Channel 4 was branded ‘extraordinary’ after Gregg Wallace and Michel Roux Jr. were shown eating human flesh.
The controversial broadcaster sparked renewed outrage with a satirical documentary about a factory that produced “engineered human flesh.”
Touted as a solution for financially troubled families, MasterChef host Wallace interviewed “donors” who sold their meat to the fictional company Good Harvest.
Human tissue was then observed in labs growing into larger pieces of meat that could be used to make steaks, burgers and sausages.
But MPs slammed the show as a “tasteless” take on the cost of living crisis and slammed Channel 4 bosses for failing to alert audiences that the issue was not real.
Channel 4 was branded ‘extraordinary’ after Gregg Wallace and Michel Roux Jr. were shown eating human flesh
Touted as a solution for financially troubled families, MasterChef host Gregg Wallace interviewed “donors” who sold their meat to the fictional company Good Harvest. Human tissue was then observed in labs growing into larger pieces of meat that could be used to make steaks, burgers and sausages
At one point in the show, Wallace and Roux Jr. were seen sampling the steaks
Viewers followed Wallace, 58, as he visited Good Harvest’s headquarters, where staff explained how cuts of meat were harvested from humans and processed into edible meat.
The TV star was then seen visiting donors, including a 67-year-old retired receptionist who agreed to have flesh removed from her buttocks and thighs to help pay for two weeks’ energy bills.
Good Harvest’s chief executive later revealed that the company’s premium range comes from the meat of children aged six and under – with a promotional video calling the womb “nature’s furnace”.
Wallace, who previously hosted BBC 2’s Inside the Factory, is known for his documentaries on food and product manufacturing.
Gregg Wallace: The British Miracle Meat is said to be an interpretation of satirist Jonathan Swift’s 1729 essay A Modest Proposal, which suggested that poor Irish families donated their children to rich English landowners to eat.
However, there was no warning before or during the broadcast to assure viewers it was fiction.
Confused and “disgusted” viewers took to Twitter when the show launched and criticized Channel 4 for airing such a “very tasteless” show.
“Watch the British Miracle Meat on Channel 4…you must be joking?!” “Human flesh,” one tweeted.
“Anyone who watches Gregg Wallace, The British Miracle Meat will get sick,” another repeated.
One viewer added: “What the heck are we getting exposed to @Channel4 now?”
Others claimed – apparently jokingly – that “if enough people voted for Tory,” they would end up selling their meat for money. And some even pointed to Brexit as the reason why an “EU-banned process” would be allowed in the UK.
One wrote: “Hope they start making disclaimers on this satirical cannibalism show before eating the poor ends up on the government’s next election manifesto.”
At one point in the show, Wallace and Roux Jr. were seen sampling the steaks, and two star chefs, Roux, licked their fingers as they cooked.
The program also included thinly veiled taunts against the government – a Good Harvest worker remarked that the machine used to grow the meat would have been banned under EU law.
Wallace also said the new food source may be “the only attempt” to “take the UK cost-of-living crisis seriously”.
Other viewers were delighted when they realized the show was a fake documentary, with several claiming the criticism of the government and Brexit was an obvious sign.
“I began to observe that this thought was genuine and quickly became a parody.” “Feel seduced by C4,” wrote one viewer.
Another added: “This #miraclemeat show on @Channel4 is such a parody it’s ridiculous.” No sign of online business. “The Brexit comment a few minutes later was sufficient evidence.”
“A pretty tacky spoof that’s pretty sick.” Allegedly, it was a completely insane stunt by Channel 4, making a powerful argument for government inaction, rising energy costs and unsustainable diets. “I don’t think so,” wrote one viewer.
“Completely unfunny parody report.” “I don’t see what this is trying to achieve,” added another. “It will only anger the gullible and make it harder to convince people of meat-free alternatives.”
Some viewers have said they have already made complaints to Ofcom about the show.
One tweeted: “I hope Ofcom has extra staff tonight.”
Another wrote: “Just watched less than 10 minutes of the British miracle meat. Whether this is satire or not, it is abhorrent @Ofcom @Channel4.”
It’s not the first time that Channel 4 has caused outrage with its programs.
In 2020, the broadcaster was heavily criticized for creating a “deepfake” version of the late Queen’s Christmas speech.
And earlier in the year, “Naked Education” – a program where adults strip naked in front of teenagers to encourage body positivity – collected more than 1,200 Ofcom complaints.
Lee Anderson, vice leader of the Conservative Party, said ahead of the broadcast today: “Channel 4 has gone beyond the pale.”
“Brits struggling with the cost of living will no doubt find this attempt at humor distasteful.”
Meanwhile, Tory MP Giles Watling, who sits on the Special Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Something like this should have come with a health warning so people know it’s not true and can decide whether or not to watch it.”
“I’m certainly not pro-censorship, and I think it’s wonderful that artists and comedians have the freedom to express themselves — but there are certain sensibilities that broadcasters need to be aware of.” When the program ended, Wallace also referenced the food bank’s Trussell Trust charity.
The program also included thinly veiled taunts against the government – a Good Harvest worker remarked that the machine used to grow the meat would have been banned under EU law. Wallace also said the new food source may be “the only attempt” to “take the UK cost-of-living crisis seriously”.
“The Trussell Trust says a future without food banks requires a benefits system that works for all and provides income so people can afford essentials,” he said.
“So it’s no surprise that feeding children seems like a more likely path for our country.”
A spokesman for the charity said: “Although mentioned in it, the Trussell Trust was not involved in the production of Gregg Wallace: The British Miracle Meat.”
A Channel 4 spokesperson said: “This mockumentary is a funny but thought-provoking commentary on the extreme measures many people are being forced to take to stay afloat during our society’s cost of living crisis.”
“Channel 4 has a long and rich history of satire and has often used humor as an accessible way to highlight the most important issues in society.”