Why Did Frank Skinner Turn Down 'Benefits Street' Job?

Comedian Frank Skinner turned down a narrating job on Channel 4 documentary Benefits Street because he was unwilling to criticise his hometown of Birmingham on television.

Dee Roberts Benefits StreetDee Roberts Is Unable With 'Benfits Street'

The Room 101 host grew up in Oldbury, just outside the city, and was wary of how the show planned to present local people. Skinner was approached to do the voiceover for the series, which purports to explore the "community spirit" in Winson Green's James Turner Street.

However, speaking with the Birmingham Mail, Skinner said he refused the offer as he did not want to involve himself in "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."

"I care what people from Birmingham think about me, which is why I didn't want to do Benefits Street," he added. "I haven't seen the programme yet, but from what I've heard I think I made the right decision."

Following its first airing, Ofcom and Channel 4 received 400 complaints, mainly about the criminal activity shown on the programme but also by the negative portrayal of the street's struggling residents. 

A petition - signed by thousands - demands that Channel 4 drop the rest of the series and a police probe has been launched by West Midlands Police.

Benefits StreetBenefits Street Has Pulled In Hundreds of Complaints

Support worker Dee Roberts, a resident on the street, is angry about her portrayal on the programme. 

"They said they wanted to film for a TV show about how great community spirit is in the street and how we all help each other out on a daily basis," Roberts said.""I participated in the show on that belief, but this programme has nothing to do with community, which you can tell from the title. It makes people out as complete scum.

"They lied to us from the very beginning. We opened our doors and hearts to them and they violated us and abused our trust."


Contactmusic

Tags: Frank Skinner


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