THE TV production team behind The Mount: A Welsh Estate, faced a barrage of questions and criticism over its portrayal of the Milford Haven estate, at a public meeting this week.
Mount Estate residents had the opportunity to grill Absolutely Productions’ Gordon Kennedy, cameraman John Welch and co-producers Judith Davies and Catherine Gorman at Hilton House on Tuesday night.
Residents expressed their disappointment and anger at the ‘negative’ portrayal of the estate with some claiming they were too ashamed to say they lived there since the TV show was broadcast on BBC One Wales.
One resident said the estate had been branded ‘Mount Shameless’ and children from the estate were being bullied at school.
Mr Kennedy condemned any bullying and apologised to residents for the way they felt, but he defended the show.
Responding to claims that the show was wholly negative, Mr Kennedy said: “What we tried to do is make balanced stories. We think there was a massive sense of community which we saw with the petition against Dai Jones’ eviction signed by 600 people.
“We felt the balance in the show between positive and negative was right.”
Ms Davies said: “We wanted to show real people and reflect life on the estate.”
169,000 viewers tuned into the first episode of the fourpart documentary which followed the lives of resident on the estate over a year.
The TV crew filmed over 150 days on the estate and the series featured stories of some residents battle with alcoholism; unemployment, working couple Roger and Stacey Davies and resident Jane McSparron’s trip to London with her nieces for the Royal wedding.
Ms McSparron said she had received very positive feedback, with people coming up to her in the street telling her how they had enjoyed the show.
Alison Bennett from the Mount Estate post office said: “People are very nervous about being filmed and at the end of the day they feel after watching the show that some of their fears were recognised.”
Mount Community Association chairman Kathy Gray said: “There has been a perception about the Mount Estate for years and years but we are proud of our estate.”
“The intention was to educate not stigmatise,” said Mr Kennedy.
He said they would love to do more filming on the estate, but he said it was unlikely, following the feedback they had received at the meeting.
Mr Welch said he felt privileged to have been able to film some of the footage including that of resident Lee who shared his battles with alcohol on camera.
“Of all the stories Lee’s was one of the most powerful I have ever filmed and I was very privileged – he is a bright and intelligent guy,”
A BBC Wales spokesman said: “Producers of The Mount: A Welsh Estate have been on the estate and met regularly with residents throughout filming and during the four weeks of transmission.
“We were pleased with the series, which reflects the BBC’s aims to feature diverse areas of Wales in its programming.”
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