‘Downton Abbey’ filming in Hong Kong? The best April Fools gags that made the news
The cast of Downton Abbey are in town to record a Wan Chai episode of the period drama. And when they pop in to 7-Eleven to buy some wine they’ll be consulting the convenience store’s new French sommeliers, who are all also fluent in Putonghua.
That’s what some of Hong Kong’s media would have had you believe this April Fool’s Day.
Around the world, media and other April Fool hoaxes offered equally cheeky humour.
HK Magazine asked its readers to “Head to the corner of Lockhart Road and Luard Road for a glimpse of the Dowager Countess, Barrow and co.”
Website and print magazine Wine Times HK, best known for its forthright opinions on the local wine scene, managed to cram three issues into one hoax.
In a humorous sideswipe at the large number of new French arrivals on the F&B scene, the number of mainland tourists in the city and the struggle for custom between Lan Kwai Fong bars and convenience stores, Wine Times claimed that 7-Eleven would be recruiting French sommeliers who speak Putonghua to advise mainland customers.
“The stores have had great success recently with their sales of alcohol and the group is looking to take advantage of the increased interest in wine. The vast majority of people who buy wines in 7-Eleven stores are French expatriates and mainland China tourists with both demographics buying cheap wines in areas such as Lan Kwai Fong, Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town,” a spokesperson for the convenience store is unlikely to have said.
It was not only the media who were in on the act. British bootwear brand Hunter unveiled its new footwear collection for dogs – mini waterproof boots to protect their feet in wet weather.
“But before you roll your eyes, according to the brand’s archives, Hunter has a history of designing boots for animals dating back to the late 1800s, when Hunter developed waterproof poultice boots for horses to protect their hooves when injured,” was the almost convincing background information in the accompanying PR bumpf.
Australian news consumers were first in line to sort the fake form the true stories this morning. In the Northern Territories, NT News told its readers that off-road vehicles were banned from driving on roads as, “For too long, roads have been clogged by four-wheel-drives in pristine condition.”
The country’s Daily Telegraph reported that radio host Jackie O was pranked by her pregnant PA, who used a balloon of water to convince her boss that her waters had broken.
Apparently real tears ensued when the joke was revealed.
Offerings elsewhere also dealt with weighty issues. The Economist Expresso suggested that Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko had offered to settle the tensions between his country and Russia via single combat.
“Mr Putin’s spokesman has hinted he is amenable, providing the discipline is judo and that one of his associates gets the contract to build the venue,” asserted the heavyweight business weekly.
With a photograph apparently showing Jeremy Clarkson next to its editor Alan Rusbridger, the recent author of a book on learning to play the piano,The Guardian boldly claimed that the sacked BBC motoring journalist was joining its campaign for disinvestment in fossil fuel.
Correspondent Daisy Pofallor said that Clarkson, not previously known for his advocacy of green issues, had told her of his change of heart in a pub near his Chipping Norton home.
“But there comes a time when a man’s got to ask himself what he really stands for. And for me, that’s sustainable energy, traffic calming and an end to xenophobia and prejudice,” Clarkson was not entirely convincingly quoted as saying.
The newspaper’s most famous previous April Fool’s joke was an entire supplement devoted to describing the islands of San Serriffe, better known as the name of a typeface.
Britain’s Daily Telegraph travel page reported that authorities in Pisa, Italy, are hoping that wealthy tourists will pay at least 20,000 euros (HK$167,000) a night to stay in a luxury hotel – to be built in the city’s famous leaning tower.
“A local carpenter has even offered to create special beds with legs of varying lengths to help combat the slopes for the comfort of guests,” the report claims.
Local architect “Lena Lotta” is said to be outraged while local tour guide, “Mia Falova” is disgusted that the tower is being handed to a handful of rich people.
Gay newspaper Pink News claims that Britain’s deputy prime minister has joined dating apps like Grindr so he can “connect with the voting public”. A source close to the politician may have said, “Nick has gone for a really hands-on approach – and will be replying to all of the messages personally, no matter how raunchy.”
Politicians have not been shy about pranking their voting public. “An Onion A Day Keeps the Doctor Away” was the unappetising message on Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten’s Facebook page.
“Research suggests that not only does eating raw onions ward off disease, it has been shown to make you up to 3 per cent more popular,” the status update says.
In the US, conservative politician and former Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann shared her favourite April Fool prank on YouTube. Tie a rubber band round a tap the right way and you can soak your family members when they use it. No doubt much hilarity ensues.