Benefits Street residents subjected to death threats after Channel 4 show airs
Viewers posted abusive messages online when the documentary was broadcast
Police are investigating death threats made against five members of the public who starred in Channel 4’s latest documentary Benefits Street.
The first episode of the Birmingham-based show, which focuses on the poor residents of James Turner Street in Winson Green, aired on Monday night.
Shortly after the broadcast began, aggressive and abusive messages were posted on social media by viewers enraged at the 'benefits spongers' presented on the programme.
"I want to walk down #BenefitsStreet with a baseball bat and brain a few of these scumbags," read one tweet, while another wrote: "Set fire to #Benefits Street".
Watching benefits street from last night, such scrounging bastards
— annie x (@annie_neary) January 7, 2014
Vicksterrrrr (@princessvicks82) January 7, 2014
A spokesperson from the West Midlands Police has confirmed that the force are investigating threats made against the cast as well as criminality committed in front of the camera.
Others who tuned in defended the Benefits Street residents and criticised Channel 4 for stereotyping people dependent on benefits.
just caught up with #benefitsstreet on 4OD and all I can say is, manipulative journalism and filming— Sarah (@SJ_bluerose) January 7, 2014
how about a documentary following around wealthy mps as they spend tax payers money? #benefitsstreet(@miffedmingrat) January 7, 2014
1 minute and 15 seconds into Benefits Street and I can already tell channel 4 have picked the worst bits to broadcast.— stacey heydon. (@staceeeyyyy) January 7, 2014
Earlier this week, it was reported that the show's stars believed they had been "tricked" into appearing on Benefits Street by Channel 4 producers.
Qualified support worker Dee Roberts, mother of three Charlene Wilson and local resident Nikitta Bell are among those angry about their portrayal on the programme - largely as unemployed scroungers, drug abusers, irresponsible parents and potty-mouths.
"They said they wanted to film for a TV show about how great community spirit is in the street and how we all help each other out on a daily basis," Roberts told the Birmingham Mail. "I participated in the show on that belief, but this programme has nothing to do with community, which you can tell from the title. It makes people out as complete scum.
"They lied to us from the very beginning. We opened our doors and hearts to them and they violated us and abused our trust."
Two other 'stars' of Benefits Street, self-confessed alcoholic Fungi and his dog Becky Howe, 23, is also "fuming" over her presentation on Benefits Street. "Half of my family and friends have already disowned me because of it," she said. "Some want me to change my name on Deed Poll. We might be on benefits but everyone has got to start somewhere."
Her partner Mark Thomas added: "I'm on benefits at the moment but that’s because I'm training to be a security guard. They want to make us look uneducated."
Channel 4 has hit back at complaints, describing their documentary as "fair and balanced" and ensuring viewers that all contributors were "briefed extensively before any filming took place".
A section on the Channel 4 dedicated to Benefits Street states: "As austerity continues to bite, jobs remain hard to come by and benefits are squeezed, this observational documentary series reveals the reality of life on benefits.
"The series follows residents of ‘Benefits Street’ as they navigate their way through life on the bottom rung of Britain’s economic ladder (…) this is a place where people look out for each other and where small acts of kindness can go a long way."
Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
- 2 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 3 A-level results 2015: UK exam board OCR admits it 'estimates' hundreds of pupils' grades after papers 'go missing'
- 4 Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks busy Dublin road
- 5 'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
Artist Jamie McCartney: How The Great Wall of Vagina is a stand against 'body fascism'
Cilla Black: Her 12 best songs, from 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' to 'You're My World'
Michael B Jordan and Kate Mara handle excruciatingly awkward and offensive interview questions like pros
Game of Thrones season 6: 'A Song of Ice and Fire should be finished by 1998,' said George R. R. Martin, 'but don't hold your breath'
Sherlock season 4: Benedict Cumberbatch will be 'a lot less brattish' in Victorian special
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality