'The threat of getting shot was a real one' | The Revolution Will Be Televised pranksters on filming in the US

'The threat of getting shot was a real one'

The Revolution Will Be Televised pranksters on filming in the US

Satirical hidden camera show The Revolution Will Be Televised is returning to BBC Three early next month – and this time Heydon Prowse and Jolyon Rubinstein have taken their pranks to the US as well as the UK. Here they talk about some of the extremist they encountered, brushes with very high-profile political figures... and their celebrity fans.

Why did you go to America for Series 3?

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 were 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.

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.

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 does of satire.

Where there any moments filming this series 3 where you were afraid of repercussions from 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.

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. [My journalist character] 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.

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...

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 work with anyone on 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: 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 returns week commencing October 6, although the exact date has yet to be set. This is an edited version of an interview supplied by producers Hat Trick.

Here's a prank from a previous series:

Published: 19 Sep 2014

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