Sleeping with the Far Right - Giving objectionable views an airing makes me uneasy

Alice Levine and Jack Sen in Sleeping With The Far Right
Alice Levine and Jack Sen in Sleeping With The Far Right
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I sometimes don’t see the point of certain television programmes, particularly if they only serve to publicise the views of objectionable people.

Programmes like Sleeping With the Far Right (Channel 4, Thursday, 9pm), for example. DJ and presenter Alice Levine spent a week with far-right demagogue Jack Sen, to try to understand his views.

It’s a noble aim, but do people like Sen really deserve to be understood? If diversity and welcoming people of other cultures, faiths and sexualities makes you so fearful you reject – and attack – them out of hand, why should we attempt to understand that?

Much of Sen’s views amount to the usual far-right, fearful, anecdote-based dogma – foreigners taking our jobs, Muslim grooming gangs, the fear of homosexuality.

“They all feel they have been victims of an unfair system,” says Levine, “but at what point do you let that take up your whole life?”

But he is au fait with social media techniques, and spoke of his Russian ‘web admins’ organising social media pile-ons of critics and left-wing opponents.

He runs dozens of websites and Facebook pages, boasting of never being barred because he knows exactly what to say and what not to say.

So far, so horrible. But to her credit, Levine dug deeper, and got Sen riled after speaking to his mother Faye, who revealed Sen’s real name, Dilip Sengupta, and his half-Asian father. This provoked Sen into a bit of a rage, and he demanded it be cut from the film.

It turned out that young Dilip had felt excluded by his school contemporaries and had been searching for a group to belong to ever since.

He’d certainly found that, but having had his voice heard, I’d be glad to never hear from him again.

Dear Masterchef producers, can we please have a ban on people using the word ‘pan’ as a prefix to a cooking technique? We all know you use pans to cook with, you’re annoying me now.

Baptiste (BBC1, Sundays, 9pm) started slowly, but this spin-off from thriller The Missing has enough about it to continue watching, not least Tcheky Karyo’s grizzled, limping title character.