Former Dragons’ Den star Hilary Devey to open a Dole Office on Channel 4

The new series will show benefits claimants the realities of the welfare state in 1949


Fire-breathing former Dragons’ Den star Hilary Devey will be giving British benefits claimants a stark reminder of how tough life used to be for those on welfare, in a new Channel 4 history series.


Hilary Devey’s Dole Office will see the 55-year-old entrepreneur figuratively whisking claimants back in time to 1949 in order for them to experience the welfare state in its tough, no-nonsense original form.

Participants in the series will live by a strict set of rules designed to instil values of independence and responsibility and will discover how the experience changes their attitudes to work, unemployment and dependency on the state for a living.

Throughout the course of the three-part series, Devey will dispense post-war levels of benefits and track the impact that living on these meagre resources has on the claimants’ lives. Each episode will explore a different area of the benefit system – unemployment, childcare and housing – as well as the welfare state’s treatment of the sick, disabled and elderly.

Julia Harrington, Commissioning Editor for History, Channel 4 says: “Living history formats ask the question ‘Was the past better or worse today?’ In this experiment we’ll be applying that question to a subject of real contemporary heat and importance: have we lost our way with the welfare state?”


Hilary Devey’s Dole Office will be broadcast on Channel 4 during 2013.