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Apologise, C4 told, to ‘Benefits Street’

24 January 2014

RICHARD ANSETT/CHANNEL 4

Benefits Street residents: "White Dee" and her daughter Caitlin 

Benefits Street residents: "White Dee" and her daughter Caitlin 

THE documentary Benefits Street has been criticised by the Revd Steve Chalke, whose charity, the Oasis Trust, runs a school in the road featured in the programme.

The Channel 4 programme, which filmed residents - many of whom are said to claim benefits - of James Turner Street in Birmingham for about two years, has been attacked by some of those featured in the show as portraying the community in a negative light.

After a public meeting hosted by the Oasis Academy Foundry school, Mr Chalke said that the residents wanted an apology from Channel 4. He said: "The community is very angry about it.

"The street has been turned into a zoo and the residents feel like they are exhibits. It is not representative. We have a serious complaint as an education provider that this [programme] has stigmatised the whole community."

Channel 4 has insisted that Benefits Street is a fair and accurate depiction of life in James Turner Street, and that all the participants chose willingly to take part. It hopes to host a live TV debate when the series ends in February.

Mr Chalke said: "This debate doesn't count as a right of reply. No one wants to take part in anything."

Angela Tilby

 

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