This piece of political satire by the BBC envisions how Nigel Farage has been living his life since resigning as leader of UKIP after 10 years on and off. In fact, he had already resigned three times before when he announced in July that he was stepping down from the role. One of the key phrases from his resignation speech was that he wanted to ‘get his life back’, leaving many questioning as to what exactly this entailed. This is what this ‘mockumentary’ explores, with Kevin Bishop playing Nigel Farage in an uncannily accurate way.
The programme begins with Farage (Bishop), ending his leaving speech with “I want my life back, but first back to the office”, which he later clarifies as referring to the pub. As he steps off the podium the camera follows him through a door, which Farage kindly holds open for him (“watch your step now”), thus setting in motion the unusual camerawork of the programme. It evokes the feeling that the viewer actually is the cameraman, granted exclusive access to follow Farage into the next stage of his life. These activities, however, are not particularly exciting, primarily revolving around the pub (where we witness Farage’s love of the bottle); his home (where we see Farage clad in Barbour and Hunters); and, more specifically, his home office where he awaits important calls (these often take the form of requests to feature in various downmarket celebrity shows).
The programme portrays Farage as settling back a little uncomfortably into village life. He spends his days trying to complete a jigsaw which seems very at odds with his previous work, which had slightly more global impact. However, his opinionated character is still very much intact. This is shown by his attempts to start up a local cricket club, which descends into a row over race, after Farage makes a seemingly innocent remark (in his eyes) about it being a shame that one of the members cannot go to the pub after matches due to his religion. The programme presents Farage as attempting to overcome his racist views, as seen in the short excerpt where he tries to have a civil conversation with the Polish takeaway delivery driver. It is a cringe-worthy exchange to watch, as you can sense Farage’s real opinions bubbling away beneath the surface. However, Farage clearly thinks he is making progress, as he shuts the door with a pointed smile at the camera.
Unpredictably, Farage’s time out of politics does not last long, and the programme ends with Farage being happily reinstated as interim leader after the 18-day leadership of Diane James. It seems that Farage may have forgotten what his life before UKIP actually involved – for now, his life is UKIP.
Image: Chatham House