Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become known around the world as a charismatic and defiant leader and key figure in determining the course of the current crisis in his country. But before being elected Ukraine’s president in a landslide victory in 2019, he was an actor and comedian, providing the voice of Paddington Bear in the Ukraine, winning the country’s version of Strictly Come Dancing and starring and producing satirical series, Servant of the People, the latter a poignant precursor to his real-life election victory.

Servant of the People, to be broadcast on Channel 4 this Sunday, sees Zelenskyy play a high school teacher who accidentally becomes Ukrainian President after a video of him condemning government corruption goes viral on social media. From its first broadcast in 2015, it was hugely popular and became a record breaker for Ukrainian broadcaster, 1+1, racking up three series and a feature film.

Following the series’ success and popularity with the Ukrainian public and in a climate of voter dissatisfaction, Zelenskyy ran for and won a landslide victory in the 2019 presidential election, with a campaign promising an end to the corruption that his fictional character in Servant of the People, also fights against.

Servant of The People won the Gold Remi Award for Television Comedy at the 2016 WorldFest in Houston. It won a Silver Award at the World Media Festival in Hamburg and was a finalist at the Seoul International Drama Awards in 2016.

Servant of the People is produced by Studio Kvartal 95 for Channel 1+1, distributed by Eccho Rights.

Zelenskyy: The Man Who Took on Putin

Zelenskyy: The Man Who Took on Putin, is a 30-minute Channel 4 current affairs special commissioned by Louisa Compton, Head of News and Current Affairs, that charts the incredible rise of the comedian, actor and entertainer who has become a president, war-time leader and global figure. 

The programme tells the story of Zelenskyy’s rise to fame – from an actor and stand-up comedian, to the political outsider who became the unlikely head of his nation and has now been forced to stand up to the might of the Russian war machine and its leader, Vladimir Putin. 

The film will also explore the man behind the series of game changing social media and TV appearances which have encapsulated the defiant response of a nation. What motivates him? How did he transform from joker to leader and what is the next chapter of his story?

It will look at Zelenskyy’s beliefs and policies and paint an intimate portrait of the former TV personality who has now become a war hero to Ukrainians.

Ian Katz, Channel 4 Chief Content Officer said: “We know from the huge audiences coming to our comprehensive news coverage of the war in Ukraine that our viewers have a real thirst to understand the conflict and the individuals who are shaping it. In the space of a few weeks Volodymyr Zelenskyy has become one of the most admired and speculated about men in the world and broadcasting our current affairs special, Zelenskyy: The Man Who Took on Putin and Servant of the People across Sunday night will give viewers access to deep insight into how he shot to political prominence, the foundations of his popular appeal and his intuitive grasp of how to exploit both traditional and social media. The battle in Ukraine is as much an information war as a military one and these two programmes will show that Zelenskyy was a formidable information warrior long before he was a war leader.”

Zelenskyy: The Man Who Took On Putin will broadcast on Channel 4 on Sunday 6th March at 6.45pm, followed by three episodes of Servant of The People at 10:35pm. Series 1 and 2 of Servant of the People will be available in full on All 4 at a later date.