Snog in


Every Guardian April Fool's Day prank listed since 1974

If you believed everything we published on April 1, you'd think that there really was an island called San Serriffe, we were printing a rival to Hello (called Ciao!) and that we were going to publish exclusively on Twitter. See what we've made up



Have you ever fancied a visit to the exotic island of San Serriffe? The 1977 hoax. Click image to see more

From television revealing that spaghetti grows in trees to pictures of the Loch Ness monster, the tradition of April Fool's' Day stories in the media has a long and bizarre history.

Newspaper hoaxes first began to appear in the early 19th century, mainly in America. One of the very first was a series of New York Sun articles in 1835 about life on the moon, supposedly reprinted from the Edinburgh Journal of Science. Another involved the Boston Post announcing that at a cavern of gold and jewels had been found on Boston common, leading to hundreds of readers setting out in the rain in search of the treasure.

British publications were rather less inclined towards to such frolics but after the BBC's spaghetti harvest hoax of 1957, Fleet Street began to lighten up and carry more daring jokes.

The spoof though, by which all others are measured is the Guardian's 1977 San Serriffe travel guide in, a seven-page travel supplement to a non-existent island which was described throughout using an obscure vocabulary composed entirely of printing terms. The success of this hoax is widely credited with inspiring the British media's enthusiasm for April the first jokes in subsequent years.

San Serriffe, 1977

The Guardian has revisited the island at least twice since 1977, as well as carrying spoofs ranging from a Men's page to the news of Prince Charles becoming countryside tsar. There was also 1990's Guardian for Sunday. Published on 31 March 1990, with the giveaway dateline Sunday 1 April 1990, the 36-page newsprint tabloid came two months after the launch of the Independent on Sunday. As Ian Mayes, former readers' editor of the Guardian and currently writing the third volume of the official history of the paper explains:

On the front page of the Guardian for Sunday, there was an exclusive story revealing that Mrs Thatcher was putting her family home in Dulwich on the market since she had decided to reside permanently in Downing Street, not an unimaginable event in 1990. 'Number Ten and Chequers are all the homes we have need of,' she was quoted as saying. Another feature was Salman Rushdie on 'A room of my own' – taking its name from a series in the Observer, which the Guardian did not yet own. Rushdie, who had been in hiding for just over a year, since the fatwa of February 1989, described a room in a clapperboard [sic, there was no corrections column then] building in the Falklands Islands, somewhere in the area of Goose Green. The photograph showed an orange 'neighbourhood watch' sticker in the window.

The books pages reflected the not uncommon view that such pages were customarily in the hands of a small elite. Martin Amis reviewed Margaret Drabble; Margaret Drabble reviewed Blake Morrison; Blake Morrison reviewed Julian Barnes; Julian Barnes reviewed Martin Amis … and so on. The impending publication of the Guardian for Sunday had been reported po-faced as a real event in the trade press, and champagne now had to be dispatched to all the trade reporters who had been taken in. As a tour de force it ranked with the invention of the island of San Serriffe whose discovery was announced in the Guardian on 1 April 1977

We've compiled a list of Guardian and Observer April Fools stories going back to 1974. However, we're missing a few so please let us know if you can remember others.

For more April foolery see Martin Wainwright's The Guardian Book of April Fool's Day. See also the GNM education centre's site.

Guardian April Fool's Day stories listed


1-Apr-1974. Guardian Minimal genius Felix de Garcia, a neglected, unsuccesful artist Link

1-Apr-1977. Guardian San Serriffe The leader's rise to power in San Serriffe Link

1-Apr-1977. Guardian   San Serriffean tourism Link

1-Apr-1978. Guardian San Serrife - the sequel parody of other papers' coverage of San Serriffe Link

1-Apr-1979. Observer 'Sky Dot' New travel scheme shrinking people to the size of a full-stop. Done with Freddie Laker  

1-Apr-1981. Guardian Scientists discovered how to control the weather Various stories on supposed development by United Kingdom Weather Authority of a machine to control the weather - front page story Link

1-Apr-1981. Guardian   Detailed story Link

1-Apr-1984. Observer Channel Sex - a new sex film channel Front page story from Pendennis on plans for a new sex channel, registered to Panama-Alien Porn SA. Link

1-Apr-1985. Guardian Guardian Gourmet Club A chance for Guardian readers to save money and win cash prizes based on calorific counters Link

1-Apr-1985. Guardian   How the game works Link

1-Apr-1985. Guardian   Press launch Link

1-Apr-1987. Guardian 18th century photograph discovered A photograph found in a cave in Japan is believed to have been taken by rebel scientist Yorimoto Hishida in the 18th century Link

1-Apr-1987. Guardian   An ad is placed on page 3 directing readers to an exhibition in London Link

1-Apr-1988. Guardian Robert Maxwell's secret Scottish roots and spy work Alan Rusbridger reviews Liechtenstein's ace investigative reporter Kerlmann Kneifer's new biography of Robert Maxwell: A Secret Life Link

1-Apr-1988. Guardian   Review Link

1-Apr-1990. Observer Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons Announced that Welles' film had been re- assembled and being shown at the NFT Link

31-Mar-1990. Guardian Guardian for Sunday (published on a Saturday) A 36-page supplement Link

