Hampshire MP's warning over 'Street' documentary

Daily Echo: John Denham MP John Denham MP

A HAMPSHIRE MP has warned that a controversial documentary may leave residents feeling they have been misrepresented.

John Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen, voiced his fears over how communities in Southampton may react once the sequel to Benefits Streets – understood to be called Immigration Street – hits our television screens.

He was speaking at the annual meeting of the Southampton Council of Faiths yesterday.

As previously reported, Love Productions, the film company behind Benefits Street – a series which prompted criticism of how it portrayed residents living on benefits – has started filming in St Mary’s.

City leaders have already roundly criticised the planned production, saying they fear it could risk race relations within the city’s diverse communities.

However, Mr Denham believes Southampton is bigger than any television programme.

He said: “It is more likely that people will watch this programme and feel that their community has been unfairly represented.

“I think people will see the programme and think ‘this is not the community or city I live in’ and will rise above it.”

The Southampton Council of Faith continues to urge people to use caution when speaking to the production teams.

David Vane, secretary of the council, added: “We just want people to be aware of what happened in Birmingham – where Benefits Street was filmed – wasn’t necessarily what people intended to be contributing to the programme for.”

At the meeting Mr Denham, who was guest speaker, also praised the work of the council.

He spoke of how the charity had helped keep different communities talking to each other and fostering integration among the city’s diverse neighbourhoods.

He recognised the many challenges people in different communities face – rising number attending food banks, questions about immigration and community cohesion – but said that the work of leaders of different faiths had helped to attack those.

Mr Denham said: “If we want to believe that we are one society, which I think we are, if we want to have shared values that help us work together then you have to engage people, and that is done primarily when they are motivated by faith.

“I have learned the value of the contribution of the leaders of those faiths here and I hope this continues.”

When contacted previously by the Daily Echo, a Channel 4 spokesman said: “Benefits Street sparked an important debate about the welfare system.

“It was a fair and balanced observational documentary series and was a sympathetic, humane and objective portrayal of how people are coping with continuing austerity and cuts in benefits.”

Comments (13)

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12:04pm Mon 19 May 14

normal1965 says...

whats good for one is good for all.
whats good for one is good for all. normal1965
  • Score: 4

12:15pm Mon 19 May 14

issacchunt says...

Mr Denham much like council is fearfull the dwindling majority will see exactly the kind of city we live in.
Mr Denham much like council is fearfull the dwindling majority will see exactly the kind of city we live in. issacchunt
  • Score: 2

12:18pm Mon 19 May 14

thesouth says...

issacchunt wrote:
Mr Denham much like council is fearfull the dwindling majority will see exactly the kind of city we live in.
Your name is true to form
[quote][p][bold]issacchunt[/bold] wrote: Mr Denham much like council is fearfull the dwindling majority will see exactly the kind of city we live in.[/p][/quote]Your name is true to form thesouth
  • Score: 0

12:31pm Mon 19 May 14

Lone Ranger. says...

issacchunt wrote:
Mr Denham much like council is fearfull the dwindling majority will see exactly the kind of city we live in.
The kind of city we live is often reflective of the people that live there.
.
Documentaries such as "Benefits Street" and "Immigration Stree" are not reflective of the Cities at all.
[quote][p][bold]issacchunt[/bold] wrote: Mr Denham much like council is fearfull the dwindling majority will see exactly the kind of city we live in.[/p][/quote]The kind of city we live is often reflective of the people that live there. . Documentaries such as "Benefits Street" and "Immigration Stree" are not reflective of the Cities at all. Lone Ranger.
  • Score: 1

12:34pm Mon 19 May 14

sotonboy84 says...

issacchunt wrote:
Mr Denham much like council is fearfull the dwindling majority will see exactly the kind of city we live in.
Just like "Benefit Street", if people have nothing untoward to hide then nothing untoward will be shown. The filming in Birmingham showed what some of the residents are really like and they didn't like the truth.
[quote][p][bold]issacchunt[/bold] wrote: Mr Denham much like council is fearfull the dwindling majority will see exactly the kind of city we live in.[/p][/quote]Just like "Benefit Street", if people have nothing untoward to hide then nothing untoward will be shown. The filming in Birmingham showed what some of the residents are really like and they didn't like the truth. sotonboy84
  • Score: 0

12:51pm Mon 19 May 14

Mary80 says...

