April Fools' pranks at the BBC

Fake news may be one of the defining phrases of our times, but for many years there has been one date when bogus stories have delighted viewers.

Here is a collection of some of our favourite BBC April Fools pranks. Would you have fallen for any of these hoaxes?


1957 - The Spaghetti Harvest

Panorama reports from Switzerland, where the combination of a mild winter and the virtual disappearance of pests like the spaghetti weevil, has resulted in a bumper spaghetti crop.

This clip is believed to be one of the first televised April Fools pranks.

Some viewers failed to see the funny side and criticised the BBC for airing the item on what is supposed to be a serious factual programme.

Others, however, were so intrigued they wanted to find out where they could purchase their very own spaghetti bush.

1975 - Decimal Time

"It won't come into effect right away. You and I probably won't notice the change until 1984 - or 1985, as it'll be then"

Scene Around Six reporter Richard Ayre reports on the government's decision to begin a phased introduction of decimal time in Northern Ireland.

1976 - Grimond Library

Martin Young reports on the new public library building in Grimond, near Milton Keynes. Rumours abound that the flagship building has been built upside-down, due to a photocopying error. Who is to blame?

1977 - Water Conservation Unit

Residents of Northern Ireland are able to return their unused water directly to the Silent Valley reservoir, all thanks to the Water Conservation Unit.

Remember: Every little drip makes a big drop.

1980 - Revel Biochemicals

Nationwide conducts an in-depth investigation into the activities of a secretive US biochemical company operating out of Hobden House, Hertfordshire. The findings of the investigation are astonishing.

1984 - The Lirpa Loof

That's Life visits London Zoo, to catch a glimpse of their exciting new attraction, a rare Lirpa Loof from the Himalayas.

Among the fascinated onlookers is naturalist David Bellamy, who has dreamed of seeing one of these elusive creatures in the flesh since he first read about them as a child.

1991 - Twin Peaks in Scotland

"A whole new set of characters, whole new place, whole new mood, whole new feeling..."

Dwindling ratings have led to David Lynch's offbeat drama Twin Peaks being cancelled by the ABC network. The auteur - and noted angling enthusiast - is now preparing to move the franchise from Washington to Loch Lomond, and to recast the likes of Kyle MacLachlan and Michael Ontkean with Robbie Coltrane and Rikki Fulton.

1999 - Weather Forecasters' Elbow

"Even senior forecaster Bill Giles has to toe the line"

Following John Kettley's three month layoff after one particularly rigorous point towards Aberdeen, new BBC guidelines ensuring the physical preparedness of weather forecasters have come into effect.

The corporation's policy is one of preventing forecaster's elbow, rather than finding a cure.


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