Ukip hails Channel 4 ‘Guardian TV’ drama but 700 complain
A UKIP MP believes a Channel 4 docudrama will only boost his party’s appeal with voters, as the communications watchdog received more than 700 complaints.
Douglas Carswell said the broadcaster had missed the chance to provide “genuine radicalism” on television with Ukip: The First 100 Days, adding: “We just got Guardian television.”
The programme mixed archive footage with imagined scenes, which included the depiction of rioting on the streets in the wake of a Ukip general election victory.
Ofcom said the programme prompted 731 complaints since it was shown last night.
“We will assess these complaints before deciding whether to investigate,” an Ofcom spokesman said.
Ukip MEP and parliamentary candidate Gerald Batten called on Ofcom to launch an investigation to establish whether the programme breached the broadcasting code.
But Channel 4 defended the programme, insisting that it was fully in compliance with the code.
Mr Carswell, who became Ukip’s first elected MP last October, said: “We are doing a great deal of work in the key seats that Ukip is focused on winning and the Channel 4 mockumentary reinforces the view amongst those voters that we are presided over by a smug, arrogant, out-of-touch commentariat class.
“The mockumentary was supposed to damage Ukip but I think it’s reinforced the sense of cultural alienation and I think it makes people more likely to vote for Ukip against the cartel in Westminster.
“Our cultural elites are just not good with politics - they are out of touch with the voters of Britain.”
Mr Carswell said he found it interesting that the programme did not focus on Ukip’s “success built on credible, liberal policies” demonstrated in recent by-elections.
The Clacton MP said: “It’s the most egregious of bias but we have that from the state-funded and state-backed mainstream media every day. We get it from the BBC.”
Mr Carswell said he could not imagine a similar programme being made about the Green Party, adding: “The only truth the documentary revealed was the bias of the commentariat class. I think it will magnify Ukip’s appeal. We need to get our country back.”
Asked if he had watched the Channel 4 show, the former Tory said: “I have to say I kept being interrupted by phone calls. I have seen it.”
The programme - which depicted riots between protesters for and against tough anti-immigration raids and featured a factory closing after the UK withdraws from the EU - was strongly condemned by party leader Nigel Farage.
“Look like 100 Days Of Ukip may well have backfired on Channel 4. A biased, partisan depiction of the only party that believes in Britain,” he wrote on his Twitter feed.
Mr Batten told LBC Radio: “I’m not quite sure what you would describe it as, apart from a piece of bile and vitriol from our political opponents, who don’t happen to be in a political party - they’re in a TV channel and don’t have to go through the inconvenience of running for office.
“They can just spout their views and don’t actually have to go out and defend them in elections, which we do.”
The programme featured actress Priyanga Burford playing the part of the party’s only Asian woman MP.
Her character is elected for Romford in an imagined landslide which puts Mr Farage in No 10 and she is left grappling with her conscience amid the raids and protests.
Channel 4 - which received around 250 complaints - said “a lot of research” went into the film and Mr Farage had been invited to watch it before it was broadcast and then to do an interview afterwards but he declined.
In a statement, it said: “This rise of Ukip’s electoral support is one of the biggest political phenomena in recent years and this is reflected in The First 100 Days, which used policies and statements made by the party and its members to create a fictional future where the party is in power.
“The programme was produced in accordance with the Ofcom broadcast code and its obligations to be fair, accurate and duly impartial. The election period set out in the Ofcom broadcasting code has not started.
“Channel 4 has a role to encourage debate and engage viewers in political issues - and the schedule will include a broad range of programming in the build-up to the election, including news and current affairs investigations, a party leader debate and a major new political drama on the formation of the coalition government.”