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Roman prank April Fools Belton

PUBLISHED: 09:59 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 17:15 30 June 2010

EDP reporter Antonius Carrolius visited Belton to prepare the ground for a Roman invasion, but one bus driver refused to offer him his

EDP reporter Antonius Carrolius visited Belton to prepare the ground for a Roman invasion, but one bus driver refused to offer him his "chariot" for a lift back to Rome

“I came, I saw, I conquered,” is the famous quote from Julius Caesar, after his Roman legions achieved another crushing victory.

But that saying should read: “They did not come, we never saw them and we were victims of a prank,” after a Broadland village fell victim to a Roman-themed April Fools' Day story.

“I came, I saw, I conquered,” is the famous quote from Julius Caesar, after his Roman legions achieved another crushing victory.

But that saying should read: “They did not come, we never saw them and we were victims of a prank,” after a Broadland village fell victim to a Roman-themed April Fools' Day story.

At first glance it seemed a unique chance for the people of Belton, near Great Yarmouth, to star in a Roman epic like Gladiator and rub shoulders with movie stars in the Russell Crowe mode.

Excitement had been spreading in the village after a local newsletter revealed that an Italian movie company would be filming in the area and wanted locals to appear as extras.

But unfortunately for nearly a dozen villagers, the opportunity to appear on the big screen has turned out to be an early April Fools' Day joke.

In the latest in a long line of April Fools' pranks in Belton Village Voice, 2,600 copies were delivered in the area with an article headlined “Italian film company choose Belton for location work”.

The fake story says Paternostra Films wanted up to 30 local men to play Roman soldiers and farmers when the cameras started rolling on Belton Common in September.

So far 10 people have asked if they can be extras in the film and one enterprising mobile snack owner has even requested if he can provide the cast and crew with meals during the shot.

The requests poured in, even though there was a large clue that the story was a fake as the film producer was called Idiotae Aprillis - the nearest Roman equivalent to April Fools' Day.

The article says: “Producer Idiotae Aprillis says Belton Common and the riverside has been chosen because of the unique light in the area and the quality of sunrises and sunsets which are an integral part of the film.”

Yesterday, newsletter compiler Malcolm Scott held up his hands and admitted that villagers had fallen for his latest prank.

He chose the film theme as Roman settlers did live in the Belton area and got the name Paternostra from an old pickle jar.

In previous editions of Belton Village Voice, residents have fallen hook line and sinker over claims that an American travelling circus would be performing pig wrestling, the Somerleyton estate would be heating up Fritton Lake so it could grow melons and a villager was charging people £5 to take photographs of his picturesque cottage.

Mr Scott said: “I enjoy writing April Fools' Day stories - it makes a change from the mobile library visiting times.

“To have fooled 11 people so early is quite good this time around - but it would be nice if the Romans did come to Belton again.”

However, Mr Scott did not fool Irene Gennings, of St James Crescent, who saw straight through the prank and emailed a fake extra application in return.

The email said: “I worked with Mr Aprillis many years ago as an extra in his production of The Rise and fall of Pompeii.

“I played a third handmaiden Aester Bunnikus although this was not a speaking role.

“It would be lovely to see old Idiotae again.

“I do so hope Russell Crowe will be the leading man in this new production.”


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