1989
1989

Grandstand's Newsroom Brawl

Viewers of the BBC Sports Show Grandstand thought that tensions among BBC employees must have reached a breaking point when, as presenter Desmond Lynam talked about upcoming events the program was going to be covering, a fight broke out behind him in the newsroom. As the fight escalated, Lynam acted like a consummate professional, calmly continuing to discuss the news and assuring the audience that,

We'll continue to do our best to cover sport in the way that you like, backed up by our highly professional team.

Later in the show, Lyman noted that viewers may have seen a bit of an altercation behind him and apologized for this. But then he proceeded to show an instant, slow-motion replay of the fight. Only after the replay was the joke revealed, as the newsroom brawlers were shown standing together, holding a sign that read April Fool. The segment is widely considered to be a classic moment in TV sports reporting.

Space Needle Collapses

Seattle's Almost Live comedy show started their program with a news flash: the Seattle Space Needle had collapsed. A reporter presented the news, and then several shots of the Space Needle lying on its side in a pile of rubble were shown. The show's host, John Keister, appeared after a commercial break and assured viewers the announcement had only been a joke. Nevertheless, thousands of people were fooled. Staff at the Space Needle reported receiving over 700 calls from concerned viewers, and 911 lines jammed from the sudden rush of calls from people seeking more information. The false report remains infamous in Seattle to this day.

UFO Lands in London

Thousands of motorists driving on the highway outside London looked up in the air to see a glowing flying saucer descending on their city. Many of them pulled to the side of the road to watch the bizarre craft float through the air. The saucer finally landed in a field on the outskirts of London where local residents immediately called the police to warn them of an alien invasion. Soon the police arrived on the scene, and one brave officer approached the craft with his truncheon extended before him. When a door in the craft popped open, and a small, silver-suited figure emerged, the policeman ran in the opposite direction. The saucer turned out to be a hot-air balloon that had been specially built to look like a UFO by Richard Branson, the 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records. The stunt combined his passion for ballooning with his love of pranks. His plan was to land the craft in London's Hyde Park on April 1. Unfortunately, the wind blew him off course, and he was forced to land a day early in the wrong location.