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 on Monday at 9am.

Series 5, Episode 3

Susan Calman, Liza Tarbuck, Fred MacAulay and Charlie Brooker guest star as David Mitchell asks them to talk about Skiing, Elephants, Chocolate and Cleopatra.

Further details

The Truths

Fred MacAulay - Skiing

- The word "ski" was first used in the mid-18th century. The verb "to ski" did not appear for another 150 years. Found by Liza.

- The only bone in the human body not broken in a skiing accident is one in the middle ear. Found by Liza.

- The number of people who can ski in China has increased 10,000 fold in 10 years. In 1998, only 500 people in China could ski. In 2008 the total had risen to 5,000,000. Found by Susan.

- In Tibet they ski uphill, using yaks to pull them up slopes. Successfully smuggled.

- One Frenchman, Michel Lotito, better known as Monsieur Mangetout, once ate a pair of skis. Successfully smuggled.

Susan Calman - Cleopatra

- Cleopatra wore a false beard. Found by Liza.

- Cleopatra married two of her brothers and her parents were brother and sister. Found by Charlie.

- Egyptian coins at the time depict Cleopatra as being a woman with a hooked nose and a face similar to that of a man. Successfully smuggled.

- Cleopatra decreed that earthworms were sacred and that if anyone attempted to smuggle them out of the country they would be executed. Successfully smuggled.

- "Cleopatra" was Ronnie Wood's nickname at school. Successfully smuggled.

Liza Tarbuck - Elephants

- Female elephants make a wider range of noises than males. Found by Charlie.

- Field Marshall Blucher, who led the Prussian forces in the Battle of Waterloo, believed he was pregnant with an elephant by a French grenadier. Found by Susan.

- The elephant orchestra of Lampang, Thailand, is the largest animal orchestra in the world. Found by Susan.

- The tongue of a blue whale weighs more than an elephant. Successfully smuggled.

- In Florida, if you leave an elephant tied to a parking meter, you must pay the meter. Successfully smuggled.

Charlie Brooker - Chocolate

- There is a bra made out of chocolate. Found by Fred.

- Microwave ovens were invented after microwaves melted a chocolate bar in a researcher's pocket. Found by Susan.

- Andi Peters is allergic to chocolate. Found by Fred.

- Chaka Khan has her own range of "Chakalates". Successfully smuggled.

- In 1973, a Swedish confectionary salesman was buried in a chocolate coffin. Successfully smuggled.


- Susan Calman: 4 points
- Charlie Brooker and Liza Tarbuck: 3 points
- Fred MacAulay: 1 point

Broadcast details

Monday 12th April 2010
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Fred MacAulay Guest
Susan Calman Guest
Liza Tarbuck Guest
Charlie Brooker Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

Supporters and subscribers get more

Additional content and tools are available across the site for Supporters and BCG Pro subscribers. On this page you can:

  • Broadcast details of 4 further repeats of this episode

Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

Already a donor or Pro user?