Deepfake Queen to deliver Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message
James R | On 24, Dec 2020
For the first time Her Majesty the Queen will appear to deliver Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message. The annual televised Christmas Day broadcast, usually a message of hope and unity, will be turned by Channel 4 into a stark warning about the advanced technology that is enabling the proliferation of misinformation and fake news in a digital age.
Startlingly familiar at first, the Queen will speak “plainly and from the heart” in the address to reveal what she and Philip have been up to in lockdown, offer a hint about Prince Andrew’s future travel plans and share what she really thinks of Harry and Meghan’s move. Following a TikTok dance routine the Queen will say the theme of her Christmas message is “trust” and in a final remark warn viewers to question “whether what we see and hear is always as it seems”.
The Queen on screen has been created by Oscar-winning VFX studio Framestore. Deepfake technology can be used to create convincing, yet entirely fictional video content of people in the public eye, and therefore can be used to spread misinformation. With such advancements in technology enabling a slick and believable presentation of misinformation across all areas of life, from politics to public health, it’s never been more important to seek out trusted sources.
The four-minute film features Debra Stephenson as the Queen and is directed by Framestore’s BAFTA-winning director William Bartlett. The script was written by James Kettle.
Channel 4 Director of Programmes Ian Katz said: “Deepfake technology is the frightening new frontier in the battle between misinformation and truth. This year’s Alternative Christmas Address – seemingly delivered by one of the most familiar and trusted figures in the nation – is a powerful reminder that we can no longer trust our own eyes.”
The Alternative Christmas Message airs at 3.25pm on Christmas Day on Channel 4. Channel 4 will continue to explore the emergence of synthetic media in the Dispatches documentary Deepfakes: Can You Believe Your Eyes airing on 28th December.