This is a thoroughly unreliable review of the BBC2 television programme Nigel Farage gets his Life back, broadcast Sunday 30th October 2016
Why am I publishing a review if I think it is thoroughly unreliable? Because the topic of the past and present leader of UKIP, and the treatment by the BBC are both of wider interest to anyone interested in leadership.
Excuses and apologies
I feel some apology is needed for busy subscribers who have little time to read more reliable reviews. Sorry, I missed the first bit of the programme, and I missed its last few minutes. These parts may have been quite different to the chunk in the middle which I watched. But that’s partly why this is such an unreliable source of information
The tweet that caught my attention
Shortly after the programme ended, as I was preparing my night cap and my night socks, my attention was caught by a tweet.
Notice how most of the people who hated Nigel farage gets his life back on @BBCTwo are ukip supporters. Can’t take a bit of satire.
— stefan roy (@1stefan) October 30, 2016
The tweeter had noted that most of the people who hated the program were UKIP supporters.
As a non-UKIPPER I could see why that may have been the case for this segement of the voting population . But by then, while not exactly hating the programme, and not exactly a UKIP supporter, I felt what I had seen was on the unfunny side of funny.
I wondered whether there might be shared views here between sniffy UKIP supporters and others. A nice test, I thought, might be to compare the views of two heavyweights of the mainstream media. I chose the Telegraph for the forces on the right, and The guardian for those leaning towards the righteous. TheTelegraph can be a UKIP surrogate (just like Nigel himself can be a Trump surrogate).
Maybe, I thought, The Telegraph would be with me, taking the view that the programme was not going to become a classic, endlessly recycled eventually reaching the Dave TV channels. And the Guardian’s view might be closer to Mr Roy’s.
For the Telegraph the programme was wry but ineffective as satire:
Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back is a fly-on-the-wall mockumentary [which] imagined the Leave campaigner’s summer break after the EU referendum, and his subsequent third resignation as Ukip leader. Admittedly, he soon unresigned again.
As a character comedy, it was wryly tragicomic. The gulf between Farage’s pompous bluster and the insecure windbag beneath was reminiscent of Alan Partridge. As political satire, however, it was less effective. Farage is an easy target and most of the barbs here would simply bounce off him. Not that he would pay any heed to something on the Biased Broadcast Corporation, anyway
Ouch. [I Seem to remember the Biased Broadcast Corporation is a quote from the programme.]
This mockumentary follows Nige (Kevin Bishop) as he returns to Little England life, something that mainly consists of pints, puzzles, episodes of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and a sense of irrelevance. The premise is obviously to recast Farage as a lovable buffoon.
Ouch again. Note. The Guardian review was rather brief, as if the reviewer had more important programmes to review. The reviewer didn’t need much in the way of recasting to describe Farage as a loveable buffoon.
“What’s your point?”
As someone asked in a subsequent tweet. What’s my point?
I suppose I was interested in the programme, trying to figure out what it was intended to do, and what effect it might have had on reviewers and viewers with differing views on Nigel and his leadership style.
I suspect Stefan Roy was right about the rather heated views expressed by UKIP supporters.
On reflection, the reviewers I read were mostly in agreement that Kevin Bishop had been given an opportunity to demonstrate his remarkable mimicry skills (he claims to have smoked thirty cigarettes a day to get his voice into condition for the part). They also liked some of the jokes, although considering them rather as amusing rather than bitingly satirical.
But now I think about it, who promised viewers they were in for a satirical treat?