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

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 153 episodes (pilot + 25 series), 2006 - 2021. Stars David Mitchell.

Next new episode is on Monday at 6:30pm. Series 25, Episode 3
Catch-up on Episode 2 on BBC Sounds   Series 25, Episode 2 is repeated on Sunday at 12pm.

Series 24, Episode 3

David Mitchell is joined by Henning Wehn, Lou Sanders, Sindhu Vee and Neil Delamere as they lie on the subjects of furniture, birthdays, phobias and rocks.

Further details

The Truths

Henning Wehn - Furniture

- The word "chair" does not appear at all in the King James Bible. Chairs only became popular in the 18th and 19th century. Successfully smuggled.

- Cardinal Richelieu used to jump over his furniture as a form of daily exercise. Successfully smuggled.

- Victorian mothers used to disguise themselves as chairs to ensure that their young children had something to sit still on. This was when children were having their photographs taken, and the parents disguised themselves to keep the children calm and still during the long exposure times that were needed to take the photos. This is referred to as: "hidden mother photography". Successfully smuggled.

- The first teenage telephone operators were forced to work standing up. The first people to do the job were teenage boys, but their habits of swearing at each other and at customers, drinking beer and indulging in practical jokes such as disconnecting calls as they were still taking place or deliberately crossing lines so strangers suddenly found themselves talking to each other, meant that they were replaced by women who sat down, while the call connection was managed by a "switch man". Successfully smuggled.

- Tutankhamen was buried with a folding camp bed. Successfully smuggled.

Lou Sanders - Birthdays

- Ross Geller from the US sitcom Friends celebrated his 29th birthday in three separate seasons of the show, back-to-back. David Schwimmer's character gave his age as 29 in three separate seasons, despite the fact that each season appears to map out a single year, with the group celebrating Christmas and Thanksgiving in each series. In one episode, Ross gives his birthday as being in December, and in another episode he says it is on 18th October. Found by Sindhu.

- In Bhutan, everyone celebrates their birthday on New Year's Day. Most people don't know their date of birth or even their age. Birthdays are not celebrated, but for administrative purposes everyone has 1st January as their birthday. This causes problems for groups of Bhutanese travellers at international airports after immigration officials become suspicious of the fact that every member of the party has the same date of birth. Found by Sindhu.

- Catherine Zeta-Jones was born on the 25th birthday of her husband Michael Douglas. Successfully smuggled.

- A Canadian birthday tradition involves having your nose rubbed in butter. This is meant to ward off bad luck. Some Canadian children have reported that the experience is traumatising. Successfully smuggled.

- A popular 21st birthday present used to be a set of dentures. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, a popular 21st birthday present, especially for women, was to have all their teeth removed and replaced by dentures, in order to save money on future dentistry bills. Successfully smuggled.

Sindhu Vee - Phobias

- Steve Jobs had a phobia of buttons. His phobia concerned not just clothing buttons, but all buttons, which resulted in the iPhone being developed, which avoids buttons altogether. Found by Lou.

- Alfred Hitchcock had a phobia of eggs, particularly runny eggs. Successfully smuggled.

- Robert Schumann had a phobia of keys, as in the ones used to unlock things rather than piano keys. Successfully smuggled.

- Kylie Minogue has a phobia of coat hangers. In an interview she said: "I don't like the way they sound when you put them in the wardrobe." Rather than hanging clothes, she has a room in her home where all her clothes a laid out. Successfully smuggled.

- Kevin Bacon's wife has a phobia of talking M&M's, and indeed all talking food. Bacon revealed that his wife, Kyra Sedgwick, has to leave the room if she sees a TV commercial with talking food in it. The phobia led to Bacon pulling out of a job in an M&M's commercial when he discovered they wanted him to be a giant talking peanut M&M. He said: "I thought about it and I said, 'My marriage is more important. I really think she would have left me.'" Successfully smuggled.

Neil Delamere - Rocks and Stones

- Stone phalluses were set above the gates of many ancient towns as protection against bad luck. Found by Lou.

- In 2017, a tombstone was found in Dublin Airport's lost property office that reads: "You will always be remembered, never forgotten." Found by Lou.

- When a supposed meteorite turns out to be an Earth rock, geologists call it a "meteorwrong". Successfully smuggled.

- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is so patriotic that he was told about the death of Osama Bin Laden 45 minutes before the news media. Successfully smuggled.

- When a man named Cecil Chubb went to an auction to by a set of dining chairs, he instead paid £6,600 for Lot 15: Stonehenge. His wife Mary was not please by this, and three years late, in 1918, Chubb donated Stonehenge to the nation, for which he received a knighthood. Successfully smuggled.


- Henning Wehn: 2 points
- Lou Sanders: 1 point
- Sindhu Vee: -1 point
- Neil Delamere: -2 points

Broadcast details

Monday 29th June 2020
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Henning Wehn Guest
Lou Sanders Guest
Sindhu Vee Guest
Neil Delamere Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

Supporters and subscribers get more

Additional content and tools are available across the site for Supporters and BCG Pro subscribers. On this page you can:

  • Broadcast details of 5 further repeats of this episode

Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

Already a donor or Pro user?