Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein interview
The Revolution Will Be Televised stars talk about series three of the hit political satire.
Some of series three was filmed in America. Why did you want to go Stateside?
Jolyon: We have always had our sights on America. The ‘Land of the Free’ is also the land of the ‘extreme’. From Christian fundamentalists who believe abortion is the cause of global warming to gun toting militias who take it upon themselves to patrol the Mexican border, America is home to some of the most bizarrely fascinating people on the planet… and, well, it worked for Ali G didn’t it!
Heydon: America is the holy grail of extremity of opinion – and Americans aren’t scared to express those opinions so there’s a lot of fun to be had with that. Also where America leads, we generally follow – politically, culturally and economically. So in many ways we wanted this series to be a bit of a cautionary tale.
What were the biggest challenges of filming in the US as opposed to the UK?
Jolyon: Having an English accent in the United States unlocks doors in quite an extraordinary way. Mostly they think that in Britain we just sit around roasting chestnuts, drinking tea and speaking like the Queen, so they welcomed us with open arms. Our team of ninjas secured us extraordinary access this series which is how we have managed to get Donald Trump, Sarah Palin and ex-President Bill Clinton in this series. But the threat of getting shot was a real one and never far from anyone’s mind.
Heydon: Yes, we came across a fair few guns! Once we were told that a sniper was trained on us from a nearby hill. But I’m not sure if that was true. Access was down to our ever ingenious production crew who had a very big job on their hands. But the fact that fewer people had heard of the show out in America no doubt helped them out.
Would you like to go back to the US to visit more of the states?
Jolyon: We have filmed half of this series in the States and there is no doubt that we have only scratched the surface of that weird and wonderful country, so I am sure we will be back for more. Although the FBI might have something to say about that…
Heydon: Yeah I think we all feel there is more to be done with the US. It’s such a huge country and so diverse. I feel like we covered a lot of the negative side of America – from religious fundamentalism, to racists. But there’s so much that’s great about America too: Dale Maily visiting Denver where weed is now totally legal and crime rates have dropped is a good example.
Are there any other countries you visit for Series three?
Jolyon: Without giving too much away, it’s fair to say that we have had a few excursions to places nearer to home than the USA – but you’ll just have to watch the show to see where exactly we end up!
Heydon: We might visit some countries in Europe…
Where would you like to go next, if budget and access was no problem?
Jolyon: Obviously scaring Putin as he comes out of the shower has always been high on our wish list, but given relations with Russia right now we may have to wait a while. The Revolution Will Be Televised team will always go where the stories lead us and there is no doubt that there is greed, hypocrisy and corruption all over the world – so watch this space.
Heydon: There are so many global issues that we want to tackle right now – the rise of the right in Europe, Syria, Isis, Israel, Ukraine. It feels like the world is slipping backwards right now – maybe it could do with a healthy dose of satire.
Do you have examples from filming series three where you were most afraid of the repercussions of your actions?
Jolyon: Heydon’s new character Eugene X met some quite repugnant racists in Alabama which got pretty hairy. I patrolled the Mexican Border with a Militia armed to the teeth. On both these occasions the team were a long, long way from home, help and anyone we might consider sane.
Heydon: Speaking to religious fundamentalists in their church about why it’s a great thing to stone kids, chatting to an armed Klu Klux Klan affiliated group in Alabama pretending to be a South African racist and one of them testing me with Afrikaans sayings he learnt from Google – that was all pretty hairy. We also ran out of that conference where we met Clinton pretty quickly – his secret service attaché didn’t seem best pleased.
Which characters do you enjoy playing the most?
Jolyon: For me, Dale Maily provides so many opportunities to have fun with a character. There is no end to the possibilities of where we can take him.
Heydon: Wayne Danger has become a much more developed character this season.
Do you have any favourite hits in this series?
Jolyon: Watching ex-President Bill Clinton’s face drop is sheer TV gold, and we can’t wait for the world to see it. Dale Maily meeting the businesses at the forefront of the legal recreational marijuana revolution in Colorado is quite a hoot. Oh and look out for the Nevada brothels later in the series… We will say no more!
Heydon: James Twattington Burbage trying to chat up Sarah Palin was hilarious and bizarre. Watching Dale Maily on Bourbon St in New Orleans was also priceless. Getting Bill Clinton was incredibly satisfying because it was so hard. Getting into the George Bush exhibition was also very satisfying as we failed the first time and had to go back to try again. Plus we had our one and only brush with the law after that one.
Do you have any celebrity fans you know of?
Jolyon: Obviously being told that Sacha Baron Cohen enjoyed the show was great to hear, but there is no doubt that our biggest fan is Tony Blair. Tony is constantly writing us fan mail and begging to be in the show. It’s really quite embarrassing having to tell him that unless he brings us into another illegal war he really just isn’t relevant to our audience any more.
Heydon: I heard, from the guy that makes The Trews, that he and Russell Brand had seen it and really liked it.
Would you like to partner any of your contemporaries or key influencers for future projects?
Jolyon: We have a collaboration with Vladimir Putin which we can’t talk too much about but it’s called I’m A Dictator Get Me Out Of Here.
Heydon: Well, this is as good a time as any to expose this: Nigel Farage is actually a comic actor who has been working for us for the past few years. Soon he’s going to reveal himself and we’re all going to realise what idiots we were to actually think he was a viable political option.
What’s next – work wise – for you both?
Jolyon: After three series of The Revolution Will Be Televised we’re looking at how we can evolve the format into a fourth series, which may take the same shape as the previous three, or be something completely different. With an Election in 2015 there should be a whole new political landscape for us to explore.
The Revolution Will Be Televised airs on Tuesdays at 10:30pm on BBC Three.