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 2

David Mitchell presents another edition of the panel game built on truth and lies. The guests, John Finnemore, Henning Wehn, Danielle Ward and Tom Wrigglesworth, talk on the subjects of pandas, football, China and smoking.

Further details

The Truths

Tom Wrigglesworth - Smoking

- When Californian Samuel Bratt died in 1960 he left his entire fortune to his wife in his will, on the grounds that she smoked five cigars a day for the rest of her life. This was revenge on his part because she refused to let him smoking inside the house. Found by John.

- Workers at Thurrock Council in Essex were ordered to make up the time lost during smoking breaks by working an extra half-hour a day. Found by Henning.

- In Edwardian times some etiquette books warned ladies not to speak to a man while he was enjoying a cigar. Successfully smuggled.

- American university students in the 1970s were nearly four times as likely to admit to having sex if they smoked. Successfully smuggled.

- In the early days of North American colonisation smokers would sometimes add minced beaver testicles to tobacco. It was believed the testicles had medicinal properties. Successfully smuggled.

Henning When - Football

- António de Jesus Pereira was a successful goalkeeper who played for seven different clubs and also played seven times for Portugal. Found by John.

- Pope John Paul II played football for his school and university football teams until the invasion of Poland by Germany in 1939. Found by John.

- There is a Robot World Cup. The organisers hope that their champion squad will be able to be the human World Cup champion by the year 2050. Found by John.

- Germany has taken part in 13 major football finals and England in only one. Found by Tom.

- The national football stadium of Azerbaijan is named after Tofik Bahramov, the Russian (or to be exact Azerbaijani) linesman who gave England's third controversial goal in the 1966 World Cup final. In Germany a dubious goal that should not have been given is called a "Wembley goal". Found by Danielle.

Danielle Ward - China (the country)

- Paper was invented in China. Found by Henning.

- In China, the Pepsi slogan, "Come alive with Pepsi", was mistranslated as, "Pepsi brings your relatives back from the dead". Found by John.

- The Guangzhou City Zoo has a bull with five legs. The fifth leg is on the bull's back. Found by John.

- China has more English speakers than the United States, mainly due to the vast population size difference between the two countries and the fact that not all Americans speak English. Found by Tom.

- Baby mouse wine is a traditional health drink in China made by drowning baby mice in rice wine and letting the mixture ferment for about a year. Successfully smuggled.

John Finnemore - Pandas

- The panda is a black and white bear. However, it has only just recently been recognised as such. For many years scientists thought it was a member of the raccoon family. Found by Henning.

- China has a factory making biscuits for pandas. Found by Tom.

- A New York fashion designer once tried to smuggle a panda cub into America, claiming it was a dog. Found by Danielle.

- Pandas are strictly speaking carnivores. They have carnivore teeth and have been known to eat other animals. This may explain why their digestive system is so inefficient at digesting bamboo. Successfully smuggled.

- There is such a thing as a panda crossing. In 1961 a trial scheme involving 45 such road crossings were set up in Lincoln, Guildford and London. They had triangular white road markings, Belisha beacons with black stripes on top, and a series of flashing amber and red lights. Despite a large publicity campaign the crossing were met with confusion by motorists and the idea was soon scrapped. Successfully smuggled.


- John Finnemore: 7 points
- Tom Wrigglesworth: 4 points
- Danielle Ward: 1 point
- Henning Wehn: -2 points

Broadcast details

Monday 9th April 2012
BBC Radio 4
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Regular cast
David Mitchell Host / Presenter
Guest cast
Henning Wehn Guest
Tom Wrigglesworth Guest
John Finnemore Guest
Danielle Ward Guest
Writing team
Dan Gaster Writer
Colin Swash Writer
Production team
Jon Naismith Producer

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