From across the country, viewers called in saying they could smell the odors. But the BBC revealed soon after that it was all an April Fool's hoax.
In 2007, the BBC revived the joke for the 21st century when it announced "sniff-screen technology" on its Web site.
The BBC is hardly the only media company to use its platform for pranking. In April 1999, the business and technology magazine Red Herring published an article about new technology that would let people compose and send e-mail telepathically.
With the technology, "users can compose an e-mail of up to 240 characters through dictation or mental visualization -- and then transmit the message telepathically to an e-mail address that they similarly either dictate or think."
The article said users had to wear a small hearing aidlike device and that a company called Tidal Wave Communications planned to launch the new technology.
The reporter ended the story with a reputed anecdote about the Estonian computer genius behind Tidal Wave:
"When asked how large the telepathic communications market may grow, Mr. Maldini falls silent. He stares vacantly for several moments out his office window and then says, "I just sent you an e-mail with my answer."
Upon returning to our office, we find the response waiting: "It's going to be huge," reads the e-mail. "Simply huge."
According to MuseumofHoaxes.com, Red Herring received many letters from readers admitting that they had fallen for the trick.
Of course, not all computer-generated jokes require a high degree of expertise. "Professional" pranksters say technology has made it easier for anyone to have a bit of April Fool's Day fun.
"[Technology] has opened up its own world. It's created a lot more opportunity," said one of the authors of the Ultimate Office Prank Book. The book is due out April 18, and the authors behind the pseudonym Mae B. Fired asked to keep their identities confidential.
In case you're in need of some creative inspiration, some of their favorite tricks include:
-- Sticking a piece of tape underneath a rollerball mouse so that it doesn't track.
-- Going into a target's Control Panel and changing the mouse speed to make it painfully slow to move the cursor across the screen.
-- Using the AutoCorrect Option (in Microsoft Word) to replace the name of the target with something else (Village Idiot, Britney Spears, etc.) so that whenever they type in their name, your new entry appears.
-- Changing the settings under Internet Options in the Control Panel so that the target's browser automatically loads a different home page than what they have selected. (For example, Yahoo instead of Google or that pesky video of Rick Astley …).