The producer behind Skint has hit back at accusations that the Channel 4 show exploits poor people and makes entertainment out of deprivation.
Katie Buchanan, executive producer of the three-part series, which begins tonight, told Radio Times that the show represents a “truthful and sympathetic” portrait of life in Grimsby.
Channel 4 filmed life in the East Marsh area of the Lincolnshire seaside town, home to some of Britain’s most deprived neighbourhoods, for more than a year, and locals have expressed fears that the show will present an overwhelmingly negative portrait of the area.
Austin Mitchell, MP for Great Grimsby, accused the show of being “deplorable…misery telly”, writing in Radio Times: “Demonising the poor and turning deprivation into entertainment isn’t just deplorable, it’s dishonest.”
But Buchanan, who is head of documentaries at Keo, the production company behind Skint, insisted that the show was not exploitative.
“There are many people that we talked to in Grimsby who wanted their voices heard and wanted to take part in this,” she said.
“We think our series is different. We spent a year working with people, listening to them telling their stories. We got to know them intimately.
“The main contributors have seen their stories and are happy with how they were portrayed. “
Tonight’s episode focuses on the depletion of Grimsby’s fishing fleet. Sixty years ago Grimsby was the largest fishing port in the world, but today there are only four boats left.
Ms Buchanan said that the series was not about Grimsby as a town, but that “we are very specifically looking at a process of deindustrialization”.
The producers had access to a psychologist, and have provided advice to those who took part about how to cope with media attention after the show airs.
“We’ve also helped some of them make short online films about issues that concern them,” said Buchanan.
Skint is on Channel 4 tonight (24th November) at 9:00pm