Benefits Street Stockton likely to hit television screens in March 2015

The new series of Benefits Street being filmed on Teesside is likely to air in March next year.

The second series of the observational documentary series is being filmed in Kingston Road, Tilery, in Stockton.

It comes after the first – based in Birmingham – attracted huge controversy.

Sources close to the show havesaid that the first instalment of the second series of Benefits Street is expected to be shown on Channel 4 in March next year – although the exact date is still undecided.

The decision to film in Stockton caused widespread outrage, with some accusing Channel 4 of using “poverty tourism” to chase ratings.

The first series made stars of some of its cast but was described by some critics as “poverty porn”.

Austin Mitchell, the Labour MP for Great Grimsby, accused the broadcaster of perpetuating a “monstrous travesty of reality”.

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

He also suggested the makers of the programme, Love Productions, should “get out of the town”.

After the story broke  in August that the show WAS being filmed on Teesside, Boro fans at the Riverside Stadium unveiled a banner reading “Being poor is not entertainment”.

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

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

However, the chief executive of Channel 4 defended its decision to make another series of Benefits Street in Stockton.

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

Mr Lee told a national newspaper:

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

“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.”

Source –  Middlesbrough Evening Gazette,  24 Nov 2014

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