“Cringeworthy”, “shameful” and “misleading”– just some of the words local people have used to describe a BBC documentary based in Larne.
‘I Love Larne’ was beamed to TV screens all over the province on Monday night, as part of the BBC One Northern Ireland series, True North.
The film was billed by the BBC as a depiction of the town’s quest to overcome economic hardships, such as the massive job losses at FG Wilson in 2012.
It showed efforts by Larne Borough Council to rejuvenate the local tourism industry with the upcoming Gobbins cliff path project.
The council’s chief executive, Geraldine McGahey featured prominently, as she vowed to prevent Larne town centre from being boarded up.
However, the programme also carried claims by some locals that the town was going under and had nothing to offer.
These negative comments, and a strong focus on evangelical activities, fuelled an unprecedented response on social media.
Before the programme had even ended, outraged Larne folk had taken to Facebook and Twitter to express their “disgust” at what is being branded a “misrepresentation” of the town.
Shortly after the programme had aired, Larne was the seventh most talked about topic trending on Twitter in the UK.
In the wake of the public backlash, director and producer Guy King has expressed his regret that the programme has angered so many people.
Speaking to the Times, Mr King – who is originally from Larne – said that while he had received some positive feedback, he was “taken aback” by the overwhelmingly negative reaction.
“I am feeling quite gutted, as I genuinely thought people would have enjoyed it,” he added.
“Perhaps people were expecting a different kind of show. This programme was never supposed to be a current affairs show, or something designed to promote tourism.
“It was my own personal portrait of life in Larne. I wanted to focus on the passionate, charismatic people of the town and get inside their heads.
“I thought I had found stories of Larne people who displayed positive messages about overcoming setbacks.
“I was born in Larne and I am very fond of the town. I am sorry that people are upset, as I did not intend to offend anyone,” Mr King added.