Some of the juiciest, most outrageous showbiz news on Twitter is fictional, and posted by Fake Showbiz News, the satirical account taking the piss out of the sensationalist fodder favoured by TMZ and the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame. Since 2011, the anonymous wordsmith has been waxing lyrical about Jessie J opening an abattoir, Vernon Kay campaigning for the return of Argos’ paper catalogues, Wayne Rooney’s attempts to bring his debut screenplay, Dr Carrot, to the big screen, and Rihanna’s bin day updates.
“People really seem to have bought into it,” says FSN’s admin, who goes by the pseudonym Ryan Meadows. “I get people saying to me, ‘I keep forgetting Dr Carrot isn’t really coming out this year.’” Who can blame them? After the Wagatha Christie saga, anything’s possible.
While not based on any truth, the appeal of Fake Showbiz News is the sheer absurdity of each tweet – and no celeb is safe, whether you’re Beyoncé, Adele or Dermot O’Leary. Meadows initially set up the account in 2011, “when parody Twitter accounts were starting to become a thing,” he says. “Or maybe it was when people started to get tired of them. Either way, I wanted a piece of the action and it appealed to me as quite a lazy way to be creative.”
At first, Fake Showbiz News functioned as a creative outlet after decades of soaking up pop culture without any proper release. At one point, things got so bad that Meadows would find his mind drifting off at work, unable to concentrate in meetings because what if Taylor Swift announced she was dating a rollercoaster?
And so FSN was born. For the first few years, it trundled along in the Twittersphere, garnering the odd like and support from friends “who probably thought it was a bit shit but didn’t want to crush [his] spirit.” Then, in 2018, he got his big break with a tweet about Raheem Sterling, a tabloid target at the time, “chastising him for laughing and joking around in training just hours after Morag from Home & Away had just died”.
Since then, the account has amassed over 154,000 followers, many of whom are deeply invested in what kind of meat is really produced in Jessie J’s controversial abattoir, what world-dominating career move the Dolmio family have up their sleeve, or Guardian columnist Adrian Chiles’ alleged sexcapades.
It’s all in the name of good British humour – a spirit Meadows is determined to preserve. “A handful of companies have approached me about commercial tie-ins, but I’ve said no because I don’t want to ruin it,” he says. “My plan is to just keep trying to be funny. I have a Buy Me A Coffee link where people can send me £3, £6 or whatever. My hope is that one day I’ll write a tweet so hilarious that someone will donate the £150,000 needed to pay off my mortgage. Or at least a few thousand to get the driveway done.”
Meadows’ favourite thing about holding the keys to Fake Showbiz News?
“In all honesty, it’s about the likes and retweets. I’m all ego!” he says. “I read somewhere that social media validation releases a chemical in the brain or something, so it’s not my fault anyway.” There’s also two loyal followers who wore Jessie J abattoir costumes last Halloween (Meadows’ proudest contribution to the world so far) and the people who regularly thank him for reminding them to take their bins out with his Rihanna tweets. “Talk about public service broadcasting!”
Too right. Here’s what the twisted mind behind Fake Showbiz News gets up to beyond entertaining the masses on a day-to-day basis.
The last article I found myself thinking about was…
I remember reading that Guardian article about what will happen when the Queen dies a couple of times just so I was ready when the day came. Still felt quite surreal when it happened. I wonder what has become of that parody Twitter account of the Queen? Assume it has now been retired.
Other than that, it’s usually quite shallow stuff like Buzzfeed listicles: “Here’s What 28 Everyday Items Look Like Under A Microscope”, stuff like that. In fact, that’s a real-life example of one that I regularly return to.
I’ll also often hit up Wikipedia and read about all sorts of random stuff. The history of the film The Fly, for example. Did you know the lead character Brundle is named after F1 pundit Martin Brundle? True story! There’s also a page detailing all the different times members of the public have nicked planes and taken them into the sky, along with details of the end result – usually a big crash.
The last new artist I discovered on Spotify was…
Embarrassingly I only very recently got on Spotify. We’re talking the past few months. I was using CDs! So now I’ve gone too far the other way and I’m boring everyone with my love of Spotify. I’ve created playlists of my favourite 20 tracks for each of my favourite bands and singers.
In terms of new stuff, there’s Rina Sawayama who did a great track last year called This Hell, which randomly came on and thought was Shania Twain.
And then I spotted that FLO had won the BBC’s Sound Of 2023 prize, so I checked them out and I have to say, I liked what I heard.
I’ve also rediscovered the Manic Street Preachers after listening to their most recent album, The Ultra Vivid Lament, which is very charming and catchy. It made me think: why are we bothering with The 1975 and their nonsense when the Manics are loads better and always have been?
The last podcast I spent hours listening to was…
As with Spotify, the podcast movement has largely passed me by. I have two young kids and if I put anything on that’s not Cocomelon or Blippi, they go nuts.
The last podcast I can honestly recall listening to is the condensed versions of the Adam and Joe BBC Radio 6 Music show, which is basically my favourite radio show of all time. I love Adam and Joe so much and wish I could be in their little gang with Louis Theroux.
The last picture I liked on Instagram was…
As myself, it was probably one posted by my wife that she ordered me to like. As Fake Showbiz News, I discovered there was a stand-up comedian who was claiming on various Insta posts that she was the person behind my account. So I went through and liked every single post where she’d done that. The following day they had all been deleted. Be warned, fraudsters.
The last TikTok I sent to a friend was…
There’s a video where someone went through all Fake Showbiz News Ellie Goulding content on Twitter, agreeing with each dumb point she was making. I’m actually a bit nervous about TikTok, as I’m sure there was a speech recently from some MI5 boss saying it was all part of a sinister evil plan.
The last series I binged was…
The White Lotus was so amazingly brilliant, I would leave my phone in another room so I could focus on it. I’m a White Lotus bore – if I find out someone hasn’t watched it, I pester them until they do.
Comedy-wise, I loved the daftness of Stath Lets Flats. It’s just so warm-hearted and silly, which is what I think FSN aims to be most of the time, unless I’m in a bad mood or decide Amanda Holden needs bringing down a peg or two. I’m also a huge Alan Partridge fan, which is probably noticeable in some of FSN’s tone. In fact I avoid mentioning Norwich if I can in case the influence is too obvious.
The last book I stayed awake reading is…
I source all my books from the free book exchange shelf at my local Co-op supermarket – usually a cheesy celebrity autobiography. In the past few years I’ve read Jimmy Nail’s, Charlotte Church’s, Holly from Geordie Shore, Rylan Clark, Cheryl Cole, Pete Bennett from Big Brother.
The main thing I want is for them to be bitchy about other celebs. The most recent one I read was Michael Parkinson’s and, while it was generally quite boring, he was surprisingly bitter about Emu.
The last new word I learned was…
Epoxy. It was a Wordle answer that I got on the sixth attempt. Can’t say I’ve used it since and I can’t actually remember what it means. I think it’s some sort of DIY substance. I don’t have time for DIY anyway – I’m too busy with Fake Showbiz News.
The last meme that made me laugh aloud was…
All The White Lotus ones, obviously, usually involving Jennifer Coolidge. And before that it was any involving Roman Roy’s face in Succession when he accidentally sent his dad a dick pic.