Celebrity Benefits Street for BBC with Jamie Laing, Cheryl Fergison & Theo Paphitis

by Lisa McGarry

theo paphitis

BBC are reportedly jumping on the bandwagon and have commissioned a show that is being branded Celebrity Benefits Street, to air later this year.

After the Channel 4 show caused controversy over the six weeks it aired at the beginning of 2014, it looks like the Beeb are keen to cash in on the trend.

Benefits Street was both berated and heralded in newspapers after it’s first episode, it was mentioned in both tabloids and broadsheets, became big news online and was splashed over almost all of the day time talk shows. The programme was even discussed in the House Of Commons.

Now the BBC one plans a show titled Famous, Rich and Hungry which will see a group of celebrities living as a benefit claimant, in the hope that people will see how tough life actually is for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.

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The Sun reports that Dragons’ Den star and millionaire Theo Paphitis has already signed up, along with Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing, former Eastenders actress Cheryl Fergison and Boris Johnson’s sister Rachel Johnson.

The programme has already been filmed and Rachel revealed that she spent a week living as a widowed mum, just like Benefits Street’s White Dee, and she told the newspaper that the experience was a tough one. Rachel explained:

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Before I went, they took away my mobile, laptop and wallet and handed me a petty cash slip containing my share of the family’s food budget for three days.

“Inside was £3. I thought it was a joke. A stunt. For the cameras. Or so I hoped.”

Johnson ended up in tears when she realised that mums around the UK are forced to feed their children with less money that she would spend on her daily coffee.

The show will air as part of BBC’s Sport Relief schedule next month and bosses are said to be ‘nervous’ in case it attracts a backlash similar to the Channel 4 format. Insiders claim BBC was offered Benefits Street before the commercial broadcaster but turned it down, knowing it would find itself at the centre of a media storm.

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Lisa McGarry

Lisa has been watching reality TV for too long now. She won't do any housework unless 'Big Brother' announces it over the tannoy and everything she does has to be put to a public vote!