Ofcom, the communications regulator in the UK, today announced the findings of its investigation into ‘Ukip: The First 100 Days’, Channel 4’s “ground-breaking and provocative fictional documentary set in a fabricated future where UKIP have won the 2015 general election.”
The programme was first shown on Monday 16th February this year. Within hours of broadcast it began to rack up complaints from the viewing public. A week later Ofcom announced it would investigate the most complained about one-off television programme this year.
The ‘fly-on-the-wall style’ mockumentary combines genuine news footage of Nigel Farage and other prominent politicians with the fictional story of a fictional female Asian UKIP candidate elected to serve as a Member of Parliament.
The central character, Deepa Kaur, is a British Sikh elected to represent Romford in Essex as their UKIP MP. Her win is part of a wider victory at the general election which installs Nigel Farage as Prime Minister governing the country with a slight majority. The new UKIP government wastes no time in setting about reforming the country with critical policies such as bringing back smoking in pubs.
Meanwhile on the private domestic front, Kaur’s brother is made redundant from his factory job following Britain’s independence from the European Union. He opposed her politics in any case, but his redundancy caused by the economic effects of withdrawal from the EU exacerbates their rivalry.
As civil unrest bubbles up between supporters and critics of the new administration, including one far-right protest where the only visible banner was the flag of Israel, the government responds by announcing a new bank holiday and a Festival of Britain to divert the electorate’s attention from the financial situation.
In order to enforce immigration rules the government employs ex-soldiers to seek out illegal immigrants working in curry houses. As UKIP’s Asian MP it is made clear to Kaur by a Machiavellian spin doctor that she should promote the policy both by giving speeches in support and by publicly participating in one of the paramilitary style raids. While attending one of the immigration raids she witnesses a violent attack on an innocent Asian teenager and becomes involved with trumped up charges the police bring against him for assault.
Kaur finally undergoes a Damascene conversion, standing as a witness in support of the teenager who is now the subject of his own Twitter hashtag “#savesabir” and denouncing the raids, thus ruining her chances of promised promotion. The programme closes with an emotional reconciliation between Kaur and her brother as the country teeters on the brink of self-destruction just 100 days into UKIP’s first government.
Complaints made to Ofcom alleged that the broadcaster’s impartiality had been compromised in the run up to the general election by what was said to be a calculated “hatchet job.” The use of genuine archive footage of both known UKIP politicians and crowds of their supporters spliced together with fictional speeches and events was singled out for criticism. Channel 4 risked being fined if found to be have been at fault in broadcasting the programme.
Ofcom has now presented its ruling. Channel 4 will face no sanctions.
An Ofcom spokesman said:
“Ofcom carefully investigated this dramatisation of what the first 100 days under a UKIP government would be like and has found the programme did not breach the Broadcasting Code. We found it was not misleading, taking account that it was clearly presented as a fictional drama, and that the depictions of UKIP policy were closely based on the party’s recent announcements, in particular on immigration and the EU. It was duly impartial because it included numerous statements, both from archive clips and from actors, who expressed support for UKIP and its policies.”
A UKIP spokesman said: “UKIP made no complaint, and therefore have nothing to complain about. The film was clearly fiction. Utterly wrong headed of course but that is the point of modern fiction it seems”.
Channel 4 is yet to announce “The Green Party: The First 100 Days” or “Ed Miliband: The First 100 Days.”