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Can You Spot What Freaked Out Nightly News Audiences?

BBC / Al-Jazeera

If you regularly watch the nightly news, you know that it can be a bit dull. That's why we're grateful for people like Paul Yarrow.

BBC

He added some excitement and mystery to the evening news broadcast just by standing around. You see, back in 2009 Yarrow started popping up on the news every night. First he appeared in the background during an interview about a labor dispute, then he was standing behind a reporter at a protest.

Yarrow had a knack for realizing which events in London would be featured on the BBC's 1 p.m. newscast - including fires, riots, protests and vigils - and showing up on scene just in time to be caught on camera. He sometimes made the news for days in a row, and almost always wore the same beige sweater.

Soon, Yarrow had his own fan following with in-jokes about the so-called "newsbomber." They would shout "He's behind you!" whenever Yarrow crept up on a reporter. They even learned to recognize his tricks, like pretending to be on the phone, or hiding behind a newspaper.

Channel Four

But who was this obsessed prankster, and why did he make a habit of sneaking onto the nightly news? His answer was pretty surprising.

Eventually, a reporter from the Evening Standard tracked Yarrow down and asked him about his bizarre hobby.

BBC

It turned out Yarrow was a care worker, who had won a number of community awards for looking after sick patients, including his own parents. When the reporter asked Yarrow about his obsession with appearing on the news, he gave a surprisingly thoughtful answer.

"It is a statement about the image conscious media. I am overweight and people like me are treated as unsightly because of the way they look," Yarrow said. "Here I am. I am sorry I don't have a suit and that I am not lovely and slim."

ITV

Yarrow said that overweight people are often ignored, just like he is by the reporters he "newsbombs."

"The point I am making is that the more you push me aside, the more I'm going to be determined to make my presence known."

But what Yarrow never expected from his project was the number of devoted fans who tried to track him down in public, and recorded his appearances on a website.

“It has been terribly surreal. People are stopping me in the street wanting their photos taken with me and people have seemed to have taken me to their hearts.”

Yarrow was last seen in the background of a news broadcast in 2010, and hasn't appeared since then. Maybe he thinks he's made his point, but we'd love to see him on TV again.

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[H/T: The Evening Standard]

I write about all sorts of things for Shared, especially weird facts, celebrity news, and viral stories. CONTACT: zachary@shared.com