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10 amazingly funny April Fool’s headlines

The U.K. has woken up to all manner of jokes, lies, mistruths and wool-pulling claims in the press and media this morning. A UFO will probably have been sighted over London, as new photos of the Loch Ness Monster are made public, and someone, somewhere, makes some completely illogical scientific breakthrough.

April Fool’s Day has always been a lot of fun when it comes to television, radio, websites and newspapers. Over the years there have been some audacious claims that simply cannot be true, all designed to celebrate 1st April in all its tomfooling glory. Here are ten of the best completely fabricated and truly ridiculous headlines we’ve come across during what might have been the funniest research task in the history of Smoking Gun PR. So sit back and enjoy these amazingly funny April Fool’s headlines.
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Thatcher and Gorbachev, sitting in a tree (or park)

It’s 1987, and business as usual in the Cold War. Relations between Britain and the USSR are strained, so imagine the shock when images surfaced of Margaret Thatcher and Russian premiere Mikhail Gorbachev flirting, fondling and kissing, in Moscow’s Gorky Park. The Daily Mirror broke the ‘story’, thanks to some clever use of lookalikes and compelling ‘quotes’.

New weather machine brings joy to Britons 

A good proportion of The Guardian on 1st April 1981 was dedicated to a revolutionary invention. The Pershore Weather Machine was capable of ‘ordering in’ warm, sunny conditions for Britain, whilst sending out whatever the boffins behind it fancied giving to mainland Europe. The only drawback being the ‘minor side effect’ of a ten or 12ft rise in sea levels, and the fact  it was a massive fib.

Thermal ties save companies millions 

1985- ITN News reports the British Department of Energy has invented a new thermally insulated tie. Following no-doubt extensive ‘research’ revealing a significant amount of human heat loss occurs through the front of the chest, the new garment will help people stay warm and save firms a potential £5million on annual bills. A video was created, with the BDE involved, but Conservative MP Anthony Beaumont-Dark didn’t find it funny “[these pranks are] OK for music halls, but we do not expect this type of thing from government departments.???

End of the world (again)

Whilst most people aren’t amused by the prospect of armageddon, William Castellini, then-press officer at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, begs to differ. Or he did in 1940, when a release was issued on 1st April claiming scientists had discovered the end of the world was coming at 3PM the following day. Thousands panicked, local authorities were flooded with calls, and, unsurprisingly, the perpetrator of the prank was swiftly dismissed from his post.

Why doesn’t America read anymore? 

This was the question National Public Radio asked in an article headline on its own Facebook page, 1st April 2014. Comments piled up under the post, proving the relevancy of the joke- those clicking found a page that said: “We sometimes get the sense that some people are commenting on NPR stories that they haven’t actually read. If you are reading this, please like this post and do not comment on it. Then let’s see what people have to say about this ‘story.'”

Nobody messes with Big Ben 

In 1980 everyone was looking to the future. Computers and Casio watches were in, and Big Ben was set to go all-digital, replacing the old numbers and arms with a new screen showing the time. BBC’s World Service ran a segment including nostalgic ‘listener’ memories, and offered the ‘defunct’ hands as prizes for the first four people to phone in. Fury erupted, and the days following 1st April were spent issuing apologies for the trick.

Metric Time 

According to Australia’s This Day Tonight show, on 1st April 1970 the country’s government confirmed that everyone Down Under would soon be operating on Metric Time- meaning going forward there would be 100 seconds per minute, 100 minutes per hour, and 20 hours per day. Footage showed presenters posing with the new clocks, and Adelaide Town Hall sporting a 10-hour metric face. Nonsense, of course, US airline WestJet borrowed the idea for April Fool’s 2015.

Des Lynam, the consummate pro

1st April 1989, and during a broadcast of BBC sports show Grandstand Des Lynam ‘somehow’ managed to keep his cool and continue to deliver headlines whilst a fight broke out in the studio behind him. As the episode continued, the consummate pro apologised for the fracas, but then went on to show a slow motion replay of the scrap, making for a classic moment in British TV history.

Instant colour TV 

In 1962, Sweden’s only TV station, SVT, ran a segment on a new technological breakthrough. Viewers just needed to pull a nylon stocking over their television screen, and the mesh would impact on the light in such a way they would suddenly have colour TV. Thousands were taken in by the rouse, presumably resulting in a rush for new stockings to replace those ruined on 1st April. Coincidentally, colour broadcasts began in Sweden on 1st April, 1970- no joke.

Swiss spaghetti harvest 

Another BBC triumph, and widely regarded as the funniest April Fool ever. On 1st April, 1957, Panorama focussed on news that Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop thanks to a mild winter and the elimination of the cursed spaghetti weevil. The broadcaster was inundated with queries on how Britons could grow their own at home, to which one response became standard: “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.???
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