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Benefits Street: Channel 4 plans live TV debate on controversial show

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Channel 4 has commissioned a live television debate centred around Benefits Street.

The 60-minute programme will focus on issues arising from the observational documentary series, which has caused widespread controversy since it began airing on January 6.

Channel 4's Benefits Street

© Channel 4

Benefits Street has sparked widespread discussion


Benefits Street producer: If TV doesn't get attention, why do it?

Benefits Street, filmed over a 12-month period, documents the lives of people living on a single street in Birmingham, where the majority of households are dependent on benefits.

The series has attracted a great deal of attention from the public since it began, generating high numbers of press headlines and sparking a strong response on Twitter.

It even prompted a response from West Midlands Police, who said that they were considering whether footage featured could be used to help investigations.

Channel 4's head of factual content, Ralph Lee, said: "This is a series which reflects the reality of day-to-day life for some of the residents.

"It does not and never has set out to reflect the experiences of every person who receives benefits, yet it has triggered a national debate about state welfare at a time in which further welfare reforms are being proposed."

Unite Community's protest at Love Productions over Benefits Street

© Twitter / Unite_Community

The documentary series has already caused a public protest


Benefits Street: Essential documentary or poverty porn?

Hayley Valentine of Mentorn Media, which will produce the debate, added: "It is vital that voices on all sides are heard, and we are pleased to be providing a forum for both public figures and viewers to debate the series that has brought a pertinent political issue to life so vividly."

The debate, chaired by Richard Bacon, will be live and interactive. Viewers will have the opportunity to submit questions for discussion.

Panelists will be confirmed closer to transmission, but Channel 4 says that it will represent views from across the political spectrum during the debate.

Members of the public who are claiming benefits will also have a say.

The debate will be broadcast on Monday, February 10 at 10pm, directly after the final episode of the five-part documentary series airs.

The series has already sparked a protest, as members of the public gathered outside the offices of Benefits Street producers Love Productions earlier this week.

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