“During the referendum campaign I said, ‘I want my country back’, what I’m saying today is, ‘I want my life back’, and it begins right now.” – Nigel Farage.
It sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? It sounds like a joke sentence. Like something made up. But then you realise this isn’t just the opening line of a mockumentary about the Ukip leader who campaigned voraciously for Brexit and then abandoned ship; this is a direct quote from the man himself.
Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back is a BBC comedy from Kevin Bishop where he imagines what Farage “getting his life back” might have meant when he stood – or rather stumbled – down from politics after the EU referendum in June.
Kevin Bishop as Nigel Farage, down the pub
Some have argued that ol’ Nige is beyond parody, and that it’s distasteful to make light of someone who has so divided Britain. And I do think there is the risk that this show will make the 48 per cent of people who voted to remain in the EU groan: “Ahhh, too soon.”
But when it comes to this man, I’m more of the opinion that if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
And Kevin Bishop will make you laugh. He may not look much like the Toad of Toad Hall, but he certainly sounds and acts like him. The tobacco-phlegming, rasping guffaws are spot on, as is the nasal bark with which he delivers so much of his strange logic.
The show is very true to real life – as Bishop said, for a comedy writer “Nigel Farage is the gift that keeps on giving” – and there’s a great skit about his mysterious moustache. It appeared quite suddenly after he resigned, sending people into meltdown and leading some to say hilarious things like: “Immigrant caterpillar welcomed to new home on Nigel Farage’s top lip”. In the show, as in reality, the moustache promptly disappears.
Immigrant caterpillar welcomed to new home on Nigel Farage's top lip pic.twitter.com/uKbUHrjsmx
— Margo is a lert (@MargoJMilne) August 12, 2016
Another unbearable likeness is the amount of beer consumed by Farage. This reminds me of an excruciating (but highly entertaining) FT interview where within two minutes of meeting the journalist at a pub, he complains that “a man could die of thirst in here,” before proceeding to guzzle his way through all of the ale, wine and port in sight.
Bishop imagines that in his spare time Farage is a man who gets so trolleyed he forgets how much of his erotic jigsaw puzzle he’s done and accuses his weary – and notably absent – wife of finishing it. He’s a man who shouts at the telly while watching Pointless. A man who wears green chinos.
He’s also portrayed as someone stuck in the past, who talks about receiving faxes and Fleet Street and various other things that don’t really exist anymore. And all with the signature jerk of the head that Farage does when he’s excitable, like a fish on a hook being yanked towards its demise.
Unfortunately, the main premise of the show slightly jars against the fact that Farage is back in office. Only 18 days passed before he returned as the interim leader of Ukip after Diane James quit. There is something absurd in the fact that you can barely make a show about this man without it becoming outdated within weeks.
In one scene, Colin, the pub landlord and his only friend, reassures him that, “You can always un-resign like you did last time.” A scene of Farage doing just that does play out at the end, but it feels rather slap-dash. At this point, he yaps gleefully: “Nigel Farage, leader by default. What could possibly go wrong?”
Perhaps naively, I’m hoping that nothing will go wrong. That Farage won’t do anything awful and that there won’t be a tragicomic premise for the BBC to commission more episodes.
Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back will make you wheeze with laughter like the man himself, but wouldn’t it be better for us all if there was nothing more to parody?
Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back is on BBC2 on Sunday 30 October at 10pm