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 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

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