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Poverty porn? Maybe. The Scheme is back on the BBC

Last year I blogged about BBC Scotland’s The Scheme, a fly on the wall documentary series filmed in Kilmarnock. It was pulled for legal reasons – people featured in it ended up in court, and the episodes including them couldn’t be shown until the legal process was complete – and it’s back tonight. If you watched it last time you can skip this week and next, as they’re showing the full series. If you’re not in Scotland you’ll be able to watch it on iPlayer.

The programme has attracted fierce criticism, and it’s been dubbed “poverty porn”. The critics have a point. As I wrote when it first aired:

People doing nice things or even normal things aren’t exactly riveting TV, so there’s precious little of that in the programme. What you get instead is a freak show, a “look at the funny poor people!” programme for the smug middle classes.

Then again:

I suspect few sensible people would agree to be filmed for that long in the first place, so what you end up with is a year in the life of attention whores and idiots, edited to make them look more whorish and idiotic. Of course it’s not representative: most people’s lives aren’t interesting enough to watch.