Ian Hislop's Fake News - BBC4

Ian Hislop with an ipad containing a picture of Donald Trump meeting Vladimir Putin

Ian Hislop's Fake News sets out to show that there's nothing new about what looks like a very modern phenomenon

Thanks to Donald Trump, the phrase "fake news" rarely seems to be out of the headlines.

But as Ian Hislop discovers in Ian Hislop's Fake News, a fascinating (and frightening) new documentary, fake news was actually around long before the current US President started bandying the term about.

The Private Eye editor and Have I Got News For You team stalwart unearths several historical fake news scoops, including one particularly lurid tale of official British fake news-mongering during WWI when stories were spread about German factories manufacturing soap from corpses.

Ian Hislop does the splits (faked)

Ian Hislop in fake-news-pic shocker!

TV Times caught up with Ian to ask him about the show. "I’d done a couple of these kinds of programmes where you look at an issue like immigration or benefits and you think, ‘Have we been here before and is there anything to be learnt from last time?’

"When it comes to fake news, it seems to be that this vast explosion of digital technology is very similar to the creation of the first huge electric printing presses in New York in the 19th century.

MORE: Ian Hislop on why women don’t want to appear on Have I Got News for You

"Suddenly a million people who’d never read newspapers before were now reading them, but they were just full of stuff that was complete nonsense!"

Ian also travels to America to meet victims of modern fake news stories and discovers just how easy it is for someone to invent and spread dangerous (and worryingly believable) falsehoods online. Scary stuff!

TV Times rating: *****