If you're British and interested in aliens, check out three programs on More4 on Saturday from 19:00 to 23:10 or the repeats, starting from 23:15. I've no idea what it'll be like, but thought I'd give everyone the heads up.
"This Saturday night (14 March) sees More4 dedicate its schedule to some out-of-this-world programming for Aliens Night. In an all new one-off documentary airing first on More4’s Alien Night, comedian and presenter Dan Schreiber has gone in search of some of the Britons who believe in a huge government cover-up of extra-terrestrial life.
The Great UFO Conspiracy will air Saturday 14 March at 9:05pm on More4.
You’ve made a film, The Great UFO Conspiracy – what’s it all about?
It’s looking at the phenomena of conspiracy theories to do with aliens UFOS. Most of the time, when you think about that stuff, you think of the USA, of Area 51 and Roswell and so on. It all seems to be America-based. But actually, Britain has a huge role in the constant stream of theories of what’s going on. And this country has some of the largest ever encounters that are acknowledged worldwide by the community. So I wanted to find out more about the people who are leading the front, who think there’s something more going on.
Is this an area you’ve been interested in in the past?
Yeah, I’m interested in it in a slightly lateral, leftfield kind of way. I love the storytelling. I love the way the theories are put together. I see it as a type of storytelling that nobody really acknowledges. It’s a group of people looking at a thing and coming up with an alternative story and timeline for. And they all contribute to it, worldwide. And it adds to this bigger story, this growing, creative idea. The difference between them and me is that they believe it to be true, whereas I don’t. But I don’t think that should step in the way of admiring what’s a great story.
How much of this did you know before you embarked on your journey? Did what you encountered surprise you?
Oh, I was totally surprised. My background is in making sure that I know virtually everything about a subject before I get involved with it. That’s from a background of working on shows like QI. But on this show, the production team didn’t want me to find out anything beforehand. They wanted me to be put into the situation and learn on the spot. So I did go in thinking I’d know the majority of the theories, but there are so many of them, you just can’t get a handle on them. And also, all the theories that I thought were dead, like crop circles, are now alive again, and being reinterpreted. For example, we know they were created as a prank, but now the theory is that the pranksters were actually having their actions controlled by aliens. I love it that you can’t seem to kill a conspiracy theory – it will find a new way to live.
Almost by definition, these are people who are very suspicious of the motives of others, especially establishment organisations like broadcasters. Was it difficult to get them to trust you?
It’s a really odd one. They all seem to hate the BBC with a total passion, They think everyone’s involved. But this thing has grown so big, as an industry, that people are making their living off the back of talking about these theories or writing books about them. There’s so much money now being made that you can live your life by these theories. So they have to co-operate with the devil, because they know they can get more exposure for a talk that they’re going to do, or a book that they’re going to do.
What did you think if the people you spoke to?
I really liked them all, and found them really interesting. And one thing that struck me was that when we weren’t talking about UFO stuff, they’re all really chatty, nice, friendly, likeable people, who liked a laugh and liked to talk about football. One of them, a guy called Tony, very openly says that the last few years of his life have been absolute hell, he’s gone through various things. We didn’t go into what that was – I imagine depression was involved – so they’re not all completely rounded, happy, optimistic people. But if you’re sitting in a pub and start talking about acting or movies, they’re all interested in talking about that stuff.
Some of these guys seemed a convinced the authorities were after them. Do you think any of them were genuinely scared for their safety?
Tony says that he is, or certainly that he was. I spoke to a guy called Timothy Good, he struck me as someone who was just reporting facts, very much in control. He didn’t seem scared at all. Some of them I found it hard to tell. I didn’t know where the jokes stopped and the beliefs began. So this guy Miles was an example. If we were meant to be meeting someone, and they’d be running late, and you’d receive two of the same text, he’d say “When you get two, it means the government are watching you, and that’s why she had to disappear.” And then you’d wonder if he actually believed that, or was just winding me up.
Where do these ideas germinate from?
That’s a good question. I went to a conference, and everyone was doing these talks, and I had a weird feeling. I do stand up comedy, and half the time you’re trying out new material to see how it’s received, and at this conference, it felt the same. People were standing up and offering new theories and new connections they’d made, and sussing it out with the crowd. It felt like a new material night for theories. But I think that these theories just seem to pop up out of nowhere.
You don’t try to debunk these theories. Why did you adopt that approach?
That wasn’t the focus of the show for me. None of us wanted to make something that was laughing at these people. It was more a matter of going “Look, this is an actual thing that’s happening, and millions of people around the world believe in it,” and if you’re at a dinner party and you’re sitting next to one of these people, you can either say that they’re mad, or dangerous, or idiots, or you could have a good conversation with them. I’m more interested in just hearing from them what they think is going on and why. If you see a documentary with Richard Dawkins, you don’t have time to understand what the religious person thinks, because Dawkins is shouting them down. That’s in no way productive for a conversation.
What are your own theories about extra-terrestrials?
I think that there’s alien life out there. I almost think it would be weird to think that there wasn’t, the Universe being what it is. I just don’t think that we’ve necessarily been visited yet. All they’ve done is gone one step further, and then added a whole conspiracy side to it, with the government being involved."