You’re not going to believe this – the World’s Biggest Liar competition is back

By Rachael Grealish

HAVE you heard the one about the county with the unbelievable world championship competitions?
Well, you’re about to as the world’s most unbelievable competition is back for another year as Cumbria seeks out a new storytelling fibber.

Four-time World’s Biggest Liar competition winner: Monkey Liar - or, Mike Naylor -photo by Sin Photography

Four-time World’s Biggest Liar competition winner: Monkey Liar – or, Mike Naylor -photo by Sin Photography

Liars from all over the UK are set to head to the Santon Bridge Inn as the World’s Biggest Liar competition, organised by Jennings Brewery, is to take place on tomorrow (Thursday November 17).

The annual ‘stand-up’ competition is for telling the tallest tales possible, and fibbers travel from all around the world to reveal their most convincing lie without scripts or props.

Cumbria’s own Monkey Liar – or 60 year-old Mike Naylor if you see him on the street, as this is just his stage name (also an anagram of his own name) – is pretty good at telling a cracking pork pie, as he has won the competition four times since entering in 2004.

He said: “I first got into storytelling when I wrote my first children’s story called Pudgey and the Magic Gorse Bush which was never published – I think my stories up as life happens. I pick a topical situation and work my tale around that subject but throughout the year I find it sometimes changes. My stories are the most believable unbelievable stories.”

Mike has told stories about when Herdwicks were replaced by fast growing foodfish after the floods, discovering Wassie who lives in Wastwater and even the time he discovered his royal ancestry after cutting himself shaving and the paramedics told him he had royal blood – which won him first prize in 2015.

Though he has won four times Mike says he never goes in thinking a win is a sure thing, he said: “I am never confident going into the competition in fact I am a bundle of nerves and bad to live with in the build up to the night.

You never know how to feel in any year as there are a lot of good stories out there.”

One of his favourite storytellers is fellow competitor Johnny Liar, he said: “I have a great admiration for Johnny Liar (John Graham) who has won the most titles. His delivery was always perfect and he has a way of holding the crowd in the palm of his hand – he hasn’t competed for a couple of years now but I always hope he will turn up.”

When asked what makes the perfect lie, Mike said: “I can’t tell you what really makes the perfect lie – but I can tell you that everybody’s first lie is exactly the same: it wasn’t me.”

In 2003 Abrie Krueger of South Africa was named the winner after telling a story about how he was crowned King of the Wasdale Valley – Mike said this was a story he wrote for Krueger – this caused controversy as it marked the first time that a foreigner had won the competition, which was marked with allegations of Krueger having cheated.

Mike said: “The story I wrote for him [Krueger] was basically about Scawfell Pike’s first cable car. This caused a bit of a riot at Santon Bridge as some locals believed it should not be won by foreigners – I believe it is The World’s Biggest Liar and open to all nations.”

Now, it’s up to you if you choose to believe a word Mike says, as he did state at the start of the interview: “I will do my best to tell the truth the whole truth and anything but the truth – if you think I will tell truthful answers.”

But he explained that coming from Wasdale Head means the ability to tell the best fib must come naturally.

He said: “I was born and bred at Wasdale Head and the valley has the titles of highest mountain, deepest lake, smallest church and biggest Liar Will Ritson.

“He was the original named Biggest Liar but he was quick witted and always stayed one step ahead of those who thought they were leading. So maybe it’s in my blood or my genes.”

Mike Naylor isn’t the only one famous for being the world’s best liar – a decade ago Great British Bake Off host and comedienne Sue Perkins became the first ever woman to win the competition, in 2006, with a story about how the ozone layer was really destroyed.

World’s Biggest Liar is held in memory of Will Ritson (1808-1890), former pub landlord of the Wasdale Head Inn, well known for his “tall tales”.

One of Ritson’s most famous fibs was that turnips grew so large in the Lake District that people carved them out to make cow sheds.

It was also once said that a Bishop of Carlisle once won the title with with the shortest-ever speech; he simply said: “I have never told a lie in my life.”

To win contestants have five minutes to tell the biggest and most convincing tall tale they can.

This editor was disappointed to hear that politicians, lawyers, salesmen and journalists are barred from entering because they are ‘professional liars’ and to quote: “They are judged to be too skilled at telling porkies.” as is anyone who has won three years in a row.

The World’s Biggest Liar competition, organised by Jennings Brewery, is set to take place tomorrow (Thursday November 17) at the Santon Bridge Inn – well, that’s if you can believe us or not!