Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has confirmed that he is set to ‘retire’ his long-running Silvio Berlusconi character at the end of the current series.
Silvio is Cohen’s oldest surviving character, having been around for some 17 years, and probably his most well known around the world. Ironically, as the character is so convincing, many people don’t even realise that Berlusconi is a comedy character, so his creator gets much more recognition for his Ali G, Borat and Brüno personas.
‘Silvio will always be very dear to me as the guise of a politician has allowed me access to some of the world’s most powerful figures, who would never have granted Ali G or Borat an interview.’ said Cohen, ‘It’s amazing how people let their guard down when they believe they’re in the presence of a fun-loving, racist, sexist simpleton, and there have been some classic comedy moments over the years.’
He may not have offered the same opportunity for cheap gags, like lowering his bare buttocks into Eminem’s face, as Brüno, although a similar stunt was suggested to Angela Merkel and rejected, but Silvio still provided great entertainment for viewers. The hilarious Bunga-Bunga scandal will live long in the memory, but his creator’s favourite moment was getting him elected.
‘I still can’t believe he was voted in as Prime Minister even once, that’s just priceless.’ continued Cohen, ‘Unfortunately he has become so well known now that the effect has been lost somewhat, and it’s time for him to step aside. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to the Italian people for running their country into the ground in the name of comedy, I just hope they can see the funny side when they look back.’
Although this signals the end of regular appearances on our screens for Berlusconi there are likely to be numerous specials over the coming years. Including a rumoured movie deal for 2012 where Silvio, no longer benefitting from immunity from prosecution, faces trial on charges of massive corruption and embezzlement.