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BBC programme falls foul of controversy

Posted on - 2nd February, 2011 - 7:07pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Campaigns, News, Opinion

The usual scene on the street.

The BBC have been heavily criticised for using 20 dogs to foul on a street in Preston as part of a new television series.

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The programme called ‘The Street That Cut Everything’ shows 21 families trying to cope with no council services.

The series is currently being filmed in the Beacon Avenue cul-de-sac in the suburb of Cadley and will cost close to £1 million to make. The programme will be presented by BBC Political editor Nick Robinson.

Film-makers are spending six weeks on the cul-de-sac, renamed ‘The Street’ for the programme, to examine how residents cope without so many basic services.

Among the tasks facing ‘The Street’ was the comical scene of 20 dog walkers parading up and down the road so their dogs could foul, leaving residents to deal with the mess.

Producers of the programme encouraged dog owners to let their pets foul on the road.

The local council has agreed to switch off street lights and has taken away wheelie bins, and residents have been given a rebate on their council tax which they have pooled together to pay for alternative solutions.

In addition, producers have set up unexpected ‘challenges’ such as dumping smashed-up cars in the streets, fly-tipping sofas and fridges and spraying graffiti.

The news provoked angry responses on internet message boards over the BBC’s budget and whether it was being put to good use.

Rob said: “BBC and dog mess, spot the difference!”

Martin from Ashford continued: “Our TV tax hard at work. NOT!”

‘Particularly crass’

Preston Cllr Ken Hudson criticised the idea in an interview with the BBC: “I don’t think that putting 20 dogs on a street to make sure that the street gets fouled by dog droppings is good television really.”

“We know that the people of the street are a really caring community and I am not sure that they knew just what they were letting themselves in for.”

“I am not sure whether they expected to be picking up dog dirt.”

“We are absolutely appalled that people are leaving dirt on the streets. Normally we would prosecute people for doing that.”

Father Peter Draper, a priest at St Anthony of Padua Church, Cadley, spoke of his shock at the BBC series: “I was first told about the series when the children came into church a few weeks ago saying ‘we’re going to be on telly,’ but this news seems to be a particularly crass way of doing things.”

“I just don’t find it very sensible to deliberately mess up the place. It’s a very insensitive way of doing things.”

In a statement on its website a BBC spokesman said: “This programme will explore how a community faces up to the choices involved in living in an era of cuts and examine the way in which people act as a group when confronted with limited resources and difficult decisions.”

“The filming of the dog-walking scene demonstrates in exaggerated form one of the challenges residents would face if street-cleaning services were cut.”

“The residents rose to the challenge and cleaned up the small amount of dog foul extremely quickly.”

What do you think? Is ‘The Street’ an interesting experiment? Is it a good use of the money we pay for a licence fee? Let us know in the comments below.

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