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Glasgow Live
Glasgow Live
Lee Dalgetty

Remembering Ross Kemp's controversial Glasgow documentary that critics claimed portrayed the city as a 'third world country'

Visiting Glasgow in 2012, Ross Kemp filmed a documentary detailing the struggles in the city with extreme poverty and the welfare system - which was soon criticised for a ‘ridiculous’ framing of Glasgow as a ‘third world warzone’.

In an episode of Extreme World, Kemp looked at the city's struggling community and was accused of exaggerating the issues that face Glasgow.

Kemp states at the beginning of the footage: “I’ve come to Glasgow not only because it epitomises the issues which are trapping millions of people in a cycle of poverty across the UK, but also because the city is pioneering initiatives to break that cycle.”

READ MORE - When Ross Kemp came to Glasgow to visit ‘notorious’ Barlinnie

He goes on to compare Glasgow with cities in Pakistan, Mexico, and Kenya which are plagued by organised drug gangs, religious terrorism and people trafficking. With a dull grey filter across the clips featured, Kemp talks to the homeless community, people suffering from addictions, sex workers, and the charity workers attempting to help them.

After filming the second season of Extreme World, Kemp made a public comment on Glasgow being the ‘toughest’ of all the places he’s visited. For this season alone he had investigated the violence in Venezuela, the lasting damage from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, and the deeply entrenched beliefs in witchcraft in Tanzania.

The episode goes on to feature discussions with a man who's consuming 30 valium pills every day, a woman who hasn't slept in a week due to heroin addiction, and a man who keeps his toes in a jar after they fell off because of frostbite.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, was the leading voice of backlash against the documentary. He said at the time: “These comparisons are clearly ridiculous. It’s lazy journalism of the worst kind, is based entirely on outmoded stereotypes and sends out a dangerous message.

“For a programme like this to appear now, just as we’re about to launch a campaign attracting visitors to the city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, is potentially very damaging.

“Anyone who knows Glasgow might laugh off what is patently a cynical marketing ploy to flog an increasingly tired programme format, but stories like this unquestionably have a negative impact upon attracting inward investment and fresh talent.

“Nobody is denying that the city has had its share of problems, what this programme seems determined to ignore, however, is that for more than a decade we’ve been fighting back - and winning.”

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City leaders argued that the production company, Tiger Aspect, had a ‘fixed idea’ of the subject matter and ignored the extensive system of support that is available in the city for people in difficult times.

When asked about the criticism after the documentary aired, the actor responded: “To be honest with you, we didn’t put words into people’s mouths. They came and spoke to us - they spoke to us very honestly.

“People are always going to be sensitive. If you make a film in Leeds then they will be sensitive about that.

“It wasn’t a film about Glasgow, it was a film about the welfare system and whether it’s fit for purpose anymore. That’s what the film is about.

“If people want to misconstrue that or see it in a different way then that’s up to them - that’s the great thing about living in a democracy.”

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