1-Apr-1991. Guardian Profile of David Humphrey John Major's oldest friend and newest guru, owner of 31 cardigans Link

1-Apr-1992. Guardian The Guardian Men's page "Out of the ashes of feminism and post-feminism rises a different sort of page" Link

1-Apr-1992. Guardian   Dates for the discerning man's diary Link

1-Apr-1992. Guardian   An anti-feminist writes Link

1-Apr-1993. Guardian Ciao! The magazine that puts the 'in' into intellectual Link

1-Apr-1994. Guardian Cabinet Makers Drawing on the craze for Fantasy Football etc, the Guardian creates a fantasy government equivalent, inviting readers to build their own cabinet Link

1-Apr-1994. Guardian   The rules of the game Link

1-Apr-1994. Guardian   The registration form, which asks readers who they voted for in the '92 election, and why Link

1-Apr-1995. Guardian Liz Hurley - tired of lingerie, tired of life Column supposedly written by Liz Hurley Link

1-Apr-1996. Guardian The Queen sets up her own website   Link

1-Apr-1997. Guardian Gnome snatchers return Garden Gnome Liberation Front announce a spring time offensive Link

1-Apr-1999. Guardian Return to San Serrife   Link

1-Apr-2002. Guardian Interview with Harmony Cousins   Link

1-Apr-2004. Guardian Peter Mandelson to be the new BBC Chairman Guardian announces that Peter Mandelson to be new Chairman of the BBC Link

1-Apr-2005. Guardian Blair to make Prince Charles "countryside tsar"   Link

1-Apr-2006. Guardian Coldplay writes song for Cameron Coldplay's Chris Martin supporting David Cameron with a special record Link

1-Apr-2007. Observer Tony Blair to star in The Crucible Prime Minister agrees to take role in The Crucible after an approach from his friend Kevin Spacey Link

1-Apr-2008. Guardian Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to give Britain style lessons Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has been appointed by Gordon Brown to lead a government initiative to inject style and glamour into national life Link

1-Apr-2009. Guardian Twitter switch for Guardian The Guardian announces that it will become the first newspaper in the world to be published exclusively via Twitter Link

1-Apr-2010. Guardian 'Step outside posh boy' Gordon Brown's new campaign poster Link

1-Apr-2011. Guardian Guardian turns pro-monarchy Leader article Link

1-Apr-2011. Guardian   Royal Wedding live blog Link

by on:

1st April 2012

More Reviews


7th October 2013

On Friday 4th and Saturday 5th October, Migrations in partnership with Pontio presented Bodies in Urban Spaces, a travelling performance rediscovering the urban spaces of Bangor, Gwynedd.

The original creation of Austria’s Willie Dorner, Bodies in Urban Spaces has become a worldwide sensation. With successful tours to Paris, Vienna, Moscow, Philadelphia, Montreal and Seoul. In Bangor, over the two days,  over a thousand people experienced the performance.

Bodies in Urban…

read more

Breathe in! A tight fit in Bangor's nooks and crannies.

6th October 2013

How did they do that
How did they do that?!
Keith Morris

A worldwide sensation which has toured Paris, Vienna and Moscow is now quite literally squeezed into Bangor.

Bodies in Urban Spaces aimed to help people experience urban architecture in a  new and unique way –  by squeezing into parts  of the city itself.

Keith Morris

Around The World in Eighty Waves: 'Peter Kraus - RIP' by Robert Pearson

23rd September 2013

Pete Kraus Surfing

I first met Peter Kraus (who you see here tearing it up back in the day) walking down the street in the early eighties. At the time he was our milkman, and because he was keen to get his round finished so he could get on with one of his adventures later in the day he…

read more

Fireworks – Sarah Louise Owen (single)

9th April 2013

I’m not sure quite when it happened but pop music has taken a real turn for the worse over the last decade.  It is now created by committee, teams of writers and producers undertaking market research to engineer the most marketable track. It is about spending millions on a video that shows scantily clad clothes horses writhing unconvincingly…

read more

What a Waste

20th February 2013

Midway - a film by Chris Jordan

Trailer Review

you know i'm pretty optimistic much of the time, but occasionally i sink. And seeing this was one of those moments. aside from the impacts of global warming / climate change and the affects that is and will continue to have on us (humans) the environment that sustains us all and the…

read more

Sarah Louise Owen New Album 'Dreamcatcher' - Bluesbunny review

4th November 2012

Dream Catcher CD CoverArtist: Sarah Louise Owen

Album: Dream Catcher

Release Date: 25th November 2012

The female voice is a wondrous thing in my opinion. It can make more of even the most mundane lyrics than you could reasonably expect. Not that any of the lyrics on “Dream Catcher” are mundane – far from it – but Sarah Louise Owen…

read more

One Human Seven Hurdles. Collaboration with Jelili Atiku

23rd September 2012

On the 12th August, 2012, the fantastic Jelili Atiku came to visit TOGYG, the artist group run by Bangor Greadigol, based at The Old Goodsyard, Treborth.  Jelili inspired us all with his enthusiasm and pulled performance pieces from even the most reticent of us. A true collaboration, where each artist expressed their individuality while still remaining but one part of a group.

Andrew Agace…

read more

Page: More reviews

Random Reviews