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Channel 4 nearly dropped Nick Griffin interview

Keith Meets…Nick Griffin aired on Channel 4 last night at 11:05pm. The comedian and actor Keith Allen interviewed the far-right party leader of the British Nationalist Party, Nick Griffin. The documentary was a reaction to Allen’s horror at the BNP’s gradual increase in the last general election. However, it nearly did not make it to transmission.

He wrote in The Independent that the documentary had been delayed so often that his producer Victor Lewis-Smith went into Channel 4’s chief executive’s office and called David Abraham a “spineless c**t”. This was after numerous attempts to arrange the interview with Griffin after many cancellations, and an averted fracas in Brussels.

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Keith Allen recalls:

"Having recorded and edited the Nick Griffin documentary, I discovered to my chagrin that the problems were only half over.

"Channel 4, which had been enthusiastic about the idea of me interviewing Griffin, was discomfited by the reality and repeatedly asked for changes and additional lines of didactic narration.

"When one commissioning editor completely misunderstood a sequence about Muslim women in which Griffin was unexpectedly defending them as victims of male violence, she gave such a knee-jerk reaction that I assumed she must have trained with Galvani.

"Eventually, after much patient explanation, Channel 4 said it was pleased with the documentary, but it then sat on a shelf as summer turned to autumn and then to winter.

"Hence Victor's outburst of a month ago, as a result of which the programme will finally grace - or disgrace - your screen tonight."

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The documentary was certainly not without its controversy. The BNP leader made the claim that "the Qur’an isn't primarily a religious tract: it's a handbook for conquering other people's countries", which received the blunt response from Allen calling Griffin "a Nazi... lacking in humanity"

Keith Meets…Nick Griffin is available on 4od here

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