7 stories that weren’t April Fools but could have been

From chocolate Benedict Cumberbatch to Madame Tussauds' One Direction tissue attendant, you could've made these stories up...

You couldn’t make it up. Or at least we didn’t.

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Yep, the following stories would sit proudly alongside many of today’s April Fools offerings (including our own) but they all actually happened…

Downton’s disco comeback

A story about a new series of Downton Abbey set in the 1970s and accompanied by a picture of Lord Grantham PhotoShopped into John Travolta’s flares has April Fool written all over it – if it wasn’t for the fact that it was published on 31st March and that the quotes came from the lips of Downton creator Julian Fellowes himself at a charity event.

“I think in 10 years it could be quite fun, when we have all forgotten about it, if it came back as Downton struggling in the 1970s… We could have all new different situations.”

And a mirror ball instead of a chandelier in the main hall…


Chocolate Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch voted TV’s “dishiest drama actor”: believable. Life-sized Cumberbatch made entirely of chocolate: less so (but then again, those Sherlock fans…)

Yes, when UKTV sent out a press release about a six-foot, 40kg Cumberchoc on April Fools Day, they risked no-one reporting it for fear of it being a wind-up. Then again, you’d have to be a fool not to see how scrummy Mr C is…


Dion Dublin joins Homes Under the Hammer

Don’t get me wrong, I like Dion Dublin and I love Homes Under the Hammer but when I was first told the former Aston Villa footballer would be joining the property show as a presenter, I had to check the date. Turns out Dion has always been a passionate developer and was looking for a new use for his punditry skills.  


Harper Lee publishes second novel

Harper Lee: famous for two things – writing To Kill a Mockingbird; not writing anything else. So when the story broke that the 88-year-old had penned a follow-up, Go Set a Watchman, over 50 years after the original, I had to go back and read it again…


There’s a dedicated tissue attendant at Madame Tussauds’ One Direction exhibit

The news of Zayn Malik’s departure from 1D certainly caused a few tears among fans, so it was an inspired piece of PR when Madame Tussauds installed a member of staff to dispense tissues at the site of its One Direction waxwork exhibit, which has since become a shrine to the band that once was…


James Corden becomes host of The Late Late Show

No offence to James Corden – major kudos in fact – but it’s quite a leap from Lesbian Vampire Hunters to The Late Late Show. The long-running US talk show is a big big deal in America so Corden getting the gig is a serious coup – one Piers Morgan may have had difficulty getting his head round…


Russell Crowe is not Australian

He’s been voted one of Australia’s 50 National Treasures, had his face on a stamp and most of us think he is Australian but Russell Crowe is actually a Kiwi, and despite having lived in Oz for 38 years, can’t persuade them to let him become an Australian citizen.

“I was born in New Zealand but I’ve been in Australia since 1968. As a kid, I handed out ‘how to vote’ cards to help elect the prime minister,” he told Radio Times. “They changed the law for New Zealanders and no matter how long you’d been in the country, if you weren’t in Australia for the majority of 2000 to 2002… you can’t become a citizen.”

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To (tenuously) paraphrase one of Crowe’s greatest films: “The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The New Zealander who can’t become an Australian…”