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 5 is repeated on Radio 4 Extra tomorrow at 9am.

Series 5, Episode 2

Tony Hawks, Arthur Smith, Phill Jupitus and Catherine Tate talk about Hats, Pigeons, Hairdressers and Admiral Lord Nelson.

Further details

The Truths

Tony Hawks - Hats

- The Panama hat comes from Ecuador. Found by Arthur.

- The first wearer of a top hat was fined £50 for disturbing the peace. Found by Arthur.

- In Lang, Kansas, it is illegal to drive down Main Street a mule in August unless it is wearing a straw hat. Successfully smuggled.

- When a man meets a cow in Minnesota he is required by law to take of his hat. Successfully smuggled.

- The top hat was originally developed from the riding hat, and was to be used as a crash helmet. Successfully smuggled.

Arthur Smith - Pigeons

- A female pigeon can only lay eggs if another pigeon is present. If no-one is there, the pigeon's own reflection will do. Found by Tony.

- Pigeons have been known to travel using the London Underground. Found by Phill.

- The Brazilian capital Brasilia has elegant pigeon houses around the city for pigeons to stay in. Successfully smuggled.

- In Europe, between the 16th-18th centuries, pigeon droppings was prized so much as fertiliser that dovecots had to be kept under armed guard. Successfully smuggled.

- In 1963, a court in Tripoli, Libya, found 75 pigeons guilty of smuggling and sentenced them to death. Successfully smuggled.

Catherine Tate - Hairdressers

- Catherine the Great was so worried about people finding out about her dandruff that she locked her hairdresser in an iron cage for three years to stop the news spreading. Found by Arthur.

- While in the west the barber's pole indicates a barber's shop, in Hong Kong it indicates a brothel. Found by Tony.

- The huhu beetle of New Zealand, commonly known as the "haircutter", has sharp hoops on its long legs, so if one lands in your hair you need a haircut to get it out. Found by Tony.

- During the 2006 World Cup, Collen Rooney (née McLoughlin) made a 900 mile round trip from Germany to Liverpool to visit her favourite hairdresser. Found by Phill.

- In Illinois it is illegal for barbers to apply shaving cream to a customers face using their fingers. Found by Arthur.

Phill Jupitus - Lord Nelson

- Nelson was 5ft 6in tall. Found by Arthur.

- Nelson never wore an eye patch. Found by Tony.

- Nelson Mandela was given his name "Nelson" by his school teacher. Successfully smuggled.

- Oliver Hardy claimed he was descended from Nelson's Captain Hardy. Successfully smuggled.

- George III only provided Nelson with a second-hand Italian marble sarcophagus, which had been originally made for Cardinal Wolsey. Successfully smuggled.


- Tony Hawks: 2 points
- Arthur Smith: 0 points
- Phill Jupitus: -1 point
- Catherine Tate: -4 points

Broadcast details

Monday 5th April 2010
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Tony Hawks Guest
Phill Jupitus Guest
Arthur Smith Guest
Catherine Tate Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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