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 4 - New Year's Special

David Mitchell hosts a special New Year's edition of the show, which also pays tribute to the TV panel show QI. In it Rob Brydon talks about snow, John Lloyd looks at tax, Stephen Fry discusses champagne and Alan Davies chats about tigers.

Further details


- The QI klaxon is sounded whenever a panellist guesses something to true that is in fact obvious but wrong.

The Truths

Rob Brydon - Snow

- A school in Norfolk has ordered its pupils not to throw snowballs at people unless they have asked permission from their target. Found by Alan.

- In June 1975 a cricket match between Derbyshire and Lancashire was stopped because of snow. Found by Stephen.

- One Frenchwoman left money to buy clothes for snowmen after she died because she thought they had feelings. Found by Stephen.

- The Nepalese word for the abdominal snowman is "metohkangmi". Found by John.

- In New York 54% of snowfalls happen on Friday or Sunday, when the clean-up can be carried out with minimum inconvenience. Successfully smuggled.

John Lloyd - Tax

- The words "tax", "taxi" and "taxidermy" all comes from the same Greek word: "taxo". Found by Stephen.

- The poet W. B. Yates had his taxes inspected by the Inland Revenue because they could not believe that a poet of such stature would have such a low income. Found by Rob.

- German tax collector Karl Doberman bred dogs in order to protect himself when collecting taxes. The dogs became known as Doberman pinchers. Found by Rob.

- Bagpipes can enter the USA tax free. Successfully smuggled.

- On the very day it was announced that PAYE (Pay-as-you-earn tax) was introduced in Britain, Sir Kingsley Wood, pioneer of PAYE and former Chancellor of the Exchequer, collapsed and died. Successfully smuggled.

Stephen Fry - Champagne

- Fredrick the Great of Prussia used champagne instead of water in his coffee. Found by John.

- Champagne corks were used as the first table tennis balls. Found by John.

- The longest champagne cork flight was 177ft 9in long, which is 4ft above ground level, recorded in upstate New York. Found by Alan.

- At times of water shortage in London during the 1890s champagne was used to wash coaches. Successfully smuggled.

- Champagne is nothing like as expensive as computer ink jet printer ink. Successfully smuggled.

Alan Davies - Tigers

- Tigers have stripped skin as well as stripped fur. Successfully smuggled.

- The markings on a tiger's forehead often resemble the Chinese symbol "Wang", meaning "King". The Chinese thus refer to tigers as the "King of the Beasts". Successfully smuggled.

- Tiger whiskers are poisonous. Successfully smuggled.

- Torquay was once frequented by sabre tooth tigers. Successfully smuggled.

- In India and Bangladesh people discovered that tigers almost always attack humans from behind. Thus people wear face masks behind their heads to protect themselves. Successfully smuggled.


- Stephen Fry: 2 points
- Alan Davies: 0 points
- Rob Brydon and John Lloyd: -2 points

Broadcast details

Monday 28th December 2009
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Alan Davies Guest
Stephen Fry Guest
John Lloyd Guest
Rob Brydon Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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