K viewers will get to watch the Ukrainian TV show that helped launch Volodymyr Zelensky’s meteoric rise when it airs on Channel 4 this Sunday.

Servant of the People, whose three seasons broke viewing records in Ukraine and won awards around the world between 2015 and 2019, starred Zelensky as Vasyl Petrovych Holoborodko, a history teacher who, against the odds, manages to win an election to become the country’s president.

In many ways, it foreshadowed Zelensky’s own ascent from comedian and actor to Ukraine’s leader and, as such, many of the scenes now have an eerie prescience to them. Here, we’ve picked out five of the stand-outs.

The anti-corruption rant that starts it all

Holoborodko’s ascent starts when, enraged by the sorry state of Ukrainian politics, he goes on an expletive-laden rant about political corruption. One of his students overhears, films it, puts it online, and before long, Holoborodko is a viral hero. It echoed the staunch anti-corruption campaign that Zelensky ran during his own journey towards the election victory in 2019.

Merkel gets the wrong number

The platform on which the real-life Zelensky raced to power was also pro-EU, and his country’s eagerness to join the Union was explored in the TV show — as was the apparent reluctance of those already inside the EU to accept Ukraine. This clip pokes fun at that, with a fictionalised version of the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling Holoborodko by mistake; something that feels much darker in retrospect, with Zelensky now appealing for fast-tracked entry to the EU amid the invasion.

“Putin has been toppled!”

Once president, Zelensky’s character uses some of the classroom-control tactics he picked up in secondary school, as he tries to grab the attention of quarrelling MPs by yelling “Putin has been toppled!”, before adding, “I was joking”. No-one needs to point out quite how jagged such a declaration feels now.

Holoborodko’s machine gun fantasy

One of the best-known scenes from Servant of the People is the one in which Holoborodko, facing a wall of bickering, obstinate politicians, fantasises about grabbing two machine guns and mowing them all down. It is, of course, amped up for comedic effect, but it acted as a pretty on-the-nose metaphor for the disillusionment many Ukrainians felt before Zelensky came to power.

Cycling through sunny Kyiv

In the opening credits of Servant of the People, the now-President Holoborodko cycles through Kyiv on sunny, blue-skied morning on his way to work. At the time, it was meant to show just how much of an everyman this former history teacher still was, but now, with all that’s going on in the Ukrainian capital, it’s a heartbreaking snapshot of peaceful times.

Source link