Natalie Haynes is right: it’s getting ever harder to work out what the April Fools stories are in the news these days. Waking up to the Today programme this morning, the only story I thought looked like an obvious candidate was this one, but c’mon, re-organisation of local government? Surely that’s too tedious to be a joke? So presumably then, it’s Alan Shearer becoming Newcastle manager? Well, if so I hope the BBC are ready to pay a lot of Magpies’ therapy bills.
I actually thought I’d nailed it in, of all places, the Times TV section. Entitled BBC's black, high-kicking Friar Tuck annoys historians it talks about the new approach to Robin Hood: having Friar Tuck as an African martial-arts expert. It’s a bit of a twofer really: very few sub-Saharan Africans in 12th century England. Not much Christianity south of the Sahara then either. Not to mention the whole martial-arts thing. So, basically, it’s bollocks from ball one. But is that it? No, of course not.
“If he did have an ulterior motive, I think it would be to make the country a republic,” Harewood said. “He's not necessarily in love with the country at all. He's very much for the people, by the people, and, if it was up to him, he'd get rid of the monarchy and make it a republic. He wants the people to govern and the people to be happy.”
Sadly for the premise of my supposition, the article was published on March 28th, meaning that there really is a republican, martial-arts expert, Christian African Friar from the twelfth century in Robin Hood. Give me strength. Happily I do have a coping mechanism that will allow me to enjoy this series of Robin Hood as much as I did the earlier ones. I won’t watch it either.