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The BBC has been accused of jumping on the “poverty porn” bandwagon with a planned reality show that pits unemployed and low-paid workers against each other.
Britain’s Hardest Grafter, a five-part series due to air on BBC2, is seeking 25 contestants who will be asked to “prove themselves” through a series of “real-world job” challenges, with the least effective voted off until a champion is crowned. The winner is set to receive a cash prize of around £15,500 ($23,700), which is the minimum annual wage for British workers outside London.
News of the show has been met with derision and anger online, with one web site accusing it of “feeling distinctly Hunger Games” and Twitter users describing the format as a “sick joke” and “gladiatorial poverty porn.” An online petition calling for the BBC to cancel the show and claiming that “not even the cheapest and tackiest of the cable or satellite channels have stooped to this level,” already has more than 12,000 signatures after just one day.
However, in a joint statement, the BBC and Twenty Twenty, the production company behind the show, argued that Britain’s Hardest Grafter was a “serious social experiment” that would investigate “just how hard people in the low-wage economy work.”
“Each week the contributors — who are all in work or actively looking — will experience a different ‘blue collar’ role as the series explores the truth about Britain’s work ethic,” the statement added. “Throughout the series, the contributors are rewarded for the work they do.”
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