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 6, Episode 4

David Mitchell hosts the game show in which panellists Chris Addison, Susan Calman, Rufus Hound and Armando Iannucci are encouraged to talk with deliberate inaccuracy on subjects as varied as clocks, funerals, goldfish and Joseph Stalin.

Further details

The Truths

Chris Addison - Clocks and Watches

- The first wristwatch was commissioned in the year 1810 by Napoleon Bonaparte's sister Queen Caroline of Naples and took two years to complete. Found by Armando.

- The Dalai Lama is the only known non-specialist who can repair his own Patek Philippe watch. Found by Armando.

- Leonardo da Vinci invented an alarm clock which tickled the person's feet to wake them up. Successfully smuggled.

- George Washington carried a portable sundial with him to tell the time. Successfully smuggled.

- Queen Caroline of Naples's wristwatch was equipped with a thermometer. Successfully smuggled.

Susan Calman - Funerals

- At some Chinese funerals there is explicit language, erotic dancing and pornographic films are shown. Found by Armando.

- The Roman poet Virgil held a funeral for his pet fly as a tax dodge. Land used for cemeteries was except from tax. Found by Chris.

- The three most common requests at the funerals are to be buried with their pets ashes (the animal has to be already dead), to have a mobile in the coffin and for someone to make sure they are dead. by Armando.

- In Papua New Guinea four people traditionally eat the bodies of their dead relatives including the brain. Found by Chris.

- One-third of Taiwanese funerals feature a stripper. Successfully smuggled.

Rufus Hound - Goldfish

- Goldfish in darker rooms become whiter. Found by Chris.

- Madame de Pompadour's real name translates into English as "Jean Fish". Found by Chris.

- Goldfish can get seasickness. Successfully smuggled.

- Sticking things up goldfishes noses will stop them breeding. Successfully smuggled.

- Goldfish have been taught many of the things that dolphins can do including swimming on their tails standing up. Successfully smuggled.

Armando Iannucci - Joseph Stalin

- Stalin had webbed feet. Found by Susan.

- The Communist Party outlawed bank robberies in the USSR. Found by Rufus.

- There is a Soviet-themed theme park in Lithuania nicknamed "Stalin World". Found by Chris.

- Stalin's only regular job was as a weatherman. Successfully smuggled.


- Chris Addison: 1 point
- Armando Iannucci and Susan Calman: -1 point
- Rufus Hound: -3 points

Broadcast details

Monday 18th October 2010
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Armando Iannucci Guest
Chris Addison Guest
Susan Calman Guest
Rufus Hound Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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