Saturday 10 December 2016

Thousands sign petition to stop BBC broadcasting show dubbed 'poverty porn'

Robert Dex

Published 29/05/2015 | 14:57

Julie and Sue in Channel 4's Benefits Street, another show which has sparked controversy
Julie and Sue in Channel 4's Benefits Street, another show which has sparked controversy

Thousands of people have backed a campaign asking the BBC to scrap a show dubbed "poverty porn" even before filming starts on the series.

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The show, called Britain's Hardest Grafter, will follow members of the public as they do some of the country's worst-paid jobs with a £15,000 prize for the hardest worker.

It was described as an exploration of "our nation's low wage economy" by the BBC when it was launched in January, but by Friday more than 14,000 people signed a petition branding it "degrading and exploitative".

Campaigners using the petitions website Change.org likened the BBC Two show to Jennifer Lawrence's Hunger Games movies where children fight to the death in televised contests.

They said: "This is the next rung down the ladder in the disturbing trend of voyeuristic poverty porn made popular in programmes like Benefits Street.

"Unemployment and poverty are serious social issues and should not be the subject of a cheap game show format, designed to exploit some of the most impoverished in our society for the purposes of dubious entertainment."

In a joint statement, the BBC and production company Twenty Twenty said: "Britain's Hardest Grafter is a current affairs commission and not an entertainment format, and is at the very earliest stages of production.

"The welfare of those taking part is of paramount importance and it is a misinterpretation of the concept of the series to suggest it is exploitative."

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