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

The Unbelievable Truth

  • Radio panel show
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2006 - 2022
  • 171 episodes (28 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 5, Episode 1

Lucy Porter, Henning Wehn, Marcus Brigstocke and Graeme Garden join David Mitchell for another edition of the panel game built on truth and lies. The topics are Sleep, Beer, Childbirth and Sir Isaac Newton.

The Truths

Marcus Brigstocke - Childbirth

- There have been cases of babies being born out of the rectum rather than the womb. Found by Lucy.

- The heaviest recorded newborn baby weighed 22lb 8oz. Found by Lucy.

- You can comfort a child by getting a large rhesus monkey to whoop at it. Successfully smuggled.

- Most babies cry in the key of A. Successfully smuggled.

- In Hungary there is a musical condom that plays the communist song "Arise ye worker". Successfully smuggled.

Henning Wehn - Beer

- St. Brigid of Kildare could turn her used bathwater into beer. Found by Graeme.

- Henry VIII ordered that any servant who impregnated a maid had to go without beer for a month. Found by Lucy.

- There is a type of flea which only exists in German beer mats. Found by Graeme.

- In 1814 the London beer flood destroyed two houses and killed nine people. Successfully smuggled.

- Carlsberg Special Brew was created for Winston Churchill. Successfully smuggled.

Lucy Porter - Sleep

- The human is the only creature on Earth that can sleep on its back. Found by Marcus.

- Dolphins sleep with half of their bodies at a time, so that part of them is always awake and can keep an eye out for danger and need to come up for air. Found by Henning.

- Earwigs are so called because people feared that they burrowed into your brain via your ear while you slept. Found by Graeme.

- In 1900, a normal night's sleep was nine hours long. Successfully smuggled.

- W. C. Fields was a terrible insomniac and sometimes he could only get to sleep under a beach umbrella while being sprinkled with a garden hose. Successfully smuggled.

Graeme Garden - Sir Isaac Newton

- Newton dropped out of school early because his mother wanted him to be a farmer. Found by Marcus.

- Newton once saw an apple falling from a tree and he wondered about the force acting upon it. The apple did not hit him on the head. Found by Henning.

- It is claimed that Newton added the colour indigo to the rainbow because he believed that seven was a magic number. Found by Marcus.

- Newton invented the cat-flap. Successfully smuggled.

- The only speech Newton made during his career as an MP was to ask someone to close a window. Successfully smuggled.


- Lucy Porter: 4 points
- Henning Wehn: 2 points
- Graeme Garden: 1 point
- Marcus Brigstocke: 0 points

Broadcast details

Monday 29th March 2010
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Sunday 4th April 2010 12:00pm Radio 4
Wednesday 1st October 2014 9:00am Radio 4 Extra
Wednesday 1st October 2014 6:00pm Radio 4 Extra
Thursday 2nd October 2014 1:00am Radio 4 Extra

Cast & crew

David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Graeme Garden Guest
Marcus Brigstocke Guest
Lucy Porter Guest
Henning Wehn Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer


I've taken a while to get round to this panel game, and can hardly believe it has already embarked on its fifth series, yet it does seem curiously appropriate to our times. Whereas a format like Just a Minute relies on old-fashioned verbal fluency, the success of this show, developed by Graeme Garden, rests on the modern taste for factoids coupled with our newfound habit of subjecting everything we hear to a kind of plausibility pre-screening.

The likeable David Mitchell, who has managed in a very short time to step into Stephen Fry's commodious shoes, rules with a kind of brainy decency and surely has Radio 4 engraved on his heart. But the result is quirky rather than hilarious.

Up for discussion were beer, babies and spiders and among the diverting facts that emerged were that "most babies cry in the key of A", that Germany has a unique species of flea that is only found near beer-mats, and that Isaac Newton's only reported speech in the House of Commons as an MP was to ask someone to close the window.

Some of the alleged truths seemed a bit suspect to me, though. A spider is the only animal that sleeps on its back, for example. What about my cat, as I and a lot of other listeners protested? Then again, these truths are probably as reliable as anything else you'll hear this side of a general election.

Jane Thynne, The Independent, 1st April 2010

Radio Review: The Unbelievable Truth

Everything about this Radio 4 panel show, hosted by David Mitchell, is a delight, says Elisabeth Mahoney.

Elisabeth Mahoney, The Guardian, 30th March 2010

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