Is Hull to be TV’s next Benefits Street?

Channel 4's Benefits Street
Channel 4's Benefits Street
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COUNCILLORS and an MP have rounded on documentary makers they claim are about to make another “stereotyped” programme about northerners on benefits.

Just days after Hull – due to be City of Culture of 2017 – was celebrating the £310m investment by Siemens and Associated British Ports, it emerged Channel 5 was including residents in a programme about people on the dole.

It comes hot on the heels of Channel 4’s Benefits Streets which follows residents of down-trodden James Turner Street in Birmingham and which has been labelled “poverty porn” by critics.

Hull North MP Diana Johnson accused the programme makers of pandering to stereotypes. Speaking in the House of Commons she asked: “May we have a debate on responsible documentary making that does not build on stereotypes about the North and that shows the positives, because the North is a thriving place, with people in work and doing very well?”

Deputy leader of Hull Council Daren Hale said: “If we are not careful these shows become the new freak shows, where basically we gawp, not to understand but pick fun.

“They are not uplifting, they are negative and will give a jaundiced view of this city.”

Channel 5 confirmed they were in the process of filming in Hull, one of several locations, for a new, as yet untitled, series about benefits and employment.

It said: “The programme is in early stages, and will follow people’s lives in these areas of the country.”