Putin will not watch BBC Two spoof show, says Kremlin
July 5, 2020
The Kremlin has said Vladimir Putin is not planning to watch a new BBC Two comedy chat show hosted by a computer-generated version of himself.
“Many books have been written, many caricatures have been drawn and many dolls and cartoons have been created about Putin,” his spokesman told Govorit Moskva radio station. “The president hasn’t read the books about himself and hasn’t looked at the caricatures. He doesn’t want to resemble them in any way. Let these caricatures resemble him.”
He later told journalists that Mr Putin is “sticking to his position” of not watching caricatures of himself.
The Kremlin comments come after Russians and Britons alike scoffed at the newly announced Tonight With Vladimir Putin on social media.
Despite his spokesman’s muted reaction to the BBC Two show, Mr Putin is widely believed to have once shut down a Russian programme that parodied him with puppets.
In posts on Wednesday with hackneyed jokes about bear wrestling and Terry Wogan, BBC Two said a 3D digital cartoon of the Russian leader would interview broadcasters Alastair Campbell and June Sarpong and Guilty Feminist podcaster Deborah Frances-White in the first two episodes.
It repeatedly refers to Mr Putin as “Vlad,” which in Russian is short for Vladislav, not Vladimir.
“Watch out Graham Norton, I’m coming for you!” the faux Putin yells in a cringeworthy Russian accent in a short trailer.
“Unsure if I should shoot people for watching this or just wait for them to shoot themselves,” the popular Twitter parody account Darth Putin responded.
Others said the attempt at comedy was in poor taste considering Moscow’s human rights abuses and role in a bloody separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Russian Internet users called for Moscow to sue the BBC or start its own talk show portraying the British prime minister.
“We need to respond in kind! And instead of Urgant let Theresa May crack jokes in the evenings,” one tweeted, referring to the popular Russian late-night TV host Ivan Urgant.
An animated show on Russian state television already parodied Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2012.
“Listen to me Barack, Iran isn’t Iraq, they’re definitely enriching uranium there,” the 3D animation of the then-secretary-of-state sings to the tune of hip-hop hit Baby If You Give It To Me. “I really don’t care about Iran or uranium, but it’s time to go there.”
An article on the site of the Kremlin’s English-language RT channel called Tonight With Vladimir Putin a “regurgitated dystopian nightmare copied from the popular Channel 4/Netflix series Black Mirror but bastardized almost beyond recognition”.
The show “mercifully will only last 12 minutes an episode, likely because the British authorities are already in hot water for torture,” it quipped.
The BBC Two show is in fact not the first fake chat show hosted by Mr Putin. GZERO Media’s Puppet Regime YouTube series had a bare-chested, cigarette-smoking Putin doll take calls from listeners last month.
In 2002, the satirical show Puppets on Russia’s NTV channel, which was inspired by Britain’s Spitting Image and had parodied the new president, was shut down under Kremlin pressure.
One episode depicted Mr Putin as an ugly dwarf who was transformed into a beloved “Apollo” and “true patriot” by a “television fairy”.
The show’s creator Viktor Shenderovich said a presidential administration official had demanded that NTV remove the Putin doll from Puppets, as well as stop its critical coverage of high-level corruption and the Chechen war.
He claimed that Mr Putin, who stands less than five-and-a-half-feet tall, had been enraged to see himself shown as a dwarf.