The new White Dee lives on a street in…Stockton-on-Tees, it seems, after Channel 4 confirmed that it has started filming the new series of Benefits Street on Kingston Road in the town near Middlesbrough.
Scheduled to air in 2015, the new episodes come after the hugely successful first series which aired earlier this year and focused on Birmingham’s James Turner Street, prompting a national debate about poverty and making White Dee a household name.
The series also led to accusations of “poverty porn”, with hundreds of complaints to the media regulator Ofcom, although it remained popular among viewers, peaking at over six million per episode during the series.
Channel 4’s Head of Documentaries, Nick Mirsky, who has commissioned the new six-part series, said: “Benefits Street fits perfectly with Channel 4’s remit of producing programming that stimulates discussion and debate, the first series did this on a national scale.
“It brought a very human focus to an issue that is at the heart of who we are in Britain today. I’m sure the new series will advance that debate and introduce viewers to a new group of compelling residents.”
Creative director for factual at Love Productions, Kieran Smith, added: “Like many places in the UK Stockton has been hit hard by the recession and economic decline. Those who are reliant on welfare for the majority of their income are some of the hardest hit.
“We have been invited to share in the lives of the residents of one street where many people rely on benefits to survive. It’s an incredibly close community and whilst people may not have much they do have one another to turn to for help.”
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.