Wikileaks founder Julian Assange yesterday appeared on the balcony of Ecuador’s London embassy to make a statement to the press regarding the latest developments in his attempts to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex offence charges. After denouncing the US government once more as a totalitarian regime with no regard for human rights, the Australian fugitive proceeded to unzip his flies and whip out his genitals. “See what I think of your trumped up sex charges,” he shouted as he waved his genitalia at the crowd gathered beneath the balcony. “As for you William Hague – suck on my baldy man, baldy!” Following this last insult to the UK Foreign Secretary, who had once threatened to misinterpret an obscure British law in order to forcibly enter the Ecuadorian embassy where Assange has been claiming asylum for over a year, he turned around, dropped his trousers and mooned at the TV cameras. Or rather an actor portraying the white haired whistleblower for a new TV series performed these actions in front a film crew at a disused hotel in Woking, which was standing in for the exterior of the Ecuadorian embassy. “Let’s be honest, it’s a damn sight more entertaining than anything he’s actually done or said since he’s been holed up in that embassy,” says Rudolph Crepplestone, producer of the TV show. “If you ask me, that’s the whole reason the guy has such a poor public profile – he just doesn’t make people laugh. He’s a weirdo, for God’s sake – weirdos are meant to be funny. Is it any wonder people are indifferent to the whole Wikileaks thing – it just doesn’t generate enough laughs!”
Crepplestone’s decision to portray Assange’s plight in terms of a sitcom has resulted in many raised eyebrows, with supporters and opponents of the Wikileaks founder alike questioning whether it is any fit subject for humour. “Obviously, we were hoping for a serious dramatisation of the issues raised by Assange and Wikileaks, “ says top human rights lawyer Jim Skibbles. “Instead, what we get is a series of pratfalls, sexual innuendo and hosry old jokes – from what I’ve seen, it makes Mrs Brown’s Boys look like alternative comedy!” For others, it is the portrayal of Assange himself which gives cause for concern. “For God;s sake, not only is this man accused of serious sexual offences, but he is also responsible for endangering the security of the free world by publishing all that secret material stolen from the US government. But instead of condemning him, we’re expected to find him amusing,” fumes Tory MP Sir Henry Rawlington-Groper. “I can’t believe the way this awful programme trivialises both the rape allegations and the security leaks. I was hoping that it would at least make Assange a figure of ridicule, but instead it portrays him as some kind of loveable clown!”
However, both Crepplestone and the series writer, Bruce Crackling – creator of the popular cable TV sitcom Chokin’ the Chicken – are unrepentant in the face of such criticisms. “Oh come on – this whole embassy business is comedy gold!” declares Crackling. “I mean, Assange has been He’s been there for months. It must be like having one of those house guests who don’t seem to realise that they’ve outstayed their welcome. You know the sort – the ‘friend’ you let sleep on your sofa after a night at the pub who is still there six weeks later despite all your subtle hints – such as spending all evening farting on the sofa they plan to sleep on -that they should go1” Crepplestone agrees. “It just seemed obvious to us that the Assange embassy situation had all the makings of one of those mismatched housemates flat share sitcoms, like Man About the House,” he says. “So, we started from the premise that, after all this time, the staff must surely be getting fed up with him and are trying to devise ways to get rid of him!”
Indeed, the format of the new show – provisionally titled Asylum Seeker About the Embassy – adheres closely to the templates established by classic seventies sitcoms. “Every week we’d see another attempt by the increasingly frustrated Ecuadorian ambassador, (modelled on George Roper from Man About the House – we’ve even got Brian Murphy to play him), to eject Assange from the embassy by nefarious means, as he still owes eighteen months rent for his room,” explains Crackling. “In the opening episode, for instance, he tells Assange he’s arranged an audience with the world’s press and ushers him toward a set of double doors, saying ‘They’re just through here, if you’d care to step through.’ Of course, at the last minute, with one foot hovering over the threshold, Assange realises the doors lead to the street and a posse of waiting policemen! ‘Whoa – nearly got me there,’ he chuckles. ‘Better luck next time!’ The studio audience loved it!” The situation is further complicated by the ambassador’s under-sexed wife (a dead ringer for the late Yootha Joyce) continually making advances to Assange and frustrating her husband’s plans. “On top of all that, due to a lack of space at the embassy, he is being forced to share a room with two girls: one a dizzy blonde, the other a smart brunette,” guffaws Crepplestone. “Obviously, tensions arise as they are naturally wary of Assange because of the Swedish rape allegations hanging over him. Many hijinks involving sexual innuendo and misunderstandings ensue! I’m telling you, this stuff just writes itself!”
Crepplestone and Crackling had originally hoped to persuade Benedict Cumberbatch to take the leadrole and recreate his portrayal of Julian Assange, as recently seen in the film The Fifth Estate, but the Sherlock star declined. “We decided to go for an actual Australian actor who also had some experience with comedy,” says Crepplestone. “So we got that guy from Neighbours – or was it Home and Away? Anyway, he played the geeky one. You know who I mean – he left the soap to pursue a movie career in the States, then found he couldn’t get arrested in Hollywood. The point is, with a blonde wig he looks just like Assange – if he was a bit pudgy, that is.” Whilst Julian Assange himself – who is known to dislike his portrayal in The Fifth Estate – has so far not commented on the series, sources at Wikileaks have condemned it. “It’s clearly another attempt to discredit our work and is probably financed by the CIA,” an anonymous source told The Sleaze. “It’s just an extension of the way the media have tried to deflect attention from the serious issues we’re raising by instead focusing on Julian Assange’s personality and personal situation to try and trivialise the whole affair!” Crepplestone admits that he so far failed to sell the sitcom to any TV network, but claims to be in negotiation with several digital TV channels and hopes to have the first episodes on air before the end of the year.