Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has reacted angrily to claims he plans having a pop at the chicken industry in a Channel Four programme to be made in the new year.

Last week Channel 4 said he intended to expose "the hideous realities of industrial chicken production" in a one-off show called Jamie's Fowl Dinners.

It was claimed he was already in talks with Sainsbury's, which he fronts in ads, about improving poultry welfare.

But Oliver has written to farmers also involved in the programme to distance himself from the reports, which were sparked by a C4 press release, and reassure them that he supports British farming.

"Let me tell you from the horse's mouth that the programme has not been made yet and I have not spoken to a single journalist, so it is therefore impossible for the conclusions of an unmade programme to have been drawn in the way they are being reported," he wrote.

"The reason I wanted to make this programme in the first place was to support British farmers and to give clarity to the British consumer about what is going on in the farming industry today, so that they may then make more informed choices."

He finished the letter by asking farmers with concerns to get in touch with him by email and promising that he had only "good and fair intentions".

Charles Bourns, poultry board chairman at the National Farmers' Union, accused C4 of being provocative and said media hysteria put more pressure on desperate farmers.

"We need 5p-6p per kg more at farm gate level," said Bourns.

"Virtually every crop of chicken is making a loss and if the buyers don't watch out, we'll go the same way as the dairy industry."

A C4 spokesman said the aim was to inform consumer choice with a fair and honest debate.