Channel 4 asks Nadine Dorries for evidence to back up her claim reality TV was faked

Culture secretary alleged that actors were hired to play residents of poverty-stricken estate

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Friday 20 May 2022 18:39
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Nadine Dorries claims Channel 4 faked reality show by paying actors

Channel 4 is calling on Nadine Dorries to provide evidence to back up her claim that a TV prodiction company faked a reality show they broadcast, which she starred in.

The culture secretary – who has unveiled controversial plans to privatise Channel 4 – told a parliamentary committee that she had discovered that actors were hired to play poverty-stricken people on a housing estate.

But Channel 4 today said that it had received no previous allegations relating to the contributors to the show, Tower Block of Commons, which was broadcast in 2010, while the independent company which created the show, Love Productions, said it was confident that Ms Dorries’ allegations were “unfounded”.

Labour MP Rupa Huq, whose Ealing Central and Acton constituency includes the estate where the show was filmed, said that Ms Dorries should correct the parliamentary record if she was unable to substantiate her “serious” allegation.

The documentary show featured four MPs, including Ms Dorries, spending time living on deprived housing estates around Britain.

Recalling the residents she met on an estate in London’s Acton neighbourhood during filming, the cabinet minister told the Commons Culture Committee on Thursday: “I discovered later, they were actually actors.

“The parents of the boys in that programme actually came here to have lunch with me, and contacted me to tell me, actually, they were in acting school, and that they weren’t really living in a flat, and they weren’t real.

“There’s a pharmacist or somebody that I went to see who prepared food – she was also a paid actress as well.”

Channel 4 said that it was the first time it had been suggested that the people taking part in the programme were anything other than what they were described as being. They said they were ready to investigate any evidence which Ms Dorries was able to provide.

A spokesperson for the channel said: "This is the first suggestion we have heard that viewers were misled about contributors on Tower Block of Commons.

“We will be contacting the secretary of state to seek further details so that we can investigate it thoroughly."

A spokesperson for Love Productions said: “Love Productions does not use actors to impersonate contributors in any of its documentary or constructed factual series.

“Nadine Dorries took part in the making of Tower Block of Commons for Channel 4 alongside other genuine contributors, and we are confident that her claims are unfounded.

“Nevertheless, we take the allegations seriously and will investigate thoroughly. We also await Nadine Dorries’s reply to Channel 4’s request for evidence to back up her comments.”

Ms Huq called on the culture secretary to respond urgently with evidence that actors were used during filming.

She said: “Dorries’s serious allegation has the potential to cause significant reputational damage to Channel 4 and Love Productions. She therefore needs to set the record straight and provide substantive evidence to back up her claims.

“If the secretary of state is found to have misled the committee, she must correct this in parliament as soon as possible.

“I was shocked to hear the claim that one of my favourite reality shows ever had been fabricated, and I hope Nadine Dorries has not inaccurately described some of my constituents on the South Acton estate as being actors.”

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