This high-concept mockumentary had been billed as “an apocalyptic portrayal of what British life would be like under Nigel Farage as PM” – and that was just the Daily Mail talking yesterday, as it reported the complaints to Ofcom before the show had even aired.
Sadly, for a British audience starved of cutting political satire at a time of high stakes both at home and abroad, the only record broken by ‘UKIP: The First 100 Days’ was the biggest amount of controversy created with the smallest amount of money ever spent on a TV production budget.
Some adventurous filmmaker had obviously been watching the likes of Mashable, taking a leaf out of the talented book of CassetteBoy, and decided some splicing and dicing real-life archive footage, along with a fictional protagonist in the shape of Deepa Kaur – ‘UKIP’s only female Asian MP’ – would suffice to tell the tedious but terrible tale of Nigel in Number 10.
Thanks to UKIP’s thus-far pretty basic philosophies – something along the lines of ‘Out, out, out’ last time I flicked through the pamphlet – the full tale was indeed told, but it remained a thin one. We saw the raid of businesses suspected of hoarding immigrants, the redundancy of workers employed by Euro-funded pockets, the billow of smoke back in pubs. Country gone to dogs, message received, by us and by our heroine, who had her 100 days in the wilderness before getting swiftly out of Dodge.
The problem is, as a regular follower of ‘Have I Got News For You’, there was very little archive footage that was new here, even if MEP Godfrey Bloom’s antics do stand up to repeated viewing. Charlie Brooker covers this lot in 10 minutes on his Wipe. Even Jon Stewart’s raised an eyebrow in swift surmise from his US perch, so the shock factor was somewhat dimmed through familiarity, even if it was presented in a novel way.
Of course, UKIP have spun the whole thing as proof that “those lefties at Channel 4” are quivering in their boots, and that this can only boost their ratings.
I don’t think it will do that, but nor will the unrealistic depiction of midnight raids on buildings and bricks through windows force through any votes against them. In short, nobody watching will find their opinion remotely altered by these antics, but they can, at least, find room to celebrate the fact that, in this volatile era, satire is alive if not well on this side of the Atlantic, just casually executed, and painfully underfunded. I can only wonder what Chris Morris would have done with such a commission.