Tees

Benefits Street filming in Stockton

  • 26 August 2014
  • From the section Tees
Deidre "White Dee" Kelly
The first series of Benefits Street followed people in Birmingham living off benefits

Residents in a Teesside street are being filmed for the next series of controversial TV show Benefits Street.

Crews from Love Productions are filming on Kingston Road in Stockton for the Channel Four show, which follows people living off benefits.

The area's MP said participants were being exploited, while one woman said 90% of residents work.

But the team behind the show said they were giving a voice to people that "don't really have a voice".

Labour's Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham told BBC Tees he was "deeply disappointed" Kingston Road had been chosen for the show.

He said: "This is about exploiting people, about making television, growing audiences and selling advertising."

'Economic decline'

Channel 4's head of documentaries Nick Mirsky, who has commissioned the new series, said: "Benefits Street fits perfectly with Channel 4's remit of producing programming that stimulates discussion and debate, the first series did this on a national scale.

"It brought a very human focus to an issue that is at the heart of who we are in Britain today. I'm sure the new series will advance that debate and introduce viewers to a new group of compelling residents."

Love Production's creative director for factual, Kieran Smith, added: "Like many places in the UK, Stockton has been hit hard by the recession and economic decline.

A cameraman films BBC reporter Andy Bell
The BBC found a film crew on Kingston Road but they refused to speak

"Those who are reliant on welfare for the majority of their income are some of the hardest hit.

"We have been invited to share in the lives of the residents of one street where many people rely on benefits to survive.

BBC Tees reporter Andy Bell visited the street to speak to residents, but a film crew he met refused to speak to him.

Residents he spoke to said it was up to those taking part how they portray themselves.

One woman said she believed they were only filming two families, adding: "We worked out the other week that 90% of the people in the street work so I can't understand why they are filming."

Benefits Street sparked controversy when the first series filmed on James Turner Street in Birmingham aired in January.

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