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The Happy Dictator

Format: 1 x 49
Broadcaster(s):  Channel 4

Deep in the heart of Central Asia lies one of the world’s most secretive countries – Turkmenistan. Run until recently by a crazy dictator whose megalomania spawned a personality cult to rival that of Chairman Mao, this unlikely desert republic has earned itself a grim reputation as ‘the North Korea of Central Asia’. But since no one is usually allowed in or out, the truth about Turkmenistan is impossible to separate from the rumours and the legends. Until now.

In this quirky and highly entertaining documentary, well-known critic Waldemar Januszczak journeys to Turkmenistan to investigate the myth of the now deceased Turkmenbashi the Great who retained absolute control over the country, forbidding photography, reporters, dogs, cinemas, circuses, car radios and ballet!

Posing as a tourist who goes to Turkmenistan for a stag weekend, Januszczak goes undercover in this bizarre country to separate the facts from the fiction. And he’s taken his camera with him…

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