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Channel 5 gets 2m viewers for live benefits debate show

Channel 5 gets 2m viewers for live benefits debate show
Pippa Considine
04 February 2014

The Big Benefits Row: Live debate on Channel 5 at 9pm last night scored 2.13 million viewers,  with an 8.65% share, beating BBC Two and Channel 4, the home of Love Production' controversial Benefits Street series.

The live debate show, produced by ITN Productions and anchored by Matthew Wright, included Benefits Street’s White Dee, journalist Katie Hopkins, ex-MP Edwina Currie, politician Ken Livingstone, ex-benefits claimant Annabel Giles and the Reverend Steve Chalke as guests.

The last episode in the five part channel 4 series airs next Monday at 9pm. Mentorn is to air a debate on Channel 4 immediately after the it finishes, at 10 pm.

Benefits Street
’s Deirdre Kelly, aka ‘White Dee’, made a first live TV appearance on the Channel 5 show. She said, “I’d prefer to be working”. She also said that Love's show was “four families on the street out of 100 houses. What you don’t see is other people doing exactly the same as me… I’m the only person being shown on the documentary.”
She said she found the show, “surreal. I didn’t think anybody would actually watch it, [but that the] …majority of it has been lovely… loads of really nice messages.”

Journalist Rachel Johnson (and sister of Boris Johnson) was also a guest. She had investigated life on that side of the fence. “I spent a week living on a pound a day… what I found was not that people were scrounging but people were finding it hard to get their benefits because 10% of jobseekers are having their benefits sanctioned… this is not going to put Ocado out of business.”
Sophie Green from Channel 5’s On Benefits & Proud had outspoken views. “That programme has made me something I’m not. I’m a single mother on my own. I volunteer at charity shops to try and get my degree for my child. You know nothing about my life,” she yelled. “Give me job innit! My CV is everywhere!” as a chant of ‘every mother is a working mother’ built in the audience.
Channel 5 director of programming, Ben Frow said: “With Benefits and Proud airing on Channel 5 last October and subsequent series from other broadcasters, the benefits debate is very much part of the news agenda. The Big Benefits Row: Live is Channel 5 shining the spotlight on an argument that has gripped the nation.”

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