A director on new Channel 4 series Skint Britain has compared the poverty he saw while filming to that of conditions in Nairobi and Cape Town.

Phil Turner is a director and documentary producer currently working on C4 title Skint Britain. He also filmed the two original series of Benefits Street and has worked in poverty-stricken countries across the globe, particularly in East and Central Africa.

Speaking exclusively with Reality Titbit, Phil revealed how producing Skint Britain became a tragically eye-opening experience.

Skint Britain Channel 4: Universal Credit
Skint Britain Channel 4: Universal Credit

Phil, Skint Britain has already shocked the nation with its graphic content. The skinning of a rabbit in episode 1 was almost unbelievable.

Is what we are witnessing real? Are these people truthfully battling to survive?

“If I’m totally honest with you, it was even worse than what you see on the TV.

There are certain things we couldn’t broadcast and I can’t even tell you about them now. When I helped to produce Benefits Street, I thought that was bad, but this was even worse.

These people were genuinely struggling beyond belief. Some of them didn’t eat proper meals for weeks.”

The experience must have been eye-opening for you.

Did it change your opinion on Universal Credit?

“I didn’t really know what Universal Credit was when we started filming. All I can say is that the experience proper shocked me.

Take Tracey, she’s a carer, has cancer herself, and she had no support to help her.

It’s heartbreaking to see these type of conditions in your own country.

I’ve filmed in Nairobi, Cape Town, a lot of Africa, and the poverty that I saw here (in Skint Britain) was on par.”

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It must have been incredibly difficult to film.

Did you ever have to stop yourself from intervening and getting involved yourself?


You have to sort of distance yourself and be unbiased with what you’re producing.

But it’s very hard not to develop an emotional connection with the characters, especially when you’re closely filming them every day.

Graham (episode 2) has an incredible story. I felt like a lot of his problems came from his upbringing, where he had a lot of trouble coming out in the area as homosexual, and it let to a lot of mistakes involving the law.

He was always so willing to work but could never find anything due to his criminal record. I can honestly say that I’ve never met a so-called ‘honest criminal’ until I met Graham.”

You can follow Phil on Instagram where he highlights all of his documentaries, such as filming for SAS: Who Dares Wins, under @cubikolympic.


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