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ExpandMyMind

The end of prank calls?

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The death of the nurse Jacintha Saldanha has put the business of hoax calls under the spotlight. Where is the line between humour and cruelty?

Hoax calls - where someone winds up a friend or colleague by pretending to be their boss or an important person - are almost as old as the telephone itself.

They have been a staple of TV and radio entertainment programmes since the 1950s when American comedians Steve Allen and Johnny Carson began making them on the Tonight show.

There are numerous examples of rich and powerful people being hoaxed. The Queen in 1995 spent 17 minutes talking to a man she thought was the prime minister of Canada. It was actually Pierre Brassard, a Canadian radio presenter and impressionist.

In 1998, Prime Minister Tony Blair took a call from a man claiming to be William Hague, leader of the Opposition. He immediately realised it was a hoax but took it in good humour. It was DJ Steve Penk's idea to try and get past the Downing Street switchboard and the caller was impressionist Jon Culshaw.

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett in 2006 thought she was taking a call from Chancellor Gordon Brown. It was actually impressionist Rory Bremner.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro unleashed a volley of abuse after being hoaxed in 2004 by a Miami radio station presenter pretending to be Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20664854

Some of the prank calls made me laugh. Would love to have heard the one with the Queen :D

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I think prank calls will always be around, this issue will settle down eventually.

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this has all been an incredibly hysterical over-reaction hasn't it. To blame that nurse's suicide on a prank call from a radio station is just absurd. I don't even know what this prank call that was supposedly put through to William or kate or whoever it was was even about; I'd hardly have thought there'd have been anything remotely cruel about it. Just listen to the pompousness of the rent-an-outraged-quote MPs spotting an opportunity to get their names in the Media:

"Conservative MP David Amess was one of those duped by satirist Chris Morris's Brass Eye, in a spoof documentary warning about the dangers of a fictional drug nicknamed "cake".

There is no place for hoaxing, he says.

"I totally condemn it. I could not see anything funny about a girl losing her life because of drugs."

The same is true today of the Australian DJs calling a hospital where a pregnant woman is being treated, he says. "What's funny about it? It's pathetic."

Galloway says he wouldn't have gone near the Australian prank. It would have "tied up a hospital phone line", he argues, and it would have felt wrong to send up a pregnant woman, especially when the duchess was unwell."

oh, get over yourselves.

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Apparently it happens a lot here in the US and on an equally large scale.

I think it's deplorable. There's nothing funny about any of it.

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Well, with all that levinson inquiry going on recently I wouldn't be surprised if there were a few people out there who are keeping this story going for their own personal agenda.

Harsh new guidelines for journalists anyone?

What is it that David Icke says? Problem, Reaction, Solution!

Still think the lawyers who OK'd this prank to be aired are the ones who should be taking the flak, and not the DJ's!

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this has all been an incredibly hysterical over-reaction hasn't it. To blame that nurse's suicide on a prank call from a radio station is just absurd.

Incredible, hysterical, absurd.

Couldn't have picked three better words to sum up the reaction myself.

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Apparently it happens a lot here in the US and on an equally large scale.

I think it's deplorable. There's nothing funny about any of it.

No? Are you sure? Did you ever hear this prank call from the Masked Avengers?

LINK - The Masked Avengers' prank on Sarah Palin

I thought that was pretty funny.

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I normally find prank calls funny, but only the ones you can clearly see are harmless fun, and they remain just that... I am guilty of a few prank calls myself, but they were harmless and my friends got to prank me, we had fun...We used to hold little contests to see who can be tricked the most :D

I don't like the ones that clearly can lead to someone getting fired, or worse situations arising from them..

Edited by Beckys_Mom
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