Shakespeare is April Fool FrenchmanViews on BG | April 1, 2010, Thursday // 17:50| views
Clowns fool around during a celebration of April Fool's Day in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, 1 April 2010. Photo by EPA/BGNES
The Montreal Gazette
William Shakespeare was French, Google has changed its name to "Topeka" and Barack Obama ordered a takeaway from Indonesia -- at least that's what the world media wants us to believe.
Newspapers and broadcasters teased audiences with a string of mostly good-humoured April Fool's Day stunts Thursday, with the only angry response coming when a hoax radio interview suggested that Bulgaria should unilaterally adopt the euro.
In a play on old Anglo-French rivalries, the BBC spun a yarn about how Shakespeare, Britain's most famous writer, could in fact be French through his mother Mary Arden, saying her name was in fact Mary Ardennes.
It even recruited former French culture minister Jack Lang to play along with the "discovery". "Of course, we have Racine and Moliere but we will make some room for him in our national pantheon of literature," he said.
The Guardian said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had challenged opposition leader David Cameron to an election fistfight and printed a fake poster showing a scowling Brown next to the phrase: "Step outside posh boy".
The story was penned by one Olaf Priol - an anagram of "April Fool."
The Sun tabloid declared it had created the world's first flavoured page, next to a white square with the instruction: "Lick here", while the Daily Mail said the Automobile Association had given staff jet-packs to fly over traffic jams.
Internet giant Google created its own April Fool's prank, saying it had officially changed its name to "Topeka" - in honour of the Kansas state capital which had renamed itself "Google" in a recent promotion.
"Google has officially changed our name to Topeka," Google chief executive Eric Schmidt said in the company blog.
In Australia, an elaborate hoax by the Sydney Morning Herald and ABC radio said football star David Beckham has been lured to join the country's World Cup campaign by a basket of fruit and a "get well soon" card after a recent injury.
With Pope Benedict XVI in the news over paedophile priest scandals rocking the Catholic Church, French religious news website I-medias said the Vatican was preparing to launch its own airline.
It said the carrier would would be called "Vatican Air" after officials ruled out the names "Angels Airlines" and "RatzingAir" - a reference to the pope's former name, Joseph Ratzinger.
Indonesia's Bali Times said the US President Obama had ordered traditional fare from the country where he lived as a child after having to defer a visit due to a battle over domestic healthcare.
It included a made-up quote from White House spokesman Robert Gibbs that Obama "decided to personally call up a restaurant in Bali and order some local food."
But in Bulgaria, a radio interview with a hoax IMF expert suggesting that Bulgaria should ditch its currency, the lev, in favour of the euro sparked complaints.
"We do not appreciate the misuse of the name of the IMF," IMF regional resident representative Tonny Lybek said after the Darik radio stunt. The Bulgarian National Bank said the joke was "dangerous" at a time of economic woe.
Jokes about immigration proved more popular in Europe.
Norway's Telemarksavisa reported that an influx of Somali immigrants to the south of the country was so heavy that all road signs would now be written in Norwegian and Somali.
Germany's Der Tagesspiegel took a similar tack just days after Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Turkey, saying that a German-Turkish working group and Berlin authorities were planning to put up bilingual road signs.
In Sweden, the free Metro newspaper said that electronic chips had been placed beneath the skin of all Swedes vaccinated against H1N1 flu which would give them ticketless access to Stockholm's subway system.
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