Ross Kemp: Extreme World, which begins on Monday looking at endemic gang activity, violence and police warfare in Karachi's dockside Lyari district, places Glasgow on the programme-maker's list of the globe's most troubled cities. Ranked on a par with the Pakistani capital, the series presents Glasgow as being in the same mould as towns in Mexico, Kenya and Tanzania, where issues including organised drug cartels, religiously motivated terrorism, and people-trafficking and voodoo are endemic.
Now representatives of Glasgow have hit back at the show, claiming that its highly selective view of the city is both misrepresentative and potentially damaging, amid fears that trade and tourism could be affected by the portrayal.
Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, said: "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."
He added: "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."
The show is reported to focus on the twin demons of poverty and alcohol, featuring as its centrepiece a 46-year-old alcoholic who broke off five of his own toes and kept the severed digits in a jar after developing severe frostbite in his unheated flat in the city's north side. However, while accepting the circumstances of the case as extreme, a spokesman for Glasgow City Council said the individual concerned refused multiple offers of assistance prior to participating in the film.
Other episodes in the series include a look inside the fetid conditions of Venezuela's most notorious prison, a snapshot of the world of the South American kidnapping gangs and a profile of Tanzania's witchcraft-inspired trade in the bones of albinos – murdered because many locals believe their body parts are an essential ingredient of the magic potions commonly used to help find gold deposits.
Kemp last week went on the record in the tabloid press to claim that of all the destinations he has visited, Glasgow is the toughest.
City sources told the Sunday Herald that programme-makers Tiger Aspect contacted multiple agencies prior to arriving from London. However, several opted not to participate, reporting that the production company appeared to have a fixed idea of the subject matter it wished to pursue and demonstrated little interest in profiling positive local initiatives.
A spokesman for the council said: "What is undoubtedly missing from the programme is the extensive system of support that's available for people in difficulty, support that individuals in his film have repeatedly refused to accept."
Neither Sky, the broadcaster of the show, nor the production company returned calls asking for a response to the controversy.