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Too Good To Be True: TV Reporter Was In On Magicians' Photobomb

It had all the elements of an Internet hit: Two magicians hijack a TV news update, performing in the background behind an oblivious reporter. The video quickly went viral in Britain — but then it emerged that the Sky News team was in on the joke.

Both Sky News and journalist Ashish Joshi have confirmed that the report never aired on the network, deflating some of the buzz about the video in which Joshi conducts what seems to be a live update with the Palace of Westminster as his backdrop.

The acknowledgement came after several other media outlets, such as the Huffington Post and Metro, reported on the stunt. One outlet said the pair "might have won TV forever." BuzzFeed News seems to have been the first to report that it was all faked.

In the video, as Joshi describes a health care debate, comedy magicians Richard Young and Sam Strange (known as Young & Strange) wheel a cart across the lawn and perform an illusion in the background.

Viewers praised the magicians for livening up an otherwise standard political report with what seemed to be an inspired photobomb; some even called for more magic in the news.

Joshi kept a straight face during the "live" shot — and he maintained it on Twitter, retweeting others' gleeful messages about the video. To a colleague's ribbing about the appearance, he wrote that his stand-up reports "are always magic!"

But Joshi also passed along a note from his network that states, "the Ashish Joshi video with the magicians in the background is not a Sky News report."

The video was first posted to YouTube by Young & Strange on Wednesday, along with a longer piece in which the magicians, having decided to start their own TV show, visit the offices of large media operations such as the BBC and ITV. It concludes with them adding some magic to Joshi's report.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.