A Clever 1960s Prank Convinced Swedes They Could Watch TV In Color With?
When it comes to a good prank, the best pranks have a long reach but are completely harmless. In that regard, a 1962 April Fool’s Day prank perpetrated by the staff of SVT (Sveriges Television)—then the only station in Sweden and broadcast in black and white—is pretty great.
That evening, the station aired a segment led by Kjell Stensson, who they labeled as their “technical expert”. Stensson carefully explained to the audience that a new discovery had revealed it was possible to enjoy black and white television in color thanks to the light scattering properties of nylon pantyhose. The viewer simply had to stretch the pantyhose over the screen. Naturally, to extend the life of the prank, it was explained that viewing distance was critical and it would likely be necessary to move your head around a lot to get the right viewing angle for the full effect.
Thousands of people fell for the prank and it remains a memorable cultural event—many people in Sweden today recall their parents and older relatives trying, and failing, to experience color TV with a pair of pantyhose.