As if a pandemic wasn’t enough to deal with, some unsuspecting parents are being forced to grapple with the prospect of imminent apocalypse.

Going some lengths to advance the notion that hell might actually just be living with an internet prankster, some TikTok users have been tricking their parents into thinking nuclear war is breaking out.

The pranksters wait until their parents are watching TV before secretly using their phone to play a fake emergency broadcast.

A popular choice of video purports to be from the BBC, which claims that London is being evacuated in the face of an “imminent” attack on the country, urging people to stay in their homes and saying that all motorways and airports have been closed for military use.

“I thought it was the end of the world,” 57-year-old Tracey Stebbing told The Telegraph.

“I was thinking, ‘people who have got a cellar are lucky because they can go down into it’,” she said.

Read more: Professor caught berating hard-of-hearing student in viral TikTok video

Meanwhile, her 25-year-old son Sean Perret has captioned the footage of her terrified reaction with the words, “1m likes for that face?” It has been viewed on TikTok 1.4 million times.

Perrett told the paper that he decided upon the prank the previous night while watching videos about underground bunkers in London during the Cold War, saying: “I saw that someone had created a fake nuclear warning and I was thinking, ‘this is the time to get mum when she least expects it’.”

It’s far from the first time that people have thought to pull the apocalyptic prank – with the BBC forced to step in to address a fake news report that began doing the rounds on social media in 2018, after alarmed viewers contacted the broadcaster apparently thinking it was real.

But it appears to be making a comeback, with several videos on TikTok showing people pulling the prank in recent days.

In one video also viewed 1.4 million times, TikTok user Charlie Davis cuts to the fake BBC broadcast in the middle of an episode of EastEnders, which eventually sees his mother running to the front door to check if the scenes outside match those of people fleeing on the TV.

But in another video posted by 19-year-old Glasgow musician Ross Loudon, his mother appears somewhat unperturbed by the fake broadcast – saying “seriously?” while continuing to scroll on her phone.

Read more: What it’s really like parenting during a pandemic

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