Concerns that controversial television show Benefits Street could be filmed in the Stockton area have resurfaced after reports that film crews have been spotted in the area.
Numerous sighting of filming being carried out in Norton have been reported – and rumours are rife in the village that it is for the Channel 4 show.
But Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has urged people not to worry – and says the film crew seen may not even be from the programme.
“When the producers came to see me in Westminster a couple of months ago, they said they would not be going to Dixon Street (where they were previously researching),” said Mr Cunningham.
“They said if they were going to be in Stockton, they would keep me informed – and I have not been told me anything.
“However, I have heard there was some sort of filming going on in Norton so I have sent a note to Love Productions asking if they could tell me if they are up to anything.
“At the moment there is nothing to fear, but it is important to keep vigilant.
“If people are getting approached to be on the show, they need to get in touch with my office.”
Norton North councillor Steve Nelson claimed he saw someone filming by the duck pond in Norton on Wednesday.
But he added “it could have been for something else.”
“If it is them, I wouldn’t want them in Stockton and definitely not in Norton,” said Councillor Nelson.
“If people are approached by Love Productions to take part in the show I would urge them to say no.”
In May, it was claimed Benefits Street researchers were chased by residents and pelted with eggs.
TV crews were in Dixon Street, off Dovecot Street, Stockton, when residents allegedly chased, egged and threw a bucket of water over the research team from Love Productions, which makes the show for Channel 4.
One Norton High Street shop worker said: “I think it’s shocking. We don’t want Benefits Street here.”
Another said she saw two women being filmed walking down High Street and were also seen in Home Start Teesside charity shop.
“People are saying it is Benefits Street,” she said. “But I hope it’s not.”
There have also been reports that the show’s researchers have been in the Middlesbrough area as they look for a setting for a second series.
The first series of Benefits Street, filmed on James Turner Street in Birmingham , sparked a national controversy about its portrayal of people living on benefits.
Media regulator Ofcom received hundreds of complaints about what was dubbed ‘poverty porn‘.
But it was hugely popular and global broadcasting rights for the show were later sold .
Benefits Street gave Channel Four its highest viewing figures of any show since 2012.
Love Productions have been asked to comment, but had not responded by the time of publication.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 15 Aug 2014