Benefits Street only showed the worst who clearly fiddle the system it was never gonna be a fair and even view of life on benefits. Why show real disabled people struggle it wouldn't bring in ratings. The exact same will happen with this new show it will only be used to stir up trouble
Benefits Street only showed the worst who clearly fiddle the system it was never gonna be a fair and even view of life on benefits. Why show real disabled people struggle it wouldn't bring in ratings. The exact same will happen with this new show it will only be used to stir up trouble Mary80
  • Score: 4

1:42pm Mon 19 May 14

IronLady2010 says...

Mary80 wrote:
Benefits Street only showed the worst who clearly fiddle the system it was never gonna be a fair and even view of life on benefits. Why show real disabled people struggle it wouldn't bring in ratings. The exact same will happen with this new show it will only be used to stir up trouble
I don't think it stirs up trouble, it just brings the truth to light.

I actually found the programme interesting as it exposed the life of people on benefits. Tax payers money being used to buy alcohol and fags whilst the children have to eat basic foods.

On the positive side, after watching the interviews and debates afterwards, some of those now have jobs and some have had benefits stopped, so the programme actually was positive.
[quote][p][bold]Mary80[/bold] wrote: Benefits Street only showed the worst who clearly fiddle the system it was never gonna be a fair and even view of life on benefits. Why show real disabled people struggle it wouldn't bring in ratings. The exact same will happen with this new show it will only be used to stir up trouble[/p][/quote]I don't think it stirs up trouble, it just brings the truth to light. I actually found the programme interesting as it exposed the life of people on benefits. Tax payers money being used to buy alcohol and fags whilst the children have to eat basic foods. On the positive side, after watching the interviews and debates afterwards, some of those now have jobs and some have had benefits stopped, so the programme actually was positive. IronLady2010
  • Score: -8

7:23pm Mon 19 May 14

issacchunt says...

thesouth wrote:
issacchunt wrote:
Mr Denham much like council is fearfull the dwindling majority will see exactly the kind of city we live in.
Your name is true to form
You wishy washy bleeding heart liberal, so are they going to ship in actors or will we see a true example of people living in a given area of this city.
[quote][p][bold]thesouth[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]issacchunt[/bold] wrote: Mr Denham much like council is fearfull the dwindling majority will see exactly the kind of city we live in.[/p][/quote]Your name is true to form[/p][/quote]You wishy washy bleeding heart liberal, so are they going to ship in actors or will we see a true example of people living in a given area of this city. issacchunt
  • Score: 0

9:28pm Mon 19 May 14

mike coll says...

Well Denham knows only to well how the power of the media, Mark Thomas is still waiting for him to find a back bone and be interviewed. Its only been some six years that Mark has waited, and still no interview.
You vote for this man this is the spineless commons member you get.
Well Denham knows only to well how the power of the media, Mark Thomas is still waiting for him to find a back bone and be interviewed. Its only been some six years that Mark has waited, and still no interview. You vote for this man this is the spineless commons member you get. mike coll
  • Score: 2

10:25pm Mon 19 May 14

Lone Ranger. says...

mike coll wrote:
Well Denham knows only to well how the power of the media, Mark Thomas is still waiting for him to find a back bone and be interviewed. Its only been some six years that Mark has waited, and still no interview.
You vote for this man this is the spineless commons member you get.
What right has Mark Thomas got to interview anybody
[quote][p][bold]mike coll[/bold] wrote: Well Denham knows only to well how the power of the media, Mark Thomas is still waiting for him to find a back bone and be interviewed. Its only been some six years that Mark has waited, and still no interview. You vote for this man this is the spineless commons member you get.[/p][/quote]What right has Mark Thomas got to interview anybody Lone Ranger.
  • Score: 0

11:54pm Mon 19 May 14

WalkingOnAWire says...

mike coll wrote:
Well Denham knows only to well how the power of the media, Mark Thomas is still waiting for him to find a back bone and be interviewed. Its only been some six years that Mark has waited, and still no interview.
You vote for this man this is the spineless commons member you get.
This 'spineless' man, when in government, resigned his ministerial post in protest at the Iraq war. He put principle above personal gain and ambition. It's a pity more of our politicians don't do the same.
[quote][p][bold]mike coll[/bold] wrote: Well Denham knows only to well how the power of the media, Mark Thomas is still waiting for him to find a back bone and be interviewed. Its only been some six years that Mark has waited, and still no interview. You vote for this man this is the spineless commons member you get.[/p][/quote]This 'spineless' man, when in government, resigned his ministerial post in protest at the Iraq war. He put principle above personal gain and ambition. It's a pity more of our politicians don't do the same. WalkingOnAWire
  • Score: 1

12:04am Tue 20 May 14

WalkingOnAWire says...

