Benefits Street gets live debate

Channel 4 plans interactive show after the final episode of its controversial documentary series.
 
  • Residents of James Turner Street, as featured in Benefits Street
    Jeananne Craig
    Last updated: 16 January 2014, 12:22 GMT

    Channel 4 is set to host a live debate after the final episode of its controversial Benefits Street show.

    The five-part documentary series set in Birmingham has sparked hundreds of viewer complaints and been attacked for misrepresenting life for people on social security.

    Now the broadcaster – which has insisted Benefits Street is fair and balanced – is planning an interactive debate to discuss the issues raised by the programme.

    Channel 4 said the show, chaired by Richard Bacon and airing at 10pm on Monday February 10, will have viewer questions and a panel representing views “across the political spectrum – and crucially those who claim benefits”.

    The broadcaster’s head of factual Ralph Lee said of Benefits Street: “This is a series which reflects the reality of day-to-day life for some of the residents of a single street who, for the most part, rely on benefits to survive.

    “It does not and never has set out to reflect the experiences of every person who receives benefits yet it has triggered a national debate about state welfare at a time in which further welfare reforms are being proposed. We feel it is timely to provide a forum in which these issues can be raised and discussed.”

    Meanwhile, the BBC has defended an edition of The One Show following complaints that Paul O'Grady's comments on benefit reform were not adequately challenged.

    The chat show host was asked for his opinion following the controversy over Benefits Street when he was a studio guest on the teatime programme this month.

    Addressing the complaints, the BBC said O'Grady was clearly identified as a Labour supporter and he was challenged on how he would reduce the benefits bill.

    But it added that Paul's views were "forthright" and "on reflection more could have been done to put them into context". 

    Jeananne Craig
    Last updated: 16 January 2014, 12:22 GMT

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