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

The Unbelievable Truth

  • Radio panel show
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2006 - 2021
  • 159 episodes (26 series)

David Mitchell hosts this Radio 4 panel game built on truth and lies. Contestants must try and smuggle truths into lie-filled speeches.

Episode menu

Series 4, Episode 1

In a special episode recorded at the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Reginald D. Hunter talks about cats, Shappi Khorsandi looks at tea, Adam Hills discusses Adolf Hitler and Rhod Gilbert chats about golf.

Preview clips

Further details

The Truths

Rhod Gilbert - Golf

- Before 1848 golf balls were made with leather and stuffed with feathers. Found by Reginald.

- 12% of all lightning fatalities in the USA happen on golf courses. Found by Reginald.

- Edward VII had a golf bag that was made from an elephant's penis. Successfully smuggled.

- Tiger Woods's first televised game was at the age of 2. Successfully smuggled.

- Rudyard Kipling invented the game of "snow golf", where he had the balls painted red so that they would be shown in the snow. Successfully smuggled.

Reginald D. Hunter - Cats

- The lecture is Reginald D. Hunter's on the subject of cats. Found by Adam. Accidentally included by Reginald when he read out the title of his lecture.

- Cats have played an important part in warfare. Found by Rhod. Accidentally included by Reginald.

- The poet Shelley once tied a local tomcat to a kite and flew it in a thunder storm to investigate the power of electricity on a living body. Found by Adam.

- In Ventura County, California cats and dogs are not allowed to have sex without a permit. Successfully smuggled.

- The Persians once threw dozens of cats over the walls on an Egyptian fort because they worshipped them. The Egyptians soon surrendered. Successfully smuggled.

- In Liverpool on March 1828, 18,000 mummified cats where imported from Egypt were auctioned off as fertiliser. Successfully smuggled.

- Cats cannot taste sweets. Successfully smuggled.

Shappi Khorsandi - Tea

- Tibetans put salt in their tea. Found by Rhod.

- "Cold tea syndrome" is medical slang for when a geriatric has died. The name comes from all the cold cups of tea on the deceased's bedside table. Found by Rhod.

- In 2001 a Zambian man was granted divorce after he found a frog in a cup of tea his wife had made him. Found by Adam.

- Every year in Britain almost 40 people are admitted to hospital for injuries involving tea cosies. Successfully smuggled.

Adam Hills - Adolf Hitler

- The F├╝hrerbunker is now a car park. Found by Rhod.

- Damon Hill was once in a punk band called "Sex, Hitler and the Hormones". Found by Shappi.

- Hitler stipulated that in a film, if a woman broke up a marriage she must die at the end of the film. Successfully smuggled.

- When Hitler was in power it was illegal for any domesticated animal to be called "Adolf". Successfully smuggled.

- Both Hitler and General Franco had only one ball. Successfully smuggled.


- Reginald D. Hunter and Rhod Gilbert: 0 points
- Shappi Khorsandi: -1 point
- Adam Hills: -2 points

Broadcast details

Monday 5th October 2009
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Sunday 11th October 2009 12:00pm Radio 4
Wednesday 9th July 2014 9:00am Radio 4 Extra
Wednesday 9th July 2014 6:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 10th July 2014 1:00am Radio 4 Extra

Cast & crew

David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Adam Hills Guest
Reginald D Hunter Guest
Shaparak Khorsandi (as Shappi Khorsandi) Guest
Rhod Gilbert Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer


Reginald D Hunter on Cats

There are three truths hidden in this animated sketch, which is based on audio from The Unbelievable Truth.

Featuring: Reginald D Hunter.


No surprise, really, to hear that Radio 4 is on a 10-year audience high, according to yesterday's Rajars. Serious times call for serious stations, but the network also has sorted out some of its weaker corners. The station's comedy - which you also need for serious times - is more reliable than it has been for years (I nearly crashed my car recently, I was laughing so hard at The Unbelievable Truth), and there are some terrific new programmes. I listen quite in awe of Americana each Sunday night.

Elisabeth Mahoney, The Guardian, 30th October 2009

The game show in which panellists aim to conceal truthful statements within falsehood-strewn speeches returns for its fourth series, with David Mitchell as its sardonic host. This raucous first episode was recorded at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The panellists - Rhod Gilbert, Adam Hills, Shappi Khorsandi and Reginald D Hunter - touch upon ingeniously weird topics such as whether Rudyard Kipling invented the game of snow golf (by painting his balls red so that they may be seen against the icy whiteness), and whether Edward VII had a golf bag made from an elephant's scrotum.

Jod Mitchell, The Telegraph, 3rd October 2009

A new series of the panel game in which comedians read a speech on a given topic that is laden with inaccuracies, and have to smuggle three true facts past their fellow players. It always raises a smile, even if it's nowhere near as reliably funny as chairman David Mitchell's other truth-based panel game, BBC1's Would I Lie to You?

Scott Matthewman, The Stage, 2nd October 2009

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