Letter from the Media Editor: The TV documentary blitzing of our urban centres

 

Share

 

During the blitzes of the Second World War, the big industrial cities and ports winced in empathy at news that somewhere else had “bought it” that night.

Never mind the Luftwaffe, these days our urban centres look around to see who will be next to get a visit from an observational documentary television team.

It’s hardly a matter of life or death – but the blight on the landscape can be serious, as visitors and investors turn their attentions elsewhere.

Last night Birmingham “bought it” again, for the third time in as many weeks, as Channel 4 screened its latest episode of Benefits Street. The programme’s depiction of benefits claimants in Winson Green has given the district a notoriety that even its ancient Victorian prison could not manage.

Grimsby fears it will be targeted next. A production team from Channel 4’s Skint has Britain’s most famous fishing port in its sights and has been doing “test filming”.

Residents – who have drawn a petition up asking for the broadcaster to withdraw – worry that television is only interested in stories of degradation rather than heart-warming stories of community spirit.

Grimsby’s long-standing MP, Austin Mitchell, (himself a confident broadcast performer) has written to complain to Channel 4 and accused it of “turning the poor into objects of entertainment”.

The concerns are greater because Scunthorpe, just along the coast, took a pounding from the same show last year. There’s a feeling in Lincolnshire that TV producers like the “Grim up North” theme. What could be better than a town supposedly named after a Viking called Grim?

But these shows are ratings winners and, while they remain so, TV will keep making them.

i@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting and rewarding role ...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Executive - UK / International

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a long-established, renown...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Signs and Graphics

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The key requirements of the rol...

Recruitment Genius: Company Commercial / Company Property Solicitor

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This south Warwickshire based s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Old London Bridge; how to fight UKIP; and wolves

John Rentoul
Muslim men pray at the East London Mosque  

Sadly, it needs to be said again: being a Muslim is not a crime

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible