Television programmes, advised a wise old 'Sun' hack many years ago, are for making, not for appearing on. The only association with the dire medium worth having involves being in charge in the editing suite and staying away from the camera lens. Having in my own small way made both corporate and museum videos I know exactly the mental 'set' of the programme maker; it's your narrative, not anyone else's, that you're building. And to this end you will cut, arrange, overlay, repeat and present all those little chunks of video and audio in a way that suits the narrative.
What astonishes me is that anyone who consents to appear on a TV documentary or lets a hack write a story about them for the papers expects anything other than a gross misrepresentation of their own view of themselves. The local rector may spend sixty hours a week tending dutifully to the needs of the local faithful and only an hour a week tending his collection of Nazi memorabilia, and is in his own eyes the very model of a good shepherd with an insignificant private interest, but we all know exactly how he will be described in the newspaper. "Normal vicar had odd hobby" doesn't sell copies.
The polls show an overwhelming public support for more and greater welfare cuts. The very universal use of the term 'welfare' by both right and left rather than 'benefits' is a change that has come since I started writing this blog in 2007. It's as if we had abandoned 'disabled' in favour of the older 'crippled'. So when an entire street of welfare recipients consented to appear on a C4 documentary series, what on earth did they expect? By calling the programme Benefits Street rather than Welfare Street no doubt the channel is trying to display 'balance' but such things cannot ever by their nature be balanced.