Channel 4 pulls controversial reality show Smuggled after 39 bodies are found in Essex lorry

24 October 2019, 08:32

'Smuggled' has been postponed by Channel 4
'Smuggled' has been postponed by Channel 4. Picture: PA Images/Getty Images
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

New reality series Smuggled has been postponed after dead bodies were found in the back of a lorry in Essex.

Channel 4 has pulled the new show, which sees members of the public attempt to evade border checks, after 39 bodies were discovered yesterday.

Controversial programme ‘Smuggled’ is based on eight British citizens trying to enter the UK from Europe without using their passports or documentation.

Contestants taking part in the series will be forced to hide in ferries and get into car boots in order to make it back to a meeting point without getting caught by Border Authorities.

The show is described as "an unprecedented national security experiment" to test of the UK's border security.

A lorry was found in Essex with 39 dead bodies inside
A lorry was found in Essex with 39 dead bodies inside. Picture: PA Images

Promotional material for the series said: "From boats to lorries, ferries to car boots - all of the contributors attempt routes that have been used by those seeking to enter the country clandestinely or by people traffickers and drug dealers."

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Head of factual entertainment at Channel 4, Alf Lawrie described it as "extreme, authentic and utterly timely" back in August, adding: “This dramatic series has real purpose at its heart. It is a standout experiment that we hope will inform the national conversation.”

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However, following the tragedy in which 39 people were found dead in a van in Grays, Essex, bosses have decided to pull it from its scheduled time slot on Monday.

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: "In light of the tragic events today, we have postponed the transmission of the series."

The lorry is thought to have travelled from Bulgaria, entering the UK through Holyhead in Wales on Saturday, October 19.

Essex Police deputy chief constable Pippa Mills told a press conference on Wednesday that identifying the bodies found in the container is "number one priority".

The lorry driver, a 25-year-old from Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody.