Ronald Knox topples Big Ben

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Ronald Knox (1888-1957) was a Catholic convert, author, and priest who, among other things, helped G.K. Chesterton make his conversion to the Faith. Knox's extensive literary output ranged from apologetics and poetry to scholarship and detective fiction. As one observer suggested, his epitaph could have been "R.I.P. Ronald Knox, translator of the Holy Bible and author of
'The Viaduct Murder.'"

On January 16, 1926, he unintentionally stirred up panic across Britain with his own tongue-in-cheek BBC broadcast. He sent up the conventions of radio news by announcing that a mob in London had stormed the National Gallery, attacked the Houses of Parliament, blown up the Clock Tower, and lynched a minor government minister, all at the instigation of "Mr. Poppleberry, secretary of the National Movement for Abolishing Theatre Queues".

One moment, please. The British Broadcasting Company regrets that one item in the news has been inaccurately given. The correction now follows. It was stated in our news bulletin that the Minister of Traffic had been hanged from a lamp-post in the Vauxhall Bridge Road. Subsequent and more accurate reports show that it was not a lamp-post, but a tramway post, which was used for this purpose.

A look back at the spoof and its aftermath is available at the Radio 4 website, along with an audio reconstruction of the brief program based on an original transcript.

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Anyone interested in learning more about this remarkable priest can visit

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On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

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This page contains a single entry by Richard Chonak published on October 30, 2006 8:10 AM.

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