Urban Legends - Tuesday October 30

urban legends(3/15)

4Continuing on Five this week is the series that explores popular urban myths. Each episode uses interviews and reconstructions to present three tall tales, only one of which is actually true. Viewers have the chance to guess which of the stories really happened, before the answer is revealed at the end of the show. Tonight’s stories involve a poodle in a microwave, a Christmas disaster and a zany airman.

The first of tonight’s tales centres around Madame Estelle Foregé –a Parisian with a penchant for poodles. In 1992, Estelle was given a prizewinning pooch called Minky by her son, Gaston. So fond of Minky was Estelle that she developed a unique grooming technique: after the poodle had been washed, Estelle would place him in the oven for a five-minute blast on low heat –always with the door open. This approach produced excellent results, with Gaston reporting that his mother’s dog had the smartest fur in the neighbourhood.

This drying procedure went on for some time with great success. However, everything changed when Gaston treated his mother to a brand new kitchen, complete with all mod cons. Estelle was unconvinced by most of the new equipment, but one gadget caught her eye –the microwave. After a quick demonstration, she became enthralled by its incredible heating power.

Later that day, she took Minky out for a walk. Suddenly, a heavy shower of rain changed everything for the little dog. After a thorough soaking, Estelle returned home and sought a speedy method of drying her pet. A five-minute nuclear spin later, and the rest is history… or is it?

Next up is the story of Bonnie, Aaron and Alice Silversmith –a family from Tampa, Florida, who suffered a terrible loss in the late 80s. When the family moved to the heart of the Sunshine State, they were very happy: they had a new home, great weather and some friendly neighbours. All was going well, in fact, until the Christmas of 1988. Alan, husband to Bonnie and father to the two children, teamed up with his neighbour to ensure that the family’s first Christmas in their new home would be a memorable one.

The two hatched a plan to surprise Alan’s family with a visit from Father Christmas. Alan would make a grand entrance down the chimney on Christmas Eve, coming out of the fireplace and showering his family with presents.

After a few test runs performed in his tracksuit, Alan was sure he had perfected the technique. When Christmas Eve arrived, Alan made his excuses and left the house to get changed. However, he had never before attempted to get down the chimney in full costume and with a sack full of presents. Christmas Day came and went, with no sign of Alan. In fact, it was not until the day after, when the neighbour popped next door to offer season’s greetings, that the unfortunate Santa was found. Halfway down the chimney, Alan had become stuck and could not move. When his cries for help went unanswered, he panicked, suffered a heart attack and died.

This week’s final legend is the extraordinary tale of Larry Walters, a flight enthusiast who took his hobby to great heights. Though he is no longer around to tell his story, there are many witnesses who remember the events of July 1982.

When he was informed that his bad eyesight meant he could not train as a pilot, Larry was not deterred from his dream of taking to the skies. After 20 years of planning, he had finally built the craft that would enable him to live his fantasy. However, this was no ordinary plane –using a deckchair, a number of helium-filled weather balloons and an air rifle, Larry planned to take off from his garden and float east over Los Angeles. However, the planning had not paid off and Larry grossly overestimated the number of balloons needed. A few minutes after takeoff, and the only person able to see Larry was an airline pilot, 7,000 feet up…

About the author

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1