Benefits Street viewing figures down by more than a million for first Stockton episode

The opening episode of Benefits Street attracted almost three million viewers – but was down on last year’s first instalment.

Last night’s episode of the new Channel 4 series featured residents getting to grips with the media interest in their street.

The goings-on in Kingston Road in Tilery, Stockton, attracted 2.95 million viewers (13.5%) on Monday night.

The documentary beat New Tricks on BBC1, which attracted 2.2 million, and came second to Safe House on ITV, which was watched by 4.8 million.

The audience was 75% above the slot average, but the total was down on the 4.3 million viewers who saw the opening episode of the controversial first series last year.

Channel 4 said that it was the most popular programme in the slot for 16 to 34-year-olds

The first series was made in Birmingham and attacked by some critics as “poverty porn”.

The broadcaster’s head of documentaries Nick Mirsky has said the “increasing divide between rich and poor” is an important subject and has not ruled out making a third series.

He said:

There isn’t a third series of Benefits Street in production but what I would say though is that the gap between rich and poor and the subject of welfare and benefits is an important subject.

“Channel 4 have to keep looking at that and finding ways of telling stories.”

> How about a fly-on-the-wall series showing how Jobcentre staff treat claimants ?

Or do the poor always have to be the villains ?

Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 12 May 2015

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