Channel 4’s documentary series on immigration has been scaled back to just one episode after the production crew were threatened with violence.
Immigration Street, filmed around Derby Road in Southampton, was meant to be a six-part series, but Channel 4 have announced that they have been forced to cut the series down to a one-hour special after threats against the show curtailed filming.
A statement from Channel 4 claims that, after news of the filming went public, “residents who had been previously happy to be interviewed and appear on camera were actively discouraged from doing so and bit by bit co-operation fell away.”
The production company Love Productions also made Benefits Street in 2014 for the channel. A report in The Guardian claimed that some residents of Derby Road were uncomfortable being filmed having seen the controversy surrounding the previous programme.
However, the executive producer for Immigration Street claims that his crew were welcomed by many people living in the area. Kieran Smith said, “Many people on Derby Road made the crew feel welcome and wanted to share their stories but there were local groups who, for their own reasons, were determined to halt production.
“It’s a great shame as the footage we have shot shows Derby Road is a place where, on the whole, people of different nationalities, cultures and religions respect and get along with each other. This will be reflected in the film,” he added.
Channel 4 explained that the filming, which began in April last year, had to be stopped after the production crew received threats of violence, and the programme-makers decided that “the safety of the crew could not be guaranteed.”
A march was held in Southampton against the programme in January, and this was followed by protests outside Channel 4’s headquarters in London in February.
Instead of a full series, a one-hour special will air on 24th February on Channel 4 at 10pm. This will be followed in March by a history documentary, Immigration Street 1964, about the “anti-immigration campaign” in the West Midlands town of Smethwick in 1964.
Channel 4’s Head of Factual Ralph Lee said, “Going into this general election immigration is one of the most hotly contested issues and one we think it’s vital to present a range of viewpoints on.
“In filming Immigration Street the strength of feeling around the issue became apparent not just with the many local people who wanted to tell their stories in the film but also the impassioned response of those opposing it.”