Don't be an April Fool

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 April, 2007, 12:00am

Newspapers and other news providers around the world have come up with some ingenious April Fool's Day pranks to fool gullible audiences.

Here are some of the most famous - and infamous - tricks from over the years.

1957: BBC news show Panorama

The show announced that Swiss spaghetti farmers were enjoying a bumper harvest because of a relatively mild winter and the elimination of the spaghetti weevil, a pest which supposedly attacked spaghetti trees.

It then showed footage of Swiss farmers picking strands of spaghetti from trees.

A large number of viewers - for whom spaghetti was still an exotic food - were fooled by the show, and many wanted to know how to grow their own spaghetti trees.

In response to their queries, the BBC suggested viewers 'place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best'.

1980: BBC radio news

Listeners were informed that Big Ben, a 100-metre-tall clock tower and one of London's best-known landmarks, would be changed to a digital clock in order to keep up with the times.

The station's audience strongly protested the move.

1982: South China Morning Post

Hongkongers need no longer fear water shortages in the city, because scientists had found a solution, the Post reported.

By electrifying overhead clouds with an antenna, all of the water contained in them could be drained off.

The government was said to have approved the project, despite a possible negative impact on property values in The Peak area.

A weather satellite was to be positioned over India to attract even more clouds.

Packets of powdered water, which would produce 10 pints of water when you added just one pint, would also be distributed.

1999: Straits Times

As the millennium drew to a close, people around the world were panicking about the Millennium Bug. This potential technological catastrophe threatened to affect everything from computers to microwaves.

The biggest names in computer technology grappled with the problem, trying to find a way to 'trick' computers into recognising the millennium and not resetting dates to 1900.

The problem seemed nearly impossible to solve.

But a Singaporean student was said to have devised a cheap computer programme that would eliminate the bug and its consequences.

His family were reported to be looking for financial partners.

But nobody could find the boy. After April 1, the media and would-be investors finally worked out that it was a hoax.

2004: Sydney Morning Herald

It was reported that yum cha trolleys in Chinese restaurants would have to display an 'L' plate under new legislation.

The law was proposed due to frequent 'dangerous trolley usage' in Chinese restaurants.

Food cart operators would have to complete an instruction course under the new legislation.

They would then have to display an 'L' - Learner's - plate on their food carts for six months before being granted a full licence.

2005: Young Post

New micro memory chips, which would ensure students got straight As, caused a furore in the run-up to the 2005 HKCEE.

The chips, implanted into a student's brain in a relatively simple operation, would ensure that candidates would able to answer HKCEE questions with 100 per cent accuracy. Chips would be available for each HKCEE subject.

The implant procedure cost HK$5,000 and each chip sold for HK$2,000. A student would need one chip per subject.

Students buying more than one chip would be offered special deals, with eight, nine and 10 subjects at HK$18,000, HK$20,000 and HK$22,000 respectively.

A doctor, who preferred to remain anonymous, had allegedly performed the implant on more than 20 students.

He said the surgery was simple and safe: 'We give a general anaesthetic, so there's no pain. We make a small insertion just above the ear and implant the chip receiver, which is wired to the brain.'

After the story was published, local students complained to the Young Post saying it was unfair to poorer students who could not afford the memory chips.