Benefits Street episode 1: the reviews

There were some interesting comments in yesterday’s papers on the first episode of Channel 4’s Benefits Street. Here are some selected excerpts:

“Love Productions has gone out of its way to become Kingston Road’s best mate. And to show its residents in a favourable light. Yes, they might be poor, and on benefits, and facing further cuts and sanctions. And it might be a bit loud and a bit boisterous sometimes. But look at the community spirit, you don’t get that in Chipping frigging Norton, do you.”
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

“At times, it was irritatingly self-absorbed. Lengthy segments were devoted not to the residents of this short, low-rise street on a council estate, but to the journalists who showed up there to report on the furore caused by the programme. All of this was an unnecessary distraction from a series that remains, despite the pejorative title, pretty fair.”
Tom Rowley, The Telegraph

“In their quest for 15 minutes of fame these instant celebs spend the first ten flashing their knickers to attract the cameras and the next five protesting about unwarranted Press intrusion. It’s pathetic.”
Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail

Benefits Street does make space for much-needed context but it still seems disingenuous of the show to declare itself entirely innocent. Lest we forget, this programme provides the press with the necessary fodder to demonise benefit claimants, then sits back and enjoys the resultant ratings.”
Ellen E Jones, The Independent

“It felt like the moment when Angus Deayton had to leave Have I Got News For You because he had become the story. I wondered if Benefits Street had suffocated its own formula by revisiting it too soon. However, as we know, TV thrives on characters and on conflict, and again both were here.”
Andrew Billen, The Times