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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement