Fake BBC nuclear attack broadcast. Thoughts?

The tl;dr version is that I wonder if anyone knows who created this fake BBC nuclear attack broadcast, and why. (side note - recommendations are welcome for similar scary shit).

As a child of the 80’s, I am a big fan of nuclear horror, and sometimes I like to go on YouTube and scare the bejeezus out of myself watching clips from ‘The Day After’, ‘By Dawn’s Early Light’, ‘Threads’, etc. So a couple of years ago, this fictional clip of the BBC announcing a sudden nuclear conflict popped up in my feed out of nowhere.

My first thought was that some government or think tank produced a “what if” video as a public service to raise awareness about the dangers of nuclear war. I figured sure, the general public doesn’t appreciate this danger enough, in my opinion.

As for the film itself, it’s debatable whether the portrayed strategic or political events are realistic. I welcome anyone’s thoughts. But I think we’ll agree it’s a work of art as far as portraying the terror of watching a nuclear conflict emerge on the news.

But then I started noticing some odd things about it. Strangely, I couldn’t find any attribution anywhere at all. Then, strangely, a few months later a different version showed up - mostly the same footage, but the fictional attack and warning messages were localized for Canada. Then a few months one for the US, and another one for Australia. Again, almost all the same video footage of UK/Europe events, but with some announcements customized for a different English-speaking country.

I also felt like there was something slightly off about the tone of the announcers. It’s hard to put my finger on it. The lines are clearly conveyed to frighten the viewer with their realism, but the actors can’t seem to muster much more than feigned grave concern.

I feel like this is the sort of thing a Russian fake news farm would come up with. Just curious if anybody else has seen it and has any thoughts.

Yes, they are all strangely lacking in affect. It sounds like humans trying to imitate those youtube videos with computer synthesized speech.

One of the comments says that “Ben Marking” is responsible.

According to this, it was apparently “created by a company called Benchmarking Assessment Group as a psychometric test for their clients to see how they’d react in a disaster scenario.” The entire video was originally an hour long, so the different versions you’re seeing might be different edits of it.

Well, as a regular viewer of BBC news in the UK it is immediately obvious that it is fake. The fonts are wrong, the voices are wrong and don’t sound like professional broadcasters, there are lots of grammatical errors in the captions that even real TV wouldn’t make, the footage is really old judging by the cars and their number plates… I could go on. It’s just a run of the mill YouTube fake.

This has been done before. A major US network (I can’t remember which one at the moment) actually broadcast a dramatic nuclear attack on Charleston, SC, although there had been announcements ahead of time that it was simulated.

Special Bulletin, March 20, 1983, on NBC.

It’s very effective, because they used real actors and because they didn’t over-egg it. It’s played completely straight, no big on-air breakdowns, no wild ranting, just what newscasters do when there’s a sudden big story which catches everyone flat-footed. They had the budget to do it right, and they didn’t waste it on stuff which would be out-of-place, so it aged very well.

It’s on YouTube

I saw Special Bulletin when it first aired, and it was very dramatic and tense. I liked it.

I finally saw it a couple years ago, on You Tube. It’s very obvious that it wasn’t “real”, because it used a nonexistent network name, and isn’t in real time.

The male and female voices are recorded in different settings - there is a distinct room reverb behind the male voice, absent for the female voice. The female voice does have some of the quirks that I would normally attribute to a synthesised voice, but I think that’s probably just because she’s reading from a script.

Both voices lack the proper enunciation and cadence I would expect from BBC news staff.

I thought they sounded a bit flat, but someone told me that British news (at least BBC) was much more “boring” than US News - that they wouldn’t want to sound sensationalist or highly emotional. No idea if it’s actually true, though, as I’ve never watched a BBC news broadcast (do read articles on the website sometimes).

Here you go.

The BBC One ident going into the news is fairly horrific but that's a nerdy comment from someone who used to schedule them!

One thing to note is that BBC News presenters are journalists, rather than “presenters”.

I used to watch those youtube videos all the time. It was a channel attributed to Ben Marking, who used to also have a lot of 1980s nuclear war films on his channel. He’d make a slight variation of the original video featuring an introduction set in the USA and Australia. I assume the BBC sent him a very nasty legal notice.

I guess some people could be confused, but to me they always seemed like an amateur version of an update to the first part of Threads. Anyone paying close attention can notice all the stock footage.

They have nothing to do with Trump, I think the earliest version still had David Cameron as Prime Minister and John Kerry as Secretary of State.

As I linked above, this particular video is taken from something produced by a company called Benchmarking Assessment Group. “Ben Marking” is most likely related to that somehow. It was not originally intended to look too real or fool people, but others have posted edited versions without the disclaimers.

Here’s more from the actor who played to main broadcaster. Here’s Snopes’ take on it.

I too saw it upon it’s first broadcast? (Only broadcast?) I have it on a VHS tape around here somewhere. Very nicely done. Younger people seeing it today might find some of it corny. But I could imagine The Four Squares being a game show at the time.

The most memorable line to me: ‘Is the radiation coming yet?’

I saw Special Bulletin when it aired on TV. A friend told me later that her cousin called her crying hysterically because the cousin’s mom,(my friends aunt) lived in Charleston.

It was, IMNSHO, a superb movie, but how could anyone have thought it was real, when all you had to do was turn to another channel and not catch the crisis everywhere.

I’m sure I’ve seen an earlier version of that, perhaps a decade or two ago, and it was a proper drama done by the BBC.

Good catch, thanks.

But I mean WTF… a person pays a testing company to trick them into thinking that WWIII has broken out? WTF is that all about? If it’s not supposed to be realistic, how does it create an authentic sense of a crisis scenario? Who are the “clients” and do they have PTSD now?

I mean Christ, that seems messed up. But not Russian propaganda as I supposed.

OK, I watched it in the meantime. It appears to be some kind of template or training exercise, and it too is obviously not “real” because all the events that take place during the video just couldn’t happen all at once, not in real time, anyway.

There are some You Tube videos where someone puts one of these videos on to prank somebody, in one case his wife who’s just had a baby (although their channel is them doing similarly awful things to each other), and I personally think that’s beyond a terrible thing to do to someone, especially someone you presumably like and/or love.

Here’s an authentic prepackaged attack message. (The description mentions the specific person who made the never-aired message available.)