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

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 135 episodes (pilot + 22 series), 2006 - 2019. Stars David Mitchell.

Another series is in development.

Series 3, Episode 6

Jack Dee talks about umbrellas, Fred MacAulay looks at the brain, Will Smith discusses alcohol and Jeremy Hardy chats about cheese.

Further details

The Truths

Fred MacAulay - The Brain

- Robert Frost one joked: "That wonderful organ the brain starts working the moment you get up in the morning and doesn't stop until you get into the office." Found by Will.

- Beethoven used to start his day by pouring cold water over his head. Found by Will.

- The "vomit centre" is the part of the brain which tells you to learn over and open your mouth before you throw up. Found by Will.

- The brain produced enough electricity to power a 25 watt bulb. Found by Will.

- The brain wave activity in humans changes when we catch the punchline of a joke. Successfully smuggled.

Jack Dee - Umbrellas

- Umbrellas were introduced to England in the 18th century. Found by Will.

- When umbrellas were first introduced in London, cabbies saw them as competition as they both kept people out of the rain. Found by Jeremy.

- In the 19th century on blue or green silk umbrellas were considered fashionable in polite society. Successfully smuggled.

- In 19th century England it was considered vulgar to hold one's umbrella under his arm. You should grip it in the middle, with the handle turned toward the ground. Successfully smuggled.

- In 1969 an Italian man was charged with selling grated umbrella handles as parmesan cheese. Successfully smuggled.

Will Self - Alcohol

- When Will was stopped by the police for erratic driving and asked when he last had a drink, Will answered: "October 25th, 1999". Found by Jeremy.

- English pub goers used to have a whistle baked into their ceramic beer jugs. When they wanted a refill they blew the whistle, hence why some people believe that this is the origin of the phrase: "Wet your whistle". Found by Fred.

- The governor of Moscow at the time of Peter the Great trained bears to serve alcoholic drinks to his guests. Successfully smuggled.

- In 1888, naturalist John Lubbock noticed that drunken ants part of a nest were carried home, while stranger ants were tossed into a ditch. Successfully smuggled.

- There is a cloud of alcohol in outer space with enough alcohol in it to make 4 trillion trillion drinks, and is 10,000 light years away. Successfully smuggled.

Jeremy Hardy - Cheese

- In 1956 a team of Antarctic explorers found some tinned Edam, which was left by Captain Scott in 1912, that was still edible. Found by Jeremy.

- In Tampa Bay, Florida, you cannot eat cottage cheese after 6pm on a Sunday. Successfully smuggled.

- In 1987 a 1,400 lump of still edible cheese was found in Ireland. Successfully smuggled.

- The Uruguayan navy once won a battle against Argentina when they used Edam cheeses as cannonballs. Successfully smuggled.

- According to Dorset legend, the rough skin of some blue vinney cheese was used to replace the wheel on a train. Successfully smuggled.


- Will Self: 2 points
- Jeremy Hardy: 1 point
- Jack Dee: 0 points
- Fred MacAulay: -1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 27th 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

    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 3 past repeats of this episode

    Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

    Already a donor or Pro user?