SHOPPERS in Weymouth and Dorchester have been getting the fright of their lives - from a 'bush' that jumps out of its pot and comes to life as part of a good-natured prank to spread some comic relief during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dorset Echo:

The practical joke is the work of friends Dan Roads, 31 and Neil Ansell, 29, both from Weymouth, who have been taking it in turns to dress up in a 'bush man' costume to give passers-by a scare in town centres - with the sole aim of providing humour during difficult times.

Dorset Echo:

Neil said: "We've been wanting to do something like this for ages.

"We've got loads more ideas up our sleeves - it's been great seeing the reactions from the bushman prank but that's just the start of it.

Proud father-of-one Dan - who has a second child on the way - added: "Most people say it's made their day - around 99 per cent of the reaction is positive. We're selective about who we do it to, obviously we don't want to give anyone a heart attack, so we don't try and scare elderly people."

Neil, who also runs a popular 'urban exploration' channel on YouTube, added: "One woman who we 'got' in Dorchester came up to us and said she'd been having a bad day and that we'd scared her. We thought she was about to complain - but actually she thanked us for cheering her up."

The pair have been filming the pranks for their YouTube channel, 'YaPrankers,' which has clocked up over 10,000 views in just two weeks.

The 'bushman' looks like an innocent plant until he stands up out of his pot, or simply greets passing shoppers with a cheery 'hello'. The prank is usually followed by peals of laughter echoing around shopping arcades as the majority of 'victims' appear to enjoy the joke.

"People are quite oblivious - often because they're so locked into their phones," Dan explained. "Women seem to find it funnier. I think there's a perception that men have to be serious in public - unless it's a group of lads, and then they enjoy the banter."

Dan and Neil agreed that a highlight was when a woman got involved in the joke and pretended to hit them with her umbrella.

They also spoke of a touching moment when a woman insisted on giving them £5 despite their protestations about not doing it for money.

To watch their videos search YouTube for 'YaPrankers'.