IT’S no joke that we have all fallen for some pretty stupid jokes over the years.
From the turn of the century, wise-guys have been making up stories that have spread quicker than butter on a hot cross bun – and all in aid of April Fool’s Day.
To celebrate April Fool’s Day, we’ve collected our ten favourite hoaxes.
1) The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree.
The pranksters suggested putting a strip of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hoping for the best.
2) Instant colour TV
But back in Sweden 1962, there was only one channel – broadcast in black and white.
But things were set to change! The station’s technical expert, Kjell Stensson, appeared on the news to announce that, thanks to a new technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to display colour reception.
All they had to do was pull a nylon stocking over their TV screen. Viewers jumped to test the theory… and were left red-faced.
3) Planetary alignment decreases gravity
In 1976, astronomer Patrick Moore announced on BBC Radio 2 that a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was going to occur.
The planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, lessening the Earth’s own gravity.
Moore told his listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment that this planetary alignment occurred, they would experience a strange floating sensation.
By mid morning, BBC2 received hundreds of phone calls from listeners claiming to have felt it.
One woman even reported that she and her eleven friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room.
4) Virgin aliens land
On March 31 1989, thousands of motorists driving on the highway outside London looked up in the air to see a flying saucer descending on to a field.
The police arrived at the scene and one brave officer approached the craft with his truncheon in hand.
When a door in the craft popped open and a small, silver-suited figure emerged, the policeman ran in the opposite direction – from Sir Richard Branson.
The saucer was actually a hot-air balloon that had been specially built by the tycoon to look like a UFO.
His plan was to land the craft in London’s Hyde Park on April 1st, but the wind blew him off course and he was forced to land a day early in the wrong location.
5) Flying penguins
They announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution had captured footage of Adélie penguins.
It even offered a video clip of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet.
Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they “spend the winter basking in the tropical sun.”
6) Bra-vellous hoax
The ‘sparks’ were not hypothetical thanks to the raunchy appearance of the underwear, no – they were real electric sparks.
They suggested the support wire in these bras had been made out of a kind of copper originally designed for use in fire alarms.
When this copper came into contact with nylon and body heat, it produced static electricity which interfered with local television and radio broadcasts.
The chief engineer of British Telecom, upon reading the article, immediately ordered that all his female laboratory employees disclose what type of bra they were wearing.
7) The dogs are all white
The purpose of this, it explained, was to increase road safety by allowing dogs to be seen more easily at night.
8) Apocalypse now?
The Franklin Institute issued a press release stating that the world would end the next day.
The release was picked up by a radio station which broadcast the following message:
“Your worst fears that the world will end are confirmed by astronomers of Franklin Institute, Philadelphia. Scientists predict that the world will end at 3pm tomorrow.
“This is no April Fool joke. Confirmation can be obtained from Wagner Schlesinger, director of the Fels Planetarium of this city.”
Local authorities were flooded with frantic phone calls. The panic only subsided after the Franklin Institute assured people that it had made no such prediction.
The prankster responsible for the press release turned out to be William Castellini – the Institute’s press agent.
He had intended to use the fake release to publicise a lecture at the institute on April 1 entitled “How Will the World End?”
9) Life discovered on Jupiter
Those who logged onto the service were greeted by a news flash announcing that a “Government source reveals signs of life on Jupiter.”
The claim was backed up by planetary biologist Ted Leonsis, AOL’s president.
The story quickly generated over 1,300 messages on AOL. A spokesman for the company later explained that the hoax had been intended as a tribute to Orson Welles’s 1938 Halloween broadcast of the War of the Worlds.
A professor told the BBC how this miraculous technology allowed viewers to smell the aromas produced in the television studio in their own home.
The professor offered a demonstration by cutting some onions and brewing coffee.
A number of viewers called in to say they could smell it through the TV sets.