfully smuggled.

Cally Beaton - Language

- Hedgehogs have a surprisingly sophisticated language, having at least sixteen different grunts, clicks and squeaks. Found by Lou. Accidentally included by Cally.

- Cats only meow at humans. Kittens meow at their mothers to let them know they are cold or hungry, but once they have weaned they won't meow at each other, but will meow to humans. Found by Neil.

- The Albanian language has 27 different words for moustaches. Found by Neil.

- The people of Papua New Guinea speak 840 different languages, a seventh of all the languages in the world. Found by Neil.

- The only numbers in the Andamanese languages are "one" and "more than one". Found by Marcus.

- In Italian, the phrase "Cavoli riscaldati", meaning "reheated cabbage", means to attempt to revive a long-finished love affair. It comes from the proverb: "Neither reheated cabbage nor revised love is ever any good." Found by Marcus.

Lou Sanders - Kissing

- In 2009, after the release of the Disney film The Princess and the Frog, at least 50 people in the USA were hospitalised after trying to kiss or handle frogs and becoming infected with salmonella. Most who fell ill were under the age of ten and over half were little girls. Found by Neil.

- In his childhood Tom Cruise's sisters and their friend would put Tom on the bathroom sink and practice kissing him. Successfully smuggled.

- The number 88 is Morse Code shorthand for: "Love and kisses". Successfully smuggled.

- The record for the longest kiss is 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds. Successfully smuggled.

- Some cultures kiss each other by biting each others' eyelashes. Successfully smuggled.

Marcus Brigstocke - Religion

- In the 1970s, an American citizen tried to sue the Devil. This was the case of "Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff". The case was dismissed on procedural grounds. Found by Neil.

- 12% of Americans when asked wrongly thought that Joan of Arc was the wife of Noah. Found by Lou.

- A religious group in Bedford believe that the town is the original site of the Garden of Eden. The Panacea Society, a group mainly consisting of well-off middle-aged women, believe that Albany Road is the site of the Garden of Eden. Found by Cally.

- Pliny the Elder claimed that the fire-worshiping prophet Zarathustra ate nothing but cheese for 30 years. Successfully smuggled.

- In Iceland, people have built tiny churches in the hope of converting elves to Christianity. The country has a long-running belief in "little folk", with many people building houses for them and some even making churches. Successfully smuggled.


- Neil Delamere: 6 points
- Cally Beaton: 1 point
- Lou Sanders and Marcus Brigstocke: -1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 3rd February 2020
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Sunday 9th February 2020 12:00pm Radio 4
Monday 10th February 2020 7:30am Radio 4 Extra
Monday 10th February 2020 5:30pm Radio 4 Extra
Monday 10th February 2020 10:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Tuesday 11th February 2020 5:30am Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 13th April 2023 9:00am Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 13th April 2023 2:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 13th April 2023 7:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Friday 14th April 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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