Channel 4 has received a barrage of complaints over a satirical sketch about the search for Madeleine McCann on Sunday’s Bremner, Bird And Fortune.

The sketch – which suggested that Prime Minister Gordon Brown would attempt to secure an election win by producing the missing four-year-old on the eve of a poll – was described as insensitive by irate viewers.

“Channel 4 has reached a new level in despicable taste,” said one person who called in to complain.

Media regulators Ofcom said they had received 32 complaints about the sketch, while Channel 4 also confirmed they had had a number of complaints but would not say how many.

A spokesman for the channel defended the sketch, saying it was aimed at politicians and not the McCanns themselves.

“The sketch satirised the lengths to which politicians would go to win public support, following press criticism of the timing of Gordon Brown’s visit to Iraq in the run up to a snap general election,” he said.

“We can assure you the sketch was not aimed at the McCann family, but was clearly directed at politicians and their opportunistic publicity stunts.”

“It was certainly never Channel 4’s intention to offend or cause distress to the family or to our viewers.”