IronLady2010 wrote:
Mary80 wrote:
Benefits Street only showed the worst who clearly fiddle the system it was never gonna be a fair and even view of life on benefits. Why show real disabled people struggle it wouldn't bring in ratings. The exact same will happen with this new show it will only be used to stir up trouble
I don't think it stirs up trouble, it just brings the truth to light.

I actually found the programme interesting as it exposed the life of people on benefits. Tax payers money being used to buy alcohol and fags whilst the children have to eat basic foods.

On the positive side, after watching the interviews and debates afterwards, some of those now have jobs and some have had benefits stopped, so the programme actually was positive.
I understand your point IronLady, and it would be fine if this were a company that made genuine documentary films - let's say like Panorama, or something by Louis Theroux.

The point here is that the company that makes these programmes has one ambition only. That ambition is to turn people's lives into 'entertainment', in order to maximise viewing figures, which in turn lead to advertising revenues, so that ultimately the film-making company gets as much profit as possible.

This means that there is nothing objective about the programmes which end up being made and broadcast. The participants are simply pawns in a financial game. Many of the scenarios in Benefits Street were specifically staged for the programme. No thinking person believes that 'Made in Chelsea' or 'I'm a Celebrity' are a true-to-life documentary (at least I hope not!). Nor is anything that's made by Love Films, who made Benefits Street. It's naive to think that they are trying to reflect an objective reality - they're not, they're far more cynical, and commercially-minded, than that.
[quote][p][bold]IronLady2010[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Mary80[/bold] wrote: Benefits Street only showed the worst who clearly fiddle the system it was never gonna be a fair and even view of life on benefits. Why show real disabled people struggle it wouldn't bring in ratings. The exact same will happen with this new show it will only be used to stir up trouble[/p][/quote]I don't think it stirs up trouble, it just brings the truth to light. I actually found the programme interesting as it exposed the life of people on benefits. Tax payers money being used to buy alcohol and fags whilst the children have to eat basic foods. On the positive side, after watching the interviews and debates afterwards, some of those now have jobs and some have had benefits stopped, so the programme actually was positive.[/p][/quote]I understand your point IronLady, and it would be fine if this were a company that made genuine documentary films - let's say like Panorama, or something by Louis Theroux. The point here is that the company that makes these programmes has one ambition only. That ambition is to turn people's lives into 'entertainment', in order to maximise viewing figures, which in turn lead to advertising revenues, so that ultimately the film-making company gets as much profit as possible. This means that there is nothing objective about the programmes which end up being made and broadcast. The participants are simply pawns in a financial game. Many of the scenarios in Benefits Street were specifically staged for the programme. No thinking person believes that 'Made in Chelsea' or 'I'm a Celebrity' are a true-to-life documentary (at least I hope not!). Nor is anything that's made by Love Films, who made Benefits Street. It's naive to think that they are trying to reflect an objective reality - they're not, they're far more cynical, and commercially-minded, than that. WalkingOnAWire
  • Score: 2

2:34pm Tue 20 May 14

cantthinkofone says...

It's an odd choice by Love Productions tbh. If you're going to make a documentary about immigration in Southampton, I'd have thought basing it here in Shirley would be the obvious choice, given that it's got a higher concentration of Polish people than anywhere else in the UK if I recall correctly.

I'm glad they didn't though. I like my home district and my Polish fellow Shirleyites, and I'm sure it wouldn't portray the area fairly.
It's an odd choice by Love Productions tbh. If you're going to make a documentary about immigration in Southampton, I'd have thought basing it here in Shirley would be the obvious choice, given that it's got a higher concentration of Polish people than anywhere else in the UK if I recall correctly. I'm glad they didn't though. I like my home district and my Polish fellow Shirleyites, and I'm sure it wouldn't portray the area fairly. cantthinkofone
  • Score: 0

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