Immigration Street: Protesters force controversial TV show to be cut from six to one episode

Claims film crews experienced 'intimidation' while filming the programme in Southampton

Adam Sherwin
Thursday 12 February 2015 21:04
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Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community

Channel 4’s plans for a controversial series about immigration have been scaled back after programme-makers were confronted on the street during filming.

Immigration Street, filmed in Southampton’s Derby Road, was originally intended to be a six-part series but the broadcaster will now show just one hour-long episode.

The station originally commissioned six episodes of the Benefits Street spin-off made by Love Productions.

A representative said crews had experienced “intimidation” while filming in the Derby Road area.

Channel 4 said “external political pressure” culminated in a public meeting where the show’s producer Kieran Smith was shouted down.

It said: “On the street itself, verbal aggression was turning into threats of violence. Finally the producers reluctantly took the decision to pull out, as the safety of the crew could no longer be guaranteed.”

Mr Smith said: “Many people on Derby Road made the crew feel welcome and wanted to share their stories but there were local groups who, for their own reasons, were determined to halt production.

The station originally commissioned six episodes of the Benefits Street spin-off made by Love Productions

He added: “It’s a great shame as the footage we have shows Derby Road is a place where, on the whole, people of different nationalities, cultures and religions respect and get along with each other. This will be reflected in the film.”

Protests against the show were held outside Channel 4’s headquarters in London. Derby Road residents raised concerns that the show would stigmatise the area. It will be broadcast on 24 February as part of a series of programmes looking at the issue of immigration.

Ralph Lee, Channel 4’s head of factual programming, said: “In filming Immigration Street the strength of feeling around the issue became apparent not just with the many local people who wanted to tell their stories in the film, but also the impassioned response of those opposing it.

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“These experiences are shown first-hand in what is a fascinating insight into the sometimes inflammatory nature of the immigration debate.”

The programme is due to be followed in March by Immigration Street 1964, a documentary about “Britain’s most racist election campaign and its violent aftermath, which took one street in the West Midlands town of Smethwick to the brink of official racial segregation”.

When Channel 4 announced Immigration Street, the broadcaster said it would “capture life on a street in Southampton where the mix of residents has been transformed over time and continues to evolve as a result of immigration”.

“Cameras will follow the lives of some of the residents of Derby Road in the Bevois district of the city... an ethnically diverse street where the majority of residents were not born in the UK.”

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