Remote Control - Sunday March 01, 2015

UKIP South Thanet chairman Martyn Heale on Meet The Ukippers
UKIP South Thanet chairman Martyn Heale on Meet The Ukippers
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Dog days at the seaside for Farage

If a dog hotel with a front room filled with porcelain clowns was a metaphor for any political party then it would have to be UKIP.

In fact this mildly dystopian description is more than metaphor – it is a reality, one which was beamed into living rooms across the land, courtesy of BBC2’s startling documentary Meet The Ukippers (Sunday 10pm).

The hour-long programme was the ultimate guilty pleasure, one long televisual car crash which focused largely on the unheralded members of a party which threatens to change the face of British politics.

The documentary focused on the Thanet South constituency, which is to be contested by UKIP’s idiosyncratic leader Nigel Farage, the man who revels in his party’s status as the ‘fox in the Westminster hen house’.

Love him or loath him, Farage is something of a superstar who is well versed in the dark arts of politics, having been an MEP for 16 years, but is often left badly exposed by the challenges leading a party containing many inexperienced and, quite frankly, odd, individuals poses.

If UKIP were a rock band it would be INXS – an average group whose success was largely due to the flamboyance of front man Michael Hutchence.

This shortcoming was brilliantly exposed when the film crew visited a training day at a hotel in the run-down resort of Margate where Farage, resplendent in yellow cords, was the guest of honour. After a question and answer session, the MC gleefully announced there would be a chance for party members to have their picture taken with their Man.

It required very little work but a panning shot by the crew managed to portray a scene which was a cross between a Little Britain sketch and Cantina Bar in Star Wars, such was the collection of unique looking folk on display. Things got much, much worse for UKIP when a, since sacked, local councillor brazenly told a colleague, in the room full of clowns inside the dog hotel, how she had a problem with ‘negroes’, in a scene which must count as one of the most cringe-worthy to have been broadcast in years.

While this was clearly an embarrassment and not what the party set out to achieve when they agreed to give the programme makers to film what they wanted, it is unlikely to damage the party as none of this will be a surprise or a shock to supporters and opponents alike.