TV chef Gregg Wallace has defended himself in the wake of 408 Ofcom complaints over a Channel 4 “human meat” mockumentary he starred in on Monday night.
The show, Miracle Meat, saw the 58-year-old MasterChef star investigate a controversial new lab-grown meat product, where thin slices of tissue are taken from human donors to produce larger amounts of protein.
It suggested that “human flesh” is much cheaper than animal meat – costing as low as 99p per steak – easing the pressure on families during the cost of living crisis.
Wallace even had Michelin-star chef Michel Roux Jr cook up three different human tissue steaks for “a blind taste test.”
One moment that seemed to horrify viewers was when a woman named Gillian, 67, offered up her thigh for £200 to cover two weeks of energy bills.
Despite the fact it wasn’t real, the audience took issue with the programme and accused the TV star of promoting cannibalism.
“Is this a wind up? This is disgusting,” one person wrote on Twitter, while another said: “Channel 4 has accidentally broadcast a Black Mirror episode.”
Media regulator Ofcom have confirmed on Monday night, they received 408 complaints over the mockumentary.
Wallace has since taken to The Sun to write a first-hand defence of the show, saying the premise was inspired by the satirical essay A Modest Proposal, written by Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift in 1729.
He said it also shines a light on real problems for the future of food in the UK.
“While it was a complete fantasy, we wanted to raise important questions about the nation’s relationship with food and what those struggling with the cost of living are being asked to do in order to stay afloat,” Wallace said.
“The programme makers consulted with experts to make sure what we were saying reflected what is actually happening and didn’t wander into the realms of science fiction.
“More and more ‘fake meat’ products are filling our supermarket shelves every day… Advances such as this raise a load of fascinating moral questions.
“Some might argue that if it didn’t exploit the poor, meat grown from human flesh could be the most ethical there is.
“And returning to the cost-of-living issue, if synthetic meat is the cheapest available (even if it is grown from human flesh), would that trump any squeamishness you might have about how it has been made?”