The 1938 radio broadcast of HG Wells's War of the Worlds famously caused panic among listeners who believed they were hearing news of a real alien invasion. Channel 4 avoided similar with a warning title, "None of the events that follow have actually happened", at the beginning of Ukip: the First 100 Days. Still, it seems likely that this "what if" mockumentary about Ukip in government will have had some viewers stocking up on canned goods and making for the nearest underground bunker.
Writer-director Chris Atkins mixed archive news footage with scripted drama to create a chilling sense of plausibility. So we had Peter Snow's commentary on the swing to the purples and the image of new PM Nigel Farage rebelliously smoking a ciggie out of his car window en route to No 10.
Priyanga Burford also made for a very convincing politician as Deepa Kaur, MP for Romford East and the party's only Asian female. She was outwardly composed, inwardly conflicted and reliant on those same well-worn techniques for side-stepping awkward questions: "That's typical of the media," she scolded her interviewer at one point. "You are always whipping everything up."
Ukip's confusing policies
Ukip's confusing policies
1/6 Deport migrants
Ukip MP Mark Reckless suggested he would deport existing EU migrants, a policy Nigel Farage rejected out of hand.
2/6 US-style NHS
Farage was caught on film in 2012 saying healthcare headed towards insurance-based system, though he has since said he would keep it free at the point of use.
3/6 Handbag tax
Ukip Economy spokesman Patrick O'Flynn said he would introduce a tax on high-price items like shoes, Nigel Farage disowned this idea.
4/6 Same-sex couple adoption
Ukip candidate Winston McKenzie likened adoption by same-sex couples to "child abuse", but the party rejects that view.
5/6 Gay marriage?
In early 2014 Ukip released a statement saying it would review its gay marriage policy, but later said that was an error.
6/6 Sex education u-turn
Nigel Farage told Leaders Live that he backed sex education for under-11s but later admitted that is not Ukip policy.
What rang most true, however, were the extrapolations from actual Ukip policy to national events. A Brexit from the EU led to industry closures; mass forced deportations proved popular with the public; a new National Pride day was announced; and then there was Deputy Prime Minister Neil Hamilton.
This dystopian vision of a Ukip-ruled UK could hardly be described as "balanced" (shown outside the election period, it didn't have to be), but, even so, it wasn't as vicious an attack as Farage might have feared. Atkins' film always plumped for plausibility over the obvious gag, meaning Ukip were portrayed as a serious electoral prospect. If it had more of The Thick of It's sneer, it might have been funnier, but it would also have been less effective at the job in hand – scaring the bejesus out of mainstream voters.Reuse content