British media has been quite active for years making their readers, listeners and viewers 'April Fool' years after years. BBC (British Broadcasting Company) has made quite a name for itself for reporting the truth and keeping up the journalistic ethics. However, being unbiased and doing truthful reporting does not mean that you have to lack wit and humor and you cannot play pranks on people of advertise hoaxes. We have brought a list of some of the most interesting and funny hoaxes broadcasted by BBC:
- In 1957, BBC's famous news show 'Panorama' showed the video footage of Swish peasants eagerly pulling strands of spaghetti from their trees as they had harvested a bumper crop due to a very mild winter. It was surprising to see the numbers of viewers that were actually fooled by the program and had inquired about the ways to grow their own spaghetti trees. BBC appropriately suggested planting a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce.
- In 1965, BBC TV used power of suggestion to fool people. It aired an interview with a professor, claiming that he had invented a device called 'smell-o-vision', which could transmit the aromas just like the pictures were being transmitted to the homes of the readers. The professor offered a live demonstration by helping to pass the smell of onion and brewing coffee to the viewers. There was no such device and everything was just cooked up in the minds of the writers. People actually called in to confirm that they had experienced the scents at their homes while watching the program!
- BBC Radio 3 and the famous naturalist David Attenborough conspired in 1975 and broadcasted about the discovery of a new species of night-singing tree mice known as Musendrophilus. This species was reported to have been found on a group of islands in the Pacific known as the Sheba Islands and even fake sound recordings of the island's fauna were played for the audience. It was said that the inhabitants of the island used the webbed feet of the animal as reeds for musical instruments. The report sparked quite an interest among people. Later, it was said that the inspiration for such an animal was taken from the tales of Tree Squeaks that are said to live high in the tress of North America and squeak every time the wind blows.
- In 1973, the comedian Spike Milligan impersonated an elderly academic by the name of Dr. Clothier for BBC Radio. Apparently, this professor was being interviewed and went in great details about an unusual tree disease known as the Dutch Elm disease and some amazing facts that has been discovered about it. He said that Dr. Emily Lang of the London School of Pathological and Environmental Medicine has found that this disease can infect humans too, which was good in general, for it immunized people to the common cold. There target were the red heads this time and it was said that redheads that have a blood count similar to the soil conditions of the trees affected by the disease would have to face a severe side effect of the disease as their red hair can turn yellow and eventually fall out. Thus, they were advised to stay away from the forests, where they may get infected.
- Eleven years after the 'smell-o-vision' stunt, in 1976, BBC Radio 2 aired an announcement by the British astronomer Patrick Moore that at 9:47 AM the audience can all experience once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event in which the planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter and thus, due to the gravitational alignment during this planet, the Earth's gravity would lessen and people can jump higher at that very moment and may even have a floating sensation like the astronomers do in the space. Liars and gossip-mongers found it a good opportunity to claim that they indeed had experienced the sensation and one woman even called in to report that at that very moment she was sitting with her eleven friends, when they all rose from their chairs and floated around the room. Liars, liars!
- BBC has always found people at important posts and positions to help it fool the people on April Fool's Day. In 1977, Tom Jackson, General Secretary of the British Union of Post Office Workers, was aired voicing his protest against a proposal that the British mail should adopt the German method of addressing envelopes and right the house number after the name of the street. Jackson gave a long speech about the postal employees who would have to unlearn the methods that they have painstakingly learnt to sort the mail and their difficulties and complications that would arise by adopting the new proposed method. He found great support and instant reactions from the audience who called in to join him in his campaign. The only thing was that there was no such proposal and the day on which this was aired was April 1.
- BBC sparked a big protest in 1980 from the people who protested against the announcement that Big Ben was to have a digital readout to keep up with the modern times. The BBC Japanese service even announced the sale of the clock hands of Big Ben to the first four listeners to contact them and among the first people who radioed in the bid immediately to get such an opportunity was a Japanese seaman, who was sailing in the Atlantic Ocean at the time.
- In the last year of the millennium, BBC Radio 4 startled anybody tuned in to listen its Today program with the new decision of the British Parliament to change the British National anthem from the monopoly-advocating "God Save the Queen" to a Euro Anthem sung in German that used extracts from Beethoven's music. Pupils of a German school in London sang the anthem that was aired. It is said that even the royal family was stunned with the announcement and Prince Charles's office telephoned Radio 4 to ask them for a copy of the new anthem. Though, St. James Palace insisted later that it had not been fooled but was only playing along with the prank.