Channel 4 has revealed its now traditional Alternative Christmas Message will be delivered by “Queen Elizabeth II” on Christmas Day; or rather, a simulacrum of the Queen will present the message using “deepfake” technology.
Billed as an “alternative message for a very alternative year” Channel 4 has released a teaser clip of the five-minute message, which will actually be voiced by former Coronation Street star Debra Stephenson, who has previously imitated Her Majesty in shows such as Spitting Image.
While Stephenson’s delivery might not win any awards, Channel 4’s stated purpose of giving a “stark warning” about the increasingly blurry lines between truth and “fake media” could be a success.
In the alternative message, Stephenson as the Queen says: “If there is a theme to my message today, it is trust. Trust in what is genuine and what is not.
The Queen then riffs on the importance of family at this time: “Which is why I was so saddened by the departure of Harry and Meghan. There are few things more hurtful than someone telling you they prefer the company of Canadians.”
— Channel 4 (@Channel4) December 23, 2020
She reportedly adds: “But at least I still have my beloved Andrew close by. It seems unlikely he’ll be heading to North America any time soon.”
The Queen also appears to dance on a table for a TikTok viral video during the message, which she hopes might win her a place on Strictly Come Dancing.
As well, she reveals what she has been up to during lockdown, which involved a lot of “Netflix and Phil”.
According to the BBC, the deepfake has been created by Oscar-winning VFX studio Framestore.
The Alternative Christmas Message screens at 3.25pm on Channel 4, at the same time the Queen’s official Christmas Message goes out on the BBC and ITV.