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."
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Young Preston fan has play-off hero Jermaine Beckford's shirt stolen from him at Wembley - which then appears for sale on Gumtree
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
Art Garfunkel calls Paul Simon a 'monster' with a Napoleon complex
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Dheepan, film review: Palme d'Or prize goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Game of Thrones, The Gift, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show’s most iconic characters just met
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people