Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Reality Bites as TV Bosses Switch Focus

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Reality Bites as TV Bosses Switch Focus

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Brown Reporter mike.brown@eveninggazette.co.uk BR m

PRODUCERS of controversial reality TV show Benefits Street have turned their attention to Stockton - just weeks after sizing up locations in Middlesbrough.

Cameras from the Channel 4 show - which previously painted an unflattering portrait of a Birmingham street - were filming for two days on Dixon Street, Stockton.

MPs James Wharton and Alex Cunningham, as well as Stockton Council, say the show could damage the area's reputation but some residents have mixed views.

Dad-of-two Brian Hayes, 26, said: "I said that I wouldn't mind, as long as it shows how hard it is for people on benefits to get a job.

"I am desperate to work to earn money for my family but it's hard.

"Being on something like Benefits Street is degrading but if it helped me get a job then I'd have them down here."

Brian has set up a Facebook page about the issue. He said: "The truth is, 70% of the people on this street don't want to be here. More than half the people work. There are a lot of people working to try and make Stockton a better place and the worst bits don't need to be picked out and shown."

Gillian Chester has worked at the Dovecot Street Corner Shop, on the corner of Dixon Street, for 10 years, and thinks producers would focus on negatives.

She said: "I don't think it will do any good. The first series just picked out the worst parts, and I doubt they would show all the people on the street who work."

Gina Westwood, who has lived on Dixon Street for 14 years, said: "I think it's all been blown out of proportion, really.

"The cameras were here for a screen test, but I heard they've been to five different streets in Stockton. But apparently Dixon Street was the friendliest."

Stockton South MP James Wharton has written to Channel 4 bosses, stressing they are not welcome.

He accused Benefits Street of being "cheap TV" that could "undermine and damage the reputation" of Stockton. …

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