Benefits Street: Channel 4 boss defends filming of second series in Stockton

The chief executive of Channel 4 has defended its decision to make another series of Benefits Street in Stockton.

Despite fierce local and national criticism of the show, Ralph Lee, boss of the channel, said that the broadcaster’s output would not be ‘censored’.

The second series of Benefits Street is being filmed on Kingston Road, in Tilery in Stockton – leading to MPs and council leaders condemning the show, community groups launching a petition and Boro fans unveiling a banner at the Riverside Stadium reading “Being poor is not entertainment”.

Protest against Benefits Street at the Riverside
Protest against Benefits Street at the Riverside

 

But Mr Lee told a national newspaper:

We can’t let this kind of criticism have a chilling effect on making programme” .

“In a way what they are calling for is a form of censorship and I am always really suspicious of that. I defend our right – and the necessity – to tell the stories of some of the distressed parts of our society.”

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham wrote to every resident of Kingston Road asking them to “think again” about taking part in the Channel 4 documentary.

The Labour MP had already suggested the makers of the programme, Love Productions, should “get out of the town” after accusing them of setting people up for “entertainment purposes only”.

And two Stockton mums Charlotte Hall and Di Hewitt launched an online petition, attracting 1,700 names, asking  Love Productions to leave Stockton.

Middlesbrough football supporters group, Red Faction, were behind the banners unveiled in the south stand of the Riverside Stadium during Boro’s game against Reading.

Group member Steve Fletcher, 27 said at the time:

“I was hoping it would catch people’s eye at the match and help raise awareness.

“I don’t think the show will paint Teesside in a particularly good light. It is trivialising a serious social issue.

“Shows like this demonise working class people. They need help not mocking.”

Business and council leaders condemned the filming, saying that it would “misrepresent” Stockton.

And proud Stocktonian Mike McGrother, frontman in local band Wildcats of Kilkenny, caused an internet storm when he sent an impassioned letter praising the town to producers.

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  28 Oct 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s