Channel 4’s mockumentary Ukip: The First 100 Days, aired last night, has been widely panned by critics and the public alike as “agitprop” and a “hatchet job”. Channel 4 has not sought to deny the extreme political bias of the piece, justifying it on the grounds that Ukip has “to be a grown up political party”. Ofcom has confirmed that it received 19 complaints about the program before it was even broadcast.
The fictional satire imagines Ukip delivering a surprise win at the next General Election and Farage being handed the keys to Downing Street. It then charts the first 100 days of the new Ukip administration through the eyes of Deepa Kaur, a young Sikh woman who becomes the MP for Romford East.
At first she is full of zeal for the party, but as the UK descends into a dystopian nightmare replete with bricks through windows and rioting masses, Kaur has misgivings and grows sceptical of being used as the party’s token “brown face”.
So Channel Four is running a hatchet job on UKIP. Fortunately the Great British Public recognise Agitprop when they see it. And ignore it.
— Roger Helmer (@RogerHelmerMEP) February 15, 2015
#100DaysOfUKIP watching this programme is making me feel physically sick. Disgraceful propaganda
— Bill Etheridge (@BillDudleyNorth) February 16, 2015
“This dystopian vision of a Ukip-ruled UK could hardly be described as “balanced”, noted the Independent. “If it had more of The Thick of It’s sneer, it might have been funnier, but it would also have been less effective at the job in hand – scaring the bejesus out of mainstream voters.”
The Guardian also ridiculed the program’s hysteria, saying “Those used to more sophistication in their political satire (and it does attempt a satirical tone) might be disappointed by the rather binary nature of this tale. It just stops short of depicting a grinning Farage holding up the smoking doorknob of No 10, grinning apologetically among its ruins like a wretched Frank Spencer while chaos descends around him.”
Whilst James Delingpole writing for the Mail remarked that Farage was “the victim of a hatchet-job so blatant it might just as well have been called: ‘Vote Farage, Get Hitler! … This was Ukip presented very much from the Left’s perspective: as racist, chauvinistic and jingoistic.”
As would be expected, Ukip MEPs took to Twitter to defend their party. Roger Helmer MEP called the program a “hatchet job” and “agitprop”, whilst Bill Etheridge MEP slammed it as “disgraceful propaganda” which made him “feel physically sick”.
Farage also commented on the show, tweeting “Look like #100DaysOfUKIP may well have backfired on Channel 4. A biased, partisan depiction of the only party that Believes in Britain.”
Look like #100DaysOfUKIP may well have backfired on Channel 4. A biased, partisan depiction of the only party that Believes in Britain.
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) February 16, 2015
But the criticism wasn’t only leveled by Ukip members. Conservative journalist Iain Dale said he was disgusted and asked “How did it ever get commissioned let alone shown?” Before predicting that the show would “rebound” on Channel 4, by persuading floating voters to back Ukip in order to stick it to the “metrosexuals”.
It's hard 2 express the disgust I feel towards C4 over their abortion of a UKIP programme. How did it ever get commissioned let alone shown?
— Iain Dale (@IainDale) February 16, 2015
The C4 show will rebound on them. I suspect any floating voters watching will think "Fuck it, I'll show these C4 metrosexuals what for."
— Iain Dale (@IainDale) February 16, 2015
Others picked up on specific aspects of the show such as the use of an Israeli flag to portray the “far right” during a protest, or the cynical use of an Asian actress to make a political point.
— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) February 16, 2015
Many have questioned the legality of broadcasting such a blatantly biased program so close to the election:
— Marty Caine (@Marty_Caine) February 16, 2015
Has Channel 4 completely lost its corporate mind? I can see lawsuits coming its way. #100daysofukip
— Andrew Allison (@andrew_allison) February 16, 2015
— mkpdavies (@mkpdavies) February 17, 2015
Well, this is subtle. Plague of locusts next? #UKIP100Days
— Christopher Snowdon (@cjsnowdon) February 16, 2015
According to Guido Fawkes Ofcom has already received upwards of 1,000 complaints, but Channel 4 are defending the program, telling the Guardian “The idea that you have to be even-handed in a fictional piece is ridiculous. You have to look at Channel 4’s coverage in the round.
“Gogglebox did a piece with Nigel Farage which was extremely pro-Ukip, it was essentially a platform for Farage. He was allowed to have his pint and a chat.”