April Fools through the years

SUFFOLK: Today is April Fool’s Day – but this year The Evening Star has decided to highlight some of our trickeries from the past.

In our 125th birthday celebrations year, we are marking today by looking back on some of the great capers which have filled our news pages on this special day – and hoodwinked many Star readers as part of the fun! Who could ever forget the tremendous tale of the giant rodents and the anaconda snakes lurking in Ipswich’s sewers

Or the plans to introduce triple-decker buses to get more cars off the roads and people on to public transport, or when we “broke” the story of how the Orwell Bridge had been sold to a Russian oligarch because it was due to be replaced by a new structure and a tunnel to ease traffic congestion around Ipswich?

Our annual hoax, a newspaper tradition in which we have proudly played a part, has caught out many people over the years – prompting many e-mails, letters and phone calls from people wanting to have their say on what they thought was a serious news issue.

Radio Suffolk’s breakfast show presenter Mark Murphy is one of those who admits to having been caught out in the past, and having asked his colleagues if the station also had the “story” which was the April Fool.

Our story about the giant rodents and the anacondas caused shivers rather than sniggers.

We said Anglian Water was installing a new flood drain around Ipswich and the world’s largest rodent, the capaybara. which looks like a coypu on steroids, had taken up residence in the pipes and the only way to get rid of them was to release their only known predator – giant anaconda – to gobble them all up.

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The next morning we had a call from an elderly woman asking if it was an April Fool.

“I’m scared of snakes and I’ve been terrified all night,” she said.

“I haven’t been to the toilet since before the Star arrived yesterday afternoon!”

Our tale of crocodiles living in the Orwell after escaping following filming of a TV ad was a bit of a giveaway when you read their handler was Alistair Gator, and the Orwell Bridge clue was the name of the oligarch, Mr Bytya Andov. Just try saying it out loud!

Last year we told you Felixstowe port was planning a light show to attract visitors from other worlds, following a stream of UFO sightings in the Suffolk skies – but we don’t think it fooled too many people.

Several years ago we told readers the port was planning a new container terminal – on the Woodbridge riverside.

The good people of the Suffolk town soon saw through that – we had several calls congratulating us on our spoof. No one seemed to think we had a scoop!

This year we’ve celebrated our glorious April Fool’s past – and who knows if we’ll return to it on future pages of The Evening Star.

n Tell us your best April Fool. E-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk