Benefits Street: Working couple filmed 'extensively' were cut from final episodes
Unnamed couple claim they were filmed for a year by series producer Love Productions but were cut from episodes because they were employed
Heather Saul is a digital reporter for The Independent, currently working on the People desk. She has written news and features across a number of topics, paying particular attention to the activities of Isis and events in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Thursday 16 January 2014
A working couple living on James Turner Street who claim they were filmed "extensively" for a year for Channel 4 series Benefits Street were cut from all final episodes of the programme.
BBC's Radio 4 Today programme spoke to the couple, who said after being filmed for 12 months, they were told they would not be featured in the programme.
"Why was a working couple on the street filmed extensively for a year", they asked, "to be told that the number of episodes had been cut from six to five and we were meant to feature in the sixth?"
Kieran Smith, the creative director of series maker Love Productions defended the show, telling Today he was "incredibly proud five million people are watching and talking about this series".
He said the unnamed working couple were not included in the final cut not because they were working, but because one of them is a benefits assessor and felt "uncomfortable" appearing on the show.
He said: "We have lots of people in the series coming up in future episodes who work or who are trying to get into work," adding that one employed resident would be one of the main characters in programme four.
He also told Today his production company was "very upfront and very clear" with residents on the street "that this was a series about benefits", in response to claims by residents they were lied to.
Mr Smith said residents were not told what the series would be called because he "didn't know that it would be called Benefits Street then".
A live debate on the divisive programme will now be held during a break in the series, a public meeting at the Oasis Foundry Academy was told last night.
About 100 people attend the meeting chaired by head teacher Emma Johnson, where residents gave their views on the show.
People were given post it notes to write their feelings about Channel 4.
One resident told The Birmingham Mail: “This is not a community of scroungers, we are a good community. Channel 4 need to take this programme off the air."
Channel 4 said the live debate will be hosted by presenter Richard Bacon and would be aired on 10 February at 10pm.
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