Benefits Street: Frank Skinner Reveals Job Offer As Viewing Figures Rocket

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Channel 4's Benefits Street has sparked a public outcry like never seen before after its first episode aired last week. The programme focusses on one street in the Birmingham town of Winson Green where a high number of residents receive benefit payments.

Benefits Street Dee Roberts
Residents Of James Turner St. Have Complained That They Were Misrepresented In The Programme.

The residents of the street have argued that they have been misrepresented in the show which Channel 4 describes as a "sympathetic, human and objective portrayal of how people are coping with continuing austerity and cuts in benefits." A petition on Change.org has garnered thousands of signatures ordering the channel to take the 5-part show off-air and for a donation to be made to a relevant charity for 'the harm caused."

Comedian Frank Skinner has emerged to reveal that he was asked to provide then narration for the show seeing as he was brought up within the West Midlands. Oldbury-born Skinner told the Birmingham Mail that he had turned down the job offer because he didn't want to contribute to "something where I'm derogatory about people from Birmingham."

"I imagine there would be a lot of awkward moments in the recording studio when I said, 'I'm not going to say that'," he explained. "They only showed me a very small part of a five-episode series, and I wondered what the rest would be like."

Benefits Street
'Benefits Street' Has Attracted Complaints About The Stree's Portrayal & Threats Towards The Residents.

It seems that the backlash that Channel 4 and Love Productions have faced since the show's initial airing has translated into rocketing viewing figures. The second episode of Benefits Street, which aired on Monday night, was watched by 5.1 million viewers, a million more than the series premiere the week before, according to The Guardian.

Channel 4, which enjoyed a rare win over BBC1 and ITV on Monday night, has hit back at the complaints, saying it was a "fair and balanced observational documentary series." Perhaps more concerning was the less sympathetic reaction towards the select residents featured on the show, with insulting tweets flooding in during and after its debut, with individuals threatening to harm the claimants.

 


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