UK political leaders sing Do They Know It's Christmas? in election deepfake

It took two weeks to create video in which Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn appear to swap TV studio for recording studio.


A campaign group launched by Queen guitarist Brian May has produced a deepfake video that portrays the UK’s political party leaders recording a version of Do They Know It’s Christmas?.

The song, popularised 35 years ago as a Band Aid charity single, appears to show politicians including Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn getting together in a recording studio and performing the track together. Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon appears to be playing drums, while Brexit Party head Nigel Farage plays the ukulele.

While the deepfake tech itself works well (the leaders’ faces appear to move naturally as if they are really singing the song), the video is rendered less effective because the vocal impressions of the leaders are unconvincing, as are some of the body shapes on which their faces have been superimposed.

Deepfakes can be very convincing if done well, such as this year’s parody of Mark Zuckerberg by artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe in which the Facebook founder is "seen" bragging about being in control of people’s stolen data.  

A post shared by Bill Posters (@bill_posters_uk) on

The Common Decency movement, a creative collective launched by May in 2015, created the video in two weeks as part of its "#GeneralAffection" campaign.

The group’s aim is to remind people to be kinder to one another during a fractious election. It also wants politicians to stop using divisive language and "help heal a divided United Kingdom through collaboration, civility and humility helping people of the UK reach a better future, together".

A spokesman from Common Decency said: "Everyone’s feeling the weight of the upcoming election. At a time of year when we should all be celebrating coming together, we’ve never felt more divided. 

"We wanted to create an entertaining piece of film that reminded everyone that it’s OK to be civil with those who think differently. We just hope our squabbling leaders take note."

Do They Know It’s Christmas? was covered by a collection of Labour MPs in 2016 in a version that drew attention to unscrupulous employers using the then recently introduced National Living Wage as an excuse to change employment terms and conditions. The singers included Angela Rayner, who has been tipped by some as the party's next leader, should Labour lose tomorrow's election.