You may not anticipate a programme known as Gregg Wallace: The British Miracle Meat to trigger a lot of a fuss. I definitely didn’t – how improper I used to be. Introduced by Masterchef star Wallace, the one-off particular delves into a supposed new pattern that’s sweeping British supermarkets: human meat, surgically extracted from donors dwelling on the breadline. Wallace visits the manufacturing facility the place the meat is processed, samples steaks of human meat at a effective eating restaurant, and meets a number of the donors personally, together with younger kids. The programme is, after all, a fiction, devised by comedy author Matt Edmonds, although Channel 4 opted to hide the satirical nature of the printed forward of time. The stunt labored. Some viewers took the programme at face worth, or claimed to, and the night time performed out like a darkish cannibalistic spin on Panorama’s spaghetti-tree hoax of 1957.
The British Miracle Meat is precisely the type of headline-grabbing, dubious-taste satire that Channel 4 has turned to many instances in recent times: simply months in the past, the equally unnuanced Prince Andrew: The Musical song-and-danced its means onto screens. This newest particular, although, appears notably desirous to push the boundaries of sensitivity. Is the price of dwelling disaster actually acceptable mockumentary fare? Is it saying something we don’t already know? The premise is made more durable to swallow by the truth that The British Miracle Meat is not humorous within the slightest. Scenes of downtrodden, financially determined folks being pressured into painful medical procedures usually are not wry however pitiable. Wallace himself – a man who not too long ago stop his function as host of Miracle Meat-esque actuality sequence Contained in the Manufacturing facility – is all too believable as a banal, credulous cannibal propagandist.
At its handiest, satire is an energising pressure. It doesn’t simply establish a downside however stirs folks into direct motion. The British Miracle Meat, nonetheless, is enervating. It’s a cry of despair squeezed via a deli-counter grin. Maybe cautious of bias accusations, Edmonds doesn’t point out any political celebration by title – as a substitute, the villain of the piece is the ethereal “value of dwelling disaster”, an enemy as expansive and relentless as chlorine fuel, or Godzilla.
The British Miracle Meat might be forgiven, although, for brandishing its critique with sledgehammer tact. Cannibalism as socio-political allegory is hardly a novel concept at this level: the metaphor has been carved up in all the pieces from sci-fi motion pictures like Soylent Inexperienced, to Stephen Sondheim’s gothic musical Sweeney Todd (“The historical past of the world, my candy / Is who will get eaten and who will get to eat”). Return additional, and there’s 1729’s A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, from which premise The British Miracle Meat attracts so carefully that it will get a particular acknowledgement at the beginning of the credit. Even in comparison with works like these, The British Miracle Meat is broad and apparent in its allegorising – however perhaps this is essential.
More and more, it appears as if the UK is impervious to satire. Because the Conservatives took energy in 2010, our underfunded movie and TV business has yielded few works of any widespread socio-political resonance. Ken Loach’s 2016 agitprop movie I, Daniel Blake managed to garner awards and one thing resembling mainstream recognition, however its ferocious condemnation of Tory welfare cuts did not stymie real-world coverage adjustments. Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is maybe probably the most distinguished British satire of our instances, however usually avoids political specifics in favour of technological abstracts. Political bio-series like Brexit: The Uncivil Battle or Michael Winterbottom’s This England come and go with out a hint. In the meantime, a number of of the UK’s finest politically aware screenwriters have more and more appeared to ply their commerce overseas, akin to Succession’s Jesse Armstrong, or Veep’s Armando Iannucci.
Briefly, The British Miracle Meat could also be precisely what we deserve at this level. It’s bleak, primary, and politically impotent. The Guardian wrote that the programme “virtually vibrates with rage”, however rage suggests some type of reactive impetus; Wallace’s sickly burlesque serves solely to bewilder. The entire enterprise posits issues however no options, cuts near the bone however neglects to stitch you up once more. The British Miracle Meat is the type of satire you might be left with when you’ll be able to think about no possible avenues of change. However perhaps it’s all we’ve received left.
‘Gregg Wallace: The British Miracle Meat’ is out there to stream now on Channel 4