Ahead of the second episode of Channel 4‘s controversial documentary series Benefits Street, the production company responsible had their offices picketed on Monday afternoon by protestors angered by last week’s first episode. Around 30 people gathered outside the London offices of Love Productions with placards – “Bankers are the real scroungers” – and chants – “Love Productions, Channel 4, spreading lies about the poor” and “Love Productions stop your hate, trying to smash the welfare state”. It was never like this with The Great British Bake Off (which Love Productions also makes). Pilgrim Tucker of the Unite union, who co-ordinated the protest, said they were moved to protest because Benefits Street “felt like just the latest and one of the most extreme in a long stream of programmes which seek to demonise people who are reliant on state benefits.” She added: “To focus on people who are essentially drug addicts and criminals, and to then call the programme Benefits Street, has the suggestion that most people who are relying on benefits are in some way like the people they are showing. That type of public opinion then justifies the action the government is taking which is to really heavily cut those welfare benefits.” Production staff kept their counsel and stayed out of the way – and the range – of the protestors, who at one point risked being outnumbered by the media. If the programme makers knew the Facebook organised protest was coming, then the Folio Society – based next door – looked more taken aback, with windows promptly shut to block out the noise.
Protestors (and press) gather outside the London offices of Benefits Street producers Love Productions. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian