Channnel 4 to turn HMRC into crime-busting heroes with Meet The Taxman docu-series

New series will assist HMRC’s attempts to present a positive public image

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The Independent Culture

The grey, penny-pinching tax man will be rebranded as a crime-busting investigator who brings tax-evading fat cats to justice in a new Channel 4 series.

The broadcaster has been given unprecedented access to HM Revenue and Customs for Meet The Taxman, an observational documentary series made by Tiger Aspect Productions, the company behind Mr. Bean.

Meet The Taxman will follow inspectors and investigators on the frontline as they set out to catch tax evaders and collect unpaid tax.

The series will focus on tax inspectors targeting the so-called “high risk” sectors, from “plumbers and scrap merchants to dentists and doctors, offshore bank accounts and high net worth individuals.”

It will also follow criminal investigation units with the power to arrest, “busting crime gangs all over the UK.”

The Channel 4 series promises to deliver positive PR for HMRC, which has become adept at closing tax avoidance schemes used by high-profile celebrities including Chris Moyles and Gary Barlow.

Lawrence Walford, series producer, said: “We all have a mental picture of the taxman as someone who takes away our hard earned cash. But during the last year, I’ve realised there is much more to this job than meets the eye. There are some fascinating stories and unexpected characters which will make for a compelling documentary series.”

The producers spent a year securing access to HMRC. Nick Mirsky, Channel 4 Head of Documentaries, said: “Money from taxation funds everything we value most about society, yet the team who collect it have often been viewed with mistrust and suspicion. What is exciting about this commission is that it offers unique access to a group of public servants on whom we are more dependent than ever to help make the nation's books balance.”

Channel 4’s publicity material suggests that the series will assist HMRC’s attempts to present a positive public image.

It states: “HMRC’s message is clear – no matter who you are - if you’re avoiding tax, the net is closing in. In contrast, viewers will also see how HMRC helps the public and businesses who do the right thing and pay their taxes.”

The intent appears somewhat different to Channel 4’s recent observational documentary series, Benefits Street.

Residents who invited the cameras in complained that the series, watched by 6 million viewers, misrepresented their lifestyles.

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