After 50 years of hard work, the worldwide human rights organisation Amnesty still has it work cut out. Crimes against humanity take place every day, sometimes hidden from insight, sometimes right in front of our eyes. It's this callous behaviour that the global movement, comprising more than three million supporters, have been fighting since 1961. Over the years many different tactics have been used to tackle the situation, and from tomorrow Amnesty has a new arrow for its bow. The fortnightly Amnesty TV is a 15 minute long web TV show that interacts with targeted people through satirical comedy.
Drafting a long list of top comedy writers and producers (including Mike Bradley, the producer of Charlie Brooker's Screen Wipe and News Wipe), the show features magazine-style clips of comedy, short documentaries, polemics and news around global human rights campaigns. The first episode - out tomorrow but with an exclusive Dazed Digital trailer below - boasts a celebratory anniversary greeting from Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi, a chat from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on Internet freedom in China, and British actor Heydon Prowse, who each episode will approach a rogue country's embassy to get the staff to sign an Amnesty Happy Birthday card...
Dazed Digital: What countries, and why, did you target with the Amnesty birthday card stunt?
Heydon Prowse: We targeted America, Saudi Arabia, Israel, North Korea, Burma, China and Iran. Burma didn't make the final film because we were only able to speak with the minimum wage doorman. Israel didn't make the final cut because their embassy is like Fort Knox. You can't get anywhere near it and there are police with machine guns everywhere so we only managed to talk to a security camera there. It was mainly just to say thanks for all their hard work in the field of human rights abuse over the last 50 years. Without them Amnesty International's work would be, well, completely unnecessary.
DD: Did anyone sign them?
Heydon Prowse: No. But at the Iranian embassy we were invited back to talk to their cultural attache. We tried to chase that up but you can't get through to the Iranian embassy for love or money - it's constantly engaged. I imagined a talkative secretary nattering away while doing her nails.
DD: Were there any truly comedic exchanges during filming?
Heydon Prowse: Well, we were stopped and questioned three times by police, which was funny (in hindsight).
DD: What was the reasoning behind tackling these issues through satire and comedy?
Heydon Prowse: Because satire and comedy are razor sharp weapons that can be used against human rights abusers with very few health and safety implications.
DD: Except for you, who's behind the series?
Heydon Prowse: Neil Boorman, Mike Bradley, Joe Wade and the Don't Panic crew, Chris Atkins and many other including Modern Toss I believe.
DD: What's your personal favourite moment in the series?
Heydon Prowse: I like the women in Saudi Arabia flouting the driving ban by tearing around the city in their burkas.
DD: After 50 years of Amnesty, what the biggest fights laying ahead of you?
Heydon Prowse: Too many to mention - some amnesty priorities are banning the death penalty, controlling the unregulated global arms trad and stopping violence against women. Let's hope it doesn't take another 50.
Log onto Amnesty TV's YouYube channel tomorrow evening to see the first episode