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 5 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra today at 9am.

Series 3, Episode 4

Jack Dee talks about smiling, Fred MacAulay looks at Charles Darwin, Will Smith discusses cucumbers and Jeremy Hardy chats about dolphins.

Further details

The Truths

Jack Dee - Smiling

- Scientists believe that smiling was originally a sign of fear. Found by Fred.

- A sincere smile is known as a "Duchenne smile" after the scientist who discovered it. Found by Will.

- The author of the song "When Irish Eyes Smiling" was a German who never visited Ireland. Found by Will.

- Beauty contestants smear Vaseline on their teeth to allow them to hold a fixed smile for longer. Found by Jeremy.

- In Milan citizens were once ordered to smile at all times or risk a hefty fine, except when visiting people in hospital or attending funerals. Successfully smuggled.

Fred MacAulay - Charles Darwin

- Darwin was related to Josiah Wedgwood. Found by Will.

- Wedgwood was the grandmother of Darwin's wife, Emma. Found by Will.

- Darwin once transported a tortoise from the Galapagos Islands to Australia which lived until 2006. Found by Will.

- Darwin cured his snuff habit by putting his snuff box in his basement and the key to the basement in his attic. Successfully smuggled.

- Darwin kept 10,000 barnacles. Successfully smuggled.

Will Self - Cucumbers

- The cucumber is a fruit. Found by Fred.

- Dr. Samuel Johnson said of cucumbers: "Cucumbers should be well sliced and dressed with vinegar and then thrown out as good for nothing." Found by Jeremy.

- Tom Fisher of Grand Haven, Michigan grew the world's longest cucumber at 6 feet, 2 inches long. Found by Fred.

- The King James Bible refers to the cucumber. Successfully smuggled.

- The poet John Dryden wrote that: "Cucumbers along the surface creep, along crocked bodies and bellies deep." Successfully smuggled.

Jeremy Hardy - Dolphins

- Dolphin babies do not sleep for the first month of their lives. Found by Will.

- Dolphins have sex for fun. Successfully smuggled.

- When a dolphin gives birth another dolphin acts as midwife. Successfully smuggled.

- Male dolphins have sex on their own. Successfully smuggled.

- All dolphins, whales and porpoises stranded on British shores must be offered to the Queen. Successfully smuggled.


- Will Self: 5 points
- Fred MacAulay: 2 points
- Jeremy Hardy: 1 point
- Jack Dee: -1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 13th April 2009
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Jeremy Hardy Guest
Fred MacAulay Guest
Jack Dee Guest
Will Self Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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