Nadine Dorries’ claim that a Channel 4 reality show in which she appeared on second-hand paid actors is “baseless”, according to the production company that made the show.
The culture secretary told parliament on Thursday she believed the 2010 show Tower Block of Commons, in which she was one of many MPs who went to live in deprived communities, used paid actors to play so-called real people.
His request is of deep concern to Channel 4, as Dorries is currently trying to push through the privatization of the public but commercially funded broadcaster. Any suggestion that a show she appeared on might have been faked could have serious consequences for the broadcaster’s future.
Dorries told the Culture Selection Committee on Thursday that she believed the show had hired paid actors for the program. In the reality show, Dorries was sent to live on the estate in South Acton, west London, sparking a minor scandal when it was revealed the MP had smuggled in a £50 note, which , according to her, was intended to buy presents for the children of her hosts.
She told Parliament she believed the hosts had been planted by the show’s producers.
“I found out later that they were actually actors,” she told deputies.
“The parents of the boys in this program actually came here to have lunch with me, and contacted me to say, in fact, that they were in drama school, and that they didn’t really live in an apartment, and they weren’t real. And even, if you remember, there was a pharmacist or someone I went to see who was preparing food – she was also a paid actress.
Love Productions, which made the program and also does The Great British Bake Off, said it believed its claim was false but pledged to investigate if the Culture Secretary had any evidence.
A spokesperson said: “Love Productions does not use actors to impersonate contributors in any of its constructed documentary or factual series. Nadine Dorries was involved in the making of Tower Block of Commons for Channel 4 at alongside other genuine contributors, and we are convinced that his claims are unfounded.
“However, we take the allegations seriously and will investigate thoroughly. We are also awaiting Nadine Dorries’ response to Channel 4’s request for evidence to back up her claims.
Dorries told parliament that Channel 4 would be privatised, despite widespread opposition from the media industry.
Channel 4 also pushed back hard against some of its other evidence at the select committee, including its claim that the broadcaster is not invested in the government’s upgrade program and its suggestion that Channel 5 spend more on commissioning regional.