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

The Unbelievable Truth

BBC Radio 4 panel show built on truth and lies. 153 episodes (pilot + 25 series), 2006 - 2021. Stars David Mitchell.

Another series is in development.

Series 9, Episode 1

David Mitchell presents another edition of the panel game built on truth and lies. The guests, Tony Hawks, Arthur Smith, Lucy Porter and Graeme Garden, talk on the subjects of parrots, breakfast, insurance and Oliver Cromwell.

Further details

The Truths

Tony Hawks - Parrots

- The Royal Navy has a parrot which shouts, "Show us your tits." Called "Sonny", she is an African grey which lives on HMS Lancaster. She also says, "You ain't seen me, right," and, "Zulus! Thousands of them!" Found by Arthur.

- A pet parrot living in Rochdale called "Perky", that is being stalked by cats, has learned to mimic a dog's bark. Found by Graeme.

- The artist Paul Cezanne taught his parrot to say, "Cezanne is a great painter." It is believed Cezanne made his parrot do this because he thought he was a failure as an artist. Found by Arthur.

- In 1997 a Swedish woman took her local pet shop to court after they sold her a parrot which dropped dead a few days after she brought it. The staff claimed the parrot was just sleeping. Found by Lucy.

- Elizabeth Taylor had two pet parrots called "Dick" and "Liz". She loved parrots and took them on tour with her. Successfully smuggled.

Lucy Porter - Breakfast

- The Queen is entertained by bagpipe music outside the dining room window for 15 minutes during breakfast. Found by Tony.

- Henry VIII's ladies-in-waiting were given an allowance of two loaves of bread, a joint of beef and a gallon of ale every day for breakfast. Found by Arthur.

- In German the word, "Kummerspeck", literally meaning, "Grief bacon", is the weight you gain when you eat when unhappy. Found by Tony.

- Sunmaid raisins once came with the instructions, "Why not try tossing over your favourite breakfast cereal." Successfully smuggled.

- In Devon, it is believed that if bacon curls up in the frying pan when cooked then a new lover is on the way. Successfully smuggled.

Graeme Garden - Insurance

- When Otis Robins got up unhurt after being hit by a car in New York a passer-by told him to lie down again and pretend he was injured to claim on the insurance. He did, but the car rolled forward and crushed him to death. Found by Lucy.

- If the wife kisses her husband before he drives to work then he is less likely to crash. Found by Lucy.

- Japanese golfers insure themselves against getting a hole-in-one, because traditionally whenever someone does the achievement they share the luck and have to buy gifts for all their friends. Found by Tony.

- Beefeaters have been refused insurance because of their Tower Hamlets post code, which has a high crime rate. Successfully smuggled.

- George Clooney once worked as a door-to-door insurance salesman. Successfully smuggled.

Arthur Smith - Oliver Cromwell

- After he died Cromwell's body was dug up, beheaded and his body flung into a pit in Tyburn. Found by Tony.

- Cromwell banned kissing on Sundays. Found by Lucy.

- As a child Cromwell met the future Charles I, when James I was stayed at his uncle's house. Tradition has it that the two boys had a fight and Cromwell drew royal blood, but there is no proof for this story. Successfully smuggled.

- Cromwell was well known as a practical joker. It was reported that he used to put sticky sweets on guests chairs and then trick them into sitting on them. Successfully smuggled.

- Cromwell had a very large brain. It was 60% bigger than average, the average being 3lb, 1oz. Successfully smuggled.


- Lucy Porter: 3 points
- Graeme Garden and Arthur Smith: -1 point
- Tony Hawks: -5 points

Broadcast details

Monday 2nd April 2012
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Graeme Garden Guest
Tony Hawks Guest
Lucy Porter Guest
Arthur Smith Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash 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 7 further repeats of this episode

Donate (for fans) BCG Pro

Already a donor or Pro user?