Benefits Street set for second series to be filmed in different part of UK

Channel 4 confirms second series is in development

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The Independent Culture

Controversial documentary Benefits Street looks set to return to Channel 4 for a second series, but will not be returning to Birmingham.

Following the penultimate episode last night, the show appealed for new residents living on benefits who might want to appear in a second series to come forward.

Channel 4 confirmed in a statement this morning that production company, Love Productions, is researching potential new locations for a second series of Benefits Street in different parts of the country.

“The first series ignited an important debate about the welfare system and we are interested in seeing if we can revisit this through the experiences of residents of a street in a different part of Britain,” the statement read.

The documentary, which follows the residents of James Turner Street in Birmingham living on benefits, has been a ratings hit for Channel 4, but has been criticised for demonising those living on the breadline.

In the past few weeks, residents on James Turner Street have been subject to death threats, bullying and nationwide criticism, and it remains to be seen whether Love Productions will be able to coax another community into appearing on the show.

The controversial show has been the subject of nationwide debate since it first aired at the beginning of January.

A petition calling for Channel 4 to ban the programme and donate the money to a relevant charity has been signed by nearly 60,000 people.

Critics have labelled the series “poverty porn”, claiming it paints an inaccurate portrayal of people receiving benefits and “demonises” those who rely on the welfare state.

Independent columnist Owen Jones said a new series would do better to highlight the reality of the welfare state in the UK.

“Why doesn't a new series show the reality of the welfare state, like the pensioners who make up the majority of spending, paying in all their lives and still too often in poverty; or the millions of low-paid workers whose poverty wages have to be topped up; or the millions of unemployed and under-employed who fling in CV after CV and often don't get even a response," he said.

"That's the reality we don't see on our screens.”

Others have called the show’s residents lazy, arguing that the documentary highlights a broken benefits system that promotes an over-reliance on hand-outs.

Some of the show’s residents also claim they were misled into appearing in the series, and say they were misrepresented in the documentary.

‘White Dee’, the self-professed matriarch of the street, told BBC West Midlands the series had been “very cleverly edited” and suggested residents were misled into appearing after being told the show would focus on “community spirit”.

Channel 4 has denied these claims, stating that contributors were “briefed extensively before any filming took place…and were given the opportunity to view the programmes they feature in before transmission”.

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