The First Great Radio Hoax: London, January 16, 1926
Twelve years BEFORE Orson Welles’ infamous War of the Worlds hoax, BBC radio put out a fake news programme of its own. Ronald Knox’s Broadcasting the Barricades
convinced thousands of British listeners that London had been attacked by Communist rioters, Big Ben flattened by mortars, the Savoy Hotel bombed to rubble and a Government minister lynched in the street. The BBC was flooded with anxious calls, provincial mayors dusted off their own cities’ emergency plans and the Royal Navy was told to dispatch a battleship up the Thames. The New York Times
had a jolly good laugh at the Brits’ foolish gullability, smugly heading its own report: “We are safe from such jesting”. Oh, really?