This is the background story to how BBC's Panorama programme deceived Britain on 1 April 1957.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1. What does BBC’s Panorama deal with?
2. When was it broadcast?
3. What was the budget Michale Peacock gave to Charles Eager?
4. How had reporter Richard Dimbleby earned his reputation?
5. What metaphor did they use in the film?
6. Why was the spaghetti flexible?
7. Who did they tell about the prank?
8. What did the Director-General say to his wife?
9. How did the Panorama team feel afterwards?
I was anything, producing a very important programme in the BBC called Panorama. Panorama was a major vehicle for current affairs coverage of the major stories of the day.
We had noted in an editorial meeting that April 1st was on a Monday, and Monday was our transmission day. A week or so later Charles Eager, who was a freelance cameraman, came into the office and they pitched the idea of the spaghetti harvest being an April Fool’s joke. I gave Charles a budget of a hundred pounds and then sent him off.
It isn't only in Britain that spring, this year, has taken everyone by surprise. The past winter, one of the mildest in living memory, has had its effect in other ways as well. Most important of all, it's resulted in an exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop.
When the writer’s came back, it was obvious that we had a wonderful film in the making and that we should treat it as a newsreel. The anchor man for Panorama was Richard Dimbleby. Richard was a most respected reporter. He’d earned his reputation as a war correspondent. He knew perfectly well we were using his authority to make the joke work. He loved the idea and then went at it with relic, I’ll put it that way.
Spaghetti cultivation here in Switzerland is not, of course, carried out on anything like the tremendous scale of the Italian industry.
David Wheeler, who wrote it, had been clever enough to use the wine harvest as a metaphor. This gave to those who knew what we were up to a coat-hanger, as it were, to hang their understanding and enjoyment of the film and for those who didn't know anything about spaghetti harvest, it made it more, more credible.
Many of you, I am sure, will have seen pictures of the vast spaghetti plantations in the Po valley. For the Swiss, however, it tends to be more of a family affair.
Spaghetti had been cooked so it was flexible and where they wouldn't stick, they use a bit of cello tape.
Another reason why this may be a bumper year lies in the virtual disappearance of the spaghetti weevil, the tiny creature whose depredations have caused much concern in the past.
We realized that if we told even one person, like my boss, the last thing we wanted was to have the idea getting to the press, so we told nobody.
Many people are often puzzled by the fact that spaghetti is produced at such uniform length. But this is the result of many years of patient endeavour by plant breeders who've succeeded in producing the perfect spaghetti. For those who love this dish, there is nothing like real home-grown spaghetti.
At the end of the item, Richard spoke to camera, said that's all from Panorama this April 1st 1957. I learned that the Director-General had said to his wife, I didn’t know spaghetti grew on trees, and he started to reach for his encyclopaedia, and his wife said, don’t be a fool, of course it doesn’t.
Overall, I mean the press loved the story. There was a huge reaction. Some couldn't understand what was going on. Others loved it. Others hated it for misleading the nation. This is why it worked so well. We all felt very pleased with ourselves, of course.
1 current affairs
2 on Mondays
4 as a war correspondent
5 the wine harvest
6 because it had been cooked
8 I didn’t know spaghetti grew on trees
9 pleased with themselves