Ukip: The First 100 Days – why Farage can heave a sigh of relief
Fictional drama about Ukip rule prompts complaints of political bias, but critics say it lacks sophistication
Channel 4's "what if" drama about Britain under Ukip rule prompted 19 complaints of political bias to Ofcom before it even aired last night – but today's reviews suggest its leader Nigel Farage has little to worry about from this "unsophisticated" satire.
Ukip: The First 100 Days, created by Starsuckers filmmaker Chris Atkins, mixes real news footage and fictional scenes to portray a scenario where Ukip wins the 7 May general election.
Neil Hamilton takes up the role of deputy prime minister, an exit from the EU leads to industry closures and race riots break out as the party's anti-immigration policies take effect.
The one-hour drama could hardly be described as "balanced", says The Independent's Ellen E Jones, but she points out that, shown outside the election period, it didn't have to be.
"Even so, it wasn't as vicious an attack as Farage might have feared," she says. The drama plumped for plausibility over the obvious gag, meaning Ukip were portrayed as a "serious electoral prospect" – although she adds that this in itself would be enough to "scare the bejesus out of mainstream voters".
A few critics drew comparisons to the first radio broadcast of HG Wells's War of the Worlds that famously caused panic among listeners believing it to be a real alien invasion.
Alex Hardy at The Times says Ukip: The First 100 Days was certainly "apocalyptical" both in terms of the depth of gloom it imagined and how "sickeningly authentic" it sometimes felt.
He commended the point that the producers were trying to make ("that Farage and co are hoisting themselves by their own petard") but says that "ultimately everything was laid on so thick that it felt not only over-manipulative but also incredibly mawkish, especially in the closing twists".
Ben Lawrence at the Daily Telegraph thought the drama's "fatal error" was reducing the white working class courted by Farage to an "unruly, stereotyped mob".
As a result, it was laced with the "same metropolitan snideness that destroyed MP Emily Thornberry's career when she tweeted a picture of a St George flag-covered house last year", he concludes.
The Guardian's Julia Raeside praises Priyanga Burford's "great" performance as Deepa Kaur, the fictional Ukip MP who stars in the show, but she agrees that "the fictional Britain that votes for a Ukip government doesn't convince nearly as much".
Ultimately, she says, the satire lacked sophistication. "What could have been a nuanced look at a British political phenomenon, ends up not just pat, but feeling like a giant pat on the head," says Raeside. "It won't aid Ukip's cause in the run up to the election, but it probably won't make much of a dent in it either."