Servant of the People: 'Zelensky's comedy made me admire him more'

By Jordan Kenny
Newsbeat reporter

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Image source, Getty Images
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Volodymyr Zelensky became the unlikely president of Ukraine in April 2019

A man with no political experience becoming the president of a country with a population of millions.

If the political rise of Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelensky sounds like the plot of a TV show - that's because it is.

Before taking Ukraine's top political job, President Zelensky was the star of Servant of the People - a comedy series which started in 2015, following a teacher who becomes president after a video of him ranting about politics goes viral.

It was broadcast in the UK for the first time on Sunday night on Channel 4, with 100,000 people tuning in to get the (fictional) backstory of the Mr Zelensky, according to official viewing figures.

One viewer told Radio 1 Newsbeat that watching the show made her "admire him more," than she already did.

As president of Ukraine, President Zelensky has faced the invasion of Russian forces since his country was invaded in late February.

He has been praised by many for his handling of the war, delivering rallying cries to his citizens to "drive this evil out" and remaining in the capital city of Kyiv during attacks by the forces of Russia's President Putin.

World events are very likely to have been the leading factor in the decision by Channel 4 to broadcast the show now.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
President Zelensky visits Ukrainian troops fighting Russian forces

The name of the show - Servant of the People - is what Zelensky later decided to name his real political party when he ran for president in 2019.

Broadcasters in countries around the world are now racing to buy the rights to show it.

Melanie Daffin was one of the thousands who watched along as Servant of the People aired in the UK on Sunday night.

Image source, Melanie Daffin
Image caption,
Melanie said she will be watching all episodes of Servant of the People

"I'd seen clips of the show on TikTok so I was quite excited to see Channel 4 had got the rights to it," the 22-year-old told Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"It's very weird watching him be this funny guy when what we're seeing now is him being this serious leader.

'World leaders could take note'

"It makes me admire him more, going from one side of the spectrum to another - being a comedian to being someone who is admired on the world stage for his patriotism and his resilience.

"He's proved to be an incredible leader, and one many world leaders could take notes from. He is serving the people of his country well."

Melanie believes "even though it is a comedy" it doesn't "take away from what he is doing now".

Although only three episodes were broadcast on Channel 4 on Sunday, Melanie has plans to watch the others - all 48 of them.

"I will definitely be watching it. As long as I can access it, I will be watching it."

President Zelensky not only has acting credits, but has credentials as a producer, writer and director as well.

He's been nominated for two Ukrainian Film Academy Awards and has won two awards for his production of Ukrainian TV programmes.

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