Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back | TV review by Steve Bennett © BBC

Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back

TV review by Steve Bennett

This seems like it could - maybe - have been a good idea for a two-minute Dead Ringers sketch. But stretching the idea of what Nigel Farage gets up to away from frontline politics into a 35-minute mockumentary makes for very slim pickings indeed.

In Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back, he’s depicted as a lost creature at a loose end, reduced to doing crosswords, rejecting offers to appear on reality TV shows and swearing at Pointless – a far cry from the days when the political world revolved around him. His only sanctuary is, of course, the pub where he can bark off about foreigners to a sympathetic landlord over various pints of real ale, all named after some fragment of Little Englander iconography.

It seems like we’re supposed to feel sorry for a man no longer with a sense of purpose. Which is the exact-same thing missing here. Where’s the attitude? Where’s the humour supposed to come from? If we’re to buy the idea he is a sad, out-of-touch relic we have to ignore all his toxic effects on politics. Do we laugh at his viewpoints? He says nothing here much different from his actual pronouncements.

Indeed, writers Alan Connor and Shaun Pye have pretty much stuck to the image we already have of Farage, fostered by the man himself: an everyman with a pint in his hand, an aversion to compromise and saying what he believes we’re all thinking. No wonder Kevin Bishop’s portrayal seems very convincing… though he is an excellent mimic. Also, the real Farage has that knack of seeming jovial without actually making any jokes – another technique the makers of this have taken to heart.

What this fictional Farage wants in his new life isn’t clear, adding to the overwhelming sense of aimlessness. Writing 101 is to figure out a character’s motivation, but that’s completely absent here. Nor is their a big plot that might hide this vacuum. 

Farage was supposed to have quit as Ukip leader to spend more time with his family. But the joke is they apparently don’t want to spend time with him, so remain unseen. A possible turning point when he’s offered a transatlantic jaunt to join the Trump campaign, reflecting real life, which we don’t see either – even though it could have the comic potential of him lost amid a vast political machine. That said, Armando Iannucci already covered those bases with his film In The Loop.

Perhaps the BBC’s adherence to impartiality meaning punches have been pulled here, but this show has achieved the impossible –and managed to make ‘one of the most divisive men in Britain’  tediously bland. I want my 35 minutes back…

Review date: 30 Oct 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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