A Channel 4 documentary about bare-knuckle fighting in a traveller community has elicited numerous complaints from viewers citing supposed instances of child abuse and animal cruelty.
Ofcom is currently assessing 289 complaints about Gypsy Blood, which aired last week as part of the True Stories film strand, while Channel 4 has also fielded a number of negative responses to the programme.
A statement from Channel 4 said scenes of bare-knuckle fights between young men settling scores, as well as dogs attacking deer and cock-fighting, were included to “accurately reflect the experiences” of director Leo Maguire.
A Channel 4 spokesperson said: “To accurately reflect the experiences of the film-maker who spent years documenting the culture of two gypsy families, including hunting and fighting, some scenes were included that viewers may have found difficult to watch but were justified in context.
“The programme was preceded by on-air warnings and appropriately scheduled.”
Animal welfare charity the RSPCA said it would also be making an official complaint.
“The RSPCA has now begun an investigation into activities shown in the programme,” a statement said.
“We would urge anyone who shares our concern at the programme’s content to also contact Channel 4 and Ofcom to register their disapproval.”
Gypsy Blood was watched by over 2 million people on Thursday 19 January.