Last Night's TV - True Stories: The Battle for Barking, More 4; The Morgana Show, Channel 4; The Foods That Make Billions, BBC2

Right in the thick of it

Do you want to understand the BNP or do you just want to hate them? Judging from Laura Fairrie's film
The Battle for Barking quite a few people think there's no point wasting time on comprehension. "You people are pieces of shit," said a passer-by to a group of canvassing BNP supporters, "And I wouldn't even wipe you off the bottom of my shoes." Relatively speaking, he was one of the politer ones too. Fairrie, on the other hand, did want to understand, and she got far enough inside Nick Griffin's electoral campaign, while tracking his attempt to win the party's first Parliamentary seat, to be flecked by some of the spittle that had been aimed at her subject. She was on first-name terms with several of the activists – admitted to BNP party meetings and allowed to ride along on leafleting drives – and the result was genuinely intriguing, a film that was never sympathetic to the cause but did achieve an empathy for the fears and resentments that had driven the BNP's supporters away from mainstream politics.

Fairrie was assisted in her tricky balancing operation by a substantial counterweight – Margaret Hodge, the sitting MP that Griffin was hoping to dislodge. Why had he chosen Barking for his big push, Fairrie asked Hodge: "Because he hates immigrants, he hates women and he hates Jews and I'm all three," she replied ruefully. And though Hodge was the incumbent, with a substantial party machine behind her, she also figured here as an underdog, up against ominous polling figures that seemed to suggest the Barking electorate were about to deliver a shock. She also lost her husband to a long illness in the lead up to the election, an event that played little part in the electoral politics but unquestionably helped to humanise her here. Nick Griffin had teared up as he announced his candidacy, moved by his own sense of manifest destiny. Hodge's tears, as she talked about her grief, came from a much deeper place.

The BNP were never ridiculed by the film, which didn't prevent them looking ridiculous of course. Rallying the troops for the big push, Richard Barnbrook, a BNP councillor in Barking and trusted Griffin lieutenant, indulged in a bit of bierkeller rhetorical style: "We cannot afford to lose! You must give your heart and you must fight five days a week!" he urged, prompting the thought that a battle for civilisation that breaks for the weekend isn't very likely to succeed. On the hustings, in a busy shopping street, Griffin was joined by a eccentric black man in a large hat, smiling broadly as he expressed his support for the party, and an inflamed chap in a dog collar. "Get out Gordon Brown!" shrieked the latter, "Stop pushing sodomy on children of seven!" The expression on Griffin's face suggested that he thought neither of them were exactly assisting the cause, but that he couldn't afford to ditch this meagre evidence of his party's broad appeal.

Hodge, meanwhile, was out on the doorsteps pitching hard for the "Anybody but the BNP" party, having wisely decided that it might be best to convert the election into a referendum on the acceptability of racism and compulsory repatriation. At one point, she even appeared to be suggesting to the black congregation of a local evangelical church that the BNP were planning to drop them from helicopters into the sea, though it's possible that a metaphor had just got out of hand in the excitement. Whatever she said, though, it worked because on election night, gratifyingly, the BNP lost everything – Griffin coming in a poor third and every BNP council seat disappearing. They can now add that defeat to the endless list of grievances that fuel their politics, but even the most paranoid of them couldn't legitimately say that Fairrie had stitched them up in her film. All the embroidery was do-it-yourself.

About 10 minutes in, The Morgana Show, a new comedy showcase for Channel 4, was going to get a really terrible review. The opening sketch – a gag about Boris Johnson at prep school – combined a weak impersonation with a silly and unfunny script. The Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue take-offs weren't much better and a sketch featuring Gilbert – a teenager with learning difficulties who stars in his own home-made television show – struck me as bullying in its comedy, the kind of television that will go down very well with callow 14-year-olds, but will make life absolute hell for any of their contemporaries unfortunate enough to wear bottle-bottom glasses. But then Morgana released the bully in me by doing a wickedly accurate impression of Fearne Cotton, a presenter who richly deserves all the mockery she can get. And I laughed at the running gag about Lady Gaga, glimpsed doing banal household tasks in wildly improbable costumes. By the end, I even laughed at Gilbert, thanks to the detail of Robinson's performance. But I'm not proud of myself.

"If you understand breakfast cereals you understand the modern food business," someone said at the beginning of The Foods That Make Billions. What there is to understand about cereals, it turns out, is that the ratio of nourishment to profit tilts heavily in favour of the latter, until someone gets furious enough about it to make the cereal companies behave better. And the fact that around 100 new cereals are launched every year in Britain alone suggests they're not being made to behave nearly well enough to discourage them. Enjoy your corn flakes... they've spent enough money persuading you to.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution