The makers of Channel 4′s controversial show Benefits Street have defended scenes in the new series which openly show drug dealing and drug use.
The show, which was filmed in Kingston Road on the Tilery Estate in Stockton-on-Tees, follows on from the first series which made stars of some of the inhabitants of Birmingham’s James Turner Street, but was described by some critics as ‘poverty porn’.
Among the residents introduced in the first episode is Neil Maxwell who is shown bagging up cannabis, smoking the drug and taking pills before a court appearance.
Channel 4 has more Benefits Street (Clara Molden/PA)
The 35-year-old, who told the film crew he has taken ‘early retirement’ from a life of crime after a string of convictions, said he claimed benefits because he suffers from memory loss.
In one scene, he is seen spending his benefits money to top up his tan at a local sunbed salon and later in the series he is sent back to prison.
Kieran Smith, from Love Productions which makes the show, said they had followed ‘strict guidelines’ about filming illegal activity.
James Turner Street was made famous in the first series of Benefits Street (Joe Giddens/PA)
He said: “We are never suggesting to Maxwell that he does this on camera, we don’t encourage him in any way shape or form.
“We filmed with Maxwell for quite a long period of time and he was very clear about the potential repercussions about his behaviour and what might happen to him.”
Kieran said the show was ‘not glorying in his behaviour’ and was ‘quite an honest account of what his life is like’.
The first series of the show attracted hundreds of complaints to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom although Channel 4 was cleared of breaching any rules.