Comics held over Vatican stunt

5ft blimp flown over Papal state

Two Australian comedians have been questioned by Italian police after flying a blimp over the Vatican – defying the city state’s no-fly zone.

Julian Morrow and Craig Reucassel flew an unmanned five-metre-long blimp over St Peter’s Square for their satirical show The Chaser.

They were reportedly questioned for eight hours, while broadcaster ABC said they had cameras, tapes and a laptop computer seized. Both have now returned to Australia.

Morrow, pictured, who is an executive producer on the programme, said: ‘No charges have in fact been laid yet. Apparently the police have forwarded the information they have to a prosecutor. We're thinking of forwarding her a very nice bottle of Australian red.

‘It's up to her to decide what happens next. We've been told this could take some time. It looks like Roman cases against The Chaser won't be built in a day.’

He told Australia’s Sunday Mail he was still hoping to be able to use footage of the incident. ‘We're trying to get that material back now, while simultaneously claiming for it on travel insurance,’ he said.

‘At the moment we don't have any footage of the incident. It's currently wrapped in condoms in the stomachs of our tape mules, but it should arrive in Australia shortly.

‘We haven't yet heard what the Pope thinks about the whole thing, but we are expecting God to release a statement and/or a swarm of locusts later in the day.’

The blimp carried a message, although Morrow declined to reveal what it was.

ABC comedy chief, Amanda Duthie said the publically-funded broadcaster was backing the comedians, saying: ‘The Chaser shoot was approved by ABC TV. No one has yet been charged and anyone who is charged will have our full support. We are certainly glad they are all safely home.'

Two years ago Morrow and another Chaser comedian Chas Licciardello breached security at a major international conference in Sydney attended by George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin. With no clearance, the group drove a three-car convoy, adorned with Canadian flags, past security checkpoints, before Mr Licciardello emerged from one of the cars dressed as Osama bin Laden. Eleven people were charged over the incident, but the charges were later dropped.

The new series of The Chaser's War on Everything – which takes place in global locations after the team became too well-known to pull of their stunts on home turf – starts on the ABC on May 27.

Published: 3 May 2009

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