Passion Pictures fooled millions with its animation work on a spoof spot for BBC's iPlayer, which was broadcast to mark April Fool's Day.

The 90-second trail advertised the BBC iPlayer service, and apparently featured a snippet of a nature documentary fronted by former Python Terry Jones. In the trail, Terry Jones walked through the flocks of penguins that subsequently took to the air, swooping and diving through the frozen scenery, and eventually heading to the jungle to catch some sun.

Vince Squibb of Gorgeous directed the spot, while Darren Walsh of Passion Pictures directed the animation. To produce a believable flying motion for the birds, Walsh, VFX supervisor Neil Riley and a team of animators and compositors studied BBC archive footage of birds with similar shapes, especially guillemots, taking off and flying to ensure they could reproduce the movement of the penguins as realistically as possible.

The prank had a double purpose, being placed online as well as broadcast, to serve as a viral promotion for the iPlayer. David Bainbridge, BBC Head of Marketing for Future Media & Technology said: “The purpose of the April Fool campaign is to continue to raise awareness of BBC iPlayer, and bring to life the benefits of the service in a unique way. It is also hoped that this creative device will not only celebrate what BBC iPlayer can deliver, but will also say something quite profound about the BBC’s overall appetite for creative risk-taking and innovation."

The video can be seen here.