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Monday 22 Sep 2014

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Evan Davis investigates the issues around immigration in a brand-new documentary

Evan Davis, former BBC Economics editor and presenter of BBC Radio 4's Today programme, fronts a one-off documentary for BBC One, The Day The Immigrants Left, exploring the effects of immigration – one of the most hotly debated issues in Britain today – on one Cambridgeshire town.

Since 2004, the once prosperous market town of Wisbech, near Peterborough, has received up to 9,000 immigrants seeking work - the majority from Central and Eastern Europe. And they've found work, taking up jobs in the fields, the factories and all over town.

The town has a major problem with British unemployment, with nearly 2,000 locals claiming benefits. Many blame the migrants for their predicament - but is there any truth to these claims?

The Day The Immigrants Left explores what happens when some of the immigrant employees are temporarily removed from their jobs and the work given to the local unemployed. Now the town's British workers have a chance to prove they have what it takes.

Eleven British unemployed workers are recruited to go into a range of different Wisbech workplaces, including one of the UK's largest potato companies, an asparagus farm, a building site run by a local landlord and an Indian restaurant.

Moving beyond the workplace, Evan investigates how the town's local public services, such as schools, are coping with the demands of the new arrivals – at the local infant school foreign pupils speak eight different languages and make up nearly a third of the whole school.

As the British unemployed workers get to grips with their new jobs, this documentary goes behind the headlines to examine the facts and dispel the myths around the subject of immigration.

Evan Davies says: "Of course immigration is a topic that arouses complex emotions and unwanted tensions, but that is why broadcasters should tackle it and not avoid it.

"This programme is an attempt to get beyond the abstract arguments one hears for or against immigration, and to illustrate why it occurs and what it means in human terms."

Maxine Watson, BBC commissioning executive, documentaries, says: "The Day The Immigrants Left provides a snap shot of the real impact of immigration on jobs and resources in an accessible way for BBC One.

"The programme acknowledges the real fears and perceptions people have around this issue and tackles them head on, often with surprising results."

James Burstall, executive producer, Leopard Films, says: "The aim of the programme is to shed new light on the issues surrounding immigration in the UK today through a balanced and insightful film.

"As one of the most respected broadcasters in his field, Evan Davis is the ideal journalist to explore the sensitive topic of immigration."

The programme broadcasts on Wednesday 24 February at 9.00pm on BBC One.


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