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

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 147 episodes (pilot + 24 series), 2006 - 2020. Stars David Mitchell.

New series to air in late 2020..
Series 17, Episode 6 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra on Monday at 9am.

Series 24, Episode 4

David Mitchell is joined by Holly Walsh, Miles Jupp, Sara Pascoe and Frankie Boyle as they lie on the subjects of bread, ABBA, men and experiments.

Further details

The Truths

Holly Walsh - Bread

- Iceland has a "bun day" in which children hit their parents with bread wands. "Bolludagur" takes place two days before Lent. Children wake up early and try to catch their parents while they are still in bed. If they do, the child may hit the parent with colourfully decorated bun wands while yelling repeatedly: "Bollur, bollur, bollur" ("Bun, bun, bun"). The parents should give one cream puff for every blow received. Found by Sara.

- The man who invented the slicer for making sliced bread could not sell his invention for 16 years after creating it. Otto Frederick Rohwedder of Iowa created the machine in 1912, but a fire in his factory destroyed his designs for the original prototype. It took him 16 years to make another machine, file a patent and to sell the first pre-sliced and wrapped loaf of bread on 7th July 1928. Found by Miles.

- Mrs. Beeton wrote a recipe for a toast sandwich. It consists of a piece of toast between to slices of buttered bread, with salt and pepper to taste. Successfully smuggled.

- "Pumpernickel" literally means: "Devil's fart". Successfully smuggled.

- Ciabatta was invented in 1982, in a deliberate attempt to produce an Italian alternative to the baguette. Successfully smuggled.

Miles Jupp - ABBA

- The women in ABBA did not know how to speak English when they started performing in English. The men were both fluent English speakers, but the women had to perform their early English songs phonetically. Found by Holly.

- When ABBA won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo, the UK did not give them a single point. Despite this, it went on to become a UK No. 1 single two weeks later. Found by Holly.

- One early song that all of ABBA performed on was a 1970 single called No Doctor Can Help with That. Successfully smuggled.

- The distinctive costumes that ABBA wore on stage were tax deductable, because it was so easily proven that there was no way they could have been worn in real life. Successfully smuggled.

- In Russia, ABBA were paid in oil commodity rights, as there was an embargo in place on the ruble. Successfully smuggled.

Sara Pascoe - Men

- World Toilet Day and International Men's Day both take place on 19th November. Found by Frankie.

- High heels were originally worn by men. Men first wore them in the early 1600s. By the 1630s, a craze of masculinised women's fashion led to women adopting high heels, cut their hair short, add epaulettes to their outfits and start smoking pipes. Found by Holly.

- The lower a man's IQ is, the more likely it is that they will have an affair. Found by Frankie.

- A man is more likely to die of a cardiac arrest during sex, if they are having sex with someone who is not their partner. Found by Frankie.

- Until the 1930s, it was illegal for men to go topless in beaches in the USA. The law was not changed until 1936. Successfully smuggled.

Frankie Boyle - Experiments

- An experiment has shown that male monkeys will pay to look at pictures of female monkey bottoms. Male rhesus macaques were willing to take a cut in their fruit juice allowance to look at photos of the bottoms of high status or socially dominant females. Found by Sara.

- William Morton, father of anaesthesia, experimented on himself. However, he kept falling asleep before he could record his results. Found by Miles.

- 19th century banker and naturalist John Lubbock discovered that drunk ants would be picked up by ants from their fellow colony and carried home, but drunk stranger ants from other colonies would by tossed into ditches. Found by Sara.

- In the 1960s researchers at the University of Pennsylvania experimented to find what stimuli was needed for male turkeys to be sexually aroused. Using a model female turkey, parts of which were slowly removed, they discovered that male turkeys would still mate with the model even when all that was left was a dummy head on a stick. Found by Holly.

- Over 70% of Britons will hand over their computer password for chocolate. Successfully smuggled.


- Miles Jupp: 2 points
- Holly Walsh and Frankie Boyle: 1 point
- Sara Pascoe: -1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 6th July 2020
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Frankie Boyle Guest
Miles Jupp Guest
Holly Walsh Guest
Sara Pascoe Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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