Benefits Street residents to have last word in one-off Channel 4 debate
Yes there's going to be another one - no word on Katie Hopkins just yet
The residents of James Turner Street are to voice their perspectives on the welfare system in a follow-up documentary to the controversial series Benefits Street, Channel 4 has confirmed.
The 30-minute show will lead into an interactive discussion, Benefits Britain: The Debate, featuring contributions from a panel, some of the series’ key contributors and a live studio audience.
Richard Bacon will chair the debate, which aims to raise a number of issues that Benefits Street has brought to the public’s attention.
The show's contributors will also have the chance to discuss their portrayal on the programme, after claims they were misrepresented.
The ‘cast’ of Benefits Street have been the subject of widespread debate since the first episode aired on Monday 6 January. 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.
The show has divided the public, with many criticising the street's residents' lazy behaviour, bad language and criminal activity. Others have pointed the finger at Channel 4's "manipulative journalism and filming".
What do Britons really think of Benefits? A YouGov poll offers some clues:
Benefits Britain: The Debate, produced by Question Time’s production company, was originally scheduled for Monday 10 February, but has now been moved into a peak time slot at 9pm a week later.
The debate will now go up against Channel 5’s The Big British Immigration Row in the TV schedule.
Channel 5's show follows the ratings success of The Big Benefits Row on Monday night, which saw professional motor-mouth Katie Hopkins, Benefits Street’s White Dee and ex-Tory MP Edwina Currie debate the 'broken' benefits system.
The panel for Benefits Britain: The Debate is yet to be confirmed, but Channel 4 has promised that views from across the political system shall be represented.
Nick Mirsky, head of documentaries for Channel 4, said: “I am really pleased that we are able to give some of the residents of James Turner Street the chance to reflect on the benefits system and to set up our debate on the issues behind the series,” said .
“We have spent the last few weeks following their stories. Now it is time to hear more of their views and thoughts.”
C4's Benefits Street: The Last Word airs at 8.30pm on Monday 17 January, followed by Benefits Britain: The Debate at 9pm
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